Moto X vs the competition. How does the Moto X stack up on paper?

by: Joe HindyAugust 1, 2013

Moto X

After months of leaks, rumors, and speculations, the Moto X phone is here. The specs have been finalized, we have confirmation of what carriers will have it, and we got to see what kind of customization there will be. There is just one question left to be asked. Does it stack up to the competition? There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the only real way to compare these devices is to hold them in your hand, load them up with apps, take some pictures, and actually use them. To that we say don’t worry, those comparisons are coming soon. For the time being, we can see how the Moto X stacks up against the competition on paper.

In this comparison we’ll put the Moto X up against its stiffest competition. We’ll be comparing the HTC One, the Samsung Galaxy S4, the LG Nexus 4, the Sony Xperia Z, and the iPhone 5. We are aware that comparing this year’s tech to last year’s iPhone is a bit heavy handed. However, Apple hasn’t released this year’s iPhone yet so we can’t compare specs to a phone we do not yet know anything about.

The categories we will be be comparing will be display, processor, camera, battery, and software. These are the components that most people will be looking at when purchasing a phone and the specs that will be most debated in the coming weeks. Last note before we begin, the Moto X, the Samsung Galaxy S4, the Sony Xperia Z, and the HTC One all have (or will have) a Google Play Edition. So we’ll be comparing only the OEM skinned versions of these since they all have a stock Android option. Without further delay, let’s get started.

moto x vs htc one

Moto X vs the HTC One

First up is HTC’s flagship, the HTC One. It hasn’t been able to save the company from reporting more losses this year, but the handset in general has exceeded most people’s expectations. In similar fashion, Motorola is really hoping the Moto X helps pull it out of the pit it has also been in the last few years. So how do these two saviors stack up?

  • Display – This one is easy. 1080p beats 720p all day long. Winner: HTC One.
  • Processor – The Moto X features the X8 computing system which is a dual core Snapdragon with a quad core GPU and 2 individual computing cores. The HTC One packs the Snapdragon 600 Quad Core. As per the reports from the event, the Moto X doesn’t lag when it’s being used normally. The HTC One can also make that claim. The big difference here is in benchmarks. The HTC One scored 22000 on AnTuTu and the Moto X got 18000. With little else to go on, we’re forced to give it to HTC. Winner: HTC One.
  • Battery – The Moto X boasts 24 hours of general use. If that’s even half true, that makes it even with the HTC One. Winner: Moto X.
  • Camera – The HTC One sports a 4MP Ultrapixel camera while the Moto X features a 10MP shooter. This is a hard one to call since the quality of an image is very subjective. However, early reports state that the pictures look better on the Moto X screen than they do when they’re uploaded. The HTC One camera has received similar criticism. Winner: Draw.
  • Software – Here’s where it gets hairy. The Moto X runs a lightly skinned Android 4.2.2 while the HTC One runs a heavily skinned Android 4.2.2. From here, it’s all preference. Some people like Sense 5 while others enjoy a more stock-like Android experience. HTC has Blinkfeed which some people like and some people don’t. The Moto X has always-on Google Now, which some people love but even big Nexus fans like our own Nate Swanner think it’s a little creepy. Winner: Draw.

Even we were surprised to see how well the Moto X would stack up here. The One took CPU and display. However, Moto blew the battery category away. The camera and software were tied but only because determining which is better is extremely subjective. At its core, they both take good pictures and run the same version of Android. Everything beyond that is, more or less, an opinion. So the winner is: HTC One (but only by a hair).

galaxy s4 vs moto x

Versus the Samsung Galaxy S4

Next up is the biggest Android phone of 2013 so far, the Samsung Galaxy S4. When it comes to sales and popularity, the Moto X has some big shoes to fill here. People love this phone and it has some pretty impressive specs. Can the Moto X beat it? Let’s find out.

