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Moto X and the Droids of the future: what we know so far

Moto X and the Droids of the future: what we know so far


Motorola tries to reinvent itself under Google's care with a new set of phones due this summer

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The hopes of a reinvigorated Motorola are riding on a single much-rumored phone called the Moto X. CEO Dennis Woodside confirmed that the Moto X existed and provided the first official details on the phone at D11 in May, but the company has yet to fully reveal the device. Nevertheless, a series of leaks have filled in the picture quite a bit. We know that the Moto X will be a mid-range device set for a release this summer, and it's also expected that Motorola's working on a series of Droid-branded phones destined for Verizon Wireless. Considering the number of leaks surrounding these devices, we've compiled everything we know about them here to help clear things up.

Moto X

The Moto X is the most intriguing of Motorola's upcoming phones. It's the first phone to be created and built entirely under Google's stewardship, and it carries the hopes of a reborn Motorola that can once again impress with its hardware. Motorola has already announced that the Moto X will be available sometime this summer, and the company has made a point to highlight that the phone will be assembled in the United States.


It's hardly a mystery what the Moto X will look like. A nearly identical device has been leaked since March: It has a glass-covered front reminiscent of the Nexus 4, though with a narrower bezel. The plastic rear, meanwhile, has a convex back with a center-aligned camera, flash, and Motorola logo aside a speaker grille. The headphone jack is centered on the top edge of the phone. Until now all of the leaks have shown the same phone, but new pictures depict a model with two SIM card slots and a slightly different speaker grille located on the opposite side of the camera lens than the previous leaks. It's likely that this model (pictured below) is an Asia-only version of the Moto X, and the hardware changes necessary for the dual-SIM setup may explain the slight cosmetic differences.


At D11, CEO Dennis Woodside revealed that the Moto X would be manufactured in a 480,000-square-foot facility in Texas, making it the first smartphone to be assembled in the US. Earlier this month Motorola purchased full-page ads in major US newspapers advertising the Moto X's American roots while calling the device "the first smartphone you can design yourself." We've since confirmed with sources — corroborated by ABC News — that customers who order the phone direct online will be able to choose from a variety of colored backs and trims, and there will be an option for personalized engraving and custom pre-loaded wallpapers as well. Since the Moto X will be made so close to home, custom orders will be delivered to US customers only a few days after they order.


In terms of hardware, it's clear that Motorola is focusing on ultra-low power sensors like accelerometers and gyroscopes to offer unique functionality with the Moto X. Dennis Woodside revealed at D11 that "the device knows different use states" and is "contextually aware." For example, the smartphone will be able to distinguish when it's in your pocket, when you want to take a picture, and when you're driving, and it will offer specific functionality tailored for those situations.


Rumors suggest that the Moto X will be a mid-range device even though Dennis Woodside said it will compete directly with the iPhone 5 and the Galaxy S4. Like those competitors, multiple US carriers will offer the Moto X. Our sources say it will be offered on Verizon Wireless free of the typical "Droid" branding, and leaks suggest AT&T and Sprint versions, at the very least, are on the way as well. Specifications are still difficult to come by, but Motorola's chief of design previously said that the company was designing the phone around a "just-right" screen size, and rumors suggest a 720p display anywhere from 4.3 inches to 4.7 inches would be a good bet. FCC filings show that the Moto X will have LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0 + EDR, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. Additionally, statements from Motorola reveal that the Moto X will run a stock version of Android — possibly 4.2.2 at launch — with minimal carrier bloatware.

Moto X could cost as little as $199 off contract

If the specifications don't impress, it's because Motorola is set to go after an affordable price point with the Moto X. As Woodside pointed out on stage at D11, off-contract smartphone prices have hardly budged since the original iPhone, and the company thinks it can carve out its own market of "high-quality, low cost" devices between $650 smartphones and $30 feature phones. From the rumored specifications we expect the Moto X could sell for as little as $199 off-contract.

Droid Ultra, Droid Maxx, and Droid Mini


A strong relationship with Verizon Wireless has long been central to Motorola's business, and with the Moto X that close bond isn't going away. While the Verizon version of the Moto X won't use the carrier's Droid branding, Motorola is working on a suite of Droid phones exclusively for the carrier that are set to replace the Droid RAZR HD, RAZR Maxx HD, and RAZR M, which were all introduced last summer. According to multiple rumors, those models will be superseded by the Droid Ultra, Droid Maxx, and Droid Mini, respectively.


From the leaked photos that we've seen, both the Ultra and the Maxx will share a nearly identical design that represents an evolution the RAZR HD's design. That means a Kevlar back and capacitive hardware navigation buttons. According to a website accidentally published by Motorola, the Ultra (and presumably the Maxx) will be available in "a bunch of glossy colors" and will be "tough as steel." Specifications for all three of the devices remain a mystery at this point, though it's expected that the Ultra will cost the industry-standard of $199 on-contract, with the Maxx fetching $50 to $100 more for its increased battery capacity. Motorola will likely reveal these Droids later this month.

Update: Android Central got its hands on what looks to be a storyboard for a Droid Ultra commercial. The storyboard reveals an August 8th launch date and also contains Verizon's overly masculine Droid advertising hallmarks. There's no telling if this is a final, official ad plan, but there's a good chance we will see something along these lines on TV sooner than later.


These phones — particularly the Moto X — are much more than just the latest crop of Android devices. Motorola hasn't turned a single dollar of profit since Google's buyout, and the company's global market share is well below five percent. The American company has a long heritage as a leader in mobile computing, and it was once the leader in Android. Its output has been much more disappointing of late, however, and these four upcoming phones will show whether a Motorola led by some of Google's brightest minds can reinvent itself. For now all we can do is wait and see if it can deliver; we'll be hearing much more on these smartphones over the coming weeks.

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