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Motorola Moto X vs. iPhone 5

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August 5, 2013

Gizmag compares the specs and features of Motorola's Moto X and Apple's iPhone 5. Which ex...

Gizmag compares the specs and features of Motorola's Moto X and Apple's iPhone 5. Which experience-focused phone comes out on top?

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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.

Size

The Moto X is a little bit bigger and significantly thicker

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.

Weight

The Moto X is 16 percent heavier

As the bigger phone, it's not a huge surprise that the Moto X is also 16 percent heavier.

Build

If you can wait until Q4, you should be able to snag a wooden Moto X (wood image: Shutters...

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.

Display

The iPhone 5 only gives you 72 percent as much screen area, though the Moto X's navigation...

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.

Processor

Neither processor is the absolute best right now, but both are still very fast

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.

RAM

The Moto X doubles the iPhone's 1 GB of RAM

The Moto X doubles the iPhone's 1 GB of RAM.

Storage

That 32 GB version of the Moto X is an AT&T exclusive, at least at launch

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.

Wireless

Both phones have LTE radios

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.

Battery

Battery life is one of the Moto X's defining features

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.

Cameras

The Moto X's Clear Pixel camera will supposedly deliver quality performance in low-lit con...

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

Only the Moto X offers 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.

NFC

Apple has yet to put an NFC chip in any iPhone

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.

Release cycle

The iPhone 5 is growing a bit long in the tooth, while the Moto X hasn't even released yet

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.

Software

Google-owned Motorola surprised some of us, by not giving the Moto X the latest version of...

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.

Wrap-up

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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About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin covers consumer technology for Gizmag. He's previously written for Android Central, Geek, GottaBeMobile, Android Police, and The Huffington Post.
He lives in New Mexico, U.S., with his lovely wife, Jessica.
  All articles by Will Shanklin
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5 Comments

Well now Motorola too is breathing down the iPhone 5

neck ! Come on guys - at Cupertino lets have what it

takes to stay ahead once again !!!

Hands free , wiFi charging , better battery life , more

inclusive SIRI , 5 inch screen , and an unbreakable body

Design , plus what have you !!!

Thumbs up n waiting.

kpatel
6th August, 2013 @ 05:17 am PDT

Price comparison would be a good idea on ALL these comparisons you do. Most of us do realize the Apple products are the losers in this category but it would be interesting to know by how much we are getting fleeced for.

equator180
6th August, 2013 @ 10:52 am PDT

Yes, Will. I completely agree with equator180.

I love your very informative, to the point, and unbiased reviews, but you should also add a price comparison component to your reviews. Many of your readers are on a limited budget so a price comparison would put the cost of ownership in perspective.

Keep up the good work !!!

Bundchungal
6th August, 2013 @ 01:44 pm PDT

For all the experts out there, if you have not realized "rope a dope" ( i.e. 119 vs 102 mm) you are no expert.

I use technology what ever and which ever meets my needs but the dang iPhone gets me more than others.

anmufti
6th August, 2013 @ 11:36 pm PDT

Like the MotoX specs, but NOT the missing microSD slot.

Without that, it is a no-go.

TN
7th August, 2013 @ 11:43 am PDT
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