iPhone 5C vs. Moto X: Will Apple Or Motorola Release The Better Phone?

 @tommylikeyt.halleck@ibtimes.com
on September 11 2013 4:11 PM

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) unveiled the iPhone 5C, a new addition to its smartphone lineup that analysts originally pegged as a low-cost device and the Cupertino, Calif.-based company’s attempt to break into lower-income and emerging markets worldwide. Offered in five different colors, the iPhone 5C will release in nine different countries on Sept. 20, even if it sells at a higher price than many analysts expected.

Motorola Mobility, a Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) company, originally started shipping the Moto X to customers on AT&T at launch, and now allows subscribers from Verizon (NYSE:VZ), Sprint (NYSE:S), T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) and U.S. Cellular (NYSE:USM) to order the flagship. Based on the comparable price, hardware and special features on the iPhone 5C and Moto X, International Business Times compares these two smartphones to see which is the better all-around device for consumers.

iPhone 5C versus Moto X The iPhone 5 versus the Moto X. Asterisks (*) denote information that has not yet been confirmed by the manufacturer.  Thomas Halleck / International Business Times

The Screen: iPhone 5C vs. Moto X

The Moto X has an intriguing form factor -- fitting a 4.7-inch screen into a body that is 0.19-inch longer, 0.24-inch wider and 0.06 thicker than the iPhone 5C. Apple has stuck to its guns with screen sizes, claiming that bigger is not often better, and requires space on the body of the iPhone 5C for a home button. However, the 0.7-inch gives the Moto X a 17.5 percent larger screen than the iPhone 5C, in a package that is comparably large.

However, since the Moto X lacks physical buttons, most apps require three navigation icons key to the Android operating system, that shift on-screen based on the phone’s orientation. This includes many of the popular video-streaming applications like Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX). Therefore, the larger screen size is less of a improvement than appears on paper, and the difference between a physical home button and navigation icons integrated into a touchscreen is going to be based solely on personal preference -- one is not necessarily better than the other.

The AMOLED screen in the Moto X is going to be less color accurate than the iPhone 5C’s LCD, however it will likely be more visible in sunlight. The Moto X's screen is also more energy efficient than LCD, especially when displaying black (individual pixels turn completely off) allowing Motorola to incorporate an Active Display feature -- more information on the Active Display can be found later on, under Software Features.

The Color Choices: iPhone 5C vs. Moto X

While one of the most exciting features of the Moto X is its customizability, the Moto Maker website is currently an exclusive to subscribers of AT&T. Verizon Wireless has announced that its customers would be able to custom design a Moto X before the end of the year, however T-Mobile, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular customers can only choose between woven black and white options for the foreseeable future. This takes a lot of the fun out of the Moto X for customers of those carriers.

Apple has not announced whether any of its colors will be carrier exclusive, however such an arrangement is unlikely. When looking at the colors available for the iPhone, black is not offered, nor are any dark colors. Additionally, the Moto X will eventually be offered with wood backs that will include bamboo, ebony, rosewood and teak. Motorola has not announced its plans for Moto X phones with wood backs -- how much they will cost or what carriers they will be available on.

Color is going to be based on personal preference, and the number of choices available is going to be based on what carrier you are on. That being said, Motorola offers a lot more choices and options for the Moto X (for AT&T customers at least), and the wood-backed models are intriguing. While Apple will launch the iPhone 5C in several bright colors, they lack any darker options other than an (optional) black case.

The Construction: iPhone 5C vs. Moto X

The iPhone 5C is constructed of a glass front surrounded by a single piece of polycarbonate. The Moto X has three major parts -- the glass front, a rubberized ring around the phone’s edge, and the rounded rear shell.

While the iPhone 5C’s hardened polycarbonate is covered with a layer of lacquer, it is lined with a stainless steel frame that also acts as the phone’s antenna. The Moto X’s rear shell is rounded, and in conjunction with the ring around the phone, make it appear much more ergonomic than the iPhone 5C, however the inclusion of several different pieces make it seem much less premium when it comes to the construction of the two phones’ bodies. Whereas Apple has constructed the iPhone 5C with a glossy finished back, most of the options for the rear shell of the Moto X have a matte finish.

