What I Actually Need in a Smartphone

I have spent the better part of 2 years trying to find the perfect smartphone. In that time I’ve learned there is no such thing as the perfect device. Today I will be discussing what I actually need in a smartphone and not what I think I want.

Since the beginning of 2013 I’ve owned an iPhone 4, a Nokia Lumia 521, an iPod Touch and dumb-phone combo, an iPhone 5c, a Moto X 2013, a Moto G 2013, a Samsung Galaxy S4, a HTC One M8, an iPhone 6 and now my current phone is an iPhone 5s.

After Owning 10 smartphones in 2 years I’ve finally figured out what I need in a smartphone:

Enough storage space for music, apps and photos

A decent camera

4-inch screen to make it manageable to use

Most of all though it should work well as a phone. The 2 things I find most important are loud enough speakers and a reliable signal.

I had found the iPhone 6 near perfect except the screen was a little too big for my liking and it was only 16GB. I was filling it pretty fast. I decided to sell it to Gazelle and instead of buying a 64GB iPhone 6 I got a 32GB iPhone 5s due to its compact size.

I plan to use my 5s until it no longer works since Apple has given up on phones with 4-inch screens and I don’t want anything bigger than that.

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Moto X: A great little piece of tech

My Moto X Review:

Moto X
Stock image

My Moto XBlue Accents
What my Moto X looks like. Orange back and Metallic Blue Accents.

Battery Life:

I decided to start with the most crucial part first. How long can the average user get out of it? I would have to say 2 days is the average but I have gotten 3 days out of it before. After checking facebook, twitter and instagram multiple times an hour, surfing the web for a couple hours all the while streaming music on pandora the phone was at 50% at the end of the day. On Day 2 I did the same and charged it at 3% that night. Most of you would probably be thrilled with that result but I figured I could get more since I was used to sometimes getting 3 days out of the iPhones and iPod Touches I had owned.

To squeeze more use out of my Moto X I shut off some battery eating settings. I went into settings and shut off Location Services (It allows the apps to find your current location. Most of the time I never allow apps to use it anyways.), NFC (near-field communication which allows you and another smartphone user to share data by touching phones together.) and Automatic App Updates (I didn’t shut it off completely I just switched it to the setting that sends me a reminder to update when new updates become available. If this setting is on the phone will automatically search a couple times a day and that will use up some power.)

I haven’t yet tried to see if these new changes will lead to being able to use the phone for 3 days from 1 charge. Yesterday after using it all day it was down to 56% so it did help a little. I’ll update this portion of the review when I get around to trying my experiment.

The Operating System:

Since I bought my phone so recently it came with 4.4.2 Kit Kat and I didn’t get a chance to try out Jelly Bean. Motorola X8 Mobile Computing System is what Motorola’s version of Android for the Moto X is called. This phone runs almost pure Android and has features that Motorola thinks add to your Android experience.

Active Display- This is one of those features. This features causes your phone screen to light up with texts, the time, app notifications every time you move the phone. Convenient for seeing the time without turning on the screen. When you get notifications you move an icon up and it shows you who texted, emailed and even who played on games. IF you move that same icon down it unlocks the phone and skips over the lock screen. You can shut this off but I actually like it and enjoy using it.

Touchless Control- I can’t really review this feature because I haven’t even bothered to set it up yet. I don’t even use siri. To me talking to your phone is more of a gimmick than a need.

Motorola Assist- I also haven’t used Motorola Assist.

Motorola Connect- Allows you to receive your texts on your computer if you are using the Google Chrome browser. I downloaded the plugin and used it for a few days. It has never worked well for me. It never received my texts in a timely manner and would disconnect often. I tried to uninstall it and start again but now it won’t even connect. I have found a better alternative in the Play Store, AirDroid, but I’ll save that for another post.

Motorola Migrate- Allows you to move your contacts from one phone to another. It works with Android phones and iPhones. This is basically a one time thing because you will only be switching over your contacts once.

Even though this phone is so close to pure Android I still side-loaded the Google Now Launcher because I wanted to have a Nexus 5 experience. The Play Store may say it’s not made for the Moto X but you could’ve fooled me. It runs so smooth and never lags.

Specifications:

Made out of polycarbonate plastic

Weighs 4.59 ounces

Measures 5.09 x 2.57 x 0.41 inches

Comes in 16GB and 32GB versions

4.7 inch AMOLED display

720p resolution

Pixel density of 312ppi.

Hardware:

1.7GHz dual-core Qualcomm S4 Pro processor

2GB of RAM

Camera:

The Moto X has camera with 10 megapixels and takes pictures comparable to an iPhone 5c outside during the day. Inside during the day with the right light the pictures also come out fairly well. Inside at night the pictures don’t come out as well as with an iPhone 5c. On a day I know I will be snapping pictures I use my iPhone to make sure the pictures come out the best they can.

Of course since I haven’t used any other modern Android phones I couldn’t tell you how the camera compares to them. It can almost keep up with an iPhone 5c though.

Apple Macintosh Compatibility:

This was the biggest concern of mine which caused me to be leery of buying an Android phone. After doing research and asking questions on forums I came to the conclusion that I was mistaken and that there were many work arounds to using an Android phone with Apple products.

Once I bought a Moto X I got to work figuring out the easiest way to use it with a MacBook Air. To even access the file part of my phone I had to download Android File Transfer for Mac. I then opened up iTunes and dragged all my music to the music folder on the phone. Now instead of buying songs in iTunes I use the Amazon MP3 app on my phone or Amazon.com on my MacBook Air. Either way I can download new song purchases onto my computer or onto my phone.

I was actually surprised to learn how easy it is to use an Android phone with a Macintosh computer.

Things I like about it:

Its 4.7 inch screen is what lead me to originally look into this phone. I wanted an Android phone but didn’t want a 5 inch screen like the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4. The Moto X is the perfect size for someone who is used to using an iPhone 5c with a 4 inch screen. It is not much taller or wider than an iPhone and can also be used one-handed.

It runs nearly pure Android 4.4.2 Kit Kat.

Has double the RAM of an iPhone 5c.

Feels great to hold and that was Motorola’s goal when they were designing the Moto X. So I think they definitely succeeded.

Motomaker allows you to customize the color of your phone; front and back.

It is a great cheap unlocked smartphone. $399 for the 16GB and $449 for the 32GB.

Final Rating:

I will be rating on a scale of 1 to 10. My rating for the Moto X is a 9 due to the camera. If Motorola had given the Moto X a camera like the iPhone 5c has it would get a rating of a perfect 10.