  • Display – Galaxy S4 has 1080p. Moto X doesn’t. Winner: Samsung Galaxy S4.
  • Processor – The Galaxy S4 runs the exact same hardware as the HTC One. So you’d expect Samsung to win like HTC did right? Well, you would be correct. Snapdragon 600 and Adreno 320 seems to be the winning combo this year. It doesn’t help that Samsung rigged the S4 to do better on benchmarks, but the HTC One still beat out the Moto X and it has the same specs as the S4. Winner: Samsung Galaxy S4.
  • Battery – People have reported decent battery life with the Galaxy S4. The Moto X is still boasting 24 hours of general use. Spoiler alert, that’s going to be hard to beat on this list. Winner: Moto X.
  • Camera – The Moto X has a 10MP camera while the Galaxy S4 has a 13MP camera. People have reported that the Galaxy S4 shooter is actually pretty good, too. 13 is greater than 10. Winner: Samsung Galaxy S4.
  • Software – The Galaxy S4 runs a heavily skinned version of Android 4.2.2. The Moto X runs a lightly skinned version of Android 4.2.2. The same argument with the HTC One applies here. Some people like the extra features that come from Touchwiz and some don’t. Likewise, some people like the software that comes with the Moto X and some don’t. Feature for feature, Touchwiz wins because it has more features. However, the Moto X skin has never lagged a phone before. Winner: Draw.

The Moto X didn’t do quite as well against the Galaxy S4. This is almost solely due to the camera. Even though HTC’s Ultrapixel is unique, it hasn’t been perfected and the 13MP shooter on the Galaxy S4 has proven that it can take some pretty awesome pictures. Aside from camera, the Galaxy S4 also won processor and display while the Moto X took battery. They tied in software. Winner: Samsung Galaxy S4.

vs the Moto X

vs the Sony Xperia Z

Sony’s flagship for this year is a strong device. It is water resistant, it’s beautiful, and it’s fast. It’s only available on T-Mobile in the US unless you buy the unlocked International version, but it’s still one of the best smartphones of the year. Can the Moto X score its first victory? Let’s see.

  • Display – The Xperia Z has a 1080p screen. Winner: Sony Xperia Z.
  • CPU – This one is going to be a lot closer than the prior 2. The Sony Xperia Z features the same Adreno 320 that everyone else is, but a processor that isn’t as great as the HTC One and the Galaxy S4. The AnTuTu benchmarks for the Xperia Z put it in the high 19000 range and the Moto X is, as mentioned, around 18000. In AnTuTu, 1000 is not that big of a difference and both phones boast pretty much lag free user experiences. So we’re going to call this one a draw. Winner: Draw.
  • Battery – Like we said above, 24 hours of general use beats everything on this list. Winner: Moto X
  • Camera – The Xperia Z rocks a 13.1MP shooter and most sites will tell you that it’s really good for a smartphone camera. The Moto X 10MP is really good, but not great. Winner: Sony Xperia Z.
  • Software – The Moto X runs the lightly skinned Android 4.2.2 while the Xperia Z was recently updated to a moderately skinned Android 4.2.2. As much as we know that you want to see someone win definitively here, we simply cannot do it. Every skin has both their pros and their cons and the importance of those pros and cons change depending on who you ask. Winner: Draw.

So the Xperia Z squeaked out a win here thanks to its camera and its 1080p screen. The Moto X beat it in battery life. The important thing here is that it can actually stack up to the Xperia Z (for the most part) in benchmarks and smooth user experience. This is the first flagship that the X8 system can stack up with by the numbers (as we stated before, only actual use can gain a definitive answer) and the Xperia Z really didn’t win by much. Winner: Sony Xperia Z.

Nexus 4 vs moto x

Versus the Nexus 4

We know the Nexus 4 is from last year and the Nexus 5 is coming up. However, it just wouldn’t feel right if we didn’t stack up Motorola’s flagship with Google’s flagship. It’s especially interesting since Google owns Motorola so this is really a battle between Google and, well, itself. Let’s see how it goes.

