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Home / Brunch / The X factor is here

The X factor is here

This week’s column was supposed to be on the China v/s China phone wars that are about to break out in India. But Google suddenly decided to break almost every rule by which smartphones are marketed, priced and sold...writes Rajiv Makhni.

brunch Updated: Aug 10, 2013 16:44 IST
Rajiv Makhni
Rajiv Makhni
Hindustan Times
Techilicious-columnist-Rajiv-Makhni( )

This week’s column was supposed to be on the China v/s China phone wars that are about to break out in India. But Google suddenly decided to break almost every rule by which smartphones are marketed, priced and sold – thus triggering off a whole new war. With so many battle zones to cover I almost feel like a war correspondent – best that we take each new assault one at a time. Today Moto X, next week China.

Isn’t Motorola dead?: You would think so, right? Especially here in India and most of Asia, the last rites have been performed and the brand buried deep, with full respects. Motorola does continue to sell a few Droids abroad and one of them is actually quite a hit. But its market share is a joke and its future game plan quite a mystery. After being bought out by Google about two years ago for a shockingly high sticker price, Motorola and its story from there has been one of the tech’s most comic tales. Until now that is. With this one phone and the entire ecosystem that they’ve built around it – Google and Motorola have dealt out a tight slap to all companies that have made hardware specs the only criterion to sell smartphones for the last three years. It’s a huge gamble, but one that may just change the smartphone game from here on.

SmartphoneYeah, right! A Moto Phone is a Game Changer?: Your barely disguised scepticism is justified and your dark cynicism is totally on the button. But bear with me for a short while, as this is quite interesting. The Moto X is an okay-ish looking phone that weighs in at 130 grams, has Android 4.2.2, with a 4.7-inch 720P display, a 1.7Ghz dual-core processor, a 10-megapixel camera and no microSD card slot. So – it’s just dual core, not super thin and light, has no unibody metal design, nowhere near a full HD screen, doesn’t have the latest Android version, has just a 10-megapixel camera, hasn’t given an option for storage to be upgraded and is priced at the same level as most flagship phones from the other companies? Huh? What are Google and Motorola collectively smoking? Apparently some pretty good stuff – as behind these very average specs lies an exciting and totally unexplored strategy.

The Real X: Each piece of hardware has been specifically chosen, primed, filtered and then put together to give the consumer something most others tend to ignore. A good smartphone user experience! The dual core processor is mated with 2GB RAM to make sure the phone flies, this processor is also part of a processor sub system called the X8 mobile computing system (don’t get your hopes high, the X8 doesn’t signify that this is a OctaCore system, just that the two cores have help from six more cores that are only built for low- power natural language and context computing), the 720P screen still gives a clear and precise 316 pixels-per-inch and the battery doesn’t suffer trying to run an overbearing array of 1080P pixels, the 10-megapixel camera relies on a much bigger sensor (1.4-micron v/s the normal 1.12-micron found on most other top of the line phones) and uses clear pixel technology, which supposedly captures 75 per cent more light. So, what you’ll get is a phone that works well with a battery that lasts really long and gives great low light photography – and then Motorola throws in two true curve balls.

A Custom Fitted Phone that you don't need to touch: You can order a Moto X in whatever colour you like plus multiple accents and add-ons and you can get it inscribed with whatever text you like – all for free! Yes, different colours, textures including wood veneers, and the mix and match options will total up to about 1800 or so. They will specially build it for you and send it to you in about four days. That takes care of the ‘okayish looking’ phone part with a vengeance. Then comes the ‘OK Google Now’. This is the legend that you speak out and it activates your phone even if it’s a little far from you. No more pulling phone out of pocket, swiping to unlock, touch to open app and type to get some information out from your phone. The phone is always in virtual listen mode using those low-powered cores, and almost anything and everything that you can do with your hands on your phone, the OGN command will do for you and only for you (it learns your voice, thus reducing chances of your prank-loving friends getting your phone to auto drunk dial at night). The Moto X can also activate camera by gesture, unlock with NFC tokens (wear one on your wrist and the phone will unlock for you) and charge two phones together. Thus if you analyse each key feature – it’s all about making your mobile life easier, simpler and more efficient.

You can choose from 1800 colours and patterns for your phone

The X and U: A lot of people are dismissive about such a risky strategy and are fearful that Motorola is living in a dreamland. The smartphone market hasn’t seen such a tectonic shift for a long time now and is comfortable with playing out the specs game. Will people move away from being seduced by top end hardware and pay top dollar for a better experience? More importantly, will you?
Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3

(Part 2 of last week’s China v/s China will feature next week)

From HT Brunch, August 11

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