The Moto X was supposed to be the most iconic Motorola handset in its second coming under Google, stressing on experience rather than the spec sheet. You could customize it right from the ordering page (including apps and back covers – Moto Maker, anyone?) and anyone who had a Moto X pretty much stood out from the Android crowd in the same way in which a Nexus user did. It was a way of opting out of the spec sheet battle and saying “I want a phone that is easy to use.” The trend changed a bit with the arrival of Lenovo, with the second and third generation handsets being slightly more spec oriented, but with the new Moto X4, Lenovo/Moto seem to have returned to the drawing board of yore. To an extent anyway. Here are seven points that have struck us so far about the new device:
1. Glassy, Glassic…so much glass
The first thing that will strike you about the Moto X4 is the sheer amount of glass in the device. It is literally encased in glass on the front and back. And while this is expected from the front, the back dazzles one with the light reflecting off it at different angles every time you change your point of view. Yes, it looks more glassy than the other X in the market from Cupertino. And like that one it too claims to be pretty tough – Corning Gorilla Glass on front and back, and with an iP68 rating for dust and water resistance. It is not resistant to smudges though – photographing it was a nightmare. The frame in the middle is metal, incidentally. We have seen one or two people thump it against a table with no damage. So this is not some fragile fairy.
2. Bezels, yes, but compact too…and stand out in a crowd stuff!
Moto has not gone with the zero bezels or 18:9 aspect display, so the front is very much business as usual. At 148 cm in length, it is on the compact side, and at 163 grams, slightly on the heavier side, but not alarmingly so. It will fit into most hands. But while the front might look relatively routine (5.2-inch display with fingerprint scanner below it), the back totally marks it out as a different animal from anything else. It is gently curved, and a reflective film beneath it, which leads to light reflecting at different angles and then there is a prominent camera unit, which protrudes from the back and has etchings on its circumference, like a clock face. Some might worry about the camera unit picking up scratches, but Moto says that is unlikely to be an issue thanks to the material used. That back does make it one of the most outstanding devices out there. You cannot mistake it for anything else.
3. Dual cameras – best looking anyway, and with brains too
Those protruding cameras at the back are perhaps the most noticeable feature of the Moto X4 (after you have been rendered glassy-eyed by all the glass), and they also contain, in our opinion, one of the most outstanding features of the device. Yes, they are dual cameras (one normal, one wide angle) and have megapixel counts of 12 and 8 megapixels and claim to deliver great bokeh and detail (we will see!), but their secret weapon is the fact that they identify landmarks and objects which are placed in front of them. Yes, it requires an Internet connection, but when it works, it is sheer magic – it has identified dogs, noodles, books and even a few landmarks so far. Oh, and there is a 16.0-megapixel front facing camera too with a flash for selfie fans.
4. It is not about the specs
After the second generation Moto X and the third generation Moto X Style played on relatively high-end Qualcomm processors, the Moto X4 gets back to its basics. It is not trying to fight on benchmarks anymore – the 5.2-inch display is a full HD one, and powering the device is a Qualcomm 630 processor with 3GB/ 4 GB RAM and 32 GB/ 64 GB storage. There’s dual SIM connectivity (one of the SIMs can be swapped for a microSD card), a 3000 mAh battery and the cameras as we said earlier are 12.0-megapixel and 8.0-megapixel in the rear and 16.0-megapixel at the back. Connectivity options include Bluetooth, 4G, Wi-Fi, GPS, and NFC, although there is no infra-red. These are respectable rather than remarkable specs. There is no benchmark buster here. Moto is clearly betting on the experience and style to carry this one through.
5. The purity of Android…
Of course, this being a Moto, it comes with pure Android – 7.1.1 to be exact, with a commitment to be updated to Oreo (8.0) before the year is out. Given those specs, which are a clear step up from the Moto G5s Plus, it should behave smoothly enough.
6. Blended with some Moto touches
There are a few Moto touches there, though – you have Moto actions, such as chop twice to launch the flashlight, twist your wrist to launch the camera; Moto display, which shows motivations when the screen is off and Moto Key, which lets you log into your Windows notebook when you touch the fingerprint scanner on your phone. You can also connect up to four devices to the phone over Bluetooth, letting you set up your own multiple speaker system. There is also the depth editor in the camera app, which lets you play around with backgrounds. Some might have preferred Android without even these touches (there is an Android One edition of the Moto X4, although it has not been launched here), but judging by our experience of the Moto G5S Plus and the Xiaomi Mi A1, we are pretty comfortable with pure Android avatar that Moto offer.
7. And a heck of a price
The price of the Moto X series has always been a contentious issue when it comes to India. Many consumers had expected the original X to be more affordable than it actually was. And its successors too were not really in the super affordable category. Well, neither is the X4. And yet, with a price tag that starts at Rs 20,999 for the 3 GB/ 32 GB avatar (Rs 22,999 for the 4 GB/ 64 GB one), the latest Moto X is easily the most affordable at launch stage in India. And honestly, we can see it getting into territory which is not occupied by any prominent brand at the moment – while competition is frenetic in an around the Rs 15,000 mark, it is decidedly less intense in the Rs 20,000-25,000 belt, where the X4 at the time of writing seems one of a kind with its blend of stylish, compact design, and Stock Android with a few Moto flourishes. In fact, the only devices that might seem to lay serious challenge to it would be the Vivo V7+ which has an 18:9 aspect ratio display, but is relatively modestly specced, and the Oppo F3 Plus which recently launched a 6 GB variant at Rs Rs 22,990 and sports dual front cameras. There is also the slightly older OnePlus 3T which might attract some. But all said and done; Moto has played the price gambit well. Whether this is backed up by performance will be revealed in our review. Stay tuned.