Moto X

Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside recently confirmed that the Motorola “X Phone” is not a figment of our imagination, nor a wishful hope. “It’s going to be called the Moto X (and) it’s going to be broadly distributed” later this year. There you have it: it’s not the “Motorola X Phone”, it’s not the “Motorola Nexus X”. The new phone, when it’s released, will be called the “Moto X”, and I want one. Hello Moto!

GeoLocation & Situational Awareness

The letter X is often associated with location. “X marks the spot” and “You are here -> X” come to mind. This holds true with the aptly named Moto X. The Moto X “is more contextually aware of what’s going on around it” and its surroundings. It knows if it’s on or off, if it’s in your pocket or on your desk, and if you’re walking down the road or driving at 60MPH.

Many people have opined that this will cause a significant draw on its battery. Google, apparently, has a plan for that. At Google I/O 2013 we were shown a new Maps API with low battery impact. Whether or not this new context-awareness will come without a power cost has yet to be seen, but Google says we should trust it.

Personally, I can’t wait for a smartphone that’s smart enough to know where I am, and react accordingly. Volumes should be reduced or eliminated while I’m sleeping and in meetings. WiFi and other radios should be turned off when I’m at certain locations, but turned on when I’m at others. The entire UI should be changed when I’m driving versus the rest of my day (spent as a desk jockey). A lot of the power users out there are immediately rushing to the comments box to tell me about various apps that can already do this for me today (don’t let me stop you!), but this functionality should be part of the OS and part of the phone, not a third-party add-in that can be complicated and confusing to set up and maintain.

Construction and Materials

Not long ago I broke my first smartphone — ever. My Nexus 4 (with its super-slippery front and back) lept from my hand and threw itself against a cement floor from about three feet up. If a phone could commit suicide, that’s what it would have looked like.

I’ve never dropped an Android built by Motorola. I’ve spent a significant amount of time with the XOOM, Razr, Razr HD, Bionic, and more. They’re grippy and easy to hold on to. They’re solid. They feel good in the hand. Their overall build-quality feels so much better than their competition.

A kevlar back? That’s just ingenious! It’s tough. It’s “grippy”. It’s light-weight. It’s fingerprint resistant. It’s, well, it’s KEVLAR! Even Taylor Martin was impressed enough to get a kevlar-esque backing for his Nexus 4.

Made in the U.S.A. — mostly

Approximately 70% of the Moto X will be assembled in the U.S., right outside of Fort Worth, Texas. Components like the CPU and display will be built in Taiwan and Korea, respectively. I’m not saying that I don’t like products that are made overseas, but I do feel that products made domestically have some advantages. Before I go into what those advantages are, notice that I said “domestically”, not “Made in the U.S.A.”.

Sure, I’m Patriotic, just like the next guy. I like to support local businesses as much as possible. So should you — regardless of what country you call home. Buying local helps keep your dollars in your community, whether you’re in Utah or Romania (just as an example). More than just community support, products built “closer to home” require less to be spent on transportation costs and import fees, and there is a reduced impact to the environment. Theoretically this equates to lower costs, however, labor costs could negate these savings.

That’s another advantage: knowing the labor conditions. There have been far too many stories of “less than ideal” working conditions for products sourced out of China and other countries. Corporations can argue they’re saving customers money and maximizing shareholder wealth, and turn a blind-eye to unacceptable labor conditions in the factories that build their products. Products built locally can be inspected easier, and may fall under laws and societal norms that mandate “better” working conditions.

All in all, I’m excited to finally see Motorola’s “X Phone” finally come to market after years of hype (and hope). The Moto X has been a long time coming, but I’m ready to be wowed. I want a Moto X, and so should you!

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