Hands-on: Motorola Skip for Moto X review

The Motorola Skip comes in two forms for the price of one: there's a belt-clip-like attachment and trio of dots included in the box - each designed to wake and unlock your Moto X with a single tap. Even if you already have a PIN, passcode or pattern set up the Skip is there to bypass and speed up the process of accessing your Moto X.

It costs just $20 in the US - North America being the only territory where the Motorola Moto X is available, but that's around £13 - but, at the time of writing, it's currently included free along with all customised Moto X orders.

Skip uses near-field communication (NFC) to bypass the lock screen. It's certainly a neat idea, although there are lingering questions about whether it's practical for everyday use. We've had a couple of weeks using Skip - has it changed the way we use our phone or is it a mere novelty gadget that's destined for the dumpster?

Design: Grey or nay

Skip clip doesn't look all to exciting; it's literally a strip of grey fabric with a pair of magnets to form it into a belt-clip design. And - yawn - it's only available in grey for now. For the more exciting, vibrant colours - the ones that ought to make it more fitting alongside the spruced-up colours of a custom Moto X - you'll have to wait until the autumn. 

The fabric strip folds in the middle, transforming it into a magnetic belt-clip that attaches to clothing. We've found it most proficient positioned near the waist, such as at the top of our trackies, but we've also tried it out on a short-sleeve shirt cuff with limited success. But whatever suits you, it depends how much you like playing Twister with yourself.

READ: Custom design Motorola Moto X: We test out Moto Maker

Going dotty

There are also three sticker "dots" that make up the Skip package. Like the Skip clip, these dots are each individual NFC tags but they can be affixed pretty much anywhere: a car dashboard, a desk; we pasted them on to our coffee table, bedside and purse - those typical places where we find ourselves checking Moto X most often.

But a word of caution: neat freaks will not like Skip dots. After just two weeks of having one pasted on to our purse, it's already begun to peel, fade and look rather dirty. Not cool.

Setup simplicity

Setting up Skip is super simple: enable NFC in your Moto X's settings, download the set-up app via Play store, tap to pair and then follow the on-screen instructions. And that's it. Simples. If only all devices were this simple to set up.

It's worth noting, however, that we had to individually pair each Skip clip and Skip dot. This prevents people from using any Skip as a universal key. Fair enough from a security point of view, even if going through the process four times rather than one is somewhat yawnsome.

After pairing up, the Moto X is still accessible with a master PIN, password or pattern just as per normal. And if you find Skip not to be to your taste, then unpairing it is just as easy as pairing: go to Security in Moto X's settings and select Manage NFC Unlock. To disable Skip completely, go to Security in the settings, select Screen lock, and then choose a different way to authenticate.

Practicality

Skip is supposed to immediately wake and unlock Moto X, but it often took a second or two for Moto X to bypass the lock screen and things are especially slow when Moto X's Active Display system is on.

We did find that to activate via the Skip clip that the Moto X's NFC reader - located under the indent on the back - had to cross paths really close. It can feel like an overly detailed operation. Once we became familiar with aligning the two perfectly, it became a breeze to tap and unlock Moto X. But it's not the more general checkout-style swipe to activate that we had envisaged.

Skip dots, as we found out, first require the display to be activated by pressing the power button, before then being able to unlock Moto X. In other words, Skip dots won't wake Moto X when the screen is off, so their use is ultimately limited.

One to skip?

Skip does make it quicker to unlock Moto X, that much is true. But is it worth spending $20 rather than entering a passcode? No.

It saves a couple of seconds, but it sometimes Skip takes a bit too long when Moto X's Active Display is on. And that rather defeats the whole purpose. We think Moto X's Trusted Devices feature - when you set up Bluetooth devices as authenticators, allowing those devices, such as a smartwatch, to connect without having to first enter a passcode - actually save more time.

READ: Motorola Moto X review

And there's another inherent problem with Skip: remembering to use it. Passcodes, PINs and pattern-access on smartphones have been around for ages. We feel pre-programmed to access our phone that way. A belt-clip access point hasn't changed that simple process and, besides, it looks kind of strange. Taking that extra moment to so much as think about Skip - wherever it or those dots happen to be - seems like more of a chore. And a tedious one at that.

Skip may have some appeal when bundled with Moto X for free, but when it comes down to actually buying it? Nah, skip it. It's a novelty gadget, and your $20 is better spent elsewhere.