Good lord! Is that real wood?” Those words (or their variants) have been uttered every time we have shown a person the new Moto X – the Moto X (2nd generation), to give it its official name. Yes, we have been given the wood edition of the second Moto X, and after a few hours with the device, our initial impressions have been…well, mixed.

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Right, we need to make this clear right away that we loved the design of the original Moto X. Released in 2013, it was very compact and amazingly understated at a time when everyone and the grandafther was screaming “phablets.” Oh, and it too had a wooden edition, where the back was wood. A year down the line, everyone and their grandmother (even the ones at Cupertino) are STILL screaming “phablets” and this time Moto seems to have toed that line.

For let me make it dead clear: unlike its predecessor, which pretty much stuck out like a sleek Arabian steed in a buffalo herd, the new Moto X tends to conform. In size it is almost as long and wide as the Galaxy S5, and at 10mm is actually thicker than that worthy – the bew Moto X’s proportions are 140.8 x 72.4 x 10 mm, which are significant step up from the 129.3 x 65.3 x 10.4 mm, and are actually comparable with the 142 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm of the Galaxy S5. It also weighs just a gramme more than the Galaxy S5 – 144 grammes to 145.

The front is…well, crowded. There is no way of getting around that. The 5.2-inch 1080p AMOLED display dominates and the bezels are still small, but unlike in the X, which only had a speaker grille, a microphone and a front facing camera, the new X has plenty. There are two speaker grilles, both of which protrude slightly from the surface and have a rough “nail file” kind of texture to them. There is a front camera (2.0-megapixel) too, but there are five other sensors of some sort on the front as well, a mix of ambient light sensors and mics, we suspect. The result, however, is a bit odd and crowded – a few people to whom we showed the device from front felt it was a Samsung. That tells you a tale.

The real magic of the new Moto X however starts becoming apparent as you check the sides and the back. There is a metal band running along the side, with the power/display and volume rocker on the right (the power/display button for some reason has the same ‘nail file’ feel that the speakers do!) , the SIM card and 3.5 mm audio jack on top and the micro USB port at the base. The left hand side is bare.

Flip the device around and ah, revert to those words with which we started this piece. Yes, the back is wood which curves outwards gently, with the Moto logo in a recessed metallic button and the 13.0-megapixel camera with flash above it. It is real wood, so every phone will have a different woodgrain pattern. The logo looks classy as hell, but out geek side (which pops up from time to time) was fascinated by the camera which is actually surrounded by a ringed dual LED flash. It somehow looks a whole lot more compact and stylish that those cameras with flashes placed separately. The wood seems very sturdy and resistant to basic stains and scratches, which anyway will not be easily visible on the woodgrain pattern.

The phone feels solid enough although it is definitely a bit on the larger side when compared to the very compact original Moto X. The metal sides make it just a little slippery but we think the slightly rough back should let you retain a grip on it easily. The specs are pretty well known by now – full HD display, Android 4.4.4 (with no skins to bother you), quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, 2 GB RAM, 16 GB/32 GB storage (not expandable), 13.0-megapixel camera, single SIM connectivity, and so on. Pretty much high-end Android.

And that actually is what the new Moto X looks like too – a high end Android device. We are not saying it does not look good. That back with its logo and camera will attract attention. But unlike the original X, that totally went against a trend and actually proved that a smaller device powered by a good dual core processor could look good and perform brilliantly, this one looks more run of the mill.

Until you turn it around, of course, when the “oh my God, is that real wood?” effect kicks in.

All in all, we like the look of the new Moto X. But given a choice, we would still prefer to be seen with the former. Tells the whole tale. Stay tuned for our review.

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Associate Editor

Nimish Dubey has been writing for more than a decade now (well, Windows 3.1 was around and Apple was on the verge of being finished when he started). He has been published in a number of publications including The Times of India, Mint, The Economic Times, Mid-Day and Femina on subjects that vary from tech write -ups to book reviews to music album round ups. He managed to interview Michael Schumacher once and write two books for young adults along the way.