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Can the Moto X really deliver a great user experience without great specs?

In light of the wave of leaks suggesting that the Moto X will feature lackluster internal components, this week we discuss the relationship that exists between hardware specifications and user experience.
July 12, 2013
The-Friday-Debate aa

This week we discuss the relationship that exists between hardware specifications and user experience, in light of the wave of leaks suggesting that the Moto X will feature lackluster internal components. The device is said to offer a great experience by those who actually used it, but looking at comments sections and forums, you’d think that high-end specs are all that matters.

So, can Motorola decouple user experience from hardware? Will the Moto X be the first good-enough Android flagship and the beginning of a new era? Or will it be another overhyped, overmarketed device that we’ll all forget about in a year?

Join us for the discussion, vote in our poll, and sound off in the comments!

David Gonzales

Mid-range or not, I’m just happy to see that Moto is finally back on the radar. This company used to be at the forefront of the mobile computing industry, indeed the world of mobile technology in general. And maybe they still are. But I’m really happy for them now that the long awaited Moto X effort is actually coming to life.

With that said, I have to admit I gave up on owning the quote-unquote best smartphone a long time ago, at least as far as hardware is concerned. And that’s because I’ve realized that the beauty of Android really lies in the software.

Android was founded long before Samsung even thought of creating its world-famous Galaxy smartphone range, and it will most certainly still be around long after all the S-series phones (and its ilk) are gone. The point is, owning what could be referred to as the absolute best device now won’t matter much later.

Unless you care for virtual Johnson-measuring contests, of course. In which case, you probably do need a dodeca-core, 7-inch handheld computer to keep you company.

Robert Triggs

I’m firmly in the user experience over hardware specs camp, heck I’m still very happy with my Samsung Galaxy S2 and have no plans to upgrade until it can no longer run the latest version of Android.

But don’t misunderstand me, high spec devices are great if you want the fastest experience, but every smartphone doesn’t have to be an eight core 1080p monster to be a great handset. I’d still happily recommend the Nexus 4 to people, despite the last-gen hardware.

The Moto X has perfectly good specs for a smartphone, which won’t empty your battery before you can get home, and then adds plenty of extra value. For a start, the “pure Android” experience with prompt updates is a feature worth paying for.

The contextual awareness features look to be really interesting and unique, and could well put software features from rivals like Samsung to shame.

Hardware and software customization will obviously be subject to personal preference, but receiving the look and features that you want straight out of the box is a really nice touch.

The Moto X philosophy seems to be as much about quality as it is about innovation, and that scores big points in my book.

It’s important to remember that hardware is a tool to do a job, it shouldn’t be treated as ends unto itself. So whilst the Moto X may not be totally off the wall in terms of power, it’s no less noteworthy than the Galaxy S4 or HTCOne in terms of doing its job. I can’t wait to see what the Moto X can do.

Eric Schmidt talking on Moto X

Adam Koueider

There was a time when I was a specs maniac. Dual core, quad-core, qHD, WQXGA, 720P, Ghz, Megapixels. I would chew them up and spit them out. Then I realized that we’d reached we’d reached the threshold, the time when it didn’t matter how fast the benchmarks told you your device was, but how fast it felt.

This was the iPhone’s ploy. No matter what the benchmarks said it achieved, it still felt fast and isn’t that the whole point. Specs certainly do matter. You still need a good display, great battery life, overall speed, a camera that isn’t pathetic in low-light. Those things matter. Not whether your device can hit 30,000 in Antutu.

I’ve never felt that my Nexus 4’s processor was inadequate and I’ve yet to find a game that has stressed its processor to the max. We need to understand that Google isn’t targeting this phone at the hardcore 1% of users, its targeting the 99% of users.

I’ve read reports about the Snapdragon 800 achieving double the speeds of older SoCs while using the same power. That’s all fine and dandy, but it should be the other way. I want processors which can achieve the same speeds while using half of the power, because I see that as a bigger conundrum.

My problem with current day smartphones isn’t that they don’t have enough power, it’s that they don’t make it through my day on a single charge. I haven’t had a problem with the amount of pixels in my photo since 2011, but I have had a problem with taking a decent shot in low-light. My screen has a high enough resolution, but its not as bright as it could be.

If the Moto X turns out to have mid-range specifications for 2013 standards, then I am okay with that. We’ll have to see if it can solve the major gripes of users and also whether its big contextual awareness features are any good.

Joshua Vergara

For as long as I can remember, Motorola has always tried to make their phones excel at one thing. Not to say that they neglect everything else – just think back and you’ll realize that Moto phones always had that one feature that stood out.

That black RAZR with its slim flip phone design was one of the best built phones ever produced. The ROKR was one of the better music playing phones of its time. Then, more recently, you had the RAZR MAXX – a reimagined RAZR whose battery life blew everyone else’s away. You could always count on Motorola to make a phone that fulfilled a need, meaning that there was always a core demographic.

And now, in this age of black slate smartphones, there is a new need – personalization. Sure, you can use accessories to make a phone seem unique, but in the end everyone is using the same stuff, don’t you think? If Motorola can get us back to loving our phones not just because of what they are capable of but because they are extensions of ourselves, they might really be onto something here.

We also have to remember that the midrange game is starting to slowly fade away. Ever since the Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU, we’ve had so many fast phones that when it comes to performance we’re getting these blurred lines. (I know you want it…) By now, the S4 Plus is probably considered a midrange-esque package but guess what – you can’t tell when you’re actually using the phone. The Moto X won’t be cutting edge underneath, but I’m sure it will still please.

And if we get a good enough performance package in an attractive shell that WE made ourselves? Hello, Moto.

Can Motorola deliver great user experience without great specs?

Join us in the comments and vote in our poll.

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