E by gum

As of today, in the UK, we now have the Moto E.  If the Moto G was the low-end version of the X, the E is definitely the low-end version of the G: 4.3” screen at 960×540 resolution (less than the iPhone 4), only 4 GB of onboard storage, rear-facing 5MP camera with no front camera…but the thing runs Android 4.4.2 with no extra overlaid skins and costs $129.  Let’s not mince words: this kicks the shit out of every other offering at this price point.  There is no other phone in the $100-149 range that’s running a current version of Android.  There is no other phone in that range that can run a current version of Android.

Motorola has it sorted. They have three phones: the G, the X and now the E, which is as many lines as Apple supports and in similar fashion (insert gag here about how the E comes pre-aged 2 years).  They run a clean OS without all the unnecessary crap that Samsung and others use to load down the phones  (and which Moto was equally guilty of in the MOTOBLUR days).  They’re using the E and the G to put viable smartphones in the hands of people who would otherwise be paying for last year’s crap.  And the Moto X…I keep being drawn to it.  Yes, the model is almost a year old (even if I’ve only had it since February or so) and yes, it’s resoundingly middlebrow on the spec sheet for all the stat-boys that populate Android’s fandom, and…I don’t care.  I reach for the thing instinctively, even (especially) over my work-provided Verizon iPhone 5.

Because Moto nailed it.  The UX is about as good as you can make it.  The phone is responsive and snappy, the hand feel is better than any phone I’ve had since the iPhone 4 (and before that, the original iPhone), it feels solid and reliable in a way that the plastic of the 3G never did, the screen size feels larger without making the phone feel bigger, and – now that I’ve had a chance to test with an AIO SIM on the AT&T network – it absolutely kicks the shit out of my Verizon iPhone on battery life.  Maybe it’s just because there’s more pervasive AT&T signal around where I am, but on the first full workday of testing, I used the iPhone for two phone calls, seeing some incoming text messages, and checking email twice.  I used the Moto X for everything else: podcast download/playback, additional music listening, Twitter, Instagram, opening web links in Dolphin Zero, RSS reading, incoming scores, the whole fidget-with-your-phone of modern life in Silly Con Valley.

At the end of the workday, both phones were at 59%.

If I could get iMessage, iTunes and a decent mail client on the Moto X, it would be my only phone.  Hell, if it weren’t for iMessage, I would give back my work phone outright and just ask if I could be reimbursed the $45 a month it’ll cost me to stick with AIO long-term (unlimited talk and text plus 2.5 GB of LTE/4G data capped at 8 Mbps – which costs literally half the retail cost of my old plan that had 450 minutes a month, 1000 texts and “unlimited”  3G data that rarely broke 1 Mbps).

The next iPhone had better be something pretty good.  But to be honest, give me iOS in the Moto X’s form factor, and I’ll be fine.

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