The Motorola Moto X was announced this past week amidst a whole lot of hoopla. The phone had been eagerly anticipated and leaked with the right information at the right times to create a nice little buzz. The phone itself is a bit disappointing in comparison to the other stuff that’s out at the minute such as the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4. Yet, Motorola wasn’t really going for a high performance flagship style phone. They were going for a more medium style handset with the hopes of getting it in a whole lot of people’s hands.
When you look at the specs of the Moto X, it’s a yawner that looks about a year behind it’s time. It has a dual core processor and a 720p display. Both things that the top phones trump with quad core and 1080p being perhaps the “standard” for top of the line phones right now. The interesting thing is that the pricing that Motorola announced is in line with a top of the line performance phone, $199 on contract. That was perhaps the most shocking part about the announcement. This phone screams $99.99. There is no way that with these specs you can have this phone at the same price as the One and S4, it’s just ludicrous. Why would anyone buy a Moto X?
The answer I think lies in the most alluring aspect of the phone, all the customizations options. Customization hasn’t really existed in the phone industry in regards to the phones themselves all that much. All the customization people could do with their cases, that was where the room for that kind of stuff existed. Motorola though has flipped it and decided to do it to the phones themselves. I’m sure the case people are none too pleased about this because why would you do all this coolness to your phone only to put a case on it? I’ve never been a big case guy personally as I don’t like to add any extra bulk or size. Sure I’ve broken a few phones in my time, but just small cracks nothing that I haven’t been able to live with until I can get another phone. I was always intrigued though by the cool cases and changing up your look. Motorola doing this I think is pure genius.
They have a website called the Motorola Moto Maker where you can go to and customize your very own Moto X. You can change the color of the back of the phone, the color of the edges, the color of the volume rocker and even the color of the ring around the camera. They claim that there are over 2,000 different color combinations that a customer can achieve. It’s very similar to the Nike ID website where you can customize your own shoes. I’ve always wanted to try that as I’ve seen some amazingly awesome colorful combinations come out of that, mostly by this one hot Miss Florida USA contestant that I know. The Motorola site brings that aspect to phones and it’s awesome. They are said to be working on some different wood backs and images of those have leaked. The wood ones I am in love with. You can also engrave a message into the back of the phone as part of your customization package. We saw this a little bit on a personal level when Samsung made Lebron a Galaxy Note II with his logo engraved in it, but never on this level to the actual average Joe consumer.
All this sounds really cool and intriguing right? Well, I hope that you have AT&T because as of launch they are going to be the only carrier that is a part of the coolest part about the Moto X. T-Mobile for one isn’t even carrying the phone at all, but they have a history of a very rocky relationship with Motorola with the last phone I can really remember them carrying being the rugged Motorola Defy. Verizon and Sprint are carrying the phone but for some reason not being a part of the customization process. I don’t know if that was their choice. If it was their choice then they are simply complete idiots. My best guess though is that Motorola is attempting to gauge interest in the customization procedure before going at it full bore. I’m sure they don’t want to underestimate the amount of people that want it and get flooded with requests resulting in a backlog of Nexus like proportions. So my advice to those on Verizon, which I still feel is network #1, is if you want the Moto X to hold your horses as I figure they will be in the customization game soon. Verizon customers should be used to waiting anyway, they are still waiting for those chumps to release the HTC One.
All this is really cool and interesting and I hope the start of other companies hopping on the customization wagon but……… as a phone guy I can’t see myself buying one. It’s very cool and if I had a family I’d probably get one for my high school daughter or something, but it’s not for me. I can’t see myself buying a device simply because it looks cool. I need some better specs and higher performance. The phone world progresses so fast that it seems ludicrous to make a purchase of a device that is already about a year behind in the spec game. You ALWAYS have to buy cutting edge in my opinion because even if you do that it’s going to be behind the eight ball in 6 months. If you already buy an older phone, like for instance going out and getting a Galaxy S3 now, by the time you can get another phone it’s an ancient relic. Now all this might be changing with some of those cool new upgrade early programs, but that is another column.
I dabbled a little bit one time in the predecessor to this customization stuff. I remember a little ways back when I was working at the phone store and getting a new phone. I was going to get the Motorola Droid Razr MAXX which was the hottest phone at the time. There were rumors, which later were confirmed, of a Verizon employee one that featured a red and black criss-crossed back pattern. I wanted it, I wanted it bad. I just thought it would be so awesome to have something that didn’t look like hardly anyone else out there’s phone. Unfortunately as a 3rd party retailer I was not eligible to get one. My only hope was to convince a regular Verizon store guy to get me theirs. I contemplated shadily hanging out in the parking lot of the corporate store trying to take guys down dark alleys to talk when the store closed. Yet alas, it all seemed a little bit much and I ended up with a regular plain black Razr MAXX. Yet by that experience I could tell just how much I craved to have something different, something to set me apart as being special.
While I will not be getting one based on the crappy specs, I think there is a whole lot of good to be taken from this Moto X. My dream is that this customization thing takes off and the they start doing it with genuine flagship devices. A customizable Galaxy S5 would be awesome, or if they could throw it together in time how about with next month’s Note 3. One of the things I love about the mobile industry is it’s always interesting and innovative. It’s also always one where people copy other people’s good ideas. Hoping that this is one of them. Who knows, next year every phone on the market might be customizable.