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Moto X (2nd Gen, 2014)

Editor's rating (1-5): rating starrating starrating starrating star
Carrier: AT&T, Verizon and Unlocked GSM
Manufacturer: Motorola

What's Hot: Stunning looks and materials customization options, colorful 1080p display, clean and fast Android, Moto voice and actions are useful.

What's Not: Camera OK but not great, battery life just OK, no microSD card slot.


Reviewed September 29, 2014 by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)


Motorola keeps making me ask "why didn't anyone think of this before?" First there was the Moto 360, a round smartwatch. Yes, round just like everyday watches humans prefer. With the first and now second generation Moto X, they've given us swanky materials like wood and leather (real leather, not Samsung's pleather plastic stuff). Phones are personal, they're always with us and we hold them all the time. Why not give them the same design quality and materials we crave in jewelry or a nice wallet? Speaking of the wallet, the second generation Moto X won't break the bank as higher end smartphones go: it's $499 full retail ($525 if you opt for wood or leather) and $99 on contract with AT&T or Verizon Wireless. A classy chassis that's affordable: good going Motorola.

Moto X

Last year's Moto X was a darling of a phone that felt great in hand, was customizable via MotoMaker and it had great usability touches. The problem was that it was a midrange phone in terms of specs, and those never get lots of love. Motorola is back for 2014 with the second generation Moto X, or 2014 Moto X, and this time it's a flagship affair. The Moto X is still customizable: it's available in 17 colors or you can order it with one of 4 wood or 4 leather backs. Even the accent color is customizable with a choice of 10 hues. The side is ringed in metal for a classy look and the screen is significantly bigger at 5.2". It's still AMOLED and that means over the top colors and high contrast that many folks love, but this time it's a more desirable 1920 x 1080 full HD display.

Specs and Pricing at a Glance

The Moto X 2nd gen is powered by the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad core 2.5GHz CPU with Adreno 330 graphics and 2 gigs of RAM used in the Samsung Galaxy S5, LG G3 and HTC One M8. You can order it with 16 or 32 gigs of internal storage, but there's no microSD card slot. Our 16 gig model has 10 gigs free out of the box. The 2014 model has 4G LTE and it's available direct from Motorola's website as a GSM unlocked phone that's compatible with both AT&T and T-Mobile for $499. If you want a leather or wood back, add $25, and if you want 32 gigs of storage add another $50. AT&T and Verizon Wireless also sell the phone for $99 with a 2 year contract and around $499 (starting price) full retail. The carrier phones have the usual bloatware, but still run a clean Android 4.4 UI like the unlocked or "Pure Edition" as Motorola brands it.

The Moto X second gen has a 13MP rear camera with a ring LED flash and a front 2MP camera. Dual band WiFi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS and NFC are standard and the phone has a 2300 mAh battery that's sealed inside.

Moto X

Design and Ergonomics

This is the highpoint of the review: the 2014 Moto X is simply a stunning looking phone. Whether clad in a colorful resin back or the more luxurious metal and leather options, it looks elegant and well made. Seams are perfect and the new metal sides make it even classier. That retro matte nickel finish metal is the antenna, and Motorola says it's tuned to sense where your fingers are to avoid reception bungles. The front face is available in your choice of black or white, and it's Gorilla Glass 3 with curved edges that look and feel marvelous. Finally, a smartphone that meets, if not exceeds the iPhone and HTC One M8 in terms of fit, finish and looks.

Moto's signature curves from the first gen X, the Moto E and G are here, as comfortable as ever. No, a 5.2" phone isn't as hand and small pocket friendly as the original 4.7" Moto X, but Motorola did a good job of keeping the new phone small given the half inch screen size increase. The curves certainly help with hand comfort: the phone is just 0.15" thick at the edges and it swells to 0.39" at the middle. Granted, that thickness is something you'll feel in your pocket, but the back swell snuggles your palm. The curves lend an organic look and make the Moto X look distinctively Moto.