  • Display – The Nexus 4 has a 4.7-inch, 768×1280 display totallying 318ppi. The Moto X has a 4.7-inch, 720p dispay totalling 312ppi. We’re not going to award a win for the 6ppi that no one will ever notice. Winner: Draw.
  • Processor – The Nexus 4 comes equipped with the best quad core processor from last year. It still manages to sport an Adreno 320 GPU though, which matches the Adreno 320 in the Moto X. The Nexus 4 gets about 17000 on AnTuTu and the Moto X gets about 18000. We didn’t give the Xperia Z the win above for the extra 1000, and we don’t do it here. Winner: Draw.
  • Battery – Nexus 4 battery life has been famously known to range from awful to mediocre. Winner: Moto X.
  • Camera – The Nexus 4 has the best 8MP shooter to come out last year. Moto X has a pretty decent 10MP shooter from this year. Winner: Moto X.
  • Software – The Nexus 4 currently runs Android 4.3 which is newer than the Moto X. Since the Moto X is only lightly skinned, there isn’t a huge variation between it and stock Android. At least not as big as, say, Sense 5 or Touchwiz. However, the nail in the coffin is the Moto X will have a Google Edition device. So if you want a Moto X with stock Android, it can happen. Having 2 options versus 1 option is no contest. Winner – Moto X.

We assume that the Nexus 5 will be an awesome machine that will likely take back the title of the best phone to come out of Google. That doesn’t mean the Moto X can’t celebrate today because it just beat Google’s current flagship phone. The Moto X won in battery, camera, and software and the Nexus 4 won zero categories with 2 draws. Some may be mad that the Nexus 4 didn’t win in software. That’s understandable, but the Moto X has both a stock and a skinned offering while the Nexus 4 only has a stock offering. Lack of options means lack of victory. Winner: Moto X.

iphone 5 vs moto x

Versus the iPhone 5

Last up on our comparison today is the iPhone 5. As we stated above, we know it’s a tad heavy handed to compare this year’s flagship with last year’s iPhone. As we explained, Apple hasn’t released this year’s flagship yet so if you’re going to the store to buy a phone in the next few months, this will be the comparison that matters. We’ll probably have a full comparison when the new iPhone comes out.

  • Display – The Moto X has a 4.7-inch, 720p display. The iPhone 5 has a 4-inch, 1136 by 640 display. In terms of pixel density, the iPhone wins with 326 to 312. In terms of size, the Moto X wins. Winner: Draw.
  • CPU – People will argue that iOS uses less resources than Android so it doesn’t need better specs. However, we’re not measuring how little an OS needs, we’re measuring specs. The iPhone 5 has an outdated dual core with a tri-core GPU. When added up, it’s 3 cores and a whole generation less than the Moto X. Winner: Moto X.
  • Camera – The iPhone 5 camera is pretty much legendary at this point. Even we can’t argue that. Even if the Moto X has the higher megapixel count, people have shot whole movies with the iPhone camera. Winner: iPhone.
  • Battery – 24 hours of general use beats everything on this list. Winner: Moto X.
  • Software – Well it’s yet another Android vs iOS. Everyone knows what we think of Android and iOS. We are, after all, called Android Authority. So for the sake of being fair, let’s put this another way. Let’s say the Moto X’s lightly skinned Android 4.2.2 is in every way equal to iOS 7. The Moto X still has a stock, Google Edition offering. There is only one iPhone. Lack of options means lack of victory. Winner: Moto X.

On paper, the Moto X smashes the iPhone. The Moto X won in CPU, battery, and software. The iPhone took camera and gained a tie in display. We imagine that things will be a lot closer when the next iPhone comes out, but since that won’t be for a few months, the Moto X will have the superior handset for the time being.

Wrap Up

Here is how everything wrapped up.

  • HTC One vs Moto X. Winner: HTC One by 1 category.
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Moto X. Winner: Samsung Galaxy S4 by 2 categories.
  • Sony Xperia Z vs the Moto X. Winner: Sony Xperia Z by 1 category.
  • LG Nexus 4 vs the Moto X. Winner: Moto X by 3 categories.
  • Apple iPhone 5 vs the Moto X. Winner: Moto X by 2 categories.

