Can MOTO X save Motorola..??

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I'm in the penthouse suite of a beautiful hotel on New York City's West side, the aircraft carrier Intrepid bobbing in the Hudson just outside the window. A silver Halliburton briefcase lies on the table in front of the window. It's like a movie prop, festooned with ridges and combination locks. Inside lies the answer to a question we’ve been asking since Google announced its $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola: what happens when Google builds a smartphone?
The answer to that question is the Moto X. It has endlessly leaked out in various forms for the past few months — Google chairman Eric Schmidt even posed for an impromptu photo shoot with one several weeks ago. I was about to see the 4.7-inch distillation of everything Google and Motorola believe about what technology means and how it fits into our lives.
But when my host spun the combination lock and unlatched the case, I realized that Motorola still had a few surprises. There wasn’t one Moto X to play with — there were 18, at once all the same and each very different. Every color of the Google rainbow, and many more besides.
18 phones, face-down in rectangles of gray foam. I flipped one over — white front, royal blue back, white buttons — and turned it on.
There are actually 504 potential versions of Moto X — the 18 available backplate covers, from concrete gray to hot pink, are just the start. You can also choose a black or white front panel, and the side-mounted buttons and the ring around the rear camera lens come in seven different colors. You have to pick between 16 and 32GB of storage. And then you can engrave the back of your phone.
You pick the color palette you want online, using a tool called Moto Maker. Although the Moto X will come to every carrier, the customization is exclusive to AT&T customers at launch, which is odd — it’s easily the most compelling thing about the Moto X. (It won’t last, either: everyone I spoke to said the exclusive is "just for now.") And if you pick, buy, and change your mind? Just ship it back within two weeks and try another.

To allow for the custom design process, Motorola placed its entire assembly operation for the X in Fort Worth, Texas. Components come from 16 states and countries around the world, but 2,000 or so workers assemble the phones in Texas and ship them all over America. There's certainly a patriotic element to the decision – Osterloh said "it's just the right thing to do" — but the real upside is practical. Since there's no boat from China to wait for, Motorola can have you a new phone in four days. It's like the Warby Parker of cellphones; just try it and see how you feel.
Other than the familiar Motorola "batwing" logo on the back, there's virtually no decoration anywhere on the X. There was a small AT&T globe on the back of a few devices I saw, very much out of the way, and SVP of product Rick Osterloh promised no logos — not Motorola's, not Verizon's — will appear on the front. "We decided to take the whole front of the device," design head Jim Wicks says," and make it feel like it's nothing but a pool of black glass."
But while Moto X is clothed in high fashion, underneath that wardrobe you’ll find decidedly department-store internals. And that may be Motorola’s most interesting bet of all.
With no cold aluminum or glossy plastic, the Moto X is warm and inviting. It nestles perfectly into a palm, the slightly bulbous middle feeling thinner than it is. It's also surprisingly solid despite clearly being made of many disparate parts. It has the same size display as the Nexus 4 or the HTC One, but it's far smaller than either model, with miniscule bezels on all four sides and a glass screen that curves gently into its plastic sides. It's totally usable in one hand.
Jim Wicks calls this size "the sweet spot." Clad in a pink dress shirt that may well have inspired a Moto X color option, he says that Motorola's goal was to build an X that worked for everyone, and the process started with screen size. "We had a lot of debates about the density of the display — 1080 vs 720 — and what the right size is," says Wicks. "It's easy to hold for people. Basically they feel like they have an ample screen to do everything they want to do, but also it's highly pocketable."
Wicks and his team ended up choosing a 4.7-inch 720p AMOLED display, with whites that look a little pink when examined closely and the same motion-blur problems that plague every similar panel. Compared to the the HTC One andSamsung Galaxy S4, both of which have 1080p screens, it’s a mid-range panel, but Wicks says it doesn’t matter. "We could go and make a higher-resolution screen," Wicks says, "but it would just suck battery and nobody would know the difference."
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The screen allows the Moto X to do some other tricks, though: AMOLED displays can be lit up pixel by pixel, and a feature called Active Notifications takes full advantage. Motorola’s research found that that people turn their phones on and off an average of 60 times a day, just to check the time or identify the beeping in their pants. So Moto X starts to pulse when you miss a call or get a text, and a small square in the center of the screen displays the time and icons for your notifications. Tap anywhere on the screen you can see into the notifications without unlocking the phone, and open right into the app you need. It’s a great feature, even if I’m not a fan of AMOLED displays; the Moto X’s screen is too saturated and contrast-heavy, and the white balance is off as well.
The X’s specs are mid-range throughout, actually. Wicks makes his same sweet-spot case for the internals, which Motorola has loftily branded the "X8 Mobile Computing System," but which in reality consists of an off-the-shelf Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor and two custom chips for the Moto X’s always-on voice recognition and gesture controls. The S4 is far from the most powerful chip available, but it's in Wicks' sweet spot — it’s optimized for everything the phone needs to do, and nothing more.
The phone does feel fast, fluidly opening apps from notifications and swiping around the operating system. The upside to lower horsepower, Motorola execs tell me again and again, is battery life. Osterloh confidently says the Moto X will get a full day of battery life — a full, 24-hour day. When I wonder if X will hold up over time, Wicks just smiles.
Motorola isn’t worried, but a $199 phone with mid-range internals is a big bet: even the most powerful Android devices have a history of faltering as time wears on, and it’s hard to justify signing up for two years of a device at flagship pricing that’s already behind the top end of the curve.
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But Motorola’s betting that the future of Android isn't about spec sheets. The company thinks we'll stop being concerned with cores, and gigabytes, and megapixels, and that we'll start caring about how our phones feel, how they make our lives easier, and, maybe most importantly, how long they last.
If that sounds a familiar refrain, it’s because it is — that’s pretty much exactly how Apple sells the iPhone, plus extended battery life. "It's really not about being intimidating and tech," Wicks says. "It's really about being human and comfortable."

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