Motorola, with the Moto X smartphone it's been dropping hints about for weeks, manages to offer something that no other smartphone in today's hyper-saturated market does: a teenage-girl level of customization (which I mean in the best way).
As young people, pre-blogs, we used our bedroom doors or skateboards or three-ring binders as outlets for expressing our individual selves to anyone who cared to glance. Now, expression is possible through one's smartphone—and not with a cheap plastic cover.
With the Moto X, users can dictate the front and back colors; the accent colors of the power button, volume key and camera ring; the wallpaper; the memory (16 or 32GB) and the accessories. You can even add a "signature phrase."
AT&T says that its customers—before others—will also be able to choose from "select unique materials," including wood, for the back panel of the Moto X.
"It's your call," said Motorola, adding that there are more than 2,000 option combinations.
Each Moto X is also distinct in being the first smartphone to be designed, engineered and assembled in the United States (as Motorola has taken up in an old Nokia factory outside of Fort Worth, Texas), and Motorola is using this for more than feel-good marketing. Once a user designs her phone and puts in an order, Motorola says it will be "assembled ... and shipped to you for free in four days or less, with no-hassle returns."
That last part is maybe because not everyone is really cut out to be a designer.
The Moto X features a 4.7-inch display. Why that size? According to Phone Scoop, Moto execs told select journalists Aug. 1 that it measured thousands of hands, figured out the average hand size, designed a phone to fit that hand, and then squeezed in the largest display it possibly could.
It's an active-matrix organic LED (AMOLED) display with a resolution of 1280 by 720—not a full HD, which is kind of surprising slash disappointing—and the phone features the same Motorola X8 Mobile Computing System as the Motorola Droid trio Verizon Wireless showed off last week.
When Google purchased Motorola, it promised its other Android backers that Moto wouldn't get any special treatment. And it didn't.
The very first Motorola handset made in concert with Google—a phone that executives said they sat down to plan before the ink on the acquisition deal was barely dry—runs Android 4.2.2. Just like the Verizon Droids.
The new Google-branded Nexus 7, though, runs Android 4.3.
Also like last week's Droids, the Moto X features Touchless Control (you can say, "OK, Google Now," and then command it to give you directions or search for something, if your hands are dirty, say, or you're driving); Quick Capture, which wakes up the phone and readies the camera for a quick shot with two twists of your wrist; and Active Display, which saves the battery by showing the time and sending new message information to the home screen, without prompting.
There's a 10-megapixel back camera, a 2-megapixel front camera, mobile hotspot capabilities and of course Long Term Evolution (LTE).
Motorola says the Moto X will arrive in late August or early September.
AT&T will sell the Moto X for $199.99 for the 16GB version and $249.99 for the 32GB version, both with a two-year contract. At att.com/MotoX, anyone can sign up for a chance to be one of the first people to design and order the phone.
Verizon Wireless says it will offer the Moto X in black and white (what's the point of that?) with Moto Maker, Motorola's "online studio" coming later this year.
Sprint plans to offer the 16GB version for $199.99 with a two-year contract "later this summer." Those interested can pre-register at sprint.com/motox.
"It's designed for you, by you, responds to you and is made for you by Motorola, a Google company," Motorola said in an inaugural blog post. "Once you turn it on, it's all yours."