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13 November 2013 @ 08:29 am
Nexus 5 vs Moto X  
Some rambling thoughts about phones.

Among a lot of other things on saturday Avalyn and i went by Best Buy and spent some time looking at phones. Avalayn is interested in getting her first smartphone and i of course have been considering getting my second smartphone for quite some time.

We mainly looked at the HTC One, the Samsung Galaxy S4, the Droid Mini, the Moto X, and the Nexus 5.

I've got to say, last week i was seriously considering just pressing the button on the Nexus 5 order page. Now after having had the chance to actually try the Moto X i'm seriously reconsidering.

The reaction of both Avalyn and i when we picked up the Moto X was "wow this feels nice." For my part that was definitely strongly influenced by the fact that the Moto X is only marginally larger than my Nexus One. (It definitely helped that the Moto X had a little tiny plastic anti-theft device on the back, while the other phones had big giant metal plugs that made it impossible to hold the phone properly, but reviews confirm that the Moto X feels a lot nicer than other phones, and Avalyn got to confirm it at another store yesterday that had samples without anti-theft devices.)

The Nexus 5 on the other hand just feels okay, and is definitely significantly larger than my Nexus One.

The HTC One still has the advantage of looking very pretty and having front facing speakers. If they actually had a smaller version without mangled internals then it would still be in the running.

So, pros and cons:

Nexus 5:

Pros:
$400 (plus shipping)
445 ppi
The camera has "HDR+", which may or may not also double as OIS, i'm not entirely sure.

Cons:
Large
One of the desktop panels (the leftmost) is dedicated to Google Now. Which wouldn't be a big problem except that...
The default homescreen is set to the second panel from the left rather than the middle panel, so you've only got one configurable panel immediately adjacent to the homescreen.

Moto X:

Pros:
It feels very nice to hold
It's the smallest Android "superphone" currently available
If this phone bombs Motorola may decide that it's not worth building "small" "superphones."

Cons:
"Only" 316 PPI
The camera had some issues when it first came out which have been corrected by an update since then. However even with that fix it sounds like it's got a pretty middle of the road camera. It sounds like the Nexus 5 camera is a little better (though not particularly stellar itself,) but it's hard to be sure at this point.
It only has "auto HDR", which sounds like it's not quite as good as "HDR+", and also sounds like it doesn't act like OIS.
It costs $550, which is much better than the $650 it would have cost last week but still $150 more than the Nexus 5.

The Developer Edition only comes in a two-tone black and white color scheme. I hate white phones. I don't want a phone that's even half white. I wonder if i could color the back of the phone with a sharpie?

On the other hand according to some reviews it seems that the difference between the Developer Edition and the T-Mobile edition are pretty limited. Supposedly the T-Mobile edition is already unlocked and doesn't come with any bloatware. And on the plus side at the same time the price drop happened the Moto Maker website expanded to all four carriers. So i could get a black on black T-Mobile Moto X. If i did that i'm not sure if i'd want to get blue or purple highlights, or if i'd get tired of that pretty quick and be better off with black or silver. Also, you can get something inscribed on the back of the phone. I'd be tempted to go with "Tannhauser Gate II", though that might be cheating since it's not actually a Nexus.

One area where i don't know how to judge the difference at all is the chipset.

The Nexus 5 has a Snapdragon 800, which consists of four 2.3 GHz CPUs and one Adreno 330 GPU, while the Moto X has a specialized X8 chip, which conists of an S4 Pro with two 1.7 Ghz CPUs and four Adreno 320 GPUs, and has some number of "DSP" chips added on to handle additional processing. The theory is that with a larger number of lower powered chips in the chipset that it can still produce the same results as a "high powered" chipset, but power-down any chips that aren't needed for current tasks to save power and extend battery life.

The reviews i've seen show that the Moto X is competitive with HTC One in benchmark tests. The HTC clearly "wins" by a decent margin, if one discounts the fact that like Samsung and several other manufacturers there's pretty strong evidence that HTC is fudging the benchmark results. However the Moto X still beats the average benchmark (and Motorola has a reputation for playing fair in that regard) and actual usage reports are that if anything the Moto X is more responsive in general use than the Galaxy S4, evidence that designing and using your CPU well is more important than just sticking on more cores.

I'm sure the Nexus 5 blows away the Moto X in benchmarks and from what i've heard it doesn't have any lagging issues. But clearly the Moto X is "good enough." And it may be worth trading away a little theoretical power in exchange for being able to hold the phone comfortably in one hand.

Oh yeah, and the Moto G is going to be announced today, but since it's just supposed to be a dumbed-down version of the Moto X i'm probably not going to be interested.
 
 
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