In the last couple of years, we've seen very few smartphones that are truly innovative. But that's exactly what Motorola made with last year's Moto X. And while its sequel may not break much new ground, it is a bigger and better version of that same formula. Let's see how it stacks up next to the most popular Android handset, the Samsung Galaxy S5.
NEW ATLAS NEEDS YOUR SUPPORT
Upgrade to a Plus subscription today, and read the site without ads.
It's just US$19 a year.UPGRADE NOW
Sizes are very close, with the new Moto X measuring just a hair shorter and narrower. Though it has a sloped back, its thickest point packs on 22 percent extra depth, compared to the Galaxy S5.
So far, we're seeing very little to differentiate these two. The Moto X is also just a smidge lighter.
The original Moto X let you choose not only from standard plastic, but also from premium wood or bamboo finishes. With the 2014 Moto X, the company has added leather to the list.
The Galaxy S5 is made of a slightly soft-touch plastic finish (with a faux leather feel, if not appearance). Oh, and did we mention the dimples?
Good luck counting the color options for the new Moto X. Once the phone launches, you'll be able to order a customized color scheme from the Moto Maker website, much like you could with the original.
Once the new Moto Maker is live, we'll have a better idea of exactly how many color combinations there are.
Another very close category, as the Moto X gives you about 4 percent more screen real estate.
You'll want to note, though, that the Moto X uses onscreen navigation keys, while the Galaxy S5 has physical and capacitive buttons below its screen. So, apart from when Android's Immersive Mode kicks in on the Moto X, the GS5 will probably give you a bit more area devoted to apps and content.
Last year's Moto X sat in that "pretty sharp, but not extremely sharp" 313 pixels per inch range. This year's Moto X makes the jump to a much crisper 1080p, the same as the Galaxy S5.
Both phones sport Super AMOLED displays, which opens the door to the next category.
Out of the box, the Moto X ships with a cool feature called Active Display. It subtly pulses your notifications on an otherwise black screen, giving you the most relevant info without draining much power.
The new version of Active Display adds some in-air gestures to the mix. You can now view your recent alerts just by holding your hand near the screen.
Though Samsung didn't put this feature on the GS5 by default, there are several third-party apps in the Play Store that are basically clones of the 2013 version of Active Display. Since the GS5 also has an AMOLED screen, the feature gives you the same power-saving perks.
The Galaxy S5 has IP67 water resistance, which means it can sit in 1 m (3.3 ft) of water for 30 minutes, and come out kicking.
The Moto X doesn't have water resistance on anything close to that level, but it does have a light splash-resistant coating.
The Galaxy S5 has a swipe-based fingerprint scanner in its home button. It lets you unlock your otherwise passcode-protected phone with a quick swipe of your finger.
Heart rate sensor
The GS5 also has a heart rate sensor on its backside.
Last year's Touchless Control returns to the new Moto X, only now it's called Moto Voice. It lets you activate Google Now voice control even when your phone is sleeping.
With the new version of Moto Voice, you don't have to become a walking advertisement for Google every time you use it. It now lets you replace the default "OK, Google Now" activation phrase with anything you like.
Technically the GS5 also has a hands-free voice feature, but it's tied to Samsung's S Voice and (as far as I can tell) only works when either the phone is in driving mode or the S Voice app is already open. You could also install the Google Now launcher on the Galaxy, but it only activates when you utter the phrase while on the phone's home screen.
The rear camera in the new Moto X jumps to 13 MP (from the original's 10 MP). Stay tuned for our full review, for more detailed camera impressions.
Motion launch camera
One of my favorite features from the first Moto X was its twist-to-launch camera. Just jiggle the phone back and forth (kinda like turning a doorknob) and the camera will launch – even if the phone was sleeping. This nice little convenience is back for the new model.
It isn't quite like HTC's powerful "BoomSound," but the Moto X does join the One in having a pair of front-facing speakers.
The GS5's battery holds a bit more juice, but we'll have to spend some more time with our review unit before commenting on the new Moto X's battery life. When we reviewed the GS5, we were very happy with its uptimes.
Ultra Power Saving Mode
The GS5 has a terrific feature that lets you stay on the grid when your battery has almost gone kaput. Ultra Power Saving Mode severely limits your available apps and processes to extend just 10 percent juice into around 24 hours of uptime.
We're looking at the same internal storage options on both phones. The GS5, though, lets you complement that with a microSD card.
We're looking at the same Snapdragon 801 processor in both handsets.
That's only, however, referring to the LTE version of the GS5. The HSPA version gets an octa-core Samsung Exynos CPU in its place.
RAM is all tied up, at 2 GB a pop.
Both phones run Android 4.4 KitKat at their core, but things veer off from there. The Moto X runs almost completely stock Android – with the only changes being the unique features we mentioned above. The GS5, meanwhile, has Samsung's aggressive TouchWiz skin putting its own spin on things (and bringing unique features of its own).
Motorola lists the new Moto X as starting shipping later this month. The GS5 has been around since April.
Starting price (off-contract)
If you're buying at full price, then you can save US$150 by going with the Moto X. If you aren't worried about GS5 features like water resistance or a fingerprint sensor, then that's a deal worth considering. Most of the other specs match up pretty well.
Starting price (on-contract)
If you live in the US, then you're more likely to sign a two-year blood oath to get a discount on your new phone. In that case, the Moto will save you $100 (though you may find on-contract deals on the GS5, if you keep your eyes open).View gallery - 25 images