Motorola Moto X vs Samsung Galaxy S4: Specs Battle

Motorola Moto X vs Samsung Galaxy S4

Earlier this month Motorola officially unveiled it’s flagship smartphone for 2013, Moto X, the first Google-influenced smartphone launched after the search engine giant acquired the Chicago-based phone maker. The Moto X has emerged an already crowded Android, with Samsung’s Galaxy S4 being its main rival.

Samsung’s flagship has already showed its dominance on the market, reports saying that the South Korea-based phone maker shipped over 20 million Galaxy S4 units in two months after it was officially made available for purchase. The Galaxy S4 was announced in March and released on the market in April, being the best-selling Android smartphone ever, so will the Moto X be able to match that?

The first rumors about the smartphone co-developed by Google and Motorola surfaced in late 2012, when a Wall Street Journalist mentioned about the X Phone. The early rumors suggested that the X Phone will be a super-smartphone underpinned by a high-end hardware platform that will help it smash the competition. In the meantime we’ve learned that the handset is actually called Moto X and that it’s rather a mid-range smartphone than a super-smartphone.

Even though the Moto X is not the super-smartphone everyone was expecting, the Motorola flagship offers a lot of design customizations which will definitely be the smartphone’s main selling point, helping the handset compete on par with the Samsung Galaxy S4.

Since the Motorola handset has the likes of becoming a popular smartphone, we thought we should put in into a Motorola Moto X vs Samsung Galaxy S4 specs battle. If you’ve read any our previous Versus articles you probably know that there will be 10 rounds, the winner of a round receiving 1 point. At the end of the battle, the smartphone that scored most points (won most rounds) will be named winner.

As usual, we will compare the performance of the Moto X and the Samsung Galaxy S4 when it comes to Display, Dimensions, Memory, Processor, Connectivity, Camera, Operating System, Design, Price, and Battery Life. Let’s begin.

Display

One of the first things you notice when you hold a smartphone is its display, that’s why I thought the Moto X vs Samsung Galaxy S4 should begin with the display round.

The Motorola Moto X packs a 4.7-inch AMOLED display with a resolution of 720 x 1280 pixels, resulting in a pixel density of 312 ppi. The display of the Motorola handset is protected by a special Gorilla Glass layer, called Magic Glass, which is basically a sheet of glass that is wrapped around the edges of the smartphone, which according to the Moto representatives, provides better protection.

You’ve probably noticed that the big players of the smartphone market have fitted full HD displays on their flagship smartphones in 2013 and the Samsung Galaxy S4 makes no exception. The Sammy high-end smartphone boasts a 5-inch display with Super AMOLED technology, a resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels, and a pixel density of 441 ppi. Galaxy S4’s display comes with Gorilla Glass 3 protection.

Since we are dealing with two smartphones with AMOLED displays here, we will notice great brightness and contrast, while the color reproduction is not what you’d call accurate. One of the biggest flaws of the AMOLED panels is their performance under direct sun light, but they are known as battery friendly displays.

While Moto X’s display will be more suitable for one-hand usage, the 5-inch full HD display of the Galaxy S4 is better when it comes to web browsing, gaming, or watching video, given its higher resolution and size.

Because the Galaxy S4 comes with a 1080p display with higher pixel density than the one of the Moto X, the Display round goes to the Samsung flagship smartphone.

Dimensions

I know that most of you want their smartphones to be thin and light, but in the same time to be easy to hold and use with one hand and to fit in your pocket, that’s why we are comparing the Moto X’s and Samsung Galaxy S4’s dimensions.

The Samsung handset measures 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm, while having a weight of 130 grams. On the other hand the Moto X is 129.3 mm tall, 65.3 mm wide, and 10.4 mm thin, while weighing 130 grams. I know that the Samsung Galaxy S4 has to accommodate a bigger display, but the Motorola smartphone is visibly more compact that the Asian creation.

When it comes to one-hand usage, the Moto X is definitely outmatching the Galaxy S4, and the thin bezel around the display is really helpful, allowing the user to reach all the corners of the display with one hand. Even though the Galaxy S4 is thinner than the Moto X, the Dimensions round of the specs battle goes to the Motorola terminal for being more comfortable to hold. +1 point Moto X.

Memory

Google Play is the biggest applications store for mobile operating systems with over 1 million apps as of July 2013, not to mention about Play Music, Play Books, or Play Movies, so you will need a lot of internal storage to be able to store all the content you want.

The Moto X comes with two storage options, 16 and 32 GB and it doesn’t support microSD cards, thus you will have to go for the storage in the cloud services if 32 GB are not enough to suit your needs. On the other hand, the Samsung Galaxy S4 comes with either 16, 32, or 64 GB of flash storage which can be expanded using microSD cards.

The Galaxy S4 wins the memory round. As simple as that. The Samsung handset can store up to 128 GB of data, while the Moto X is limited to 32 GB. It’s also worth mentioning that both devices come with 2 GB of RAM, but it won’t affect the result.

Processor

The processor is probably one of the most important compoenet of a smartphone, as it’s the guy that makes the world the Android go round, so next we’ll be talking about the processing units of the Galaxy S4 and the Moto X.

