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Motorola X Phone customization will probably let us down.

More than anything, we’re wondering about this customization claim of theirs. What does that mean? How thorough could the program be? We can hope for a lot, but let’s not assume too much.
By
July 3, 2013
Motorola X Phone

Motorola has decided to keep teasing us with tidbits of information about the X Phone, and we’re left to wonder what it all means. Made in the USA? Great for keeping jobs domestic. Available soon? That’s just mean, Motorola. You know we want that phone!

More than anything, we’re wondering about this customization claim of theirs. What does that mean? How thorough could the program be? We can hope for a lot, but let’s not assume too much. Yesterday we pointed out just why this could all be a dream come true. It’s all lining up the right way, but the dream of full customization still seems so far off.

What we want and what we’ll get will probably be disparate, but we don’t really know that. We still operate on innuendo, with people claiming to have knowledge of the situation. We can hope for the best, but we expect to see something much less.

Moto X Phone

What we want

If we had it our way, all the rumors would be true. The device was so built up, so thoroughly discussed, we have no real option but to be let down. If there could be one saving grace, it would be great customization. If we could build our own device, suiting our needs (whatever they may be), then the chatter about how good or terrible this phone is goes out the window. You could know 10 people with the “same” X Phone as you, but very different specs.

In our ideal environment, we go to the Play Store and build the exact X Phone we want.

In our ideal environment, we go to the Play Store and build the exact X Phone we want. Processor, RAM, memory, screen size, color, case materials; it’s all up for grabs! Like ordering a pizza online, whatever we add or take away changes the cost. If your X Phone with a monster processor and tons of RAM is lost or stolen, you can easily order another device. Maybe you don’t have the cash to replace that lost phone as it was, but you can always build another for a lower cost.

With so many different wants and needs flying around, the ability to completely alter the device silences many critics. A prominent complaint is the very anemic memory that comes on phones, or lack of SD Card slot. If I had the option to add memory, then my needs are satisfied. A faster processor takes care of many other issues like lagging game play, and a selection of screen sizes means no more wishing for moonshot phones that don’t exist.

Sony Xperia Tablet Teardown

What we’ll get

A completely custom phone sounds amazing, and we still hope to see it. That’s a tall order, and we’ve not heard of any kind of manufacturing shakeup to allow for true customization. It wouldn’t take much, but we’re sure someone would have spilled the beans by now. Nike has a custom department, which is really a few experts patching together different materials and colors for shoes. The last on a shoe is a bit different than a smartphone, but the same concept applies: custom stuff needs a department dedicated to it.

We’ve heard about custom cases, in all kinds of materials, and that seems logical. A device with different cases can be easily “customized”, but that would be trite. Why mention customization in a print ad if all that can be accomplished is a special case? I can do that with any phone by adding an aftermarket case or skin. A wood case is a very different idea, but probably not one that is going to be well received or widely requested.

Is it worth it?

Some things may not be worth tinkering with, either. If we consider customization for hardware, all that is really needed is a bevy of parts, and a staff that can piece them together. That’s not hard, but it is time consuming. Those devices would need to be tested before leaving the factory, and that’s another step and more man hours dedicated to your device. This flies in the face of the price point we keep hearing the X Phone will arrive at, which is what really attracts us to it. For $299 or lower, customization can’t happen.

The carrot of a dream device dangling over your head is enticing, but would you pay a premium to have it?

That price point can be arrived at if there were devices ready to go, which may add another wrinkle to the program. Going back to ordering pizza, the more you add to it increases cost, and in the case of a phone, delivery time. I can order a ready-made device, and have it delivered in 2-5 days, or custom make one and wait a few weeks. Ready-to-go devices make it much more attractive for everyone, and could increase customization. We all have a wishlist for our devices, and if Motorola offers the option to get what we want via the same medium we’re ordering the device to begin with, we may just slap a few extras on.

Motorola X Phone Ad

Why you may not want customization

Let’s say, in one years’ time, you want a different device. Who knows, maybe Samsung just kills it with the Galaxy S5, and you just have to have it. You may want to sell your Motorola X Phone to help offset the cost, but nobody wants your used phone with the bamboo case. You’re stuck with a device you don’t want, and may not be able to unload.

Cost is another factor to consider. The carrot of a dream device dangling over your head is enticing, but would you pay a premium to have it? When you factor in just how much more work is involved with building and testing your device, and that Motorola may not be set up to do it yet, the cost for full customization may border on lunacy.

When this thing finally hits the Play Store (as expected), it will probably be a very glancing shot at customization. A custom case, maybe wallpaper and apps loaded on, but that’s about it. From what is being discussed right now, it sounds a lot like having a friend root and customize your phone for you. Quite frankly, that sounds a bit boring.

I’m going to order a Pizza instead.