This year is shaping up to be a great one for Android phones. We've already seen several flagships that you could argue are among the best smartphones ever made. How does the Moto X, Motorola's first phone created from start to finish under Google's ownership, fit in with the pack? Let's compare its specs and features with the HTC One, which we already know is one of the best smartphones of 2013.
The Moto X is smaller than the HTC One: six percent shorter and four percent narrower, to be exact. It does add more depth though, as it's ten percent thicker.
But much more of the Moto X's face is devoted to its display, so that smaller size is actually an advantage here. It should fit comfortably in hand, without the compromised screen size that many smaller phones give you.
As the smaller phone, the Moto X is also the lighter phone (by 9 percent). Go figure.
If you're an AT&T customer, you'll be able to customize several aspects of the Moto X on a website called Moto Maker. This includes color, texture, accents, and even a signature. Other carriers should eventually offer these pimp my phone capabilities for the Moto X, but AT&T has an exclusive deal at launch.
Though it won't be available at launch either, Motorola is prepping a wooden version of the Moto X. If all goes as planned, it will launch in Q4 (knock on wood).
If the Moto X's display looks bigger, that's an optical illusion. Screen sizes on these two phones are identical. But, as we mentioned, the Moto X's screen takes up a larger portion of its front face.
One area where the One's display wins hands-down is in resolution. The Moto X's 720p screen only gives you 44 percent as many pixels as the One's outstanding 1080p display does. With that said, though, we suspect only the most discerning eyes will find much to complain about with a solid 300+ PPI screen like the Moto X's.
The One's Snapdragon 600 is still one of the fastest CPUs around, but let's keep things in perspective here. The Moto X is a zippy phone, and unless you're obsessed with winning benchmark showdowns, we don't imagine you'll find much to complain about there.
Here's the first category where all is even, as each phone packs 2 GB of RAM.
This is a big advantage for the HTC One. The 32 GB edition of the Moto X is also an AT&T exclusive at launch, leaving everyone else with just 16 GB and no microSD card slot. If you typically get by with 16 GB smartphones anyway, then this won't be an issue. But hoarders of HD movies, music collections, and console-like games will want to look elsewhere.
The Moto X has a little less capacity, but its actual battery life should be longer than the One's. This is the flip side to packing fewer pixels into its display.
Both phones have fancy marketing names for their camera sensors: "Ultra Pixel" for the HTC One, and "Clear Pixel" for the Moto X. Both also claim to offer superior low-light performance. The One lives up to that billing, and we'll let you know more about the Moto X's performance soon, when we publish our full review.
The best part of the Moto X's camera, though, might be the way you activate it. Twist your wrist back and forth, and the camera will activate, ready to snap pics. You can then take a shot by touching anywhere on the screen, rather than pecking at a virtual shutter button.
No surprises here. Both phones max out on 4G LTE networks.
Near-field communication (NFC) hasn't exactly set the world on fire, but if you want to use it for things like transferring files, making payments (at the relatively few retailers that support it), or justifying that NFC ring you pledged for, then both of these phones deliver.
This isn't normally a category we'd cover, but that's because no phone has given us that option before. The Moto X's Touchless Control feature lets you activate Google Now without touching your phone. Say "Okay Google Now" to trigger the always-listening Moto X, and then ask Google Now a question, or perform phone functions like making calls, setting alarms, or creating reminders.
The HTC One has technically been updated to Android 4.2, but not all carriers have pushed the update yet. So some One owners could be stuck on Android 4.1 for an unknown period. The HTC One also runs the HTC Sense UI, which we don't have any huge problems with, but we also don't think it necessarily adds a lot of value over stock Android.
A couple of nice additions to HTC Sense are its camera and gallery apps. The One takes "Zoes," which are short clips that you can pull individual stills from, or share as is. The Sense gallery also displays your images in animated montages, which we found to be a lot nicer than it sounds like it would be.
The Moto X doesn't run the latest version of Android either, but it does run (more or less) stock Android. The only changes here are welcome ones: Touchless Control, a new camera app, and Active Display, which subtly shows you notifications without fully powering on your display.
Google Play Edition
The Moto X doesn't have a Google Play Edition yet, but according to The Verge, it's going to get one soon. The One's Google Edition, already available, might make more sense though. It sheds the Sense overlay and gives you Android as Google intended it. What you lose in Zoes and Blinkfeed (a Flipboard-like home screen widget), you gain in a leaner, more streamlined Android.
The Moto X hasn't even released to the public yet, while the One has been on store shelves for about five months. The One already has a little brother, the One mini, with a big brother, the One Max phablet, reportedly in the pipeline.