The Moto X is underpinned by Motorola’s proprietary X8 “mobile computing system.” If you’re wondering what’s that, learn that we are actually talking about a Snapdragon S4 Pro SoC customized by Motorola.

Coming with a quad-core Adreno 320 GPU, the Motorola X8 is based on a dual-core 1.7 GHz Krait CPU helped by 2 low-power cores, a natural language processor and a contextual computing processor. The contextual computing core deals with the sensors, display and touch interaction, while the natural language core handles audio, noise estimation and noise cancellation.

You probably are aware of the fact that there are two Samsung Galaxy S4 international models, each powered by a different processor. The Galaxy S4 I9500 comes with Samsung’s proprietary eight-core Exynos 5410 SoC with four Cortex A15 cores clocked at 1.6 GHz (that deal with the tasks that require more processing power) and four Cortex A7 cores at 1.2 GHz (for improved battery life while performing basic tasks). The Exynos 5410 unit also comes with a tri-core PowerVR SGX 544MP3 GPU. The Samsung Galaxy S4 I9505 is underpinned by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 chipset with a quad-core 1.9 GHz Krait 300 CPU and Adreno 320 GPU.

Both Galaxy S4 processing solutions outmatch the Snapdragon S4 Pro Motorola X8 unit of the Moto X in terms of performance, therefore the Processor round goes to the Samsung handset. Which of the three solution is more battery-efficient? We’ll see in the Battery round.

Connectivity

With the 4G LTE coverage spreading fast, the standard has become a must-have for any smartphone that aims to become a successful product and the Moto X and the Samsung Galaxy S4 make no exception.

In the red corner we have the Moto X packing HSDPA, 42.2 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps; LTE, Cat3, 50 Mbps UL, 100 Mbps DL / EV-DO Rev. A, up to 3.1 Mbps support, plus Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0 with A2DP, LE, EDR, NFC and microUSB 2.0.

In the blue corner, the Samsung Galaxy S4 enters the battle with HSDPA, 42.2 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps; LTE, Cat3, 50 Mbps UL, 100 Mbps DL capabilities, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, DLNA, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0 with A2DP, EDR, LE, NFC chip, infrared blaster, and microUSB 2.0 port.

If you haven’t noticed yet, the only notable difference between the two smartphones is that the SGS4 has an IR blaster. Do you plan on using your smartphone like a remote control? Neither do I, thus the Connectivity round of the Motorola Moto X vs Samsung Galaxy S4 battle ends as tie.

Camera

I am sure each and every smartphone owner has used his terminal to take photos. Some of them will upload it on Instagram others on Twitter or Google Plus, but most of them will upload it on Facebook, that’s why we’ll be talking about the camera units of the two smartphones.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 comes with a feature-packed 13 megapixel camera sensor with autofocus, LED flash, Dual Shot, Simultaneous HD video and image recording, geo-tagging, touch focus, face and smile detection, image stabilization, HDR, and support for recording 1080p@30fps videos. The front facing camera of the SGS4 is a 2 megapixel unit, also capable of recording 1080p videos.

You will find a ton of modes inside Galaxy S4’s camera app, some useful, some not, but I will mention Eraser (allows you to remove moving objects from a picture), Cinema Photo, Drama Shot (take a series of picture of a moving object then merge them into one picture), Sound & Shot, Best Face, Best Photo, and many other more.

Moto X features a 10 megapixel sensor 1.4 µm pixel size, geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, panorama, HDR, plus autofocus, LED flash and full HD video recording capabilities. The front-facing camera of the Moto X is also a 2 megapixel unit with 1080p video recording support.

The Camera app installed on the Moto X brings a gesture-based minimalist user interface and can be accessed by twisting your hand’s wrist.

Moto X’s camera is supposed to perform slightly better when it comes to taking photos in low light condition, given the higher pixel size, but those who were lucky enough to test it said that its overall performance is below what the Samsung Galaxy S4 or iPhone 5 provide. Since I didn’t have the two smartphones in handy I will take the specialists’ opinion for granted and give the Camera round point to the Galaxy S4.

Operating System

Since we are talking about two smartphones running Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean out of the box, we will not compare the operating system itself, but the user interfaces developed by the two phone makers then applied over Android’s UI.

The Galaxy S4 is running Samsung’s proprietary TouchWiz Nature UX interface on top of Android 4.2.2. Samsung integrated tons of features on the Galaxy S4 like Dual Shot and Dual Video recording, Smart Scroll (scrolls down the web page when your eyes reach the bottom of the display), Smart Pause (pauses a video when you are looking away from the screen), Air Gestures and Air View (show details about various items by simply hovering your finger over the display), S Health, Photo Reader, or Story Album.

On the other hand the Moto X is running almost-stock Android 4.2.2. I’m calling it “almost-stock” because Motorola has kept the stock Android interface, but also integrated a couple of pretty cool Moto X-specific features. Besides the gesture-based camera app the Moto X also comes with always-on voice commands (the phone is ready to listen to your voice commands even when the screen is locked), Moto Assist, and Active Notifications.