If you look at this and see that the Moto X has lost to the best flagships, then we believe you may be looking at this the wrong way. The Moto X does lose to these flagships, but it’s not by a lot. It may be a high-end midrange phone but it only loses out against the competition in 1 or 2 ways. On paper, the Moto X is actually a very competent device that gave these big name devices a run for their money.

The two phones the Moto X did beat on paper, the Nexus 4 and the iPhone 5, are from last year. So of course these comparisons are only valid until the next generation gets released later this year. This should also tell you that even though most people will be saying that this is a midrange phone, it’s still a better phone overall than last year’s flagships. So Motorola at least released a phone that could compete with this year’s stock.

If you’re wondering why we didn’t compare the Moto X to the Droid family, that’s because we’re going to give that battle it’s own stage. Also, it’s worth mentioning that a 6.3-inch Sony phone, the Note 3, the Nexus 5, and possibly a larger HTC One are on the way. So if the Moto X just isn’t what you’e looking for, there are still more devices to come this year. With the Moto X doing this well on paper, could it be a good option over the big name flagships of this year? If you would like to discuss it further, feel free to leave a comment below.

  • EvenInTheDarkestHour

    To say that the latest and greatest new release only loses to earlier releases by a little, is saying quite a lot. And at the current price point, calling it “mid-tier” device is a little like calling iPhones mid tier due to their specs. Just my .02

    • Richard Borkovec

      I have to agree. For the price point, the phone is definitely high end, but with high-mid specs. For this reason alone, it would really lose by more than “a hair.”

      • JosephHindy

        While I agree that the Moto X is very overpriced, I do also believe that price is not the sole contributor in whether or not a phone is classified as “high end” or “mid-range”. Keep in mind the X did lose to the three best phones released so far this year, which would be indicative of a mid-range device.

        • EvenInTheDarkestHour

          And, it will be ravaged by the next round about to be released. At similar price points. Someone sure dropped the ball on this one.

          • JosephHindy

            I couldn’t agree more. When the Note 3, Nexus 5, that beastly Sony phablet, and the rumored HTC One Max comes out and sells for the same price, the Moto X is going to get slaughtered.

  • shabbypenguin

    Samsung boosted performance on the octa core, is there any proof that they did this on the snapdragon 600 variant?

    • JosephHindy

      It’s definitely possible, which is why I mentioned it. Samsung only got the win because the HTC One got the win and they have the same hardware (snapdragon 600 + adreno 320).

      Thanks for the comment!

      • John Mortimer

        Sorry but if this post gets removed again why, anyways. Samsung Only edited the octa core CPU scores for the benchmarks so they do not use the lower cores I.e. they had tell the phone to use the good cores on the benchmarks software

  • Ivan Myring

    I’d rather have the nexus 4 personally.

    • Lisandro O Oocks

      Yeah. Battery isn’t all that bad on Nexus 4, I can pull 18 hours, by using battery guru, low brightness indoors, no data, regular to heavy use. Today I didn’t do gaming on it, but i did do text/calls/web and has gone 15 hours and 40% is left, although normally by now it would be more like 14%

      • blanco112

        I think a lot of phones can go 18 hours if you aren’t not using data.

      • Ivan Myring

        I can get about 6.5 hours screen on on moderate brightness, and WiFi. Though I do use an undeevolted kernel

  • Maranello Santiago

    They shouldn’t of just handed the Iphone camera the win like that just because people shot movies with it. Who cares how “legendary” it is, the X was just announced. That said, I might want to get the Xperia Z later.

  • James Silva

    What are you talking about? This is a horrible comparison. No one cares about on mobile devices. The Moto X’s camera aperture is bigger than all but the HTC’s pixels, therefore actually making it more effective. Adding a clear filter will also boost it, you can’t do paper comparisons with that. (It’s like saying that the Lumia 1020’s 41MP shooter is four times better than the X phone’s)
    Really, software on the Moto X will naturally be better, as it’s made more for that.
    I really can’t be bothered to continue this list of mine.

