Motorola Moto X hands-on: First look

GSMArena team, 01 August 2013.

ClearPixel camera overview

Perhaps the most interesting bit about the Motorola Moto X is its unique 10MP image sensor, which makes use of what Motorola calls "ClearPixel" technology. It uses 1.4-micron pixels (same size as 8MP cameras), but instead of an RGBG matrix it uses a RGBC matrix, which should capture "75% more light". Also, the sensor has a native 16:9 aspect ratio. This will be interesting to put against the HTC One and its UltraPixels.

 Moto X Hands On  Moto X Hands On
The camera unit and the LED accompanying it on both the white and black Moto X

Regular camera sensors employ a filter grid layer in front of the image sensor pixels. The filters' job is to single out the individual colors of light (RGB - red, green, blue) and allow for only one color of light to reach any given pixel on the sensor.

The most widely used type of filter arrangement in modern-day cameras is the Bayer filter arrangement, which follows a filter pattern of 2 green pixel filters, 1 red pixel filter and 1 blue pixel filter.

The Moto X camera, however, replaces one of the two green filters with clear, transparent one. This results into more light reaching the sensor - up to 75%, as Moto claims.

Since the conventional image sensor still needs the green light information, the image processor has the task of providing it. It supplies it by subtracting the red and blue light information from the full spectrum light, captured by pixels under the clear filters.

On the software side, the camera offers HDR, burst shots and panorama. The Moto X can also shoot full HD videos at 30fps - par for the course for high-end smartphones these days. There are also features like face detection and geo-tagging that we've grown accustomed to in most phones nowadays.

At the front of the Moto X, there's a 2MP camera capable of 1080p video recording that serves for video-chatting purposes.

Now that we got some nicer weather we were able to take the Motorola Moto X we 10 MP ClearPixel camera out for a walk and snap some photos with it.

The stills are in 16:9 aspect ratio, which is the native aspect of the sensor. The images turned out pretty nice with decent detail levels and noise kept under control. We did notice quite a lot of purple fringing, though, suggesting less than perfect optics.

Macro seems to work like a charm (note the flowers) and colors turn out punchy and nicely saturated.

Motorola Moto X 10 MP camera samples

Next up we have a comparison between the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the Motorola Moto X in low-light conditions. The Moto X did get better exposure and produce an image with significantly less noise, but the detail levels on the two devices are basically on par. Still less noise at equal sharpness is quite the commendable achievement.

Motorola Moto X vs Samsung Galaxy S4 room light

In the next two we enabled the flash units on the two smartphones. The Moto X loses its advantage here, as the seemingly brighter flash of the Galaxy S4 helps it match the output of the Moto X.

Motorola Moto X vs Samsung Galaxy S4 low light

Finally here's a video sample we captured with the Motorola Moto X on a busy street. Everything flows fluidly and there's plenty of detail to go around. Colors are accurate and focus never seems to miss and is quick to lock.

First impressions

The Motorola Moto X is certainly an interesting device. Unlike most other Android flagships, this one is built more around experiences than specs. It doesn't even come close to the CPU performance of the current top dogs, let alone match those Snapdragon 800 monsters that are in the pipeline.

However, the Active Display and the always on voice commands leveraging on the always-improving Google Now really take the user experience up a notch. Motorola chose to spend more effort there than on fitting a beastly chipset or a 1080p screen inside the Moto X and these are not gimmicks, they work great. Only time will tell whether or not the gamble will pay off.

And it's a similar story with the customization service - it's never been done before so no one can predict how the market will react to it. The idea of making a smartphone exactly to your liking sounds great and is something none of the other flagships on the market can offer. The iPhone for example is only available in a pair of colors, the HTC One has three and even the Galaxy S4 is far from matching the choice, offered by the Moto X.

However, with the kind of asking price that Motorola has set on the Moto X, those gambles better pay off. Charging $100 more than its main rivals, while offering inferior chipset and screen, is a risky strategy that will only succeed if both the unique software features and the customization options get great market reception. Here's hoping, for the sake of variety and healthy competition, that this is exactly what is going to happen.

Reader comments

  • Anonymous

good loking

  • AnonD-333286

When will lollipop os avalible for moto x 1st generation

  • musty

Its very good but the PRICe