Motorola says the Moto X phone will soon go on sale in New Zealand through stores like JB Hi-Fi.

Although it’s an Android phone, there’s little in common between the Motorola Moto X and the high-profile Samsung Galaxy S5.

For a start the Moto X offers a quality phone experience for less money. Motorola expects the Moto X to sell for around NZ$600 compared to the NZ$1050 for the Galaxy S5.

And it’s simpler, less geeky. That makes it easier to use and quicker to master. Samsung fans might argue otherwise, but I’d say this phone has a clearer focus on productivity. Or, if you’re not inclined to think of phones as work tools, there’s an emphasis on getting useful things done.

Google heritage

When the Moto X first went on sale in the USA last August, Google owned Motorola — now Lenovo owns the business. In some ways it represents Google’s vision of what an Android phone should look like. Make that one vision, Google also had its fingerprints all over the Nexus 5.

You get an interesting glimpse into Google’s thinking. The phone’s OS is, in comparison with the Galaxy range, a stripped-down version of Android. It seems faster and there’s less shovelware packed with the device.

Motorola built the Moto X around a voice-enabled version of Google Now. In some ways it reminds me of Google Glass, with the added bonus that you don’t look like a dork when using the phone.

Show me the way to the next whiskey bar

I’ve no idea if the phone can show me the way to the next whiskey bar, but it can understand a range of spoken commands — like Google Glass. The microphone is permanently on. It fires up when you say the magic words: “OK Google Now” followed by a command.

So, “OK Google Now, what is the weather forecast”. There’s a bleep followed by posh English woman’s voice  announcing “Here’s the weather forecast for Auckland”.

In other words it figured out I want to know the local forecast and not what is happening in Timbuktu.

There’s a long list of possible commands. You can get the phone to cue music tracks, start voice calls and take notes. If you ask something it doesn’t understand, it’ll try Googling the word for you.

I managed to use the phone with the UK, US and Australian voice settings without trouble. Oddly, given my pommy accent, it did better with Australian settings than with UK settings, but, for some reason that serves up information with an American accent.

Good phone, good price

At first sight the Moto X is a good phone at a competitive price. It has a decent 4.7 inch display and trucks along nicely on whatever processor powers the beast — as if anyone cares what’s under the bonnet if the speed is good enough. The camera is a weak spot, but not everyone wants to take complex shots on a mobile phone. This is an Android I could happily live with.

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