I’ve been a fan of Motorola phones since way back when I owned a fabulous new, silver, late-90’s Razr. (Now about $12.23 on eBay.) So leave it to Google, who now owns Motorola, to take an already awesome phone brand and together, one-up the iPhone in a whole lot of ways with the Moto X. 

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I’ve gotten to spend a little time with the Moto X recently and it’s quite a nice phone at a super price. If you prefer a nice palm-size phone as opposed to the larger screen options like the Samsung Galaxy S4, this one happens to be wildly comfortable, with an ergonomic curved design. You really don’t want to put it down.

(Not that I put mine down much anyway.)

The Moto X is getting buzz for features like voice commands that don’t require any touching at all. Kind of the way a voice-activated GPS works, you address it “Okay, Google now…” and then tell it “shut the F up I need more sleep!” Or more likely, “snooze for 10 more minutes.” (But wouldn’t it be awesome if it could be done the first way?)

Reports are that it works well–mostly, and if the room is quiet–but it’s not perfect technology just yet. And like Siri, I’m sure there will be quite a bit of mockery about voice recognition missteps.

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[image: engadget]

 

As for the 10 megapixel camera, the one thing parents care about almost above all else, from what I’ve seen it takes a decent shot. Plus it’s fast. Though I’m not sure it compares with the iPhone 5S which has been been blowing me away in the photo department, even in low light.  But one thing that’s way superior about the Moto X: You can activate the camera just by twisting your wrist twice, and then touch any part of the screen at all to take the picture. That’s huge.

Especially for those of us who have missed way too many cute kid shots trying to get our camera app up and running.

The phone itself has a lot more cool features to explore, like an active display, which means you can check basic info off your homescreen without entering your apps and taxing the battery. Plus it’s a nice added benefit that the phone is entirely assembled in the USA–though with foreign made parts of course. (Still, good start.)

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And as a way of upping the ante, you get automatic connectivity to your Google account, plus users will get an extra 50GB of Google Drive storage for two years. Normally, 100GB costs you about $60 a year, so it’s one less little nickle-and-dime thing to deal with. Besides, compare that with iCloud which gives you only 5GB for free instead of Google Drive’s 15GB, with those extra 50GB a year costing you $100. Each year.

Here’s where the Moto X gets really fun and gifty though: The Moto Maker site. Formerly this was an option only for ATT customers but this week it’s been opened up to Verizon and T-Mobile users too.

Log on you can customze up the whazoo. Choose from 18 colors for the back, a swanky accent color on the annodized aluminum accents, and a black or white front. You can even “sign” or personalize your phone on the back, as Apple has always done with its custom engraving.

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Finally, so you don’t cover up your work of art, grab a clear case for just $29.95.

The 16GB starts at $99.99 (with a standard two-year contract blah blah blah) which is pretty sweet; or get a 32GB for $149.99. Though hello, Moto? Those of us who have six zillion apps on our phones for our kids (not to mention all those photos) would really like a 64GB version, or at least expandable memory.

It’s such a neat gift this holiday, especially if you have a loved one who’s crazy for aqua or a teen who likes any color as long as it’s purple. And one more thing that makes a Moto X a special gift: You can add a name or a greeting that pops up each time the phone powers on. Maybe something like “don’t forget how awesome your Mom is.” –Liz

Visit the Moto X site to learn more, and play with MotoMaker to customize your own.  

And deal alert: For a limited time, the black Moto X with Verizon contract is just $49.99 at Target stores! *Liz is currently a holiday spokesperson for Target electronics. 

Also, keep an eye out for info about the Moto G, the lower cost alternative to the Moto X coming out soon.

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