The original Moto X was a very good handset, but it wasn’t perfect.
Indeed, seeing as it lacked its US counterpart’s Moto Maker customisable options, it felt more like a dress rehearsal than the real thing.
Now Motorola is looking to change that with its successor, the second-generation Moto X. Like with the latest Moto G, the name stays the same but the specs have been given a boost.
How so? The new Moto X has a bigger, sharper screen, better camera, and the aforementioned customisation options.
But can it mix it with the likes of the Nexus 6 and iPhone 6? Let’s find out.
First impressions and design
While the Moto X might look similar to its predecessor, it feels like an upgrade once you get it in your hand.
It has a metal border instead of the plastic found on the original Moto X, and the buttons are metal too.
Motorola has even textured the power button so you can tell by touch that it’s not the volume controls. Handy.
It now has two speaker grilles, one above the screen, one below.
The dimple on the back makes a welcome return too, again providing a useful place to rest your index finger when holding the device.
It’s less curved than that on its predecessor and on the Moto G, but no less comfortable.
Now, the design options. Us Brits missed out on the Moto Maker customisation software first time round, but head to the website and you can basically design the Moto X how you like.
For the back alone you can choose from a range of finishes (Cool, Wood, Leather, Warm etc), each of which has a number of options.
In total, you can pick from 25 different backs.
The front is a bit more limited, however, giving you a choice of either black or white.
You can pick the trim too, which is the colour of the speaker grilles and the circle around the Motorola logo on the back.
You can even engrave a message or name on the back.
You have to pay extra for cases, and for some finishes (a wooden back is £20 extra).
But it all adds up to make the Moto X the most personalisable phone around. Which is fantastic if you want to stand out from your iPhone-owning chums.
Android 4.4.4 KitKat comes as standard, though Motorola has confirmed it will update it to Android Lollipop soon.
It’s stock Android, so it has mercifully few bells and whistles. Though Motorola has added a few software extras.
The first Moto X had a clever way of showing notifications while your phone was locked by only lighting the necessary pixels, saving battery life.
This was called Active Display. Now Motorola has changed the name to Moto Display, and tweaked how it works.
Now, as well as showing notifications as they come in, you can wave your hand over your handset to bring them up (previously, they would appear when you moved the handset).
So you can see any emails, text messages, Twitter notifications etc with a waft of the hand.
To open the notification, drag your finger up the screen to it.
To unlock your phone, pull your finger down the screen, or drag left or right to ignore current notifications.
You can choose which notifications show up, so you can ignore calendar alerts, for example.
It’s a very useful system, though in our experience email notifications took a few minutes to show up.
Once they do, they pulse every few seconds, which won’t drain the battery too much. You can turn it off at night so it won’t keep you awake, too.
As before, voice control is present and correct, but Motorola now calls it Moto Voice instead of Touchless Control.
It works as before – you set up a phrase (I went for the jocular “OK Billy boy”) and ask the phone anything, from finding nearby pubs and cafes, to reading your text messages, to giving you the weather forecast.
Or just ask “What’s new?” if you want to see any recent activity.
As before, it works even when the phone is asleep, so you don’t have to wake it up. It’s a great feature, like having your own robot butler.
What about the meat and potatoes of the phone?
The screen is a thing of beauty. It’s now 5.2 inches – which makes it bigger than the iPhone 6 but smaller than the 6 Plus – with a resolution of 1,920x1,080 pixels. That gives it a pixel per inch count of 423ppi.
Colours pop, edges are nice and sharp, and the dual speakers mean sound has a lot more body than mono smartphones.
The camera has also been improved. Quick Capture is back – when the phone is asleep, this lets you open the camera by flicking your wrist twice, rather than going through the rigamarole of unlocking the handset.
It’s a lot more responsive than on the original Moto X, too. It used to be a bit hit and miss, but in our test it worked five times out of five.
The camera has been bumped up to 13 megapixels, which is a step up from the 10 on the original Moto X.
Colour reproduction is very good – grass came out a luscious green, while autumn leaves were suitably auburn.
Burst mode is nowhere near as quick as on the iPhone 6, and images weren’t quite as detailed either.
The cameras have been pretty weak on the last few Motorola handsets, so this is nevertheless another step in the right direction.
The 2.5GHz quad-core processor works arm-in-arm with the 2GB of RAM to make the handset nice and speedy.
It zips through menus quick as you like, and handled all the games and videos we could throw at it.
There’s no expandable storage, so you’ll have to make do with a maximum of 64GB, which will set you back £460 (more if you want a wooden or leather back).
And a word of warning – it takes nano SIM cards, while most Android smarties take micro SIMs.
So if you’re upgrading, you may need a new SIM card.
The Moto X offers a much needed bit of variety. Its personalisation options are unparalleled, Moto Voice and Active Display offer genuinely new ways to interact with the phone, and it’s very well put together.
Looks like the Nexus 6 has some serious competition.