  • Tamadrummer94

    What is this? How can you possibly make any kind of conclusions based on a phone that nobody’s reviewed yet? Since when do tech sites meekly accept the battery life claims the manufacture uses? The only victories Moto X can have right now are totally imaginary. Talk about jumping the gun.

    • JosephHindy

      I stated 3 or 4 times that the only real way to compare these devices is to actually use them and this is only a comparison on paper.

      It’s actually the first paragraph. Like the 6th sentence overall.

      • Tamadrummer94

        Right, but why even bother then? This is an exercise in pointlessness.

        • JosephHindy

          People still want to know, don’t they? ;) It is a midrange device but it’s actually pretty awesome for a midrange device. Overpriced? Sure, but that doesn’t make it terrible, does it?

  • snobs

    How can the s4 beat the moto x if the moto x draws whit htc one?

    13 is greater than 10. Winner: Samsung Galaxy S4.

    Ultrapixel is better then mp, and the htc quality is far better then the s4.

  • Jarl

    stack it up to the HTC Butterfly S and it’s bye bye moto :)

  • spacemonkey82

    idiotic and myopic review. comparing specs is not the only way to compare phones. if that was the case iphone would be way inferior to top end android phones and yet it kicks most of their asses with half the specs.

    specs are all good on paper until the users start using the phone when user experience trumps everything else. only tecnies and fanboys care about quadcore or octacore processors with 4 hr battery life.

    moto x is easily better than htc one and gs4 because its bringing something new (both battery life, customization, and hands free always on feature) to the table other than just pimped out processors.

    • JosephHindy

      I stated in the 6th sentence that this was a comparison on paper and that real comparisons couldn’t be made until the device was in hand.

      Both the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 brought unique features to the table. Just because you didn’t list them doesn’t mean they don’t exist ;)

  • Balraj

    No matter what you say
    Htc one. & s4 are far better for that price or even on contract
    Bunch of colors are not going to make moto successful
    Not many ppl in this world use voice assistance all day
    Also 24 hrs of battery life is a lie
    Fake promise that will ruin moto image(unless Google has done something with android without our knowledge)
    I’m waiting for the review!!!!##

  • jay flores

    Did any of you notice the Antutu scores, and see how the Moto X holds its own? The X’s “X8” is based off a dual core setup mated to the high-end Adreno 320, and it’s neck to neck with the quad-cores. The X is very much a high-end device

    • mrjayviper

      s600 with fullhd is a high-end in the 2nd-half of 2013.

  • Magnetic1

    Interesting coverage. It is on paper, but interesting none the less.

  • B

    I don’t care for comparisons like this… You can’t compare off specs alone..especially since the phone is not even released yet…I’ve always liked moto phones…Samsung will eventually lose there market share with there cheap plastic, but high priced phones..Comparisons should always be based off of experiences alone not specs..Samsung is only winning because they have good marketing…the phone is cheap plastic…touch wiz is cartoonish and annoying the way its setup.. Not to mention the crappy batteries in their devices…I hope someone else takes the throne soon…either moto or Google deserves it.

  • B

    I’ve lost faith in all these android “forums” and news sites…there opinions are always biased never based on experience.. And most of the articles I read have misspelled words and terrible grammar ..get some real knowledge and then post a professional review after using spell check for god sakes

    • jjordan

      I have to agree with you on the bad grammar issue. Just because it is a tech website or article, doesn’t mean you shouldnt proofread before posting.

    • relevantdesigns

      Hey B, maybe you should proofread your own comments. Thanks!!

  • dandroid13

    Strange, the phone is made of plastic but nobody complains, if Samsung releases a new phone, you’ll all whine because it’s made of plastic…

    • kimLJT

      well maybe simply because no other point whining the samsung devices in the first place and that plastic thing is just their weak point. but with this moto x hmmmm…… a lot to whine with that even it’s plasticky thing isn’t noticeable at all -_-. sad to this device

  • paxmos

    Talking about deflation of excitement….

