Motorola Moto X (Sprint) review

The Moto X adds some useful, unique tricks to a fast smartphone that's comfortable to hold in one hand. If you're a Sprint customer, who wants a top-notch Android phone, it should be on your short list.
Photo of Motorola Moto X (Sprint)

Motorola doesn’t overdo things with the Moto X ($99.99 with 2-year contract). The size conforms to the human hand, not the latest trends. The relatively small amount of new features are actually things you’ll want to use, not just gimmicks you forget about after the first week. The focus is clearly on usability rather than marketability here. It’s a shame the Moto Maker customization is still exclusive to the AT&T Moto X, but the Sprint version is still a thoughtfully designed Android smartphone worthy of its flagship designation. Our Editors’ Choice remains the Galaxy S4 for its speed, high-resolution display, and features galore.

We’ve reviewed the Moto X on a few other carriers already, so we’ll just focus on some of the Sprint-model differences here. For a more in-depth look at features, check out our review of the Moto X for Verizon Wireless.

Physical Design, Features, and Call Quality
If you’re not on AT&T, you’re out of luck—the Moto Maker customization options are an exclusive to that carrier. The Moto X is still an attractive device, regardless of customizations, but on Sprint you’ll be limited to black or white. Otherwise you get the same hand friendly dimensions, 4.7-inch AMOLED screen, and soft-touch plastic body.

Note: The slideshow below is of the AT&T Moto X with Moto Maker customizations. It’s physically identical to the Verizon model, but Moto Maker is not available on Verizon.

The Sprint Moto X supports CDMA on 800/850/1900MHz, GSM on 850/900/1800/1900MHz and 1900MHz LTE. It’s a global-ready phone that can be unlocked for customers in good standing with an account that has been active for at least 90 days. Overall, call quality was good. Voices came through loud and clear in the earpiece, and speakerphone was easy to hear in my tests, if a little harsh at top volume. Noise cancellation was very good, as even very loud construction site noise was reduced to a faint hiss and occasional pop. Transmissions through the mic were clear and easy to understand for the majority of calls, though I did noticed some slight muffling on a few test calls. Battery life isn’t quite as good here, as the Sprint model turned in just 10 hours, 11 minutes of talk time—well short of the Verizon Moto X’s 14 hours, 15 minutes in the same test. The AT&T model lasted almost 13 hours.

Bloatware, Camera, and Conclusions
The 16GB phone we tested came with 10.59GB of internal storage out of the box. Sprint added a few preloads here, including four carrier-branded apps and four third-party apps. All but the Sprint Zone app are uninstallable, and the preloads include useful apps like Quickoffice and Lookout Security. It’s a nice change over some bloatware-laden phones we’ve seen, but I still found the Sprint Zone and its frequent notifications pretty annoying.

You get the same 10-megapixel camera and Motorola’s Quick Launch camera trick, which lets you fire up the camera with a quick double flip of your wrist. I found the motion a bit awkward at first, but it is useful for quickly firing up the camera at a moment’s notice. Test images were a mixed bag. Some shots indoors looked surprisingly bright, but a tad too noisy. In good lighting images looked sharp, with vivid colors and impressive detail. The Moto X struggles a bit with more challenging light, with inconsistent dynamic range—some shots were properly exposed, but others showed blown out highlights or details lost in the shadows. Overall it’s an above-average camera, but still not quite as good as the Galaxy S4 or Apple iPhone 5s.

The Motorola Moto X is one of the few flagship phones that shows some restraint in its design. That’s a good thing, as it’s becoming increasingly rare to find a well-equipped phone that actually fits comfortably in one hand. Sprint’s version isn’t the best, that’d be the AT&T X with Moto Maker, but it’s still an excellent choice and it’s more affordable here at only $99.99 to other carriers’ $199.99 price. Our Editors’ Choice, however, remains the Galaxy S4, for its superior camera, sharper display, and bevy of features that will appeal to a wider array of people. 

Specifications
Phone Capability / Network GSM, CDMA, LTE
Screen Resolution 1280 x 720 pixels
NFC Yes
Dimensions 5.09 x 2.57 x 0.41 inches
802.11x/Band(s) 802.11 b/g/n
Video Camera Resolution 1080p Rear
720p Front
Battery Life (As Tested) 10 hours, 11 minutes
Available Integrated Storage 10.59 GB
CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MSM8960 Dual-Core
GPS Yes
Service Provider Sprint
Total Integrated Storage 16 GB
High-Speed Data LTE
Weight 4.59 oz
Screen Type Super AMOLED HD
Operating System as Tested Android 4.2.2
Physical Keyboard No
Camera Resolution 10-megapixel Rear-Facing
2-megapixel Front-Facing
Screen Pixels Per Inch 316 ppi
Bands 800, 850, 900, 1800, 1900
microSD Slot No
Form Factor Candy Bar
Screen Size 4.7 inches
Bluetooth Version 4.0

Verdict
The Moto X adds some useful, unique tricks to a fast Android smartphone that's comfortable to hold in one hand.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc