Motorola Moto X vs. iPhone 5
August 5, 2013
If you're buying a smartphone, do you look for the most cutting-edge specs or do you prioritize overall experience? In many ways, this question has defined the battle between Android and iOS. Apple traditionally worships at the altar of experience, while Android phone makers more often squeeze in the latest-and-greatest components. But in Motorola's Moto X, we have one of the best examples of a marquee Android phone offering an Apple-like focus on experience. Let's throw the two into our magical comparison machine and see what happens.
The Moto X is the bigger phone, but not by a huge margin. It's four percent taller, and ten percent wider. As you'll see in a minute, though, Motorola managed to squeeze a much larger screen onto that slightly bigger surface.
The biggest difference in size is the Moto X's depth: it's 37 percent thicker than the iPhone 5. The Moto X's sloped back should make it plenty comfortable in hand, but it should also leave a more sizeable impression in your pocket.
As the bigger phone, it's not a huge surprise that the Moto X is also 16 percent heavier.
One of the Moto X's selling features is that you can customize its color, texture, and trim on Motorola's website (though only AT&T customers can do so at launch). All of those options at launch will be made of plastic.
If you can wait a few months, Motorola is planning on offering a version of the Moto X that's made of wood. As crazy as a wooden smartphone sounds, we love unconventional thinking like that, and can't wait to get our hands on one.
The Moto X gives you more display bang for your buck. Want exact numbers? Okay, then: the iPhone 5 only gives you 72 percent as much display area as the Moto X.
The difference in useable area, though, isn't quite as big. Remember that the Moto X has an onscreen navigation bar, while apps get to use 100 percent of the iPhone's screen. The Moto X still gives you significantly more real estate, but the navbar does diminish some of that.
Neither phone has a razor-sharp 1080p display, but they probably deliver enough pixels to be sharp enough for all but the most discerning eyes.
There shouldn't be too much to worry about here. Neither processor is on the cutting edge of performance right now, but they should both still deliver fast and smooth everyday performance.
The Moto X doubles the iPhone's 1 GB of RAM.
The iPhone provides a lot more flexibility here. At release, the 32 GB version of the Moto X is going to be an AT&T exclusive, so the rest of us will be left dealing with 16 GB of internal storage.
Neither phone has a microSD card slot.
Yes, this is 2013, and yes, both phones max out on speedy 4G LTE networks ... as long as your carrier lives up to its end of that bargain.
This is shaping up to be a big advantage for the Moto X. We'll have our full review in the coming days, but the early word is that Motorola really prioritized battery life, and it's one of the Moto X's more appealing features. Stay tuned for more on this front.
Our review will also give you the full breakdown of the Moto X's camera quality, but by the imperfect measure of pixel count, it edges out the iPhone 5's 8 MP rear shooter. For what it's worth, the X has an Omnivision-made "Clear Pixel" sensor that will supposedly provide superior low-light performance.
Hands-free voice control
This is the standout feature of the Moto X, letting you access Google Now without touching your phone. Even if it's resting on a table, saying "OK, Google Now" will have your phone ready to answer all your questions, something Apple's Siri can't do.
The Moto X also learns your voice, so, at least in theory, somebody next to you talking to their Moto X won't be able to activate yours.
It's possible Apple will add near-field communication (NFC) to the rumored iPhone 5S, but the iPhone 5 doesn't have an NFC chip.
It's all in the timing, as the Moto X is launching just as the iPhone 5 is (likely) approaching the end of its initial lifespan. Rumors are pointing to Apple launching a new model sometime within the next few months, so this probably isn't a great time to buy the iPhone 5.
Most Android phones feature some kind of manufacturer UI, in an attempt to differentiate the phone from the rest of the herd, but the Moto X runs (more or less) pure Google Android. The hands-free Google Now and a feature called Active Display (which shows notifications in a subtle, pulsing, power-saving manner) are the two big exceptions.
The biggest surprise about the Moto X's Android software is that it doesn't run the latest version, Android 4.3. With Motorola now owned by Google, you wouldn't think that would be an issue, but we suspect carrier testing requirements led to Moto settling for Android 4.2.2 at launch.
As we mentioned, we'll be giving you a much more in-depth look at the Moto X pretty soon, as we've already been putting our review unit through the paces. But where we stand right now, the handset appears to offer some nice features that the iPhone 5 doesn't have. Hands-free voice control is unprecedented, a bigger screen is hard to complain about, and solid battery life is never a problem. There aren't too many compromises but that 16 GB of storage is probably the biggest.
The big thing to remember, though, is that the iPhone 5 is on its way out. The fairer comparison will be to put the Moto X up against whatever Apple dishes out at its next event. An updated iPhone with a faster processor, a better camera, longer battery life, and a fingerprint sensor could up the ante here. Stay tuned.
If you want to see how the Moto X stacks up against a newer rival, you can check out our comparison vs. the Galaxy S4.
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