Reach in your pocket and take your phone out. Chances are it’s not made by Motorola. But it should be.
Among a cornucopia of phones in every conceivable shape and size, Motorola has quietly forged the best Android lineup on the market. This shouldn’t come as a surprise; last year, the company produced two of the best smartphones in all of 2013: the Moto G and Moto X. Motorola’s family is even stronger this year, capped off by the recent DROID Turbo and gargantuan Nexus 6.
But the sad truth is that the company’s devices still don’t get the recognition they deserve. At least not from the average consumer. Walk into any store and you’ll find entire sections dedicated to Apple and Samsung. Somewhere off to the side, Motorola’s devices are almost hidden away, forgotten.
Over the past few months, we’ve seen major OEMs stumble as the market becomes increasingly competitive. Samsung is but one example of a stumbling giant. The South Korean company’s practice of releasing multiple versions of a single device has seemingly backfired. Yet Samsung dominates the Android space regardless of volume and quality (not to say the company doesn’t make excellent phones).
That’s why I think a company like Motorola is so important.
Even in the middle of a high-profile acquisition, Motorola has remained consistent, a reliable presence in a market so concerned with specs and abundance. After a long period of darkness, the company enjoyed a fantastic turnaround last year, and has built even more momentum as we close out 2014.
Sure, on paper, a device like the Galaxy Note 4 beats out the Moto X, hands down. But this isn’t about specs; that’s missing the point. Motorola devices are worth buying because they add a deeper element to the Android experience, perfectly complementing Google’s work rather than trying to hide it. For so long we’ve seen manufacturers stuff devices with software tweaks that seem at odds with Google’s vanilla dream.
Not Motorola. And that approach remains consistent across the company’s entire lineup. From one device to the next, nothing is spared—and even the Moto G, which doesn’t come with things like Assist, Display or Voice, you still get the benefits of stock Android. Incidentally, the Moto G has become Motorola’s most successful device ever, which says a lot considering this is the same company that made the Razr.
Let’s look at Motorola’s current lineup:
- Moto G: affordable, well built, vanilla Android
- Moto X: customizable, beautiful metal design, great software, strong specs, vanilla Android
- DROID Turbo: utilitarian design, impressive battery, great software, strong specs, vanilla Android
- Nexus 6: huge screen, beautiful metal design, great software, strong specs, vanilla Android
- Moto 360: considered the most beautiful Android Wear smartwatch
That’s a solid team of devices, ranging in specs, build and size. Even better, the devices mentioned are accessible on a myriad of carriers (save for the Turbo). On the low-end, you get a reliable, well-built starter phone in the Moto G. The Moto X, meanwhile, still offers unprecedented customization options, and is among the top Android phones we’ve seen all year. The Turbo is like a Moto X on steroids, sacrificing thinness for a humongous 3900mAh battery. Frankly, we’d love to see more phones adopt a similar approach.
And do I even need to talk about the Nexus 6? We’ve only briefly started to play with Motorola’s new behemoth in person, and we can’t say enough good things about the device. It’s big, sure—maybe a little too big—but as a whole it’s stunning, and Android 5.0 Lollipop looks beautiful.
That’s another thing that’s so great about Motorola devices: they’ll receive Android 5.0 in no-time. Since Motorola builds its tweaks on the application level, the company is able to push out updates much faster than competing manufacturers. That’s a huge benefit in the Android community, especially when big companies are so notorious for taking ages to update devices.
To be fair, companies like Samsung have already promised their latest flagships will get Android 5.0 within 90 days, so there is definitely improvement in that regard. Still, you won’t get that vanilla Android experience on a Note 4 (unless you install a launcher). Look at any review of Samsung phones this year and they’ll all agree that TouchWiz is the bane of Samsung’s existence. That problem just doesn’t exist in the Motorola camp.
Individually, Motorola’s devices aren’t the very top phones you can buy. Camera quality is still a problem, and for a lot of people that’s a big deal. Most of their devices don’t offer expandable memory, either (save for the Moto G 2014), and you can’t replace the battery as you would on other competing devices. But, as a whole, the company’s lineup is the best and most balanced out there. It’s been impressive watching Motorola over these past few years.
As other companies move nonstop in hundreds of different directions, Motorola doesn’t seem overly concerned with the mobile Rat Race, understanding that the user experience is what really matters most. Not specs, not frivolous features, and certainly not twenty different versions of the same phone. But just good, solid devices with software that improves the experience in a meaningful way.
And that’s all you can ask for really.