The Motorola X Phone is the device that the tech publications and Android enthusiasts are expecting to change the smartphone world as we know it. Even though the X Phone release date and specs are still a mystery, the interwebs are full of X Phone rumors and leaked technical specifications. Of course, most of them must be taken with a pinch of salt, therefore we thought it’s time to gather all the X Phone rumored specs and release dates and analyse them.
When Google acquired Motorola in August 2012 everybody expected the two companies to team-up and develop a super-smartphone. But here we are, almost a year after the Googorola deal and the super-smartphone is nowhere to be found. The rumor mill points that the X Phone will see the light of day later this year, and according to Google’s Chairman, Eric Schmidt we will be dealing with a “phenomenal” device. Even though Schimdt’s words weren’t exactly about the X Phone (the name was never mentioned by a Google or Motorola official) the Google Chairman was talking about the future Motorola smartphones when he called them “phenomenal.”
Some shallow details about the X Phone also occurred from Motorola officials, when the company’s Head of Design, Jim Wicks said that it will be “just the right size.” Jim Wicks also said that the first Google-influenced Motorola smartphones (the X Phone might be one of them) will arrive in the second half of the year. When? We’ll get to that later.
But the statements of the Google and Motorola officials weren’t the only ones who praised the X Phone. Back in February, sources close to Telstra (an Australian telecommunications and media company) quoted Hugh Bradlow, Chief Technology Officer for the Australian telecom company who said that the Motorola X Phone will be a “real breakthrough, a game changer that will put pressure on Samsung and Apple.” Is this what we should expect from the X Phone?
Now that the rumors, teases, and leaked details are piling up, we know for sure that we can expect the X Phone to arrive on the market soon. Even though we’ve first heard about the X Phone last year, when the folks at Wall Street Journal mentioned it for the first time, we weren’t sure that it will see the light of day until Motorola posted a job offering on LinkedIn, searching for a Senior Director of Product Management for the X Phone.
The X Phone release date is yet a mystery for everyone, but this can’t stop us from speculating when the new high-end Android smartphone could be officially unveiled. It’s a known fact that Google and Apple are two of the biggest rivals of the tech business, therefore the Mountain View-based giant will want to seriously damage the iPhone’s market share.
Even though the X Phone will be “a game changer” the new device can’t become the king of the smartphones right from the time it hits the market. Launching the X Phone synchronized with the debut of the iPhone 5S, iPhone 6, The New iPhone, or whatever the cool guys at Apple decide to call their next iOS smartphone would not be a wise move for Motorola and Google. Not only the X Phone (no matter how powerful and good looking will be) will not be capable of making the public forget about Apple’s flagship smartphone, but the iPhone 5S will cannibalize the sales of the Googorola smartphone.
You don’t have to be a marketing genius to know that a launch that comes two or three months after the iPhone 5S debut would be best for the X Phone. The iPhone sales reach their peak in the first two months after the debut, then they tend to stagnate or register a slight drop, depending on the smartphones launched by the Apple rivals. This would be the perfect moment for Google to strike.
Rumor has it that the iPhone 5S will be announced sometime early July and made available for purchase the same month, so we might see the X Phone being officially introduced sometime late September or early October, soon after other smartphone makers will have already displayed their latest high-end terminals at IFA Berlin 2013 event.
But what would the X Phone need to become a super-smartphone and a Samsung Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5S killer? Well, a great display, state of the art technical specifications and an attractive price. I guess only two of the aforementioned characteristics will be met by the X Phone.
Even though Google managed to make the Nexus 4 a successful product due to it’s attractive price point ($250 for the 8 GB model and $350 for the 16 GB model, contract free), I don’t think the Mountain View-based search engine giant and the Chicago-based phone maker will afford the same approach with a smartphone that is expected to sell tens of millions. In my opinion, the Motorola X Phone will have a price close to the ones of the other high-end Android-powered smartphones like Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One, or Sony Xperia Z.
Still, it might be a particular characteristic of the X Phone that is capable of making it an attractive product in terms of price. A month ago it was reported that the X Phone might be highly customizable in terms of technical specifications, as Google and Motorola will allow the customers to choose the hardware components that will be fitted inside their X Phone units, just like you do nowadays with a PC or laptop.
In fact, Guy Kawasaki, Motorola adviser, hinted on Google Plus that the X Phone might come with customizable hardware. Kawasaki said that it would be awesome if people could customize a smartphone just like they would personalize a car and even posted a video that shows how the Porsche supercars can be personalized in order to meet the needs of the customers.
How is this related to price of the X Phone? It’s easy. If you choose less powerful technical specs, like a smaller amount of RAM or a camera with a smaller sensor resolution, you will pay less for the device, while customizing it with the best specs would have you pay more for it.
It seems though that the X Phone customizations will not stop at the technical specifications of the smartphone. Earlier this month a Motorola insider told the guys at Phone Arena that the Google X Phone will let the customers choose from more than 20 body colors. 20 body colors? I can barely name 10 – 15 colors, but if this is what the rumor mill speculates about the upcoming X Phone, maybe there’s some truth behind the reports. Of course, you should take the gossips with a pinch of salt and only believe the rumors that are plausible.
Talking about customizable X Phone technical specifications, let’s stop a while and talk about the processing solutions that might end-up underneath the body of the Google + Motorola smartphone. I don’t know what the Chicago-based company would allow its customers to fit under the less powerful X Phones, maybe the quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro or the dual-core Snapdragon S4 chipsets from Qualcomm, but I know what powerful SoCs are worthy of a super-smartphone.
