Motorola execs push back on criticism of Moto X specs

Executives at Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Motorola Mobility unit are defending their new flagship smartphone, the Moto X, from criticism that it is priced as a high-end device but uses lower-end hardware specifications. The Motorola executives argue that the criticism is misguided, and that the device's design and software features make it a unique and powerful smartphone despite what appears on the surface to be more mid-range specs.

The concerted pushback comes less than a week after Motorola formally unveiled the phone and reflects how important the gadget is to Motorola's future. Motorola has been focused on marketing the device's user experience and customization options rather than its specifications.

Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), Sprint (NYSE:S), T-Mobile US  (NYSE:TMUS) and U.S. Cellular (NYSE:USM) will carry the phone, which will be available in a 16 GB version for $199.99 with a two-year contract. A 32 GB version will be available online for more (AT&T is charging $299.99 for that version). Google is also offering up to 50 GB of free Google Drive cloud storage for Moto X owners for two years. The phone will go on sale in late August or early September in the United States, Canada and Latin America, with each carrier determining the exact launch date.

Reviewers and technology enthusiasts have largely praised the Moto X. However, they have pointed out that the gadget's screen resolution, at 720p, is lower than many other new, high-end phones, and that it is powered by an older-generation processor, the dual-core 1.7 GHz Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) Snapdragon S4 Pro.

In an interview with CNET, Iqbal Arshad, Motorola's senior vice president of global product development, said there is nothing "last year" about the Moto X. He said it is the "most advanced smartphone on the market. Period."

"I think people who are hard core about comparing specs simply don't understand the design of the product," he said.

Regarding the processor, Arshad said that Motorola is not using "last year's" Qualcomm processor, and that "the thing people have to understand is that in mobile devices, more CPUs don't necessarily mean better or faster devices. In fact, in most instances, no more than two CPUs are being used at any given time." Further, he said, Motorola's X8 chipset architecture is in line with the company's philosophy that it is "trying to make mobile computing more intelligent. And we want to change the way people interact with devices to make the devices fit better into people's lifestyles. And we want to do all this without sacrificing battery life." Motorola's X8 architecture supports a "contextual computing processor" and "natural language processing."

Indeed, one of the key features of the phone is Touchless Control, an always-on voice recognition system that quickly learns a user's voice and only responds to them. When a user says "OK Google Now," users can launch the Android app Google Now to check the weather, traffic or other information simply by using their voice. The phone's super-low-power natural language processing core is constantly listening, according to Arshad, which saves battery life on the phone.

In terms of display, even though the Moto X has a lower headline resolution that a device like Samsung Electronics' Galaxy S4, the device actually has a richer display, Arshad said, because it is "using a true RGB pattern custom display that gives true color reproduction without wasting battery life."

"Also, the human eye cannot discern resolution beyond 300 pixels per inch. And we exceed that. So the eye can't even see the difference," he said. "But the human eye can see big differences in color saturation and reproduction. In fact, I'd say that is even more important than resolution. So we decided to focus on that aspect instead."

Arshad's comments echo those of Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside, who said earlier this week that Motorola chose to invest in things like the always-on voice control and the ability to display notifications without waking up the phone. "We made some different choices from our competitors," he told AllThingsD. "We were thinking about the total user experience."

For more:
- see this CNET article
- see this AllThingsD article
- see this separate AllThingsD article

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