Do we need to upgrade the power of mobile chipsets? Do we need ever better higher screen resolutions on mobile phones? Do bigger numbers equal better experiences? Judging by the Moto X, Motorola thinks not.
The Moto X signifies a shift from superlative laden specification wars. Instead, Motorola designed the Moto X around user experience by improving all the things phone users commonly do. They realised that most users simply dont need the latest and greatest in hardware specs, but in fact care about the experience more. In this light Motorola has decided to get rid of the excess trimmings, so the Moto X features a 720p screen rather than a 1080p one and a dual core processor rather than a quad care one. Steve Horowitz, senior vice president of software engineering at Motorola says he wants the Moto X to be about the experience, for the masses, rather than the specs for tech enthusiasts.
So along with a whole host of features such as flicking the phone to open the camera app and an active display that shows notifications on a locked screen (without lighting up the rest of the screen), the Moto X features software optimised to give around 24 hours of battery life on an (averagely sized) 2200 watt cell. The phone is designed for ergonomics, curved to fit nicely in the hand, rather than for industrial design aesthetics.
Jim Wicks, the senior vice president of design at Motorola, says, in regards to screen resolution “we decided the resolution to be what we thought was ideal, we could go and make a higher resolution screen but it would just suck battery and no one would know the difference, we saw that, we knew that”, making the point that on small screens, 1080p screens are effectively pointless.
The basic uses of a phone have not changed considerably since late last decade, and Motorola recognises this. Mobile telephony, messaging, media consumption, browsing, listening to music and photography have remained constants since the introduction of a mainstream smartphone (arguably the iPhone). The same processes a phone had to contend with in 2009 are largely the same as today. This is unlikely to change for now. Indeed when new technology is introduced it is not always successful, phones being fitted with projectors for example turned out to be gimmicky, as did phones with 3D technology.
Appreciably, as features of phones improve, internals will need to catch up. That said, the Nokia Lumia 1020 has a 41 megapixel camera along with the usual features of a smartphone on Windows Phone 8, all on a dual-core chip. 3D screened phones of 2011 all managed to run well on dual core chipsets.
In some ways advancements in certain strands of technology give back diminishing returns or are simply futile, and are installed simply for marketing purposes; screen resolutions, camera megapixels and so on.
The Moto X represents a shift in direction, maybe it’ll have a ripple effect on Android altogether. It’s not about doing only some things great, it’s about doing all things well.