This January, at CES 2013, two of the biggest mobile chipset manufacturers have introduced their processing solutions for 2013. Qualcomm and Nvidia debuted the Snapdragon 600, Snapdragon 800, and Tegra 4 chipsets, respectively. Even though we’ve already seen some Snapdragon 600 already hitting the market (with amazing benchmark results), the first Snapdragon 800 and Tegra 4 smartphones are expected to see the light of day soon enough.
The Tegra 4 SoC is indeed an impressive chipset, with Nvidia’s proprietary 4-PLUS-1 architecture with four 1.9 GHz Cortex A15 cores and 72-core GeForce ULP GPU, but it has a major flow: it doesn’t integrate a 4G LTE chip. Nvidia and all their partners know that LTE is a major selling point of the modern smartphones, and this is how the Tegra 4i was born.
While packing a 4G LTE chip and using the same 4-PLUS-1 configuration as the Tegra 4, the Tegra 4i is based on an… errr… “exotic” processing unit. The ARM Cortex-R4 core has specifications similar to the popular Cortex A9 core, but unlike it, it’s optimized for real-time processing by including bigger cache memories, hardware processing for instructions predictions, and better routines for out-of-order execution. The 4-PLUS-1 architecture was kept, it’s main purpose being to reduce the battery consumption in idle mode. Moreover, the Cortex R4 cores of the Tegra 4i are clocked at 2.3 GHz, but the GPU has “only” 60 cores.
On the other hand the Snapdragon 800 chipset is manufactured on 28 nm architecture, and has four Krait 400 cores clocked at 2.3 GHz, Adreno 330 GPU, Hexagon v5 DSP, and support for the fastest networks in the world, courtesy of the integrated 4G LTE chip. Qualcomm announced that the Snapdragon 800 will not be fitted inside smartphones and tablets earlier than summer of 2013, but considering an X Phone release date in September, it would fit perfectly in Snapdragon 800 launch calendar.
I was mentioning earlier about a great display for the X Phone, so what should we expect? I don’t know what “just the right size” means for Jim Wicks, but my guess is that we won’t see a phablet developed by the two giants of the smartphone business. It will probably fit in the trend for 2013 smartphone market, and, just like other flagships devices that debuted this year (see HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S4, and Sony Xperia Z) the X Phone will probably bring a full HD display with a size between 4.7 and 5 inches (diagonally). Or maybe Googorola will also let us choose the size of the display, as well. Wouldn’t it be great?
Since the X Phone is a Motorola smartphone and the Chicago-based phone maker made a habit out of using Super AMOLED panels for their devices, we might see one used for the new device, too. Of course, the Super AMOED displays have their ups and downs; while the color reproduction of the Super AMOLED displays is not what you’d call accurate, they come with great brightness, almost 180 degree viewing angles, and that deep-black we all love.
I’m also expecting the X Phone to come with an edge-to-edge display. In fact, Motorola almost did it with the RAZR i, and we’ve also seen an alleged X Phone leaked photo from GSM Arena (which is probably fake), that was revealing very thin bezels around the screen. It was even rumored that the display of the X Phone will be protected against scratches by a sapphire layer, which is even more resistant than the Gorilla Glass 3.
Talking about protection, Larry Page himself, Google CEO, suggested that we might see a shatterproof case protecting the X Phone. Larry Page also expressed his concerns about the battery life of the modern smartphones. Let’s face it, except from the Motorola RAZR Maxx and some phablets, I haven’t seen in a while a smartphone that is capable of staying awake for more than a day. Maybe the X Phone will be released to fix this issue and it will come with great battery life.
Though Google did some cool things with the camera app in Android Jelly Bean don’t expect the X Phone to come with a camera sensor that will get its rivals out of business. My guess is that Motorola will not go further than its rivals did in 2013 and that the X Phone will probably not have a camera greater than 13 megapixels. HTC tried to attract the public with the UltraPixel camera of the One, Samsung introduced a feature-packed 13 megapixel camera on the Galaxy S4, and the Xperia Z also has a nice 13 megapixel Exmor sensor on its back. Even if the tree aforementioned tried their luck with eye-candy cameras, Nokia Lumia 920 and its 8.7 megapixel PureView camera proved that it’s the king of the hill and that the sensor resolution doesn’t matter that much.
The same Motorola Chief of Design, Jim Wicks, said that the first Google-influenced Motorola smartphones will be as bloatware-free as possible, and we will probably see stock Android coming pre-loaded on the X Phone. Why is this a great news? First, because Vanilla Android looks great (sorry Samsung and HTC, but TouchWiz and Sense don’t look cool at all). Secondly, an X Phone running the stock version of Google’s mobile operating system would mean that the Motorola smartphone will be among the first devices to receive the latest Android updates, just like it happens now with the members of the Nexus family. Of course, Google will help the American phone maker, too.
Because we are expecting Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie to be announced this May at Google I/O event and considering a September X Phone release date, I see no reason why the Googorola super-smartphone shouldn’t run the latest Android iteration out of the box. What new features will Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie bring? I’m glad you’ve asked. Even though we can’t know for sure yet, it is rumored that, besides performance boosts and bug fixes, the new Android version will introduce Performance Profiles, social media integration, cross-device SMS sync, Google
Babble Babel (the company’s attempt to bring all its chatting, VoIP, and video chat services under the same umbrella), and many other goodies.
That would be all for now regarding the X Phone release date, specs, and rumos. The unannounced smartphone already sounds interesting enough, but will it be as good as the tech publications are saying, or is this just fuss? Please let us know in the comments section what do you expect from the X Phone and what technical specifications you believe it will bring. Anyway, we promise to return with more details about X Phone release date or specs as soon as they are made available, so stay tuned.