Motorola Moto X full review
Moto X vs iPhone 5C: Price
Here's why we are making this comparison: the Moto X is Motorola's current flagship smartphone, but it has a mid-range £350 inc VAT price tag for the 16GB model. The iPhone 5C is the cheaper of Apple's current smartphones, but it's not cheap.
A 16GB model will set you back £469 inc VAT, and you have to shell out a further £100 for the 32GB model. So you'd have to be convinced that the iPhone was the better bet than the Android phone to opt for that handset. As you'll see from the following analysis, that is by no means an obvious decision to make.
Moto X vs iPhone 5C: Build and design
With the iPhone 5C Apple took its successful iPhone 5 handset and gave it a colourful new coat of paint. There are five colour options: white, blue, pink, yellow and green. It's purely a question of taste as to whether you prefer this to the Moto X's more sombre stylings.
The iPhone 5C has a polycarbonate plastic casing. The Moto X is constructed out of a composite blend that Motorola adamantly denies is plastic. Critically: the material doesn't make the phone feel cheap and it seems like it can stand its fair share of abuse.
As a 9mm phone the iPhone is quite big for today's superthin standard but the 5C doesn't feel thick or chunky in the hand. In that respect it's a winner: this is the most ergonomic iPhone since the 3GS, and it's thinner than the Moto X.
The Moto X features a curved back that rests gently in your hand, and the phone feels much more compact compared to its Droid cousins. Measuring 10.4mm at its thickest point the Moto X isn't much taller than the iPhone 5C - although it is wider, and marginally heavier. However we actually preferred holding the Moto X: its wider chassis seemed to conform perfectly to our palm. Clearly this is a personal thing - the point is that both phones are well designed. (See also: iPhone 5S vs iPhone 5C comparison review.)
Moto X vs iPhone 5C: Screen
Screen size is a great way to choose between two smartphones – you'll want to pick a size that's comfortable for you personally. The Moto X uses a 720p resolution (720 x 1280 pixels to be exact) on its 4.7in AMOLED display. That makes for a bright and colour rich screen with a healthy pixel density of 316ppi. It's a multi-touch display with scratch-resistant glass.
The iPhone 5C's screen is still the 4in Retina display which was introduced with the iPhone 5. It looks crisp and colourful. Its 1136x640-pixel resolution reflects the fact that it is a smaller display than the Moto X sports, but at 326 ppi it is marginally sharper. The iPhone 5C also has a multi-touch display with scratch-resistant glass.
The key difference here is that the smaller and lighter iPhone 5C has a thinner display. Which you prefer will be down to whether you value a smaller handset over more screen real-estate. (See also: Group test: what's the best Android phone?)
Moto X vs iPhone 5C: Processor
The Moto X has a dual-core Snapdragon Pro chip clocked at 1.7GHz. A Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro with a quad-core Adreno 320 GPU, if we're going for detail. This is paired with 2GB of RAM.
But that's just part of the story. Motorola and Google worked closely together to optimize Android for the Moto X's relatively low-grade hardware, and the results of that collaboration are telling. In a telling echo of Apple's 'don't-worry-about-the-spec-feel-the-quality' approach, the Moto X feels faster than many of the quad-core phones we've tested in the past year or so.
Apps open instantaneously, there's no lag when jumping from an app back to the home screen, and the phone doesn't hang when trying to install multiple apps at once. If anything, the Moto X proves that you don't need a beefy quad-core processor to have a lag-free Android experience.
And in terms of pure specs at least the iPhone 5C trails the Moto X by some distance. It has an A6 dual-core processor with a 1.3 GHz clock speed, coupled with 1GB of RAM.
iOS 7 running on the iPhone 5C feels smooth and responsive. Apps and web pages load swiftly, and panning around Apple Maps isn't jerky at all. It feels like you're using an up-to-date smartphone despite the year-old components.
We're not going to get into the benchmark game here because it isn't helpful: both the iPhone 5C and the Moto X are fast and responsive phones. If it matters to you have the best spec, opt for the Moto X, but you won't notice any difference in real-world terms. (See also: Best smartphones: The best phone you can buy in the UK.)
Moto X vs iPhone 5C: Storage
With no expandable storage available on the Moto X or the iPhone 5C, storage is an area to consider closely. The Moto X is available in 16- and 32GB flavours. However, you might find getting hold of the 32GB Moto X a little difficult as it is available 'only online' according to Motorola's website - you also get two years of 50GB storage on Google Drive. The 16GB version of the Moto X leaves around 12GB on which you can store apps, data and media.
The iPhone 5C is also available in two storage options – 16- and 32GB. Our 16GB version had 12.6GB available out-of-the-box. In addition, of course, you get a free iCloud account.
So in terms of storage these are two evenly matched handsets.
Moto X vs iPhone 5C: Cameras
The Moto X has two cameras, a 2Mp camera that captures 1080p HD video is front-facing for selfies and video calling. Around the back is a 10Mp camera with LED flash. This also captures 1080p HD video at 30fp, comes with an all-but useless 4x digital zoom, as well as useful feautes such as slow motion video, burst mode, auto HDR, a panorama mode and control focus and exposure.
