Much more than an update to the Moto X line, Motorola's debut of the Moto X Style, Moto X Play, and Moto G announced a new age of smartphones. Pure Android, extensive features, top-tier differentiated design at prices below industry leaders Apple and Samsung are intended to tease consumers to look at the line up and consider a direct relationship with Motorola.
During the announcement, Motorola mentioned the success of the last Moto X 2nd generation more than once. Announced just last September, the Moto X 2nd generation won the praise of most analysts for its design, unique features like Moto Active Display, solid construction, pure Android, and customizability using the Moto Maker website. Motorola's new smartphones extend this proof point to a broader product family. Here's the new line-up.
Moto X Style
The Moto X Style features a 5.7-inch quad HD display and a 21-megapixel camera. Motorola claims it is priced $200 to $300 lower than Apple's iPhone 6 and Samsung's Galaxy S6 smartphones, selling at $399 beginning next September. The consumer can buy the Moto X Style from select retailers or directly from Motorola. It's unlocked and ready to run a SIM from Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, or T-Mobile. Motorola claims the Moto X Style takes a 10-hour charge in 15 minutes, a 50% increase over the fast-charging feature of the Samsung Galaxy 6.
Moto X Play
With a slightly smaller 5.5-inch screen and the same 21-megapixel camera, the Moto X Play has a beast of a battery, boasting 3,630 mAh. Like the Style, Motorola says it will be considerably cheaper than high-end phones from competitors: $300 to $400 cheaper than the iPhone 6 and the Samsung Galaxy S6. Motorola did not say if this smartphone will be available in the U.S., but it will be available in select global markets.
Motorola's design chief Jim Wicks compared both of the new devices' 21-megapixel cameras with the iPhone 6 and Galaxy S6 cameras, claiming that independent reviewers ranked the Moto X line to boast one of the top three smartphone cameras in the world, a list that did not include the Apple and Samsung devices. Though the Style and the Play versions have the same rear-facing camera, the Style has a wide-angle selfie camera that the Pure doesn't have.
Announced alongside the two new Moto X devices, the Moto G looks a lot like the Moto X 2nd Generation but at a price designed for price-sensitive markets such as Brazil and India. The 8GB version starts at $180 and is available in these markets now. The new Moto G begs a one-to-one comparison with last year's Moto X that will have to wait for another day.
Notably, the Moto G has a 12-megapixel camera, the same one that the Nexus 6 has. Wicks demonstrated the Moto G to be waterproof by submerging it in a fishbowl. The Moto G meets the IPX7 standard to withstand submerging the smartphone for 30 minutes at up to one meter of depth.
Motorola stepped onto the world stage with this announcement, flexing its supply-chain muscle and reach gained when it was acquired by Lenovo. When Motorola was a Google company, its role was to pace the smartphone industry with leading-edge design and pure Android with its unchallenged design prowess. Now part of Lenovo, Motorola can take its designs and implement at scale around the world using Lenovo's extensive supply chain and product distribution. What this means is that Motorola can bring customization using its Moto Maker website directly to more consumers in more world markets, delivering the consumer-designed smartphone in just a couple of days.
It also means that Motorola can have a direct relationship with consumers that extends beyond customization. Android updates are frequently delayed by mobile carriers. These smartphones will get updates directly from Motorola, making fixes and security updates much more timely. Building a strong one-to-one direct relationship with consumers will be Motorola's next proof point. If the company can achieve that, it could challenge Apple's retail store strategy.