X Phone specs, and why you shouldn’t care

July 11, 2013
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Moto X Phone

Purported Google X Phone prototype | Image credit: Tinhte

The Motorola X Phone has gained a lot of traction, and a has just about everyone curious. The original scuttlebut involved some sort of device which would shift the Earth’s axis, but the reality is much more subdued. While it wasn’t the monster we’d all hoped for, many remain sanguine about its chances for success. If the recent news of their marketing muscle is any indication, the X Phone won’t need the blessing of technology elitists, and that’s probably a good thing.

I was recently in touch with a friend who works for one of the four major US carriers, who had their paws on the X Phone for a while. Nothing groundbreaking came of it, which got me thinking about what the X Phone really is. The good news is, much of the recent rumors about specs are legitimate. Here’s the quick rundown the hot-button topics, including some new tidbits:

What matters:

  • The Camera is good. Not HTC One good, but very capable.
  • Battery life is great: 4 hours on, 90 minutes screen time, still at 68%.
  • Saying “Okay, Google Now” opens it up for search. This is the “always on” feature.
  • There is a MotoID account, like a Samsung or HTC would have. You can use your Google info to sign in. No need to create a special profile.
  • The test software was Android 4.2.2
  • Typical Motorola build quality, meaning really nice and sturdy.

What doesn’t matter:

  • 4.4” Screen, 720p, 320dpi
  • Battery size is around 2,000mAh, though no official word yet. (We think 2,100mAh is likely)
  • The model tested came with 16GB storage, and 11.9 available.
  • 10MP camera

Does that seem backwards to you? It’s not. It’s time we disabuse ourselves from assumptions regarding what a great smartphone is. This X Phone is going to be a mid-range device, in regard to hardware specifications. If we consider what truly matters, the X Phone really is as groundbreaking as we’d all hoped it would be.

A Snapdragon 600 processor and 5-inch screen are lovely, but only if they are conduits for a great experience.

When I spoke with my contact, there was little concern for hardware specs. Hardware should take a backseat to the experience, which is what really matters. I wanted to know about the contextual awareness of the X Phone, not what processor it had. I wanted to know if it felt sturdy in the hand, not if I could take the best photos ever.

Motorola X Phone

Hello, Moto

This phone also has a ton of sensors, which were likened to those in an S4: Accelerometer, Compass, Gyroscope, Temperature, Humidity, Magnetic, Proximity, Barometer, and RGB Light. While I wasn’t able to get an official rundown, I did learn via another source that the X Phone is designed to make efficient use of all sensors, while understanding your environment in real-time. The chipset is engineered to be low power so you don’t get “screwed” on battery life, and there is a software element to all of this which makes it happen.

In other words, Motorola wants you to enjoy your X Phone.

More to the point, hardware isn’t as important as the experience.

Larry Page has already told us this, and we heard it — we just didn’t listen. His statements about a phone lasting longer, and making it through real-life scenarios, immediately led us into what hardware the new Motorola devices had in store. Our myopic view of what makes a cell phone great should be re-examined, and the X Phone is the most glaring example of why.

In speaking with three people that have actually used the X Phone, the same narrative carries through: the experience is great.

In speaking with three people that have actually used the X Phone, the same narrative carries through: the experience is great. Nobody has said the camera was outstanding, or the processor blew them away. Nobody applauded the lightweight “always on” contextual software, or how it left Android slim. What was impressive to them was how long it lasted, how incredible the contextual aspect of the device was, and how smoothly it ran. You know, the experience.

Sprint Moto X

A phone is a phone is an X Phone

If you’re going to look at the X Phone in regard to simple hardware, you won’t be impressed. Even though this is the new mid-range, and essentially puts the device on par with a Galaxy S3, devices like the Sony Xperia Z will still hold the hardware upper-hand. Devices like that won’t provide the same experience, or price, but they will be able to handle heavier tasks. Tasks that not everyone needs, or wants, to tackle.

Again, we’re back to coming clean with ourselves about how we appreciate a smartphone. A Snapdragon 600 processor and 5-inch screen are lovely, but only if they are conduits for a great experience. We don’t look at, or necessarily interact with, RAM or accelerometers. We are increasingly interactive with our mobile devices, though, and the X Phone is going to be the best at that. The best at providing information when needed, and the best at being a visceral part of our daily existence.

Hardware be damned, the Motorola X Phone may just be the best experience you’ll ever have with a smartphone. Get ready to be impressed by last year’s specs.

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