Initial thoughts on the Moto X 2014

It’s that time of the year(not really) when I switch phones, and with me it means a switch in OS too. From a Windows Phone 8.1 based Lumia 920, I’ve transitioned over to an Android Kitkat(4.4.4) based Moto X, the 2014 edition. The last time I used Android was on a Gingerbread(2.3) based Samsung Galaxy S, which I loved and wrote about, quite a lot has changed in the last 3 years.

Why a Moto X? I’m big on build quality, looks and hate gimmicky features, so Samsung was out – yes, I’m not a Samsung fan. I always want to stay on the latest version of the OS available, preferably untouched, so that eliminated LG, HTC and other upcoming manufacturers. So basically, it was either the Nexus 5 or the Moto X 2014 and the choice was pretty easy on account of its looks.

Having used the new Moto X for a week now I wanted to outline my initial thoughts on how Android compares with Windows Phone 8.1 and how Moto X, the device, compares against the Lumia 920. However, since I’ve only used the new phone for a week so everything I list below is subject to change over time as Android grows on me. Also, there are a lot of other strengths/weaknesses of the Moto X when compared with other Android phones or with an iPhone, I’m not talking about them.

What I love in Android/Moto X:

  1. The abundance and quality of apps – on WP one generally waits for a long time for an app and then waits some more for the app to become polished and truly usable. The Play Store is loaded with apps, there literally is an app for whatever you need.
  2. Google Now – as a service which provides you with the right information at the right time, this is incomparable. With my primary email being on gmail, Google already has a ton of information about me which Google Now puts to good use.
  3. Build Quality – the Moto X is lighter than the Lumia 920 and yet feels a stronger phone with less give and flex. It has a better build quality overall – run your fingers along the seam where the glass curves into the phones body and you’ll see what I mean. On the Lumia, in some places, there was a small gap.
  4. The display – the Moto X has a higer resolution and more contrasty display than the Lumia 920. A huge improvement.
  5. Share Actions – Take a photo, hit Share and open the photo in another app to add a filter or two and then publish it using the Facebook app. Just works on Android, not so much on WP. While WP is slowly opening up to sharing data between apps, it is still very unbaked and the workflow doesn’t seem very fluid.

What I miss from Windows Phone/Lumia:

  1. Notification count on icons – WP handled this with Live Tiles and with a separate count on the tile. Apps could use either or both. Android app icons lack this, the Notification Center is the only place for notifications. If you clear all notifications by mistake, you’ll have to open individual apps to look for updates.
  2. Folders – folders on WP simply blow away those on Android. WP folders look prettier and are more functional in the sense that they still show underlying app notifications.
  3. Live Tiles – layouts on WP look better and more personalised than the home screen(s) on Android – admittedly this is a personal preference. I’m not a fan of staring at the screen waiting for all tiles to flip and show updates. So, I’m not talking about functionality of live tiles here, only the looks – the home screen on WP in general looks more alive and more colourful.
  4. Double-tap to wake – this is not a native WP feature, but specifically a Lumia 920(and other handsets) feature. I initially used to think it a gimmick, but quickly got used to it. Although on the Moto X you can wave your hand over the front face to wake it up, it has yet to grow on me.
  5. Cortana – while Cortana doesn’t compare with Google Now in its depth, I still miss the ‘assistant’ aspect of it. I could instruct Cortana by putting stuff in its notebook which is not possible with Google Now. Cortana also had reminders based on contacts, which Google Now doesn’t – for instance I can set a reminder to do something when a particular contact calls.
  6. Camera – my Lumia 920 camera produced better shots with more colour and sharpness. With OIS, it was in a different league altogether compared to the Moto X camera.
  7. Feel in hand – almost all reviews online of the Moto X(both 2013 and 2014 models) talk about how comfortable it feels in hand. Clearly they never used a Lumia 920. With its curved back, the right girth and heft(which every reviewer knocked)

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