Whereas it will likely come down to personal preference (for instance, whether you prefer a rounded or flat rear on your phone), the more unified construction of the iPhone 5C, combined with smaller dimensions and Apple’s reputation might make the iPhone 5C a winner when it comes to physical construction over the Moto X. This depends on personal preference as well as whether or not the glossy iPhone 5C is a fingerprint magnet upon release.

However, one last component of the Moto X’s construction may make a big difference for American customers -- the fact that the final assembly for the Moto X is done in the United States. While several components of the Moto X are imported from suppliers all over the world, including China and Taiwan, the fact that thousands of Americans are employed at Motorola’s new Fort Worth, Tex. plant is a fact that has not gone unnoticed in the press -- and will likely not be ignored by consumers.

The Hardware: iPhone 5C vs. Moto X

The iPhone 5C -- other than the redeveloped antenna and “improved” (and likely larger) battery -- is essentially composed of the same parts as 2012’s iPhone 5. The Moto X has also been criticized for carrying older silicon (its main CPU, the Qualcomm MSM8960Pro Snapdragon, is found in many of last year’s phones), however it has one redeeming quality about its chipset that the iPhone 5C does not -- two additional processors to make up what Motorola has dubbed the X8 Mobile Computing System.

One low-powered “Natural Language” core and another for “Contextual Computing.” Read on to better understand the features that those extra processing cores will bring to the Moto X.

The Moto X will most likely have a larger battery than the iPhone 5C, although neither are removable. Also, it has double the amount of virtual memory, or RAM. While iOS is praised for being more memory efficient than Android, it is not twice as efficient. Therefore the extra RAM in the Moto X means more apps running with less lag.

The overall hardware in the Moto X appears, and is in many ways, more high-end than what will be found in the iPhone 5C.

Software Features: iPhone 5C vs. Moto X

A Natural Language Processor allows the Moto X to always listen for the voice command “OK, Google Now.” Motorola calls the feature “touchless control,” and it is a major benefit to the Moto X. Whereas the iPhone 5C will incorporate Apple’s virtual assistant known as Siri, users will still have to give the home button a long-press to talk to her. When it comes to voice activation, the Moto X has the iPhone 5C beat.

The contextual awareness core -- similar in function to the new M7 chip found in the iPhone 5S -- will calculate all of the different sensors built into the Moto X, and allow it to act accordingly. It knows if it is on the move in your pocket, or driving with you in the car. The iPhone 5S lacks a separate processor to gauge its many sensors, and will likely burn up more battery life while doing so. However, until Apple releases the iPhone 5C and the exact battery size is determined, its impossible to determine which phone will last longer on a charge.

The contextual awareness processor allows the Moto X to displays information like the time, date and messages, even when the screen is “off,” since the Moto X knows when it is flipped over on a desk or taken out of a pocket. Rather than having to turn the Moto X’s screen on, the date and time appears along with visual notifications of any messages. A single press will display notifications on the Moto X without having to turn on the display.

Whereas both the iPhone 5C and the Moto X require low manufacturing costs and similarly high prices to other smartphones on the market, neither is an incredible value when it comes to hardware. While iOS is praised for being a more efficient OS, the greater hardware capability of the Moto X is more than enough to compensate for any perceived inefficiency in the ever-popular Android OS. Since the Moto X is the first smartphone “fully conceived” by Motorola since it was acquired by Google and incorporates a few nifty new software and hardware features to justify that title, whereas the iPhone 5C is simply an iPhone 5 with a plastic shell and larger battery, the Moto X takes the crown in this head-to-head. As always, the choice is yours.

Follow Thomas Halleck on Twitter for mobile news, hardware reviews and other vital information, or to yell at him for comparing these two devices before the iPhone 5C has been released.

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