Moto X

The metal volume control and power buttons are on the right, rather than on opposite sides. I appreciate this because it's so easy to accidentally squeeze the opposing button on phones like the Galaxy S5. The 3.5mm headphone jack is up top and the micro USB port is at the bottom. The phone has a nano SIM card slot up top (the kind you'll need a bent paperclip to remove) and no microSD card slot. Honestly, the phone's large enough that we expected a memory card slot, but Motorola, currently owned by Google who eschews removable storage, likely nixed that. For those who don't know, Lenovo has agreed to buy the part of Motorola that makes mobile phones, so eventually the company will change hands, though service and marketing will likely stay much the same for some time.

For those who care about durability, we expect the wood backs to hold up well. Moto only offers very hard woods as options: bamboo, walnut, teak and striped ebony. These are hard enough to act as cutting boards, so I don't expect much harm to come to them. Finger oil shows a bit, but it's actually good for the wood. The leather backs can be scuffed and nicked, as is the way of leather. Eventually they'll look like distressed leather. The matte resin backs are very durable and their only crime is that they do show fingerprint oils.

Deals and Shopping:


Moto X Second Gen Video Review


LG G3 vs. Moto X 2nd Gen Comparison Smackdown Video



Many of you love Samsung's Super AMOLED displays and even those zingy Nokia Lumia AMOLED panels. You'll love the 2014 Moto X. It's a full HD, 1920 x 1080 AMOLED panel with those better than life, significantly beyond sRGB gamut colors, deep blacks and immeasurably high contrast. Since the phone runs the stock AOSP Android 4.4.4 KiKat UI, there's no color selector as on Samsung phones, so you can't opt for a more natural and balanced palette. Color accuracy isn't great on the 2014 Moto X, but then I doubt anyone uses their phone to produce high quality, color accurate images for print or the web. Whites are warmer and closer to white than phones like the HTC One M8 with its overly cool display, but brightness is unimpressive at 285 nits. It looks bright indoors thanks to AMOLED's popping colors, but outdoors it's not very easy to see, even at max brightness. We suspect Motorola was desperate to conserve power given the not very large battery in this big phone.

Moto X

Above: the Samsung Galaxy S5, LG G3, Moto X and first gen Moto G.

Our other complaint is the dpi scaling that Moto used for the phone: everything is simply too large. Text is bigger compared to competing phones with similar display size and resolutions, and icons look immense as if this was a 720p display. Perhaps Motorola did this because their active display feature must be run at the native 480 dpi or it will break. For those who want to root the phone and tweak the dpi settings, remember to set the Moto active apps and the camera to run at native resolution.

Performance and OS

There's little to say here beyond it's all good and the same as other top Android phones. The Moto X runs on the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad core CPU as competing Android and Windows Phone flagship models. Performance on synthetic benchmarks is a slight bit higher thanks to the clean Android build. Experiential performance is very good--again thanks to the non-skinned UI. After a few release day firmware updates, the phone became one of the most fast and fluid Android phones we've used.

The Moto X has 2 gigs of DDR3L RAM and 16 or 32 gigs of storage. Our 16 gig model has just 10 gigs available, which is a bit light given that you can't expand it with microSD cards. If you're a fan of today's multi-gigabyte 3D games or carrying lots of movies with you, you'll do better with the 32 gig model.

Google's influence on Motorola is clear, and that means phones that are near stand-ins for Nexus and Google Play Edition devices. You get Moto actions and voice, as well as their custom camera app, but beyond that, it's stock Android. That means quicker updates and the phone should be among the first to get Android L, the next major Android release. It also means the phone is quick and has fewer compatibility quirks. Android purists will love the Moto X, but those who enjoy or even prefer heavily skinned Android like that on Samsung Galaxy and LG phones might find it a bit barren and feature-poor. That's up to you.


  Quadrant 3DMark Ice Storm AnTuTu Sunspider JavaScript Test (lower is better)
Moto X (2nd gen) 22,170 19,924 44,340 776
Moto X (first gen) 8357 6800 (extreme) 21,377 1097
Motorola Droid Turbo 22,709 20,735 48,332 795
LG G Stylo 14,559 unsupported phone 21,542 1545(Chrome)/ 1031 (webkit)
LG G3 (3 gigs RAM) 24,385 18,708 36,525 425
Samsung Galaxy S5 23,643 18,329 35,357 398
HTC One M8 24,527 20,896 (unlimited) 36,087 776
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 24,327 19,667 46,912 425
Sony Xperia Z1S 21589 16,135 (unlimited) 35,008 837
Nexus 5 8808 17,828 (unlimited) 27,017 718
Moto G 8485 2778 (extreme) 17,396 1311
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 22,006 15,092 (unlimited) 35,823 587
LG G2 19,762 9803 (extreme) 32,990 823
Samsung Galaxy S4 12,276 11,601 (unlimited) 24,776 826
HTC One M7 12,252 11,324 (extreme) 24,589 1155
LG Optimus G Pro 11,994 N/A 18,561 867
Samsung Galaxy S III 5102 N/A 7011 1825

Geekbench 3: 972 single core, 2951 multi-core

Google Octane 2: 4607

Calling and Data

Motorola has 4 mics on the Moto X--that's a lot and one more than the last gen Moto X. The company excels at call quality and the latest gen Moto X is no exception. Thanks to the 4 mics, outgoing call quality is very good with strong noise reduction that didn't mangle our voice. Incoming calls are also loud and clear. The earpiece (the ornamented slit above the display) is loud and the speaker (the lower slit) is crazy loud for a phone. It's a little louder than the HTC One M8 with BoomSound stereo speakers, but alas the Moto is mono. Happily it still sounds full and rich as phone speakers go, with no shrill hiss or muddy bass.

Data results may vary depending on what version you buy. Verizon sells a variant with CDMA (that's the type of network they use) plus GSM world roaming. AT&T sells the same (according to model number) hardware as the unlocked Pure Edition that Motorola sells direct, and it's a GSM phone with 3G HSPA+ and LTE 4G. There's some confusion on LTE bands supported by the unlocked version (the model we have for review) thanks to Motorola's website. We suspect their website specs were wrong at release based on FCC declarations (these by definition must be accurate) and Motorola's review guide that led us to believe the unlocked model has 4G LTE on bands 2,4,5, 7 and 17. That covers AT&T and T-Mobile and will work overseas on LTE in some countries.

4G LTE Data speeds on the unlocked model were a little below average on AT&T's network in the Dallas area (25Mpbs vs. 35 to 54Mbps), though it did much better than average for upload speeds. We saw average speeds on T-Mobile's LTE network, but in our area those speeds rarely pass 16 Mbps, which says little about the phone's CAT 4 Advanced LTE performance.

Moto Makes the Phone Human

Or human friendly... we've seen Android phones with so many software features of limited practical use that it boggles the mind-- can anyone name all the software features on a Samsung Galaxy phone? I think not. Instead of gimmicks, Moto continues to give us features we actually want and need, much like Apple. Wave your hand over the display and IR sensors on the front tell the phone to show you the informative lock screen with notifications. No need to turn on the phone or even double-tap as with LG and some Nokia Lumia phones. See an email notification on the lock screen? Press and hold its icon to get a preview of the email, or swipe it up to launch the mail program with that message open.

Voice control has gotten even better, and it's a Moto custom solution, not just Google Now voice commands. You don't have to say "OK Google Now", you can say anything you want as the wake phrase, as long as it's at least 4 syllables long (it wouldn't let us use "OK Woody" to wake our ebony wood phone because that's only 3 syllables). Once you train it with your waking phrase (hint, don't use something you say all the time), all you have to do is say it, followed by what you want the phone to do. Leave it sitting on your desk or the center console of your car, sleeping: it's still listening.

Moto actions handle things like quiet time overnight, switching to driving mode where it will do things like read text messages aloud or go into meeting mode (shush) if your calendar has a meeting. For driving mode, you'll need to activate the more accurate GPS location setting.


