Once, Motorola sold more mobile phones than anyone. Now it’s something of a bit player, but that doesn’t mean its handsets aren’t worth a look. In fact, as the latest models demonstrate, it’s a company capable of stylish, solidly-crafted phones with decent features. And it makes them at highly affordable prices.
Where rival companies put their signature effects on the basic Android operating software, Motorola makes a virtue of delivering “pure Android” – perhaps no surprise given last owner of the company was Google.
There are three new mobiles all leveraging the success in recent years of two phones, Moto G and Moto X. So the higher end phones are both the latest editions of Moto X – Moto X Style and Moto X Play.
Both are good-looking handsets with trademark designs like a curved back with that tactile scooped circular Moto logo in the middle. Both feature camera sensors at the top of the range of those widely available – at 21 megapixels each, the only phones to have exceeded this were two photo-centric specialities from Nokia. And the cameras promise to be very fast and responsive.
Both are big handsets: the Style has a 5.7-inch display which covers a big proportion of the phone’s front. Motorola boasted that with 76 per cent of the phone being screen, this was a better percentage than the 68 per cent on the Apple iPhone 6 Plus. Nevertheless, this is a very big phone despite extremely slim bezels at left and right.
It feels good and thanks to a program called Moto Maker, it’s possible to customise the handset with different colours and materials (including a wooden or leather back) as well as choosing the memory capacity. The Moto X Style is released in September.
Before that comes the Moto X Play which has a smaller display: 5.5 inches. Both phones come with a battery recharging capability which Motorola claims will see a fifteen-minute recharge delivering eight hours of battery life. And there’s software called Moto Assist so you can set your phone to switch to silent in pre-chosen locations. Or, if you’re driving, say, it knows to alert you with a spoken alert when a text comes in. It can then read aloud the message and transcribe your reply.
The company stressed that both phones will be available for a fraction of the price of other flagship handsets.
Finally, there was the Moto G. This is the third-generation version of the phone which has proved popular not least to its low price and decent specs. In fact, Motorola says the Moto G is the best-selling smartphone the company has had.
The new model is out on 28 July and includes the customisation options providing by Moto Maker on the pricier handsets. The five-inch phone is chunkier than the more expensive models but still feels good in the hand. It doesn’t have the same camera as the X Style and X Play but the thirteen-megapixel sensor is impressive for a mid-range phone. That’s more, it has water-resistance enough for you to not worry if it falls in the bath.
I’ll be reviewing the Moto G in the next few days and the Moto X models in due course, but the announcements on 28 July are certainly promising.