I Don't Want A Bigger Moto X. I Want A Better Moto X.

I Don't Want a Bigger Moto X. I Want a Better Moto X.

Last year's Moto X is the best phone I've ever owned. It's just the right size, it has just the right features. And by the time I'm ready to upgrade, it won't exist anymore, because the way we make smartphones now is dumb.

Overnight, Motorola announced its successor to the original Moto X, which while also being called the Moto X is not, in fact, the Moto X I currently own and unabashedly love. Don't get me wrong; it's by all accounts a great device. But while this Moto X inherits the spirit of its predecessor — along with its indispensable software tricks — it is and always will be an imposter. Why? Because it's bigger. Much, much bigger. Someone gave my Moto X a Super Mario mushroom, and there's no Koopa Troopa army big enough to shrink it back down.

Why do we do this to our devices? Why do we change them so drastically year to year? Motorola's not the only one, and it's not only about size. The HTC One was the first beautiful Android phone; the HTC One M8 is bigger and far less stylish. The Galaxy S4 was a noble (albeit plasticky) flagship; the Galaxy S5 looks like a flattened-out golf ball. Forget leaving well enough alone. Most phone manufacturers won't even let pretty great be.

And last year's Moto X is pretty damn great, in a way that this year's build can't be. The jump from 4.7 inches to 5.2 inches might not sound major, but it's the difference between comfortably navigating the entire display with one hand and having to stretch your thumbs or double-fist it. It's the difference between disappearing in your pocket and being a bulge. Most of all, it's just an inexplicable rethink of what was a near-perfect build. It's as though Toyota suddenly decided the 2015 Camry should be an SUV.

I Don't Want a Bigger Moto X. I Want a Better Moto X.

What's most frustrating is that the reasons for the gargantuanization aren't technological. That better camera, those better speakers, those faster guts all would have fit snugly in last year's design. The reasons Moto gave us for the switch were "market research" — hopefully not from the same source that gave us these ads — and the desire to fit two IR sensors on the front, so that you can wave at your phone to make it shut up. Given the choice between perfect phone and disposable gimmick, I choose perfection. Or would, anyway, if I could.

The kicker is the revelation that the Moto X body I currently own isn't just destined for fossilisation; its brains have also been dead-ended. Like the new software tricks in the new Moto X? Enjoy them from afar, because they won't trickle down. It's a dead-end device, as far as Moto's concerned. And once its battery dies, or I drop it at the wrong angle, it will be gone forever.

The only arguable exception to this fickle phone fabrication is Apple, whose iPhone, now in its eighth year, has only seen one truly significant design overhaul, when it transitioned from the 3GS to the iPhone 4. There have been other tweaks and twiddles along the way — it gained screen size an ditched the double glass sides between the 4S and 5, but without dramatically altering the dimensions — but the most common complaint leveled against Apple's smartphone design progression is that it's so boring. Which is just a rude way of saying that iPhones are consistent and recognisable. If you like this year's iPhone, you'll almost certainly like next year's, because it will look largely the same, if not identical. That's how you build a fan base. That's how you create a juggernaut.

By this point, you have decided that I am an insane person. You're probably right! It's just a phone. But what bothers me most is that Motorola thinks of it that way too. A phone like this deserves more than a year to build its audience. A wonderfully perfect thing deserves to stay that way.

I understand the compulsion to throw sizes at a wall to see what sticks. I understand trying a larger version on for size. But calling this hulk a Moto X isn't fair. I know the Moto X. It's the best phone I've ever owned, and I'm going to miss it when it's gone.


Comments

    Maybe the majority of people want a bigger screen. I wish the moto was 5.3 inches at least. The people who want a smaller screen are in the minority, so of course manufacturers will ignore your desires. There's phones for you out there, they called mini. Mini is 4.7 inches. Normal is 5 inches. Large is 6 inches.
    There's so much demand for larger screen phones that even Apple has been forced to address the problem by (hopefully) releasing a larger screen iPhone.

