The Moto X and Moto G, both second generation devices from 2014, are two of the most popular smartphones on the U.S. market and in the world, and with good reason. Besides being affordable handsets, they also offer near-stock Android interface that is the closest you can get to pure Android at the moment. Even if OEMs have seen the potential of a customizable and clean OS on their smartphones, there is a good amount of reluctance towards removing bloatware from companies and carriers as well. The Moto X and Moto G from last year are good examples of how to make crowd-pleasing devices that can keep their price down, all the while offering top-notch performance in their niche.
While the Moto X is the flagship device from Motorola, the Moto G is one of the favorites when it comes to mid-range smartphones right now. Although the Android 5.0 Lollipop rollout has negatively affected many Moto G and Moto X users, the overall user experience with these devices is positive. If it wasn’t for the annoying memory leak bug that will be fixed with the upcoming Android 5.1.1 Lollipop update, the software experience on both these devices would be excellent. There still are pesky bugs with Android Lollipop impacting the Moto G and Moto X, but largely they can be bypassed for the time being with a few fixes and third-party apps.
This comparison between the Moto X and Moto G 2014 will analyze performance on both these devices and will end up with a conclusion that aims to recommend either option one or option two for a specific segment of smartphone enthusiasts. Although it is clear that the Moto X is the better smartphone from the beginning, that doesn’t mean that the Moto G has no value for the average smartphone user. In terms of performance and compared to their own segments of the market, both the Moto X and Moto G perform above expectations and manage to garner and keep a pretty large fanbase. Although Motorola might have been struggling in the past few years, with the launch of the original Moto X and Moto G as well as the second generations, combined with the Nexus 6, Droid Turbo and the Moto 360 smart watch, the company is making a strong comeback that might even make Google regret the sale of the company to Chinese giant Lenovo.
First off, let’s see why the Moto X is the flagship and why the Moto G is the crowd-favorite when it comes to budget smartphones. The Moto X was launched in September 2014 alongside the Moto G and both were met with positive reviews and appreciation for their low price tags. Currently, the unlocked Moto X can be bought for the price of $400, while the Moto G 2014 price is set at around $180 in most retailer stores. Those are rather affordable prices, even if they aren’t the cheapest smartphones you can get. As we’ve mentioned, the Moto X is the flagship of the two, which means it gets superior specs and hardware, and has a superior performance rating from all of the reviewers and users that have acquired the phone.
The Moto X gets a 5.2 inch AMOLED display with a 1080*1920 resolution that adds up to 424 ppi pixel density, which is a decent resolution and display for a smartphone that is no longer the latest edition from the company. On the flipside, the Moto G gets a 5 inch display with a slightly lower resolution of 720*1280 which adds up to about 294 ppi pixel density. That’s not optimal and the IPS LCD display is below the quality of the AMOLED panel of the Moto X, but it still makes for a rather good viewing experience, even in outdoor environments. Below the hood, the Moto X gets a pretty beefy Snapdragon 801 CPU which is backed up by 2 GB RAM and either 16 or 32 GB internal storage. There’s also a pure edition available and an AT&T and T-Mobile variant which get even more internal storage, namely 64 GB. You don’t get a microSD card slot on the Moto X, which came as a disappointment to a few Motorola fans, but most can make due without it. The Moto G 2014 specs include an inferior Snapdragon 400 CPU, which could be better, backed by 1 GB RAM and 8 GB internal storage. That’s not a bad setup for a mid-range smartphone, but it certainly makes a lot of difference when it comes to performance.
The camera setup on both these phones is below the average of their niche, but most people and reviewers are pretty content with what these phones can do in terms of photography and video recording. Moreover, they are considered to be significantly improved compared to their predecessors from 2013, which acts in the favor of Motorola and sets a standard for future releases. The Moto X camera on the rear is a 13 MP sensor with a dual-LED flash and autofocus, and it is capable of recording 2160p video at 30fps, which is pretty admirable. The Moto G rear camera is an 8 MP shooter with a generic LED flash and autofocus, which can shoot video of 720p at 30 fps. For a mid-range smartphone, that is an acceptable setup. Both phones have sub-par 2 MP front facing cameras, which are enough for the occasional selfie, but not for much more.
When it comes to battery capacity, both these phones pride themselves with above average battery life, but nothing that you could write home about. The Moto G was negatively impacted by Android Lollipop, which has turned the battery life from one above average to one that is on the border of average, even slightly below. Once Android 5.1 hits the mid-ranger, users and Motorola as well believe that battery life issues will be mended, although the memory leak bug will have to wait until Android 5.1.1 according to our sources. Regardless of OS, we’re going to be looking at performance with the OS out of the box, which is Android 4.4.4 KitKat for both the Moto X and Moto G. The Moto X gets a standard issue non-removable 2300 mAh battery, while the Moto G lingers behind with a non-removable 2070 mAh battery pack.
With near-stock Android, both the Moto X and Moto G offer smooth user experiences, and there are few accounts of lag occurring on either of these phones. Although the user experience might be great on both these phones, the Moto X has an advantage when it comes to performance thanks to the superior hardware it hosts. The baseline is, as it should be, that the flagship model is faster and runs games and apps much smoother than the mid-range counterpart. That being said, one should not expect the Moto G to put up with all the strain that the Moto X can handle without flaws. Nonetheless, it all depends on the user and their preferences, as well as usage habits. While the Moto G is suitable for the average smartphone user, the Moto X caters more to power-users. But what makes a user average and what makes the power users?
The Moto G is suitable for average smartphone users, who can be loosely defined by how they use their phones and what they use it for. The average smartphone user first and foremost will use this phone for calling and messaging, as well as internet browsing and chatting. With Google Chrome, the Moto G works rather fast, although loading times can suffer a bit when multiple tabs are open or multiple third-party applications are running in the background. Performance when browsing the internet is also, sadly, affected by the memory leak bug, which will occasionally cause Chrome to crash for no apparent reason. The same can happen with other applications or games too, as the root of the problem is RAM not being managed correctly. But since that only happens in Lollipop as far as we know, we won’t include that as a minus for the handset. If your Moto G is on KitKat, it will run flawlessly almost, with no random crashes affecting the user experience.
The average user also usually uses social media, and the Moto G can handle Twitter, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Youtube, Hangouts, WhatsApp and Snapchat like a breeze, all the while you’re not constantly switching between them. The occasional lag will be there in Snapchat and when loading videos in Youtube, but not so much as to turn the experience inherently bad and annoying. Browsing through Facebook and Twitter is ok, although the constant updates do take a toll on the Moto G on occasion. Besides these social networking apps and messaging apps, average users will game, and the Moto G can handle that in an average manner. The top games like Despicable Me, Plants vs Zombies 2, Badlands, World of Goo won’t be smooth and they might not even run. But games like Candy Crush, Flappy Bird, Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, Doodle, Jewels and such will be a breeze, although intense gaming for long periods of time will overheat the Moto G and lag will eventually set in. But if your gaming sessions aren’t longer than half an hour, the Moto G probably won’t even break a sweat.
That’s largely what the average smartphone user uses their phone for, aside from apps like Google Maps, Google Now, Google Keep and other stock ones. Google Maps will stutter on the Moto G, but not as much as to render it unusable, so it can definitely handle navigation in an ok manner. But it won’t do Google Earth or satellite images as well, to be frank, it will be a pain to try using those. They’ll stutter and lag and won’t work as they are supposed to, so if you’re a fan of those, the Moto G might not be the best fit for you. Listening to music through third-party apps or Google Play Music won’t be a challenge, and the phone won’t freeze up if you’re streaming from the cloud with an app like Beat cloud music.
Camera performance on the Moto G is not as smooth as one would like it to be, but the camera does respond rather fast and you won’t have trouble switching between photo and video modes. Processing will be annoying though, as it can take a surprisingly long time on occasion. If you want to get to the camera from the lock screen, you’re going to have to time things right, because it takes the Moto G quite a few seconds to process your request. The shutter is responsive though, and the camera app is also smooth in performance, so overall it’s a good experience, but not the best.
When it comes to the Moto X and its targeted power users, it is more difficult to define what a power user is. Defining the habits of a power user is difficult because each power user has a different approach towards their smartphone. First off, power users can be those that play a lot of games, and not the standard issue games that don’t need that much processing power, rather games like Asphalt 8, Despicable Me, Plants vs Zombies 2, Golden Manage, The Sims, Game of Thrones from Telltale and so on. These games will run smoothly on the Moto X, with almost no lag or problems with the experience. But that’s yet again only valid with moderate gaming sessions of about 40 minutes or so. If you tend to stay in that game for more than an hour, be prepared to encounter the occasional app crash or some lag.
The standard apps like social networking, video viewing and messaging apps work like a charm on the Moto X, and you’ll probably never get lag when you’re consuming media, which is a good trait of the phone. Switching between apps won’t be cumbersome nor annoying, and the transitioning won’t lag too often, but it will happen once in a while. The camera is much more responsive than with the Moto G or the first generation Moto X, which is a plus for the second generation smartphone from Motorola. Its camera software and post-processing have also been sped up a tad, which means accessing and maneuvering the camera won’t cause problems, generally. As with any software or hardware, there can be glitches and problems, which is unavoidable in my opinion. But the overall photography and video recording experience with the Moto X is rather admirable.
The standard issue stock apps work like a charm on the Moto X, and multitasking is a breeze for most power users whom we’ve spoken to. Resource hungry apps tend to function without a problem on the Moto X, and so do real-time apps such as Google AdSense, Analytics or any other tracking software one might use. At the same time, fitness tracking apps also work without a hitch, which is a good sing of sensor calibration and the relationship they have with the app and software doing the tracking. Media consumption such as high-res videos and audio are just as good as on any other flagship and you probably won’t encounter any freezing whatsoever, no matter if you’re using Wi-Fi, 3G or 4G LTE. That’s the beauty of the Moto X: even when the internet connection is using up a lot of resources and juice, it still manages to, well, manage power and resources in just the right way.
The Moto X is truly one of the best smartphones of 2014 when it comes to performance, and it has become a crowd-favorite because it demonstrates that high-end specs don’t always mean super-fast performance. The Moto X 2014 packs pretty average specs, which are pretty far off from more recent smartphones that were launched last year and this year, but still manages to come off with super-fast performance. The Moto X can handle anything you throw at it and it won’t break a sweat, all the while keeping the price down and keeping software as stock as possible.
Since I can’t allow myself to define a power user or an average user and masquerade that definition as truth, I’m going to ask you, our readers, to let us know what kind of users you are. If you consider yourself an average smartphone user, tell us what apps you use on a daily basis and for what. If you think you’re the power user we’re trying to talk about, help us out and let us know your app and game preferences. How do you think your usage habits affect the performance of a phone and the overall user experience? Do you think a power user would be able to use the Moto G as their daily driver? Do you think that a power user would be content with using the Moto X or should they look at even more powerful hardware? Since the newly announced One M9 and Galaxy S6 aren’t available for consumers yet, you can’t include them as possible options, as we’re trying to promote personal experience with gadgets ahead of judging based on paper. So, what would your verdict be?