November 27th, 2013


New Phone!

I have my Moto X now! (This post is mostly about the process of getting the phone set up.)

The 24ish hour delay in shipping meant that instead of arriving at work on friday it tried to show up there on saturday. I tried to have it sent to a nearby UPS office for pickup, but they said it was too late because the package was already on the truck. So rather than wait until the next redelivery attempt on monday i drove by the shipping facility, which actually wasn't that much farther away, and picked it up around 4.

Upon getting home i eagerly opened the package, although i already had a good idea of what to expect after helping Avalyn open hers the day before. (No really, she asked me to after she had trouble getting the box open.)

The phone is very pretty, with one minor exception. The personalization is effectively some kind of plasticish ink applied to the back, not an actual engraving like with the Nexus One. It does present the concern that it will just wear off after awhile (Avalyn has a case to protect hers, i'm not sure if i'm going to take any particular precautions) and doesn't stand out quite as much, but otherwise is okay. On hers at least. On mine, the bottom of the 'e' and 'G' are slightly messed up =P Not a huge deal, especially since it was free, but still a little disappointing.

I do like the electric blue accent, although for awhile it kept making me thing the power button was glowing or something :) I do wish there was a little more of the color though.

Also sitting on the doorstep when i got home was the T-Mobile prepaid nano-SIM card i'd ordered at the same time i bought the phone. However i decided to do basic phone setup and configuration before trying to get the new plan worked out.

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The second time i was smarter about it. I'd already backed up everything in my Nexus One to my PC just to be safe, so i deleted all the pictures and music from my Nexus One, copied the files directly from my PC to my Moto X (which took... 10-20 minutes?) and _then_ did the Motorola Migrate again. It still took longer than expected, but only 30-60 minutes this time.

I then reinstalled all the apps, did some configuration, and finally it was time for bed.

Oh yes, but one other thing about unlocking the bootloader. After finishing the process the phone rebooted and displayed the message "warning, bootloader unlocked" or something like that. Okay, fine whatever. Except the message reappeared the next time i booted my phone too, and the third. It seems that my personalized greeting has been permanently nuked by the "warning, unlocked bootloader" screen :(

When i got up on sunday i started re-researching the T-Mobile prepaid plans. I was planning on going with the $30 a month plan with unlimited web, unlimited texts, 100 minutes talk. The webpage said you could transfer an existing T-Mobile number to a prepaid plan, but since the people at the T-Mobile store didn't seem to think that was possible i decided to call the T-Mobile support line and check.

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Before i'd even finished purchasing the funds i'd gotten a text saying my Moto X had been activated, so i figured the fund transaction ought to go equally quickly. But it didn't. After 5-10 minutes i stopped refreshing the T-Mobile account page and played a couple games to pass the time. Nothing at 30 minutes. Nothing at 60 minutes. Or 90. So two hours after i'd made the purchase i called up the T-Mobile prepaid support line (using the special *233 or some such code, since i couldn't call the regular 1-800 number without minutes) and pretty much said "WTH?" They checked my account and said a hold had been put on the payment because of security concerns. So i got to answer a bunch of stupid questions and they freed up the hold, and pretty much immediately after that my phone started working for real. Yay!

Overall Review of Moto X (So Far)

I already mentioned in the previous post my concerns/issues with the personalized message on the back of the phone, but that's a relatively minor issue. And i'm a little peeved about the unlocked bootloader boot screen, but i'm hoping i can find a way around that.

Otherwise the phone is great. It still feels good to hold and i only occasionally notice the difficulty in reaching all the way to the top to drag down the notification bar when using the phone one-handed. It would have been a little better if it had a 4.3 inch screen i think, but 4.7 inches is livable.

The phone is definitely very usable. Everything seems to be going smoothly, and it's a joy to be able to install the apps i want again. Although after installing all the apps i want, i notice that i'm down to 15GB of space, which is a little worrying. According to the settings, 26 of the internal 32GB is available to me. I'm currently using 6 GB for music, 2 GB for apps, 0.5 GB for pictures, and 1.5 GB for "Misc."

I've turned on most of Motorola's "helpful" features, at least for now. The "Active Display" is probably the best feature. Every time you get an email or text message or whatever when the screen is off it displays an icon on the screen telling you what kind of notification it is. You can press and hold the icon to get a synopsis of the notification, and swipe it to either unlock the phone or go straight to the relevant app. Apparently one of the advantages of an AMOLED screen is that it can selectively light up just the pixels for the message without powering up the rest of the screen.

And perhaps more importantly, whenever you want while the screen is off you can tilt the phone and it will display the time and an icon, either the lock idon or one for whatever notification is waiting. So it exactly replicates the "wake up" behaviour i had to add to my Nexus One via an app after the power button broke, which made it feel very natural to me. In fact with half the power on/off process working exactly the way i was already used to i kept finding myself briefly flumoxed almost every time i needed to run off the phone. I'd gotten so used to doing things without the power button that i ended up installing an app to add a virtual power button to the screen so i could shut it off the way i'd gotten used to. Along with not having to re-adapt my habits, hopefully this also means that with severely reduced usage i won't ever have to worry about the physical power button crapping out again. I've also added an app to control the volume by software, so i never actually need to use the physical buttons at all now (though being able to change volume without switching apps first is certainly frequently convenient.)

The "Touchless Controls" are interesting, but don't really seem of much use to me. I don't really like talking to machines unless absolutely necessary.

The "Motorola Assist" also doesn't seem to be of much use to me personally. It can mute notifications while you're asleep, but i have the ringer volume turned off all the time so i never get woken up by notifications anyways. It can mute notifications while you're in meetings, except i don't have that many meetings, i don't schedule them with Google when i do, and see the note above about ringer volume. It can automatically detect when you're driving and read any text messages you receive out loud, which is somewhat useful. It can also automatically start playing your music when you start driving. A little experimentation seems to indicate that it will work with whatever media player your prefer, including Audible. However it takes long enough after you start driving before it figures out what you're doing that it really seems easier just to start the audio yourself.

The battery life has definitely been decent so far. On the one hand i do tend to plug it in frequently while at work and all the time in the car, on the other hand i did the same thing with my Nexus One and it frequently ran out of battery after an evening of use, on the other other hand the Nexus One is almost four years old and probably has significantly decreased battery capacity.

Call quality is okay. It sounds a little different from what i'm used to from my Nexus One. Maybe that's the "robotic quality" other people have complained about, i'm not sure. However i'm not going to be doing a lot of talking on this thing until/unless i get a Google Phone number.

The one time so far i've had batter issues was after two or three hours playing "Ridiculous Fishing", a game with known issues. (Lots of reports of it draining batteries, and on the Moto X it starts out silky smooth, but after 20-30 minutes of playing it starts slowing down and then the tilt controls go nuts. I suspect there's a memory leak problem or something of that nature.)

It should be noted that i plugged the phone in before starting that gaming session, however i was using the cable in my bedroom, which is due to be replaced and has developed the "loose wire connections" problem. It wasn't until the low batter warning popped up that i realized i hadn't jiggled the cable properly to start the charging process. The Moto X has no notification LED indicator, which is okay because the Active Display mostly has that covered, and no "charging" LED indicator, which is not so okay.

Oh, and i am really missing the trackball from my Nexus One every time i need to correct the location of the cursor by just a character or two, but it's not like there are any other new phones that have a trackball either.