    Amen to this wonderfully straight shooting article. The worst part about what Motorola has done is that it hiding the size increase. I might have considered an upgrade if I hadn't come across this article. If it were really an improvement that came from market research, they would have said: "now 20% bigger". It is simply wrong to reuse the same name Moto X, when a perfectly good name would have said it all: "Moto XL".

      ** I made an account just to comment on this article. Absolutely agree with this article 110%. I still have a google edition HTC one m7 and can't see a valid upgrade. I threw my nexus 5 out and I won't buy a HTC m8, its just ridiculous how large the screens are getting now I don't want anything bigger than 4.7 and a nice slim body. Our hands aren't growing bigger so why should our phones and no we don't want the second rate mini versions that don't even run pure android we want a 4.5 - 4.8 FLAGSHIP!

        Then the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact is for you. No compromises on a 4.7 inch screen.

          Well...the Z3 Compact does have a lower res screen than the One M7. Otherwise I agree, the specs are great for a 'compact' edition.

    Agreed with the size thing. I'm currently looking for a replacement for my iPhone 4S and would really like something the same size, or smaller. A 4S with speedier guts, a longer lasting battery, and the same 3.5" screen would be perfect.

    I felt the need to login to concur wholeheartedly with the this article. I LOVE my moto x and feel that one (if not the best) of its good features is its perfect size. I love the rest of the feature set (except for non the non-replaceable battery, but hey can't have everything, where would you put it) but hearing them mangle a very good thing is very disheartening. I think the phone didn't do as well as they were hoping but I tell everyone I meet what a great phone it is. Thanks for the article.

    Agreed, looks like the Xperia Z3 Compact is the new winner

    YES! This article explains my view on the new Moto X perfectly. Why do we need another >5" phone.

    P. Son I from moto says the software WILL get refreshed for the old devices too. So your loved moto x will be fresh very very soon. You will see moto voice on it now but not turned on yet. Enjoy!

    I don't have an issue with the 5.2" screen of the 2014 Moto X, as I never owned the original Moto X, but I was eagerly awaiting this device due to the great reviews the original Moto X received as well as the vanilla Android experience.

    Nonetheless I'm equally disappointed with the 2014 Moto X due to the lack of SD card support. Which muppet at Motorola decided that 32GB is enough? It's not. Had this device included an SD card slot it would ticked every box and would have been a flag-ship device killer.

    Agree! Just bought the old Moto X this morning...I want the features but I don't want to carry around a tablet for my phone. Stop making huge tablet phones people, why do you think the Apple iPhone is so successful!

    Apple also clearly understand the need for a smaller phone as even thought they're increasing the size they're offering BOTH a 4.7 and 5" model.

    Since using the Note 3 I cannot move back down. I love having the extra real estate even more than being able to use it comfortably in one hand. I can, though its obviously a bit more of a chore than an iphone or that size phone. I consume media with my phone, movies, tv, youtube, reading. I prefer to have the biggest possible space to do this in. I know not everyone feels the same way but I probably wouldnt go lower than 5.3/5.2 inch screens.

    "comfortably navigating the entire display with one hand"

    I really do not get why some people always quote this kind of idea to attack a smartphone with big screen. To me, the words sound like from the group of the i-users who simply feel jealous of the big gorgeous screens that none of the i-smartphones would offer.

    To those users, why do you only operate your phone with one hand? what makes you so busy with the other hand?

    The ironic part is many of those who complain about one hand operation are western hulks, meanwhile you see a lot of pretty and slim Asian ladies comfortably and naturally using their GS Note devices with both hands in Asian countries.

    It is not the end of the story though. Even Apple are increasing (slowly) the size of their new devices. I wonder if those who claimed they could only comfortably use the 3.5 inch screen (in the iPhone 4 era) would bash the coming 4.7 inch 6th generation like what they did to the same period 4.3 inch Samsung GS2 because of the "big size problem".

    Last edited 08/09/14 4:47 pm

    Oh, boo-hoo, get over it. Just because you want a tiny phone doesn't mean everyone else does. The majority of consumers want bigger screens.

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