The Moto X is the best Motorola smartphone for good reason. After the wave set forth by the RAZR and Droid, the Moto X marked its rebirth as Motorola was trying to battle Apple and the insanely popular iPhone. It instantly became one of the most popular Android smartphones at the time.

Our pick

Moto X

Required reinvention

Instead of attacking the Android smartphone landscape in 2013 with more, the Moto X did so with less. Tossing raw specs and useless features aside, Motorola adopted an approach similar to Apple: create something that just works. This relatively small idea produced one of the best Android smartphones of all time.

Who was this phone for?

People who want a pure smartphone experience. Back in 2013, when smartphone innovation had plateaued, OEMs decided that more and bigger was better, leading to a lot of useless novelty feature, more dumb features, more ugly skins, and more spec power just because. The Moto X ditched all of these ideas and presented a device that worked as advertised, thereby working better than most smartphones at the time.

Was it a good phone to buy?

Not only was it a fantastic smartphone that worked just the way people wanted it to. It also offered users the first taste of customizability with Moto Maker. This allowed users to create a phone that was as colorful and unique as they were.

Reasons to buy

  • Economical price
  • Moto Maker
  • Superior software
  • Impressive hardware

Reasons not to buy

  • Expensive
  • Okay camera

A customizable icon

Nowadays, it's custom for smartphone makers to create a device that delivers a worthwhile experience all the while making some key sacrifices that better its overall quality (look no further than OnePlus). But the company, and the smartphone, that started this whole genre was the Moto X.

When it came out in 2013, it didn't go right for the top of the Android smartphone mountain, seeking to battle Samsung and HTC with the best specs. Motorola instead included underpowered specs, combined with a renewed focus on software that delivered a truly satisfying device.

The 4.7-inch 720p display, Snapdragon S4 Pro processor, 2GB of RAM, and 10MP camera couldn't blow you away in a world where 1080p displays eclipsing five inches and cameras that were exorbitantly growing in megapixels were the norm. Yet it was up to the task, possibly even surpassing its Android counterparts like the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One M8.

Adding to the allure of the Moto X was its refreshingly stripped-down software and customizability.

Adding to the allure of the Moto X was its refreshingly stripped-down software and customizability. Out of the box, it ran Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, in a skin that largely resembled what you'd find in a Nexus device — without the needless bloatware off software tweaks and features that just bog down the experience. Motorola instead including things like Active Display, Motorola Assist, and Touchless Controls — all features that are now present in current smartphones in one way or another.

Before Moto Mods, Motorola launched Moto Maker for the Moto X that let you completely customize the way the phone looks. The rear shell, volume and power buttons, and the camera ring were all at your disposal. Users had 2,000 different combinations to choose from. This type of customizability wasn't the norm in smartphones back in the days when the black and white candy bar shape has taken over the world, which is why it was such an instrumental device to push variance to the forefront.

Looking at the Moto X, it doesn't look like anything special. Its body was made of a soft touch plastic, its bezels were nice and chunky, and the version of Android it was running now looks downright ancient. It certainly is a blast from the past and a reminder that smartphone design isn't always about the hardware or software, sometimes it's just about carefully melding the two for a unique experience that users will be really happy with.

Other classic Motorola phones

The Moto X is one of Motorola's most iconic phones of all time, but it isn't the only one. The list of fantastic Motorola phones is impressive. We've included some of those other classic Motorola phones down below.

Runner-up

Nexus 6

The Nexus line goes very big

Standing parallel to the Moto X was the Nexus 6 — the Nexus' line jump into phablet territory with a 6-inch display. It was big, it was brash, and it was a phone to behold.

Whereas the Moto X blazed a new path, the Nexus 6 was Motorola's perfection of that device. Gone were the economical specs, replaced by the best of the best: 6-inch QHD display, Snapdragon 805 processor, 3GB of memory, and an ultra premium body. The Nexus 6 hit a new high note for the Nexus line.

Honorable mention

Motorola Droid

In the land of the iPhone, the Droid was striking

The Motorola Droid wasn't the first Android smartphone, but it was the first to truly compete with the iPhone given its recognizable marketing campaign — who can forget the "Droid" catchphrase? — and robust design.

It is hard to quantify the impact of the Motorola Droid because it played such an instrumental part in giving Android handsets a boost in popularity and stature as the iPhone continued to be the one phone to rule them all. Yet Droid didn't bow down to it, offering a mix of old school tech (slide-out full QWERTY keyboard) with new age specs (sizeable 3.7-inch display) that helped it become the Android phone to buy.

Bottom line

Motorola has truly set itself up as one of the key figures in the advancements of Android and its devices speak for themselves. They're iconic, trailblazers, and truly spectacular devices. The Moto X stands out the high point in Motorola's illustrious history for what it did in setting the bar for smartphones that didn't readily mean raw specs equals amazing performance. The Nexus 6 and Droid also did their part in establishing Motorola as a trendsetter.

Our choice

Moto X

Required reinvention

Instead of attacking the Android smartphone landscape in 2013 with more, the Moto X did so with less. Tossing raw specs and useless features aside, Motorola adopted an approach similar to Apple: create something that just works. This relatively small idea produced one of the best Android smartphones of all time.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Danny Zepeda is a staff writer for TechnoBuffalo and specializes in covering consumer electrics with a particular interest in smartphones.

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