Moto Assist comes in your help when you are driving (reads your messages and allows you to reply using your voice) or silent your calls while in a meeting or trying to get a good night’s rest (some sort of iOS Do Not Disturb, but way better). By far the greatest feature of the Moto X is the Active Notifications which is some sort of a lock screen that alerts you when you have incoming calls, messages, emails, tweets, etc, also allowing you to access them without unlocking your device.

Here at Android Geeks we appreciate the pure Android experience and the Moto X is closer to stock Android than the GS4, that’s why the Motorola flagship wins another round.

Design

Ask any Android enthusiast (even a Sammy fan) what’s the worst thing about the Galaxy smartphones and you will probably hear something about their design. In fact, I don’t blame them. In terms of design, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is like a small upgrade to the Galaxy S3, the same Inspired by Nature design language, with the same body lines. Of course, it looks better than its predecessor and the materials used for the case (even though it’s plastic) bring the Galaxy S4 closer to the feel of a premium smartphone.

Still, the Galaxy S4 looks dull when compared to rivals like HTC One, Xperia Z, iPhone 5, or even Moto X. The Moto X is somehow reminding me of the of the HTC One (which is by far the most beautiful smartphone around) and probably it’s because of its curved back. Even though Motorola used plastic for the body of the Moto X the smartphone looks and feels like a premium smartphone.

Another great thing about the Moto X’s design is its almost edge-to-edge display, the bezel surrounding the display being much thinner than most devices on the market, including the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One, allowing the handset to be comfortable to use single-handedly.

By far the greatest thing about Moto X’s design are the customization options. While the Samsung Galaxy S4 is available in a few body colors (White, Black, Red, Brown also on the way), Motorola allows the users to customize almost every aspect of Moto X’s case. You will be able to choose the color of the front panel (black or white), the color of the back lid (16 color options available, with a couple more on the way), and even the color of the accents (power button, volume rocker, camera ring), headphones color, or the wallpaper that ships with the smartphone.

The Moto X is definitely the better-looking smartphone, that’s why the smartphone co-developed by Google and Motorola snatching the Design round of the Moto X vs Samsung Galaxy S4 battle.

Price

The Nexus 4 proved everyone that the price of the smartphone really matters, as the handset manufactured by LG for Google costed a mere $299 while having a high-end hardware platform for that time. Well, it’s not the case with the Moto X or the Samsung Galaxy S4 as both have premium prices.

The unlocked Samsung Galaxy S4 16 GB model has a price of $629, while the price of the 32 GB variant is $699. Even though Motorola failed to announce reveal the price of the Moto X, Best Buy is already listing the 16 GB model as available for $699, reports saying that the 32 GB variant will be $30 more expensive.

Since most of the Moto X and Samsung Galaxy S4 units will be sold on-contract, learn that the price of both smartphones with two-year agreement is of $199 (16 GB models), therefore the Price round ends as tie.

Battery Life

The biggest issue of the modern smartphone is their battery life, as it seems that the phone makers care more about fitting powerful CPUs and high resolutions displays on their devices rather than focusing on the battery stamina.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 sports a removable Li-Ion 2,600 mAh battery, which was fully capable of getting the smartphone through about 14 – 16 hours of moderate usage. On the other hand the Moto X comes with a Li-Ion 2,200 mAh battery and even though the it’s smaller than the one fitted on the SGS4, the Moto X can stay awake for 24 hours on a single charge while used moderately.

The less powerful CPU and the lower resolution display have helped the Moto X win the Battery Life round.

Conclusions

The Motorola Moto X vs Samsung Galaxy S4 battle has come to an end, so it’s time to see which of the two handsets triumphed.

We’ve had two rounds where the devices were equally matched, the Connectivity and Price rounds, as both smartphones come with similar connectivity features, while having an identical on-contract price tag.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 has won four rounds outmatching the Moto X when it came to Display (full HD vs HD), Memory (has microSD card support), Processor (both the Snapdragon 600 and the Exynos 5 Octa are one of the most powerful chipsets around), and Camera (courtesy of the feature-packed 13 megapixel unit).

The Moto X has scored four points, winning the Dimensions, Design, Operating System and Battery Life rounds, because its more compact tan the Galaxy S4, is closer to the looks of a premium smartphone, is running almost-stock Android 4.2.2, and has higher battery stamina.

The Motorola Moto X vs Samsung Galaxy S4 battle is undecided, both smartphones scoring 4 points each.

Summing up, if you want a powerful smartphone, with great display and camera you might want to go with the Galaxy S4. But if you want a a smartphone bringing the pure Android experience, with decent battery life, and a highly customizable design, then the Moto X is the smartphone for you.

What are your thoughts on the Moto X vs Galaxy S4 battle? Was it indeed equally matched, or I have completely misjudged certain aspects? Feel free to use the comments section below.

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  • Mike

    Which of the two have the better cell signal, after all they are phones, which has more dropped calls. My past experiences say that Motorola has a better signal, is it still the same in this case???
    Thank you
    Mike