Features & Controls

The front of the Moto X has a 4.7-inch AMOLED screen. The screen is very sharp and touch screen operation is elegant. You can find bigger screens on some higher-end models, as well as higher resolution. This screen has a resolution of 1280x720; full HD resolution screens deliver 1920x1080 pixels.

The Moto X has a 1.7 GHz dual core processor and runs Android 4.4 KitKat. It comes in 16GB and 32GB versions.

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The texture of the back of the body helps you keep a firm grip, which is helpful considering this smartphone's compact size. Due to the nature of the thin smartphone's shape, you will still have difficulty taking a photo one-handed without dropping the phone, but it is possible.

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The top of the body is where you'll find the earphone jack. The body measures roughly 2.75 inches (w) by 5.38 inches (h), and approximately 0.31 inch thick.

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The bottom of the body houses the USB port.

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On one side panel (Moto X is screen down, top of device at right) is the SIM card tray. No buttons are found on this side of the body. You need a special tool (included) to pop open the tray.

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On the opposite side (top of smartphone is at left, screen down) you will find the power button and volume buttons.

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The Moto X comes with a USB cable, charger, and SIM card removal tool (not pictured). The back of the unit does not slide off for easy removal of a defunct battery; it is glued on.

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The dimutive lens on the back of the smartphone sits next to its tiny LED flash and speaker. The lens captures 10-megapixel images, and the camera offers a burst mode. The camera on the front of the Moto X for taking self portraits records a more modest 2-megapixel files.

The flash is, not surprisingly, only useful at very close range. In low light, the flash's illumination fell off dramatically at roughly five to eight feet. It still works adequately for close-up snapshots, but you can't expect it to also illuminate a background if you're photographing people.
Rear-facing camera:
  • 10 megapixels
  • LED flash
  • 1080p HD video (30 fps)
  • 4X digital zoom
  • Slow motion video
  • Burst mode
  • Auto HDR
  • Panorama
  • Tap to focus
Front-facing camera:
  • 2 megapixels
  • 1080p HD video

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To record a photo, you tap on the touch screen. The camera will prioritize focus wherever you drag the focus box. You must use the touchscreen to take shots, and can not program a button on the side panel as the shutter release.

Note at top right the on-screen button for launching movie record mode. You switch to the 2MP front camera using the button at bottom right.

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Swipe rightward and a virtual settings dial glides onto the screen. While this design has a certain aesthetic appeal, I think it would have been more useful to have all of the options glide onto the screen as buttons. That's because there are eight menu items, but only five fit on the on-screen dial.

Settings menu options:
  • HDR: Auto, on, off
  • Flash: Auto, on, off
  • Tap to focus: On, off
  • Slow motion: Records slow-motion video
  • Panorama: Pan the camera slowly to record a very wide-angle shot.
  • Geo-tag: Apply location info to your shot
  • Shutter tone: On, off
  • QuickDraw: Twist your wrist twice to launch camera function if smartphone is asleep

You'll notice that there are no scene modes, per se. Everything is done in Auto mode, with minimal settings adjustments available in shooting mode.

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The Moto X's HDR function is a welcome setting. Using it increases the amount of detail the camera captures when lighting is very bright, causing dark shadows.

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The camera records 1080p video at 30 frames per second. It also has a slow-motion video mode.

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The default playback screen offers four icons at the top (left to right): edit, share, email, and delete.

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Pinching your fingers together to zoom out in preview mode also brings the edges of the previous and next images into view. Now you can now swipe across the screen to make a number of your images glide by and navigate more quickly.

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Pressing the arrow at the top left corner of the previous screen brings you to a gallery view so you can swipe your finger to browse more quickly through numerous thumbnails.

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You can fit more thumbnails on the screen if you flip it vertically.

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Hitting the share button brings up this menu, offering a host of options for sharing your photographs and videos. The amount of which will depend on what apps you have installed on your device.

Share menu:
  • Messaging
  • Photos
  • Google+
  • Bluetooth
  • Picasa
  • Hangouts
  • Email
  • Google Drive
  • Skype

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You have to slide the share menu upward to see the rest of sharing options.

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The editing options are not exhaustive, but what's included works very well. Rather than go whole hog with a bunch of gimmicky tweaks, you get an ample selection of exposure settings, color adjustments and effects.

However, entering edit mode locks the on-screen view in vertical mode, so you may find yourself rotating the Moto X back and forth if you're mostly shooting photos (and viewing them) in landscape mode.

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Keeping the edit menu to nine options is a welcomed feature versus the glut of an overcrowded menu. These quick edits produce desirable effects, and you can apply more than one to create interesting combinations.

This menu is found by tapping the icon of three intersecting circles (it's underlined above).

Edit menu:
  • Punch
  • Vintage
  • Black and white
  • Bleach
  • Instant
  • Latte
  • Blue
  • Litho
  • X process

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This secondary edit menu allows you to apply exposure-related effects. Neither this menu nor the first edit menu are directly named in the manual or on-screen, but you'll see above that the underlined icon is a +/- symbol, which universally refers to exposure.

This menu offers 15 ways to tweak the exposure of your shots. Like the previous edits, it's a good selection of effects that produce attractive results. Unlike the first batch of edits, these effects allow you to adjust the intensity of the effect, helping you fine-tune the look of your photos.

Exposure edit menu:
  • Auto color
  • Exposure
  • Vignette
  • Graduated (vertically gradiated brightness)
  • Contrast
  • Shadows
  • Highlights
  • Vibrance
  • Curves
  • Hue
  • Saturation
  • Black-and-white filer
  • Negative
  • Edges
  • Posterize

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Shown here, the contrast adjustment effect is applied, and you drag your finger across a bar to apply the amount of effect you want.

Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.