Moto X vs Nexus 4: What's the difference?

Motorola’s Moto X smartphone has finally been unveiled. It’s a svelte device with hundreds of colour options, and it uniquely listens for voice commands and is able to brighten portions of the display to serve up incoming notifications.

The first smartphone made under Google’s guidance, many have wondered how the specs compare to other popular Android devices with a pure Nexus experience such as the LG Nexus 4. The Moto X offers a "near-stock version of Android", but with a market brimming full of high-end (and pricey) choices, its time you figure out which Android device is the most compelling before you decide to drop hundreds of dollars.

Read on to find out how the Motorola Moto X specifically compares to the LG Nexus 4, as well as if it offers any performance tradeoffs or exclusive features.

Availability

The Moto X is the first flagship smartphone from Motorola since becoming a Google-owned company. Motorola Mobility CEO Dennis Woodside revealed initial details about the smartphone in May, and the company officially unveiled it on 1 August, 2013.

The Moto X will launch on US carriers Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and US Cellular, but it will also land in Canada as a Rogers exclusive. It will release in the US for $199 (£130) on-contract sometime during late August and early September, but exact dates for each carrier are unavailable at this time.

Motorola said there would be an unlocked version as well, and the Moto X would come to other countries in autumn. However, Pocket-lint has learnt that the UK will not get the Moto X that unveiled in the US.

Read: No Moto X for the UK, other 'cool and exciting' devices in the portfolio planned for Europe

The Nexus 4 is Google's fourth Nexus-branded Android smartphone, although LG Electronics is the device's manufacturer. Google announced the Nexus 4 on 29 October 2012 and scheduled its launch for 13 November 13, 2012.

The black version of the smartphone initially released for $299 on contract through the Google Play online store in the US, UK, Canada, Germany, France, Spain and Australia (but just $199 on contract with US carrier T-Mobile). A white version released in May 2013. It's availability is much wider than the Moto X's.

Nexus

The Moto X is not a Nexus device. As of November 2012, LG's Nexus 4 is the latest Nexus smartphone.

The term "Nexus" applies to a range of mobile devices made by several manufacturers. Nexus devices run Android, but they do not have manufacturer or wireless carrier modifications, such as custom graphical user interface, skins and overlays. They are also the first Android devices to receive OS updates.

Rick Osterloh, senior vice-president of product at Motorola Mobility, told Pocket-lint at the Moto X unveiling event that the Moto X is similar but different from Nexus. Without detailing too much, he said Nexus appealed to early adopters and developers, and Motorola wanted the Moto X to have a wider appeal. Thus, Google and Motorola are trying a different strategy with the Moto X.

"We were really trying to go for the majority or middle market," he said. "We wanted a broad appeal and a very broad distribution, and that's what X is all about."

Motorola said it would supply the Moto X with all over-the-air software updates in the future. This is a "feature" that many consumers long for, as carriers are often slow and sometimes dodgy when it comes to keeping their devices up to date. That said, LG's Nexus 4 currently updates through carriers and Google.

Design

The Moto X is 5.09 inches in height, 2.47 inches in width, 0.41 inches in thickness and weighs .29 pounds. It's initially available in black and white colour options, but Motorola will provide over 504 possible ways to customise the smartphone's shell and accent colours — with 18 colours alone just for the backplate.

The Moto X has a curved form factor, which Motorola said allows the Moto X to fit ideally in the palm of a user's hand. The rounded back is not just for looks; a new layered battery fills up the space. The back shell is also rubberised and durable and features a textured pattern.

The Nexus 4 is slightly bigger at 5.27 inches in height, 2.7 inches in width, 0.36 inches in thickness and weighs 0.31lb. It's only available in black and white colour options. There's a slight curve to the edges of the display, which, like the Optimus 2X, means there's no hard edge, while the rear of the Nexus 4 is a sheet of toughened glass inlaid with holographic patterning that shimmers when the light catches it.

Internal specs

The Moto X has a X8 Mobile Computing SoC clocked at 1.7GHz, and the GPU is an Adreno 320 from Qualcomm. The smartphone also has 2GB of RAM, 16GB or 32GB of internal storage with no expansion options. In terms of connectivity, the Moto X supports LTE, EDGE and HSPA+, as well as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC. It also offers tethering/mobile hotspot connection. Lastly, the Moto X has a 2,200mAh battery that allegedly serves up 24 hours of life with regular use.

The Nexus 4 has a Qualcomm Snapdraogon S4 Pro clocked at 1.5GHz. The smartphone also has 2GB of RAM and 8GB or 16GB of internal storage with no expansion options. The Nexus 4 supports EDGE, HSPA+, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC. It also includes an LTE chip, although it is effectively disabled in software but could be modified to use LTE Band 4. The Nexus 4 additionally supports DLNA media streaming. Lastly, the Nexus 4 draws power from a 2,100mAh-capacity battery that provides 15 hours of talk time. 

As for sensors, the Moto X has a compass (magnetometer), proximity, ambient light, gyroscope and accelerometer. These sensors allow the smartphone to recognise when its in use or resting, as well as gestures like a flick of the wrist for accessing the camera. The Nexus 4 has all the same built-in sensors as the Moto X, but it also has a barometer.

Display

The Moto X has a diagonal 4.7-inch AMOLED display with a 1,280-by-720-pixel resolution and 316PPI. It's a capacitive touchscreen with an RGB pixel arrangement.

The Nexus 4 very narrowly has a better display than the Moto X, thanks to its diagonal 4.7-inch IPS LCD panel with a 1,280-by-768-pixel resolution and 320PPI. Like the Moto X's display, it's also capacitive with an RGB pixel arrangement.

Cameras

The Moto X has a 2-megapixel front shooter with 1080p video capability. On the rear, it has a 10-megapixel camera with 1080p video capability, autofocus and LED flash.

The Nexus 4 falls behind in terms of cameras, as it only has a 1.3-megapixel on the front. It also has an 8-megapixel shooter on the back with 1080p video capability, autofocus and LED flash.

Software

The Moto X will have Android 4.2.2 at launch, where as the Nexus 4 had Android 4.2 at launch. Both smartphones don't have a skin or overlay, but the Moto X does ship with its fair-share of carrier bloatware.

We'll take a much closer look in our upcoming review of the Moto X, but in the mean time, check out our brief hands-on.



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