Moto Maker - A Customized Moto X

A large part of the Moto X story is the ability for users to order their own customized variants with different color combinations and an optional customized engraving (at a later date) and line of text at boot. Initially exclusive to AT&T, the Moto Maker customization tool manifests itself as a web portal where shoppers can select from 18 different back colors, 7 accent colors, and a black or white front at no additional cost. In the future there will be additional patterns and materials available, for example additional textures and the wood materials I touched on earlier later in Q4.

The workflow is simple, either shoppers go online to Moto Maker directly, or (at launch) go into an operator store, see color samples, buy a 16 or 32 GB Moto X Moto Maker pass, and then either complete the Moto Maker customization option on a kiosk at the store or later from the comfort of their home. Motorola then assembles the custom Moto X in Fort Worth, Texas and ships to anywhere in the USA with a 4 day turnaround time. Shoppers who want to walk out of an operator store with a device in hand will have to opt for the woven white or black options as mentioned before.

The initial AT&T exclusivity is disappointing if you’re on one of the four other major wireless operators in the USA, however I expect the other operators to get brought in immediately after the exclusivity period ends, but there’s no word how long that is for AT&T. The Moto Maker part of the customization experience is also exclusive to the USA given the four day window Motorola is shooting for, so that means Canada, Latin America, and other markets get left out.

Motorola gave us a chance to play with Moto Maker before the Moto X launch and order a customized Moto X of our making just to try it out. I settled on a combination of olive back, white front, and silver accent color, plus the customized line of text on the back, for an overall somewhat tactical look (the "olive color" winds up being like a lighter olive drab, it’d be cool if Motorola had flat dark earth available). Anand went with a completely yellow lemon colored unit that looks very striking. The tool works very well and presents a 360 degree view of the device as you step through the process, it’s all very compelling, even if choosing a combination from the wealth of back colors and accents is somewhat daunting. I went through about 5 different permutations of Moto X colors before settling on the one I finally pulled the trigger on.

Motorola didn't exactly nail the 4-day delivery window for either Anand's or my own customized Moto X, and my back didn't get the customized line of text on it, although Anand's did. Mine ended up taking a little over a week to get delivered, but a large part of that was because they essentially built two Moto Xes in that timeframe due to the engraving issues they discovered. I'm willing to acknowledge that this first set of customized Moto Xes we were given the opportunity to order were technically during a "Beta" release of the Moto Maker, so hopefully kinks like the customized line of text not being present and the turnaround time are sorted out quickly. 

Anand's customized Moto X looks great in pictures, and I'm pleased with the way mine came out as well. It definitely adds something to the experience to be able to choose out your own color combination. 

The customization options are great for users who want to differentiate their devices from the uniform black or white squares that are pretty standard fare these days, and I expect the Moto Maker route to be a popular option given how loud Motorola will be about the customization aspect of the Moto X. After all, at no additional cost (unless you go for wood, more storage, the optional matching headphone accessories or a case) there’s really no reason you shouldn’t go for something custom or unique looking.

For some, the Moto Maker tool is probably enough to sell the device on its own, but customization options only go so far towards closing a sale. What Motorola has done however by offering an easy to use tool and quick turnaround is both awesome and unprecedented.

Introduction and Hardware Somewhat Stock Android
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  • evilspoons - Monday, August 26, 2013 - link

    It's too bad we don't get any of the customization options in Canada. Rogers is getting the Moto X, but I think it's just in three solid colours. Reply
  • jjj - Monday, August 26, 2013 - link

    Maybe worth mentioning that Atmel has a "Sensor Hub" MCU and it's used in S4 and Surface at least but wasn't highlighted in the marketing so it got zero attention. Reply
  • Honest Accounting - Sunday, September 15, 2013 - link

    Does this function without (waking up) the main CPU cores? Reply
  • nerd1 - Monday, August 26, 2013 - link

    So called 'customization' has been available for samsung phones for AGES.
    Heck they even have freedom of customizing the battery sizes!
    Reply
  • maltanar - Monday, August 26, 2013 - link

    Nice review Brian, thanks. I have a feeling we'll be seeing more and more fixed-function or semi-specific accelerator hardware (read: "cores") in processors in the near future. Not just for mobile applications processors but (over a longer period) for desktop/laptop/server CPUs as well. Reply
  • tim851 - Monday, August 26, 2013 - link

    "I’d posit that the optimal size is somewhere just shy of 5-inches diagonal, say between 4.7 and 5, but this is a subject of heated debate."

    If there's a heated debate, it should be a clue that there is NO OPTIMAL SIZE. People have different use cases for smartphones. I've seen many young girls with tiny hands and huge phones. They don't care for one-handed use. They stuff them in their purses.

    I agree with the point about small screen shouldn't mean small specs.
    Reply
  • retrospooty - Monday, August 26, 2013 - link

    "If there's a heated debate, it should be a clue that there is NO OPTIMAL SIZE. People have different use cases for smartphones. "

    Exactly. It's totally user pref based. It's like asking what is the optimal automobile size. A guy that lives 50 miles from his work, would probably need a small car with good mileage, where a mother with ith 4 kids is better off with a minivan or SUV, and a construction worker needs a truck to haul things. Is one better than the other? No, unless you are talking to the commuter, mother or construction worker.

    As for the phone, looks like a great midrange phone. I like alot of the things MOto is trying to do with it... Should be cheaper though.
    Reply
  • scavio - Monday, August 26, 2013 - link

    Why should it be cheaper? This isn't a Nexus.

    If they are lucky they are saving $10 on the SOC vs a Snapdragon 600. The screen might be a $20 savings (once again, if they are lucky). Everything else costs the same as the other flagships.
    Reply
  • Impulses - Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - link

    It would've been interesting as a low cost mid-cycle Nexus refresh tho, at like $250-300 (32GB if the latter maybe, with only one SKU)... But then the customization aspect would've been a nightmare (Nexus launches are flaky enough as it is, distribution is not Google's thing) and the theories about Google/Moto's impact on other OEM would've raised hell. Reply
  • BallGum - Tuesday, November 19, 2013 - link

    It's almost more "Nexus" than a Nexus. I think the Motorola phones are almost as though Google tests features before they make it into Android. With 4.4 KitKat the whole thing is a bit more Googley.
    I know this sounds slightly outlandish, but it's explained better over at my Blog:
    http://theballofgum.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/motorol...
    Reply

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