Thursday, April 10, 2014

TECH: What's Up Moto? It's all good with the Verizon Moto X and Moto G Smartphones

Verizon Moto X
Verizon Moto G
The Moto X and Moto G by Motorola are the new standard for smartphones...

Special thanks to Verizon Wireless for loaning me the Moto G and Moto X smartphones for review. All opinions are my own...

I have reviewed so many technology products over the years, that at times, they all seem to blend together where one product does not seem that much different from another. But every now and then, a product really captures my attention not just because of how it looks, but because of how useful it is. And the Moto G and Moto X smartphones had me at Hello, but for very different reasons.

So let me break down why I love both of these Motorola smartphones that are powered by Verizon Wireless...

Last year, I was part of the Verizon Voices Savers program and I received for review the Motorola Droid Ultra smartphone. The Droid Ultra is part of a series of 3 "Droid by Motorola" branded Android smartphones that are available exclusively to Verizon - the Droid Mini, the Droid Ultra, and the Droid Maxx. The features on all three phones are the same, but the phones differ in their design, size, and battery life.

Touchless controls on the Moto X are amazing...
What's Up Moto?.. a lot with the Moto X
The features on the Motorola Droid Ultra are also some of the same as those offered on the Moto X.  The Moto X has cutting edge features that I truly love, which include:

-Touch-less controls where you just say "OK Google Now" to the smartphone and it answers your questions by talking back to you. Just say "What's Up?" to the phone and it will read all your current notifications to you - how cool is that? This is great if you are in the car and need to keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the steering wheel.

- Speaking of driving, the Moto X includes some software called "Moto Assist" that senses when you are driving and will ask you if you want to take incoming calls (via speaker phone) and also read incoming text messages to you - how brillant!!!

- A "shake-to-awake" 10-megapixel camera that is up and usable in seconds, even with your phone locked, so that you never miss an important shot. I use this feature all the time and love it.

- The ability to preview alerts on the lock screen with just a touch of the screen so that you know in seconds if a message is important or just something that you can take care of later.

- A beautiful design that makes the phone a pleasure to use and hold. While I loved all the useful features on the Droid Ultra, I did not like the way the phone was designed. I found the Droid Ultra to be a fingerprint magnet that was hard to keep clean, easy to drop due to its slick back cover, and overall was just not an attractive phone.

But the Moto X marries all the cool features on the Droid Ultra with a stylish phone design that is cool to look at and a pleasure to hold in the hand. The back of the Moto X is curved so it lays in your hand perfectly. Also the phone's back cover has a texture to it that hides fingerprints and makes the phone easy to hold on to.

- Moto Maker allows you to customize the phone's back cover to suit your tastes. If an all black phone is not your taste, you can totally customize the Moto X on the Verizon Wireless website using Moto Maker.

With Moto Maker you can customize the Moto X's back and front cover, volume keys, camera ring and more with over 2,000 color combinations. You can also order color matched headphones. You can even get a wooden bamboo back cover and a leather back cover is also rumored to be offered soon. And when you're done using Moto Maker to make your custom Moto X, Motorola assembles the Moto X right here in the USA and ships it to you free in about four business days.

I love buggy night!
- Buggy Night is a joy! One of the odd things about the Moto X is that Motorola has included a little "bug" in the software, but this bug is a good thing. While using the phone, a bug sometimes will appear and run around the perimeter of the phone's screen. Just tap on the bug and a delightful interactive animation will appear called "Buggy Night" which is totally addictive and fun to play.

- A great price of only 1 penny with a 2-year Verizon Wireless contract. As of the writing on this post, you can buy the Moto X from Verizon Wireless for only 1 cent with a 2-year contract. That is a pretty nice price for a cool designed smartphone with a ton of great features.

The Moto X is one of the best smartphones that I have ever used. Motorola did not rehash the features on existing smartphones. Instead they really thought about how people use their phones and produced something new and innovative. In my opinion, Motorola has produced one of the most useful and attractive smartphones ever manufactured with the Moto X, hands down.

Moto G, the budget friendly smartphone that cost only $99 off contract...

While the Moto X is the standard for premium feature smartphones, the Moto G is the king of the bargain smartphones.

The Verizon Motorola Moto G is basically a striped down revision of a Moto X. The two phones are about the same size and both have a curved back that makes the phone a pleasure to hold, but the Moto G is heavier and a little thicker around the middle. The Moto X has a 4.7" screen while the Moto G has a 4.5" screen. Also the Moto X is a 4GLTE smartphone while the Moto G is a 3G smartphone, which will affect the speed of the data connection.

I have tried a ton of cheap smartphones over the years and none of them have been as impressive as the $99 Moto G. My favorite features on the Verizon Moto G include -

- The newest Android operating system - Android 4.4.2 Kit Kat. This version of the Android operating system is not yet available on most expensive smartphones, but here it is on one of the cheapest - very impressive!

Kit Kat enables fast, smooth navigation from screen to screen and faster opening of apps. Because the Moto G is made my Motorola (which up until recently was owned by Google), this phone will get the newest Android OS updates in a timely fashion.

- Ability for you to speak tons of Google commands to the phone and have the phone speak back. While the Moto G does not have touch-less controls like the Moto X, you can still hit the microphone icon and speak commands to Google search and depending on the command, the phone will speak the answer back.

- The ability to change out the black standard back cover with colorful separately purchased covers to give the phone more style. Just go over to the Motorola website, Amazon (affiliate link), or even eBay, and will find tons of back covers available to customize your Moto G.

- A built in FM radio that does not require you to use your data plan so you can listen to all your favorite stations while on the go and save money - love it!

- An unbelievable $99.99 price tag for an off-contract phone.

- No-contract $60/$70 a month Verizon 3G service (with unlimited voice, unlimited text and either 2GB or 4GB of data) that, although it is not 4G LTE, is still plenty fast enough to stream music and some video and cheap enough not to break the bank.

Since I had the pleasure of using the Moto G for a while, I want to answer a question that I have been seeing a lot around the Internet. Some people wanted to know if they could buy the Verizon Moto G and use it without activating the phone (using as a wifi only device). The answer is no, at least not for the first month.

The first thing that you have to do after turning on the Moto G is go through the Verizon service activation process (there is no way around it). Verizon prepaid cards can be purchased at retail stores like Target and Best Buy. You can also activate the phone by using your credit card to pay for the first month of service. When the month's service is about to end, you will start getting reminders on the phone that you need to purchase another month of service. After the first month, you are under no obligation to continue using the service and the phone can then be used as a wifi only device. You can also start the service back up at any time.

I had a fun reviewing the Moto G (left) and Moto X (right)
It's all good with Moto...
The Verizon Motorola Moto X retails for only 1 penny with a 2 year Verizon service contract.

And the Verizon Motorola Moto G can be purchased for only $99.99 with NO CONTRACT on the Verizon Wireless website and in retail stores like Best Buy and Walmart.

Whether you pick the feature rich Moto X or the wallet friendly Moto G, Motorola and Verizon have you covered with devices that are a pleasure to use.


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