What is it with Motorola? Can't they hire a few camera gurus? The last gen Moto X had a 10 megapixel camera that was a sad affair at launch and got a bit better via firmware updates. The second gen Moto X has a 13 megapixel camera with a Sony sensor (likely the same one used in several of last year's flagship phones), so it should be much better, right? Not so fast: Motorola's camera app is a pleasure to use, but the image processing algorithms need work. Focusing is fairly fast, but it sometimes focuses incorrectly (even when using the manual focus and exposure point option, aka tap to focus). Contrast looks like cliche Instagram at times in bright light and both yellows and reds bloom to excess, blotting out detail. If you're a flower photographer, stay away from roses and go for the pink lilies. But even our pink lilies in the shade had overexposed areas that blotched to white or lost detail.

On a good note, the camera is noticeably better than the last gen Moto X, and in good light, the camera can take pleasing landscapes. Low light shots are quite noisy despite the ring flash that surrounds the lens. Not a good phone for clubbing if you want to snap photos to commemorate your outing. 1080p video is quite sharp and colorful, and there's a 4k recording mode too. We like the Moto X better as a video camera than a photo snapper.

Battery Life

Battery life is another sore point, simply because the 2014 Moto X has a 2300 mAh battery while other 5" to 5.5" Android phones have considerably larger batteries. For example, the 5.1" Samsung Galaxy S5 has a 2800 mAh battery and the LG G3 has a 3,000 mAh battery. Even with very good power management, which the Moto X has, you simply can't make a phone with a much smaller battery and the same display and CPU and expect the same battery life. Thus the Moto X typically lasted us from 7am to 8pm with moderate to moderately heavy use. In comparison, the GS5 made it to midnight, as did the HTC One M8.

On a positive note, like other Snapdragon 801 smartphones, the Moto X supports Qualcomm's Quick Charge 2.0, so it charges fast. Even 30 minutes of charging can add 50%. Motorola sells an optional Quick Charge 2.0 charger that can charge even more quickly.


The 2014 Moto X garnered a lot of attention thanks to its somewhat lower price tag, really lovely look and customizable finishes and the clean Android experience. It largely lives up to its reputation as a flagship that can make you proud. I'd say nothing looks as good as the Moto X in Android land, and the vivid (if not over the top) AMOLED display will please many folks. The software enhancements are actually enjoyable and useful, and the phone is fast. The mediocre camera and battery life hold us back from giving the Moto X an Editor's Choice award, but it's still a fine pick.

Price: $499 full retail for base 16 gig model with resin back, $25 additional for wood or leather back, $50 additional for 32 gig model. $99 for 16 gig model with 2 year contract on AT&T or Verizon Wireless.


Related Reviews:

Moto X Pure Edition 2015 Review

Motorola Droid Turbo Review

HTC One M9 Review

LG G Stylo Review

LG G4 Review

Moto X 2nd gen vs. LG G3 Comparison Smackdown

Moto G 3rd Gen Review (2015)

Moto E 2nd Gen Review

Samsung Galaxy S6 & Galaxy S6 Edge Review

OnePlus One Review

Moto 360 Review

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact Review

iPhone 6 Review

iPhone 6 Plus Review

Samsung Galaxy Alpha

Nexus 6 Review

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Review


Moto X


Moto X


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Display: 5.2" AMOLED display. Resolution: 1920 x 1080. Has ambient light sensor, accelerometer and proximity sensor.

Battery: 2300 mAh Lithium Ion Polymer rechargeable. Battery is not user replaceable.

Performance: 2.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad core CPU with Adreno 330 graphics. 2 gigs RAM and 16 or 32 gigs of storage.

Size: 5.54 x 2.85 x 0.15- 0.39 inches. Weight: 5.08 ounces.

Phone: GSM quad band world phone with EDGE 2G, 3G and 4G LTE. Verizon version also has CDMA, 3G EV-DO Rev. A.

Camera: 2MP front camera and rear 13MP camera with ring LED flash and f/2.2.5 lens.

Audio: Built in speaker, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack.

Networking: Integrated dual band WiFi 802.11b/g/n/ac, NFC and Bluetooth 4.0 LE.

Software: Android OS 4.4.4 KitKat. Will receive update to Android L.

Expansion: none.


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