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(Pocket-lint) - We're live from an event in New York City, where Google-owned Motorola has unveiled its long-awaited Moto X smartphone, which looks to bridge the gap between the Nexus 4. Motorola says the Moto X is the first smartphone manufactured in the US, bringing mid-range specifications and going after the "mass and middle market", while also combining new smart features. 

Wrapped in a Kevlar back, a design favoured by Motorola, the Moto X features a 720p 4.7-inch OLED display, dual-core 1.7GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, 10-megapixel camera on the rear, 2.1-megapixel camera on the front, 2GB of RAM and 16GB or 32GB of internal storage. The third phone to sport a nano-SIM inside, the Moto X will also support LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0+ EDR and 802.11ac Wi-Fi.

The Moto X will be available in the US on AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and US Cellular in white and black for $199 (£132) on contract, with availability beginning at the end of August. The customisable versions are exclusive to AT&T. Unlocked and developer versions will also be available, though pricing and availability has yet to be detailed. Motorola says it will be available in other countries shortly-after, not including the UK

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Smart features

One of the main selling points of the Moto X is an "active display" that is said to be more responsive to what the user is trying to figure out on their smartphone. Normally to get information, you would have to power on the phone, unlock, and swipe to go to the notification center. Now, that’s not the case:

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"Imagine you're at a meeting and turn the phone's face up to see time and notifications,” said Motorola's Rick Osterloh, senior vice-president of product, at the New York launch event. "The phone will go through a process we call 'breathing' that cycles through this info again. You can also touch to see more details and get to other notifications. Swipe up to go to particular notification."

To combat it being mistaken in your jeans or coat pocket, Motorola's new X8 chip system has a textual computing core that keeps track of the "useful state". When face up, the Moto X will show time and notifications, and users can fine tune which notifications they want to receive on the display. Being an OLED display, the Moto X can light up just a portion of the display to get specific information. 

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Furthermore, one of the main features Motorola is pushing in the Moto X is its new touchless control. With this capability, the Moto X enables you to go hands-free. You can tell your phone what to do without even touching the phone. For example, "OK Google, now call Alicia", would respond and action the command. To stop the process, simply say "cancel" at any time. It supports English, Spanish, French and Portuguese - or if you're not a fan of the feature, you can turn it off.

Touchless control also has the capability to navigate to a destination, reading back the address and launching the navigation app to get you exactly where you're going. Motorola brags that you can also ask Google Now for sports stats information, set alarms, and yet more. 

From a technical standpoint, the Moto X's X8 chip system uses what's described as a "natural system processing core" that awaits a keyword to be spoken - such as "OK Google" - before kicking into action. Motorola says the speed of the touchless control's delivery is dependent on how good a connection you have - whether mobile or Wi-Fi.

Motorola says the system isn't always listening for a word, but instead for a mathematical match to your voice and phrase. It has a training process where it listens to you repeat a phrase three times, so it learns your voice. With the intelligence of the X8 chip, the Moto X lasts for a full 24 hours with touchless control enabled and on LTE. The company is planning updates for the touchless control every two months. 

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In the photo arena, Motorola says it wants to make strides in bettering the camera, as "people use phones as their primary camera". You can quick-launch the camera by flicking your wrist even with the screen off and Motorola says the camera analyses the scene at hand and then autofocuses and auto-exposes as appropriate. As for the camera software itself, you can pull from the side of the screen to reveal power camera features such as HDR (high dynamic range), touch-to-focus, or your gallery of snaps.

Motorola says it has a "clear pixel camera" in the Moto X, which claims to eradicate motion blur thanks to new camera technology that's said to gather up to an apparent 75 per cent more light in a given image by using an extra set of clear pixels. Whether that's compared to a standard smartphone we're yet to find out.


When rumours of a customisable Moto X first hit, many believed Motorola would make the specs customisable like a desktop or laptop. We learnt today that's not the case, but that customers will still have the choice to do a bit of customisation on the exterior of the Moto X to fit their style.

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Drawing inspiration from Nike ID shoes and Mini Cooper customisation, Motorola will make 18 different colours available for both the back case and trim. A "Motomaker" feature is available that enables userschange the back, front, and accent colours by going to the Motorola website. Custom engravings are also available, making us reminisce Apple's classic iPod engravings (that, ultimately, ruin reselling the device at a later date). Colour-matched accessories will also be available, including Otter Box cases, headphones, and more.

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In an interesting move, Motorola says it is building a wooden phone too, due to be available in several different colours sometime in Q4. The company is still testing it, and will unveil shortly. 

Motorola makes a Connect Chrome extension available for Moto X and Droid owners that syncs with your handset and lets you see texts and incoming calls from within a Chrome browser on a laptop or desktop computer. You can read or respond to text messages using your computer's keyboard, therefore, and see who is calling before answering the phone. That way you don't have to take your eyes off your work unless it's important. Furthermore, a Migrate Android app was announced, designed to help users switch devices, just in case you should, for example, invest in a new Moto X. 

The Moto X is Motorola's fourth smartphone announced to market in less than a month. Motorola unveiled the Droid Ultra, Droid Maxx, and Droid Mini at an event in New York in late-July, as smartphones headed to Verizon Wireless Stateside.

Check out our hands-on for more detail. 

Writing by Jake Smith. Originally published on 1 August 2013.