Although the 10-megapixel camera on the Moto X is absolutely better than the cameras on any of Motorola's previous smartphones, the photos it captures are nothing to write home about. Indoor shots look okay, but suffer from a number of artifacts and are sometimes overexposed. Shots taken outdoors are sharper, but often come out too dark if you don't have superb lighting.
The camera has an RGBC sensor, which features a fourth, clear pixel that's supposed to help it perform better in low-light environments. We shot some photos at night to test out the camera's performance and were disappointed with the results: photos are grainy and using the flash often leaves subjects looking washed out. The camera performed better than the iPhone 5C with these night shots, however.
The iPhone 5C also has two cameras. A front-facing FaceTime camera that takes 1.2Mp photos and allows for 720p HD video recording. Around the back is the main 8Mp camera with LED flash. It can capture 1080p HD video and comes with great features such as a hybrid IR filter, autofocus, face detection and a panorama mode.
Indeed, the 5C has the same 8Mp iSight rear camera as the previous model and so you can rest assured that pictures and video will be high quality. Since iOS 7 comes pre-loaded on the 5C, you get the new camera app which has a square photo mode, filters. We kept accidentally taking multiple pictures by pressing the shutter button for too long.
Both handsets have good but not great smartphone cameras. We wouldn't make the decision based on this aspect.
Moto X vs iPhone 5C: Software
As you might know, the iPhone 5C comes pre-loaded with Apple's latest mobile operating system, iOS 7. It's clean and light and much more colourful than previous versions of Apple's mobile operating system. New features include the much-needed Control Centre, apeing the similar feature Android has had for a long time. A swipe up from the bottom of the screen opens a menu from which you can control settings such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, screen brightness, media playback, AirDrop and some quick apps.
Multi-tasking has also has a significant update and no longer just shows a row of open apps at the bottom of the screen. Now you see a preview screen of the running apps and can flick one upwards off the screen to close it. It's something like a cross between Android, WebOS, PlayBook OS and Windows Phone.
Apple has tweaked the Notification Centre so it's split into three sections: Today, All and Missed. It's also accessible from any screen, including the lock screen. Other improvements have been made to Safari, the App Store, Siri and more.
If you can't find a Moto X which ships with Android 4.4 KitKat, you'll be able to upgrade to the latest software once you're up and running – an advantage of being a Google-owned company.
The Moto X runs a pretty vanilla version of Android, with a few add-ons. On top of features such as Moto Assist, the Moto X has unique features like Active display and Quick capture.
Moto Assist means the phone can detect when you're driving and read aloud text messages and tell you who's calling. You call also set the phone to silence itself between certain times,
similar to the Do Not Disturb feature introduced on iOS 6 and enjoyed by iPhone 5C users.
Later versions of Android such as those on which the Moto X runs are every bit as good as iOS7. App support is pretty much the same. As a consumer choice choosing between Android and iOS is subjective and personal. We like the fact that Android offers a choice of places from which to purchase music and movies. But iOS probably still just about has the edge in terms of a seamless end-to-end experience, and Android is still a little less secure.
You won't regret choosing either Android or iOS, but unless you have strong feelings either way it is unlikely to be the factor on which you make your purchasing decision.
Moto X vs iPhone 5C: Battery life
It's worth noting that neither the Moto X nor iPhone 5C has a removable battery. Each phone offers excellent smartphone battery performance of one to two days with an average usage. Only light users will get more than a day, although in our four days testing the Moto X in normal usage we had to charge it only twice. With constant use the battery runs dry in about five hours.
We've also been impressed with the iPhone 5C's battery life. Unless you hammer the device with contant gaming or video playback, it will last a couple of days with regular and varied use. The phone holds its charge incredibly well when not in use - our sample sat on just one percent for a number of hours.
So again, when it comes to battery life we're calling this a draw.
Moto X vs iPhone 5C: Verdict
These two handsets are both great, evenly matched for storage, camera and battery life. We expect that no-one would be disappointed with the purchase of either. The Moto X is bigger and bulkier but has a bigger screen. It also has better specs although in real-world terms you won't notice the difference. You will, however, notice the extra £100 you have in your pocket after choosing the Moto X rather than the iPhone 5C. So unless you are wedded to the idea of having an iPhone, we can't honestly recommend you choose the 5C over the Moto X. We've done more comparisons involving the Moto X here: Moto G vs Moto X comparison review and HTC One vs Moto X comparison review and Nexus 5 vs Moto X comparison review.
Motorola Moto X: Specs
- OS: Android 4.4 KitKat
- CPU: 1.7 GHz dual-core Krait Qualcomm MSM8960 Snapdragon Pro
- GPU: Adreno 320
- 65.3x129.3x10.4mm, 130g
- Display: 4.7in AMOLED 720x1280, 312 ppi
- Internal storage: 16/32GB, 2 years 50GB of Google Drive free
- Memory: 2GB RAM
- Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
- Bluetooth 4.0 LE
- Main Camera: 10Mp, autofocus, LED flash
- Camera Features 1.4µm pixel size, geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, panorama, HDR
- Front Camera: 2Mp
- Battery: 2200mAh