The Motorola-made, Google-collaborated Moto X smartphone is available from all major U.S. carriers, but the Verizon Wireless version began receiving a special treat Nov. 19—Android 4.4, known as KitKat.
“Our software strategy is to build on a pure Android foundation and complement existing Google services, not compete with them,” Motorola said in a blog post. “We think this latest release is just that—all the features you love about your Moto X with the latest Android OS.”
Motorola added that KitKat news for the device on other carriers will be coming “very soon.”
KitKat offers new features that include an improved dialer; users can search for contacts directly from the dial pad and easily see the contacts that called most frequently. New effects in the photo gallery include the ability to draw on photos with a finger, adding a message or date. In an improved Hangouts app, all conversations—texts, video calls and chats—are now in one place. There are colorful Emoji, little Japanese-inspired characters, that can now be sent from the Google Keyboard app. The camera app has also been updated to let a user drag his or her finger to set the focus point and exposure.
The Motorola Moto X is the first phone that users can customize online. They can choose colors for the front and back, the camera ring and the buttons, as well as different materials and even the greeting when the phone is turned on.
Earlier this month, Motorola also added the ability for users to print a name or phrase on the back of the phone (another free-of-charge customization) and lowered the price of the phone, temporarily, it said, to $99.99 with a two-year contract. (The details for the T-Mobile version are different, as T-Mobile has ditched two-year agreements.)
The Moto X is also the only smartphone designed, engineered and assembled in the United States; that, among other benefits, enables Motorola to promise a turnaround time of just four days from customized order to delivery.
Moto’s Cheaper Sibling
Motorola introduced a Moto X sibling on Nov. 13, the lower-end Moto G. Starting, unlocked, at $179, the KitKat-running smartphone is priced to grab major market share in emerging markets such as Latin America and is already available in Brazil and parts of Europe—though without KitKat. That update will come in January, when the phone will also become available in the United States and elsewhere.
While not as customizable as the Moto X, Moto G users can choose from a number of colorful base cases and cases with covers, both of which come in different materials, as well as colors.
Also setting the Moto G apart is that, despite its pricing, it has more to boast than its color options. According to Motorola, the Moto G is speedy, able to do things like the browser more quickly than the Samsung Galaxy S 4; has a beautiful display, with a more pixel-dense resolution than the iPhone 5S; and has a battery that can last all day.
Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside, at a New York event to introduce the phone, said it wasn’t fair that people who want to spend less than $200 have to buy an “old or underpowered phone.” Motorola, he added, is “giving people around the world a better choice.”