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Observations on the Bamboo Moto X and switching from an HTC One
I recently ordered an AT&T bamboo Moto X, coming from an HTC One. Here are some observations that may be useful to some...
Why switch?. The HTC one is a tad large and has some flakiness -- nothing major but enough little things to cause me to look at other phones. In particular, the sensor to detect when by the ear changed after one of the updates and wasn't as reliable, the phone directory would not download to my car via bluetooth fully, Android back and home buttons are poorly lit, data coverage wasn't as strong as I liked, when connected to bluetooth in my car I can't hear the nav or other info unless I switch from my radio to "media" (meaning I can't use the phone nav and listen to satellite in my car). The Moto X also offers the voice commands ("Ok Google now") and the assist features, as well as being slightly more compact while having the same size screen. Also, the wood back is pretty cool imo.
What I liked about the Moto X. Size and feel is great. The screen pops (I know some think it is oversaturated, but I think it is fine). Working with it was snappy and smooth -- no lag (I noticed more with the HTC One). The voice commands work ok -- it responds reasonably when I am not in my car (see negatives below). The sound quality is pretty good (not HTC one quality but not that far off). Signal quality is a good deal better. Can get 4g LTE in places I couldn't even pull a signal. Size is spot on -- very comfortable an pocketable. Smooth flowing lines. Originally I was of a mixed mind on the black front and bamboo with white on the back, but I didn't really notice it in person. Motorola is driving towards more of an experience around the ownership and buying process -- was pretty nice actually. They are continuing to add features, and allow you to switch between Dalvik on the OS and ART (although when I attempted that, I got errors that google play ceased to work). The feel and look of the wood is quite nice (although finish quality is an issue -- see below). Overall build quality felt solid (keys didn't rattle like some have noted and it doesn't feel flimsy). I liked the clean Android experience.
What I didn't like about the Moto X. I was hoping battery life would be better, but it really wasn't. After 3.5 hours of screen-on time (mostly reading email and a few texts), along with 30 minutes of calls, and 7 hours idle time, the phone was spent. The always-on voice commands don't work 100 percent of the time and they don't work in my car -- they experience the same issue my HTC one does above (need to be on "media" in my car to hear the response and to take advantage of the Assist voice responses when receiving and sending texts while driving). Since my phone connects automatically, unless I forego xm radio and switch to "media", the spoken texts, notices, etc. don't come through. The customized lettering was cheap looking (See the photo) -- just like the painted on AT&T logo. The bamboo wood had a "dirty" look at the edges, like they didn't clean it before staining (see photo). While the screens are nominally the same size, you lose real estate to the Android controls not being in the hardware. This was something I wasn't planning on. Not a huge deal, but something to keep in mind. The Moto X camera is mediocre and colors are not as correctly calibrated as on other cameras. I also missed the percentage battery life left on the top line of the phone.
Additionally, Motorola/Google just dropped the price of wood backs by $75 within my return window and offered me a $75 store credit for accessories at Motorola as compensation (and to keep me from returning it). This kinda annoyed me -- they should have just given me a $75 google play credit or cash. Moto accessories are high margin, overpriced items for the most part at the motorola site. Also, they just launched 3 new woods, all of which look better (in the pictures online) than the dirty-looking bamboo I had.
As a result, I elected to return the phone. I am thinking I will probably reorder without the lettering on the back and will get one of the darker woods with the black plastic frame, assuming the return process doesn't end up being a major pain. If it does, I will just hang onto my HTC one and wait until the next gen of that comes out and see how it compares.
Props to Motorola for changing the game -- locally assembled, wood used in the design, innovative features like the always on voice commands. I hope they stick with it and continue to improve and innovate.