But for all its accomplishments and outstanding products, no Android phone has managed to capture the kind of crowd-pleasing charm that Apple manages to infuse into most of its products.
The Moto X by Motorola, which is now a division of
It all starts with the purchase process. Rather than picking one up at a store, Motorola will make one specifically for you. AT&T allowed me to create one, though I sent the phone back after I was done testing it.
The creation process is easy and surprisingly fun. You can pick a main back color from a variety of hues -- unfortunately, the promised wood backs aren't yet available -- choose accent colors for the buttons and camera lens rim, and select a black or white front.
There are also options for better headphones, black or white charger sets and even options to have a motto appear at boot-up and to select your home screen background. Now, I know it's easy to push an icon and change your background at any time, but preselecting it during the order process was weirdly compelling.
A little over a week later, and my creation was in my hands. I felt a little proud -- you'd never expect a smartphone to be built in green with purple trim, but there it was in my hand. The white front was a little disappointing, as the white bordering the screen was noticeably darker than the white plastic shell, but that's a minor detail.
The phone is made from plastic, but it doesn't feel cheap and fits comfortably in your hand.
Yes, my Moto X dutifully displayed my requested "The Dude abides" at me when I turned it on and gave me the bowling-themed background I requested. It really does feel like something made for you.
Thankfully, the customer friendliness carried over to the easy setup process, which includes a few hints at navigation for Android newbies.
So, after all that, how does the smartphone actually perform? In a word, fine. Moto X has a largely unaltered version of Android's Jelly Bean, which runs smoothly, simply and cleanly. There's relatively little crapware, too.
Most of the tweaks are nice little enhancements. Somehow, the phone will sense when you take it out of your pocket or flip it over and immediately light up the lock screen. There, you can access your various notifications without ever unlocking it.
The voice-activated Google Now assistant program is always on, so you can immediately get what you want just by saying "OK Google Now." If you're into voice assistants, it works well.
Less helpful is the Quick Capture function, which allegedly activates the camera with a flick of the wrist. But no matter how much I kept pretending I was moving a screwdriver like the instructions suggested, I could get it to work only 50 percent of the time. It wouldn't be so bad if there were an option to go to the camera from the lock screen, but there's not.
Speaking of which, the 10-megapixel camera takes sharp pictures. The shutter takes about a second to close, yet I had a hard time getting a blurry shot. It also sports basic options and the ability to take two pictures per second by holding down your finger.
Keep in mind the processor isn't the fastest out there, and the screen is just 720p, not 1080p. But you'd be hard-pressed to notice. Jelly Bean runs so well and the display produces vivid enough colors that it's more than good enough for most people.
But they will notice the charm. Of all the twists I've seen smartphone makers give Android, this is one of the most intriguing.
Motorola Moto X
Pros: Sturdy, attractive and customizable body, solid performance, strong battery life, little crapware
Cons: Quick Capture doesn't always work; color inconsistency on white fronts
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