  • Tran Nguyen

    One category that Joe Hindy forgot to compare, it is price. IF Moto X price is so close to HTC, Samsung Galaxy S4. I don’t think that Motorola will beat or sold out. I love to support “MADE IN AMERICA” but I should be to think twice. I called Moto X is Lizard phone (too many colors to choose)

  • John

    The Moto X is s complete letdown. It already list half the allure of s flagship phone when the specs were released. At that point the only thing going for it was the rumored $250-$300 off contact price. Tag along a sealed battery and no SD card and it is a resounding flop. I can’t believe they actually had the balls to make a big deal about this ridiculously average phone in just about every category and then price it like a top end phone!

  • blowntoaster

    sorry but your comparison is a bit spec “whore-y”. just because the other phones have 1080P screens, doesn’t mean they are better. just looking at all the hands on videos etc, the Moto X screen definitely beats the Xperia Z. it can also hold a candle to the One and S4 screens.

    And the CPU, though not ultimately as powerful as the Quad Core Snapdragons, can possibly whip them in other areas such as battery life, response etc. power is nothing without control as they say. Test the phone first.

    And seriously, the “benchmark rigging” nonsense on the S4 has to stop. The Octa is a beast, and so what if it boosts the GPU. if it can, it can….stop whining about it… and BTW, the GPU boost supposedly only happens on the Octa version, not the I9505 which is what you’ve mentioned in your comparison. nitpicking…

    this comparison just highlights how out of control the whole android realm has become. it’s spec war and the Moto X is supposed to show that top end specs don’t maketh the phone…even the Nexus 7 MK2, though powerful, doesn’t use Snapdragon 800/ “insert insane specs here” stuff. it’s good because everything just works. why not focus on that for a change…

    I am glad the Moto X was launched. maybe now other OEM’s will focus more on the overall user experience and optimizing what they’ve got instead of pushing for faster, crazier specs/devices every few months.

    …and breathe…

  • getrealhindy

    that 1080p display that you guys tend to love so much about the Xperia Z is, in reality, nothing more than sharp CRAP. The display on the Sony Xperia Z has awful color reproduction, the worst contrast rates around and even worse viewing angles…. Joe, did you ever hold an Xperia Z in your hand?

  • Luka Mlinar

    Every time you compere any flagship phone to the Nexus 4 you should ad an extra 2 points for the price.

    • Bas

      + infinity

  • Bas

    In my opinion the nexus 4 is the winner. Although it is already 1 year old it can still compete with the current high end phones based on plain usability and price. As an any day smartphone it can do anything all the other listed smartphones can.

    And as for losing the OS comparison to the Moto X it is completely lame to punish a Google phone for offering just the ultimate Android experience. And if you want a skinned Android phone with the same specs just buy a LG Optimus G!

  • Mike Bastable

    Bloody stupid review Joe, expect better.. X beats iphone5…$tupid stupid

  • Yoni Infante

    And Note 3 beat all of them :P

  • Timothy Anderson

    See Android Headlines about the processor. I don’t think it is as clear as has been suggested. The performance is not the solely the responsibility of the hardware. Software can and does make a difference when it comes to performance. If you plan on rooting it, changing the OS, then, yes, the others would probably kill it.

  • Pradaman Shorey

    Why compare it to all biggies, its not fair for the biggies….
    It should be compared with last year flagships,, S3, Nexus 4..
    What about price.. consider that and the article is dust…
    Why would somebody not buy S3 for 400 or Nexus 4 for 299..

    Hell yeah you can do customization’s, but you need to have money in the first place to start that,, We all know everything about the phone from the last so many months. I wonder why people are getting disappointed now..

    Mid Range phone at the price of actual beasts HTC One, Galaxy S4.. Joke..

  • Christopher Senn

    I guess it didnt really bother to throw in the main features of the moto x (always on hands free device is win), the cheaper price, and didnt bother to run any more benchmarks. Tie. LOL bad comparison and journalism. Again i think people brag too much about specs vs actual functionality. Battery life trumps the living F*** out of a 720p vs 1080p on a 4-5in screen.