Moto X Customizable Smartphone Backed By $500 Million Ad Campaign
August 8, 2013

Moto X Customizable Smartphone Backed By $500 Million Ad Campaign

Enid Burns for - Your Universe Online

Google has released the Moto X, the first handset from Motorola since the mobility division was acquired last year for $12.5 billion. The new phone is light on specs, but packs some new features that will have other smartphone manufacturers racing to catch up.

The Moto X made a colorful splash earlier this month, when the phone became available, with a customizable format offering a rainbow of options. While Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile will carry the phone in black or white -- at least through the end of the year -- AT&T will offer the phone in 18 different colors with seven accent colors and a black or white front panel, The New York Times reports. "The color choices are excellent; the odds of you and your frenemy showing up at a party with an identical Moto X phone are one in 252," David Pogue wrote, in the New York Times review. Later this year color and material options will expand to include real wood in bamboo, teak, ebony or rosewood. Customized colors and materials through AT&T are available through Moto Maker.

Apart from custom colors, the phone specs don't break any ground. The phone has a 4.7-inch (720 x 1280) AMOLED display; competing phones have better resolution. The phone also has a rear 10-megapixel camera that some say struggles to focus on objects and tends to produce blurry pictures.

Where the Moto X does shine is its upgradability. The Moto X runs Android 4.4.4 Jelly Bean, USA Today reports. Though since the phone is from Google via its Motorola Mobility unit, it will upgrade to future software versions of Android, unlike handsets from other manufacturers such as Samsung or HTC.

Operationally, the Moto X has a few new features that will set a benchmark. The phone features Touchless Control, "the ability to use your voice to make calls, set alarms, get directions or find out if you'll need an umbrella, kind of Motorola's answer to Apple's Siri. The promise is you can activate the feature and take advantage of Google Now without pressing physical buttons," wrote Edward Baig, in his USA Today piece.

The Touchless Control feature is activated by saying "OK Google Now" and saying a command, such as search for a restaurant, ask what actor was in a particular movie, or get turn-by-turn directions to a location.

The feature becomes useful in driving mode for voiceless commands. The phone will automatically sense motion and put the phone into driving mode, which disables touch commands. It audibly alerts users to incoming messages, and can read text messages to the driver.

Users are also able to set the phone for meeting and nighttime modes, which quiet the phone to set levels, including turning off the ringer and screen alerts for messages and calls that come in overnight.

There have been complaints about the picture quality, but not about activating the camera. It is possible to turn on the camera mode by normal means, but users will find it easy to flick the wrist two times in order to put the phone in camera mode.

The phone also senses when it is picked up, versus moving in a pocket or purse, and displays the time and notification of the latest incoming message on the screen. Users can just glance at the time -- a popular activity on cell phones -- or press the message icon to view, or respond.

As this is the first handset from Google's Motorola Mobility unit, there is a $500 million advertising campaign attached to the new Moto X. In the scheme of things, Bloomberg Businessweek reports that it pales in comparison to what competing mobile phone manufacturers spend annually. The article reports that in 2012, Apple spent $1 billion on advertising, and Samsung spent $4 billion, plus $5.3 billion on "sales promotion," or in-store displays and other retail marketing expenses.

The article did not break down the advertising budgets by device. While the iPhone undoubtedly takes a large chunk of Apple's advertising budget, spending on the iPad, MacBook line and various other devices also account for the total. Likewise, Samsung had multiple handsets to advertise in 2012, as well as a product range that spans from laptops, high-definition televisions and Blu-ray players to refrigerators, vacuums and LED lighting, among other products. The reported $500 million spent on advertising the Moto X handset was specifically for the Moto X handset.