The secrets behind their approach & the latest details as we learn more about the Moto X.
Moto X will be made and manufactured in the U.S. Motorola has called it, “The first smartphone designed, engineered, and assembled in the USA.” The company views this as a big competitive advantage.” The 500,000 square-foot plant where Motorola is building the Moto X will be near Fort Worth, Texas and will employ about 2,000 people.
The facility was previously used by Nokia and at its peak it employed 6,000 workers. Clearly, not all of the components in the Moto X will be made in the U.S. but it is significant that Motorola sees a competitive advantage in returning some high-tech manufacturing to the U.S. in order to improve product development This is a similar story to what GE has trumpeted recently.
It will be broadly available across many different wireless carriers. Motorola has a history of working closely with carriers and delivering them unique devices that the carriers often re-brand. The most well-known, of course, is the Droid series with Verizon in the U.S. With the Moto X, it appears that Motorola will follow the lead of the iPhone and later the Samsung Galaxy S series by producing one phone with the same brand name across all international wireless carriers. Woodside remarked, “The Moto X is going to be broadly distributed, which is a first for Motorola in a number of years.”
Sensors are its killer feature. “It’s more contextually aware of what’s going on around it and allows you to interact with it in very different ways than you can today with other devices,” Woodside said. “Motorola has always been really good at managing the power on the device.
But, Motorola has also been really good at managing ultra-low-power sensors–so the gyroscope and the accelerometer–and keeping those on all the time so that the device knows different use states. So it knows it’s in my pocket right now. It knows when I take it out of my pocket I might want to do something. I might want to take a picture, so it knows to fire up the camera.
So it anticipates my needs in a much more powerful way… But, more important, imagine you’re in the car. The device will know–whether it’s on or off–that it’s traveling at 60 miles per hour. It’s going to act differently so you can interact with it safely.”
Google is giving Motorola the freedom to experiment with leading edge innovations in mobile. Google’s mandate when it bought Motorola was to “take it back to its roots in innovation” and “build devices that have the potential to improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people,” according to Woodside.
Availability: Late August to early September (in U.S., Canada, and Latin America)
Carriers: AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, and more to be named internationally
Base Price: US$199 with two-year contract
Display: 4.7-inch AMOLED, 1280 x 720 pixels, 316 pixels per inch
Storage: 16GB and 32GB versions
Camera: 10MP rear and 2MP front-facing, both shoot 1080p video, camera is optimized for low-light and has motion-blur prevention
Connectivity: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, USB 2.0, GPS, GLONASS, Miracast Wireless Display
Processor: Motorola X8, an eight-core CPU that uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro (1.7GHz dual-core Krait CPU and a quad-core Adreno 320 GPU). To accomodate two of the Moto X’s signature features, one low-power core will just to listen for voice-commands at all times and one low-power core just to keep sensors like the accelerometer active at all times.
Battery: 2200 mAh, optimized for always-on voice and always-on sensors
Android version: 4.2.2 (not the newly-announced 4.3) stock Android, with customizations for voice commands, notifications, and camera software
Touchless Control: A new hands-free voice search and virtual assistant is the primary innovation in the Moto X. A user activates it by saying, “Okay, Google Now,” which wakes up the phone and goes into Google Now mode where it can launch searches or reply out loud to common queries like “current weather.”
Active Display: The Moto X also builds upon Android’s notifications system and Google Now to give you quick, low-power notifications on-screen without having to wake up your phone.
Quick Capture: You can wake up the Moto X and immediately put it into camera mode with two quick wrist-flicks, and then click anywhere on the screen to take the photo. Motorola claims that Moto X takes half the time to snap a photo compared to other smartphones.
Design Customization: Using the forthcoming Moto Maker site, users will be able to “choose the colors, and decide on the details: front, back, accents, memory, wallpapers, even add a name or a short message. When you’re done, we assemble your Moto X right here in the USA and ship it to you for free in 4 days or less,” according to Motorola’s press release. “Choose from more than 2,000 possible combinations, with more to come. We’ll be constantly exploring new offerings, such as real wood backs, starting later in the year.” Customization will only be available with AT&T at launch, but Motorola is working to bring it to other carriers later in 2013.
Accessories: Motorola has a history of paying a lot to accessories and it’s going all out with the Moto X. It stated, “We’ve partnered with the most innovative brands in the world including SOL REPUBLIC to create an ecosystem of accessories for your Moto X. We call it M4DE Motorola. These include headphones, speakers, cases, docks and more.”
Headphones: Moto X will offer two headphone options. The company stated, “You can even match your headphones to your Moto X. They come in all the same custom colors of the phone, in two different styles. On your ears: SOL Tracks HD headset with a V8 sound engine that has deep base and high quality. In your ears: SOL JAX earbuds with controls for calls and music, plus free ear tips for life.”
Motorola hired a tech industry rock star, Regina Dugan, the former Director of DARPA, to lead its “Advanced Technology & Projects” group. As an example of the boundary-pushing kinds of things they are working on, at D11 Dugan demonstrated two new seamless authentication options that could see their way into a future version of the Moto X and other Motorola phones: 1. An electronic tattoo (non-permanent), and 2. A non-toxic swallowable pill that turns your whole body into an authentication token.