About two years ago I bought the best device I’ve ever used: the Galaxy Nexus. At the time, the Galaxy Nexus represented everything that’s good about Android: high levels of customization, a great user experience that promises frequent updates, and a great developer community facilitated by open-source software. The Galaxy Nexus, like all of Google’s Nexus devices, was a veritable toy box that allowed the user to easily unlock, root, and tailor the phone to meet the wants and needs of the individual, a characteristic which continues to make Android appealing to even the most novice users (myself included).
Naturally, then, I was pretty excited when “leaked” images of the Nexus 5 began showing up. Owning a Nexus device almost becomes a way of life for people, chuckling at people who are still waiting for the latest Android version, or becoming annoyed when your friends complain about TouchWiz for the 40th time. As a Nexus owner, you’ve already experienced the best, most optimized version of Android, and the only way they could make it any better was to upgrade the hardware like a better screen or camera. For these reasons, the Nexus 5 was the clear choice for my next device.
Even though I’m with Verizon, I always play around with the idea of moving to an unlocked plan, and was strongly considering the move. However, like any other amateur gadget guru I usually spend the months counting down to my upgrade by checking out YouTube reviews, tech articles, and retail outlets looking at what’s available and weighing the options. In doing so, I’ve come to an interesting conclusion: I want the Moto X. With all the great devices that are out there, like the LG G2, the Samsung Galaxy S4, the Note 3, and (of course) the Nexus 5, I found myself continuing to come back to the Moto X. Here I’d like to list the top 5 reasons that are causing this Nexus lover to jump ship.
READ: NEXUS 5 Hands on Review
1. Active Notifications
Active Notifications is, without a doubt, the most talked about feature of the Moto X. The ability to see your newest notifications without touching a button is so deviously simple I’m surprised it’s taken this long to figure out. What’s more, now that I know it exists I feel like some kind of barbarian every time I have to hit the unlock button on my current device. In a world where the most advertised feature of a company’s flagship device is that you can scroll without touching the screen, the brilliance of Active Notifications represents a feature that is both innovative and practical. It’s not just a fun thing to show your friends that you’ll never use again, it fundamentally changes the way you use a phone: no more worn-out lock lock buttons from months or years of checking the time 20 times a day, or seeing if what you felt was wind or your phone vibrating. Though this feature is often lauded in reviews, it’s one that I’m betting becomes more appreciated as time goes on.
2. Vanilla +
The greatest thing about Nexus devices is the fact that they run stock, or “vanilla” Android. Quite simply, vanilla Android is the best phone experience I have had up to this point, and if you haven’t had the opportunity to experience the OS the way it was meant to be experienced, you should be ashamed. With that said, the Moto X provides an Android experience that, although it’s not stock, offers features that I’m actually itching to get my hands on, rather than bloatware I’m itching to get rid of. Active Notifications is just the tip of the iceberg in this department. With other features like Moto Assist, which automatically detects when you’re driving, in a meeting, or sleeping, and always-listening voice commands, Motorola has enhanced Android with features that are both practical and unobtrusive enough to make it feel like it’s actually a part of the OS, rather than something that’s competing against it. What’s more, these are features that have even Nexus owners like me wondering why these features aren’t a part of the vanilla Android, and has me wondering what software advantages the new Nexus 5 will have once the Moto X gets updated to 4.4 Kit Kat.
Locked bootloaders are the bane of the Nexus owner and Android enthusiasts in general. This limitation prevents the user from rooting and, thereby, downloading and flashing custom ROMs or other apps like Greenify that require root but can make your phone function much more efficiently. to be fair, a locked bootloader no doubt prevents the average user from doing irreprable harm to the device and, in the process, costing the carrier a lot of money in possible replacement units. However, for those like me who have no problem soft-bricking their phones just to try out some trivial feature, rooting your phone brings the Android experience to a new level. Now, you might be asking why I would even be considering the Moto X, which comes with a locked bootloader, if locked bootloaders suck so much. The short answer: it’s actually easier to root the Moto X than it is to root the Galaxy Nexus. Thanks to an alreafy thriving developer community, the Moto X user can gain root access by simply downloading and running an apk and tapping a few buttons. I should probably take a moment to write a disclaimer that rooting your phone can void your warranty, so don’t do it without taking that into account, and don’t attempt rooting if you’re not ready to accept the consequences. With that said, rooting is totally awesome, and it seems that it’s it a smooth process on the Moto X.
4. Moto Maker
Until now, a user could customize the Android OS as much as she wanted; all it often took as a quick Google search and maybe 20 minutes to dink around with settings. What’s great about Moto Maker is that Motorola has brought that great customization that makes Android unique to the hardware itself. From colors to textures to boot animations and whatever weird message you want the phone to use to greet you, you can truly make your Moto X your own.
Before the Moto X, the closest you got to customizing the outside of your phone was to buy a case or get a message engraved on your iPhone (but really, who wants to go through having to buy an iPhone?). In order to make this feature feasible, though, Motorola had to take a risk in that it had to make sure not only that a customer could a unique phone, but also that he or she wouldn’t have to wait a month for it. This brings me to my next reason for choosing a Moto X…
5. It’s made in the USA
The preceding features are great and all, but if we’re being honest they’re only place holders for whatever great phone is going to come out in the next 1-2 years that tech reporters will tell you to buy. This means that, while phones are awesome, the fact that they are often manufactured using questionable practices in factories like FoxConn is a fact that casts a pall on the process of upgrading. This becomes even more unsettling as more wireless companies begin pushing more frequent upgrades though plans like Verizon’s Edge program. Personally, the fact that Motorola decided to manufacture the Moto X in Fort Worth, TX is a huge step, and one that should be rewarded in order to encourage more manufacturers to follow suit.
There are things to love and hate about every flagship device out there right now, which is one of the great things about Android maturing into a more refined OS – more top-tier choices for consumers. For me, the Moto X provides the hardware and software that fit the way I want my Android experience to be – practical while leaving me the ability to make myself seem smart by tinkering with the OS. What’s more, the things that makes the Moto X appealing to me can’t be found on any other phone right now, including the Nexus 5.