The new Motorola X Phone ad: It could mean more than we know

by: Nate SwannerJuly 2, 2013

Motorola X Phone Ad The Verge

It’s something I’ve long hoped for the Motorola X: complete customization. Even though the rumors leading up to it hinted it was made of unicorn horn and gypsy tears, we’ve since learned it’s just going to be a cell phone. In fact, we’ve been hearing the X Phone could be a pretty middle-of-the-road device.

What of Android, though? I don’t want a monster device running the latest version of Android, only to have to step down in both hardware and Android version.

But a persistent rumor that stuck with me was regarding customization. I wondered how that would go over, too. It makes a lot of sense, but what about Android? Also, is the X Phone going to even have a skin? MOTOBLUR was reported as “gone for good” in 2011, but it still showed up. It was never prominent, but it was there, mocking us with its presence, perhaps only there to serve a Verizon overlord.

The skin was a relic of better days for Motorola, but their acquisition by Google meant Larry Page took the wheel of that ship and spun it hard to the left. A quick appointment of Dennis Woodside to CEO, the jettisoning of the set-top box division, and a good hard look at mobile was the order of the day. Motorola had things in the works, but perhaps Google could steer that division clear of the mud they had ran aground in. Aside from the Razr MAXX, the only thing Motorola had really done right was device build and sourcing good materials for them.

A Motorola X Phone sounds delightful, but not if it’s just going to be some easily dismissed device. That rumor, though — the one about customization — haunted me. What if I could go onto the Play Store, and build the device I wanted? Even better, I could build the device I could afford. If I lost that 5-incher with the Snapdragon 800, I could easily replace it with a lesser device I could afford. How nice!

What of Android, though? I don’t want a monster device running the latest version of Android, only to have to step down in both hardware and Android version. How annoying! Well, if the Wall Street Journal is correct, we’ll see a new “K release” Android version that bridges those gaps. The newer version is said to be available for a wider variety of device hardware specifications, leading to less fragmentation.

If all the pieces of this puzzle fit as they seem to, the Play Store could be your go-to source for building your very own Motorola X Phone.

Interesting wrinkle. Now I’ve got two very solid sources of information to consider. The Wall Street Journal is tried-and-true, and this Motorola advertisement is set to run in major newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal. In the ad, Motorola claims the X Phone will be “the first smartphone you can design yourself.” That leads me back to that original rumor about customization.

Interesting conundrum. Now I’ve got two reliable sources of information, and a persistent rumor to reference. Could we possibly be seeing a customizable X Phone? If all the pieces of this puzzle fit as they seem to, the Play Store could be your go-to source for building your very own Motorola X Phone.

Imagine the possibilities: color, screen size, material, processor, memory, RAM — all customizable! We would be able to design a device exactly as we need it. This flies in the face of all we know about smartphones, from subsidies to hardware. As a recently branded Google company, it’s also feasible that the new X Phone would keep cost pretty low as well as utilize the Play Store for an eCommerce solution. The Nexus 4 proved that subsidizing devices are less important to consumers, and the “Google Play Edition” devices show we’re not interested in paying a lot. An X Phone could still be that “middle of the road” device we heard it would be, but this time it could mean pricing.

“Designed by you. Built in the USA.” That’s the last line of the ad. The worst line? “Coming soon.” I’m getting anxious again, Motorola.

Motorola X Phone ad

  • Esmail Sewid

    shit just got real

  • MasterMuffin

    And now how about a little expansion to Play Store’s device buying section so that more countries could actually access it? You could start with, lets say, FINLAND :)

    • Grman Rodriguez

      Or, oh I don’t know, COLOMBIA

      • DrCarpy

        Or …..CANADA! Seriously, we’re on the same continent! No Google Voice, Sound search, etc.

        • Steve

          I didn’t even know. That’s just appalling. Why is it like that?

          • DrCarpy

            Because of a group called the CRTC or Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. This group has essentially delivered the country into the hands of the Big 3 telcos in our country. In Canada, the telecommunications motto is why compete, when you can cheat!

          • Steve

            Almost like the US has the big 4 telcos? Well that sucks.

        • TMOTECH

          Thank your government for that…

  • GigaCode

    I don’t know if this is even real, but if it is thn boy :D

  • oli72

    its on like donkey kong. im in.

  • companyemails

    The whole built in the USA is my biggest concern, as that doesn’t usually translate to affordable prices for electronic goods. It will be interesting to see not just what googles has made, but also how they plan to pull it off.

    • Rockwell mellow

      Yes damn those people who want ethical wages to make my phone, damn them to hell!

  • Harry

    How would it work for a buyer to click a ticky box to change the screen size from 5 inches to say 4.7 inches? The entire chassis would have to change to accomdate that! You’d end up with two differently designed devices! Screen size probably can’t be changed this easily.

    • dogulas

      Yeah the combinations thing would be crazy to pull off. Imagine if they had four categories with two or three options each. Sorry guys, it’s not going to be quite THAT customizable. I’m guessing three categories with two options apiece tops. And one of them is casing material. Another could be color. It could be as simple as choosing the OS skin, the casing, and the color.

    • Cal Rankin

      maybe there will be a choice of bodies to pick from, with screen sizes between 4 and 5 inches. If so, I’d say they would pick 4″, 4.3″, 4.5″, 4.7″, and 5″.

  • DanDingello

    Im more excited if it would come with a skin or just regular android..Ive been hearing this moto x rumor for almost a year now… WHEN WILL THIS PHONE SURFACE?!?!

  • Jason ahreas

    So this is going to be like build your own pc phone?

    I can see major problems already….

    Wrong components
    Time delay deliveries
    Extended labour costs

    If I’m reading this right, this will be pretty bad.

  • Mike Bastable

    A modular approach to Smartphone design seems price prohibitive Nate. You can probably customize these like you can customize some sneakers… Anything else would be revolutionary. I expect the x phone to be simply designed and paint job customizable. Android seems to be shedding core functions to the play store so I expect x with key lime pie to be bare bones OS with many OS elements available to focus phone functionality…eg camera phone, cinema phone, music phone….Google will have focus packages tailored and ready to download. Also don’t be surprised to see KLM as a play store download for all Android handsets, Google is gonna take back control to avoid fragmentation staying the problem it is. Such an across the board update would explain HTC dumping support for some very recent handsets….
    The phone will not be a game changer, by the way the ad seems to suggest arrival in the next few days, BUT KLP is gonna change it all, and allow Google, like Apple, much more control of its ecosystem.

  • Tamadrummer94

    I think everyone needs to relax. The ad offers just one potentially trivial line about the customization options for this thing. For all we know, it might just be picking between bloat or no bloat, or choosing 2 GB of ram versus 1. I’m not sure if customizing the screen size, build materials, and battery capacity would be that feasible from a manufacturing standpoint.

    • Steve

      Possibly. I would be angry if Moto/Google were to seriously advertise this feature and it turns out it’s not all that great.

  • David RT

    I for one unlike most commenters below, am happy its built in the USA and would pay 400-600 depending on my chosen specs for the device and for it to be built in MY country and not some sweat shop in China like apple brings possibly better export from the US to other countries which helps the economy however small.

    • dogulas

      That is seriously the awesome attitude we all need to have in my opinion.

      • David RT

        Thank you! But you know most people only follow the other fish instead of making their own decision unlike us pioneers and adventures.

  • aaron

    This sounds awesome, we’ll just have to wait and see what they come out with. I only wish we knew when.

  • peltz

    Build your own computer sites have been around for years. Imagine a site like dell or cyberpower etc but for a phone… The phone starts off as free with say, a 4.5″ screen, plastic case, 2000 mAh battery, plastic case, and a snapdragon s4 pro. Up that processor to a snapdragon 600 for $50, a tegra 4 for $75, or a snapdragon 800 for $100. Up that battery for $10 per 50 mAh. Up that screen size in .2″ increments at $20 per. Bump to an aluminum case for $40. etc etc.

    That would freaking rule! Let people who have more dollars than sense pay $500+ for a dream level device with cutting edge everything while $200 will *always* buy you a top tier device that runs whatever processor happens to be the best at the time with 2gb of ram and say, a 4.7″ display and aluminum body and a 2500ish mAh battery.

    Check mate motorola

    • Steve

      Massive battery for me and a slightly bigger screen to have 4.7″. Also the best GPU and RAM I can get.

  • Kurt


  • Ugo Marceau

    I may be reading waaaaay too much into this ad. But there’s something weird about those two people jumping in the water, it has nothing to do in this ad…
    The guy is clearly doing an X as in Moto X. But the woman is a I as in 1.
    Put them together and you get XI as in 11 in Roman numerals.
    Would that mean November (11th month of the year ?) or July 11th ?
    What is happening to my brain ? Oo

    • wpw

      You read my mind, it was my first thought also at seeing the pic. X1 first release.

  • DarkRain

    You can already buy a customised smartphone, made in China. The Green Orange N1:

    • Moto X Forum

      Wow…I just checked that out. It’s amazing. You can choose screen size and resolution, processor speeds, memory and of course color combinations. Very impressive.

  • Luka Mlinar

    Every now and again we see an add from a global company feeding the American pride monster because without it the American sales numbers can be shaky. Motorola there are over 200 other countries in the world. Not one company recognized Croatian Independence day with a local add. But this feeling of inequality is nothing new. Not like i can go online and buy a Nexus 4. :/