Moto X Makes Its Debut

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - Following weeks of speculation, Motorola Mobility has formally announced the Moto X smartphone, and it's the first product designed by Motorola since it became a part of the Google ( GOOG) empire.

At Thursday's event, we noted that the Moto X is nice to look at, great to hold and overall is technologically advanced in many ways. But, whether the device will ultimately be able to make any sort of dent in the current Apple ( AAPL) Samsung smartphone duopoly is yet to be seen.

The phone has a very thin bezel so that the 4.7-inch AMOLED display dominates the front panel. The back cover is thin at the edges and curves to bulge in the middle, designed specifically to make the phone more comfortable to hold. The battery is unique in that it follows the same curve.

The Moto X starts at $200 for the 16 GB version and rises to $250 for the 32 GB version.

The phone runs on the Motorola X8 Mobile Computing System, comprised of a number of processors: a dual-core, 1.7 GHz Qualcomm ( QCOM) Snapdragon S4 Pro, a quad-core Adreno 320 graphics chip plus a natural language processor as well as a contextual computing processor. That makes eight cores of computing power. It is similar to what's inside the new Motorola Droid phones announced by Verizon last week.

The other pertinent specs include 2 GB of RAM, a 10 megapixel camera on the back (with an extra layer of white pixels for what Motorola says is improved light gathering) and a 2 MP camera up front.

But, it's some of the special features which could really set the Moto X. The most impressive feature is "Touchless Control." This is Google's take on what Apple's Siri should be. Once a Moto X learns to recognize your voice the phone automatically listens for the words "OK, Google Now..." At that point, you can command your phone to help with anything from setting an alarm, to hearing sports scores and stock quotes, to getting travel directions.

Moto X is the first phone customers can customize to a tremendous degree. The process is similar to what potential buyers can do on automobile maker Mini USA's Website. With the new Moto Maker service, buyers can choose from the large array of colors, accents, amount of memory, screen wallpaper and decide whether or not to have a name or message engraved on the back. AT&T will be exclusively offering the online configuration tool, at least for now.

Once ordered, Motorola promises you'll receive your new phone within four days. The company is able offer this service because phone is being assembled in a new Fort Worth, Texas facility, with Google and Motorola showing pride that the phone is made in the USA.

Despite all the positives, there was one glaring negative. Motorola didn't really talk about the operating system installed inside. That's because Moto X is not shipping with the latest version of the Android OS. Instead, the phone comes with Android 4.2.2 not 4.3 which seems very strange considering both hardware and software come from the same company.

Moto X should be available for purchase in the coming weeks. AT&T ( T), Sprint ( S), T-Mobile ( TMUS), U.S. Cellular ( USM) and Verizon ( VZ) will all sell the new device. Sprint will guarantee its unlimited everything plan throughout a Moto X's "service life".

One thing is for sure, you will be hearing a lot about Moto X in the coming weeks, with Google rumored to have spent $500 million in advertising to fuel interest in the new device.

Out test unit is less than a day old at this point. While the Touchless Control feature is very, very cool we'll have a lot more to say about the phone in the very near future.

--Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

>To submit a news tip, send an email to: tips@thestreet.com.

Gary Krakow is TheStreet's senior technology correspondent.

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