So, 2015 has been pretty fun so far. Part of that fun has to do with the fact that Motorola sent on two of my favorite products for the year: the Moto X Pure Edition and the Moto 360. These two smart devices show the true colors of Motorola and speak volumes about the future of this storied company.
Moto X Pure Edition
It finally happened. As if by magic, an Android phone arrived that I actually like better than my regular phone. This is a pretty tall order. Making a user interface that doesn’t suck in one way or another, from what I can tell, is almost impossible. With the Moto X Pure Edition, the latest unlocked service-hopper from Motorola, the user interface starts with the body of the phone. The phone’s metal frame is sandwiched between two tactile delights: textured, soft-touch rubber (wood & Horoween leather are also available for a price) on the back and the dense, smooth feel of Corning Gorilla Glass 3 on the screen side. What bit of the frame can be seen features a softly lustrous satin finish that hints at of how upscale this new Moto X is.
As for all the reasons you really buy a phone; the display, cameras, and network capabilities, the Moto X is jam-packed. The 5.7” IPS TFT LCD screen is bright and beautiful. This Quad HD screen presents a reality that is realer than real. Everything is super crisp and the backlighting is potentially so intense that I’ve never had the brightness turned up beyond 25%. On full blast, it’s like staring at a six-inch rectangular sun (I kid, of course, but it is seriously bright). The cameras on this rig are top notch. The 5 MP front facing, with flash, is an all too rare combination and a welcome addition on the Moto X. The 21 MP rear facing camera is simply amazing, with the drag-to focus and exposure feature being my favorite. Lastly, this quad band, world phone with LTE cat. 6 capability is able to get a signal just about anywhere on earth (anywhere you’d want to visit, I reckon), and here in the Bay Area, while connected to T-Mobile, call quality and data transfer rates have been nothing but stellar. In short, let’s just say that there is not enough room in this column for all the praise I have for the Moto X Pure Edition. Starting at $399.99
Prior to the arrival of the Moto 360, wearing a smartwatch meant wearing a big, clunky wrist computer that was neither subtle nor particularly functional. The Moto 360 did away with all that and replaced it with awesome. The Motorola Moto 360, as you may know, is a smartwatch that is set apart from the increasingly crowded field of smartwatches due to the fact that it is round. That, however, is purely superficial. What really sets one smartwatch apart from the others in the field is the applications available and how the user interfaces with them.
For instance, having Google Now enabled on the handset means that, at the very minimum, there is information such as weather, traffic, sport scores, and parking location being beamed to the watch in a timely fashion so being out of the loop is not an option. App designers are increasingly developing their apps to work seamlessly with Android Wear, and as they do, the functionality of the watch increases. With the Moto 360 it is possible to take notes and set reminders, set alarms, timers, and stopwatch, track packages and check your schedule, control the music player on your phone and even control what happens to be playing on Chromecast.
All of these features, by the way, are merely the tip of the iceberg. The more the Moto 360 gets used, the more functional, and consequently, the better it gets. Apps like Lyft make it possible to call for a car from the watch, while apps like Moto Body and Google Fit use the watch’s built-in heart rate monitor to track the intensity of workouts and count the amount of steps taken.
Beyond the gee-whiz appeal of the Moto 360, it is simply a beautiful timepiece. There’s 11 customizable watch faces from which to choose (with more available from the Google Play Store) and the stainless steel body and scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass crystal are as tough as they are good looking. And for many, the fact that the traditional shape and the understated and comfortable Horoween leather strap don’t attract a lot of attention are the best features of all. $299.99