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Moto X UK version is comfy, not colourful in hands-on photos

The Motorola Moto X will be available in the UK from 1 February, bringing a comfy design, but not the endless customisability of the US model.

Andrew Lanxon headshot
Andrew Lanxon headshot
Andrew Lanxon
Andrew is CNET's go-to guy for product coverage and lead photographer for Europe. When not testing the latest phones, he can normally be found with his camera in hand, behind his drums or eating his stash of home-cooked food. Sometimes all at once.
Andrew Lanxon
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After going on sale in the US last year, the Motorola Moto X is finally making its way to the UK. It goes on sale on 1 February for free on contracts starting at £25, or you can buy it SIM-free for £380. Our chums across the pond at CNET.com have given the phone the full review treatment already, but I've gone hands-on with the UK version to tell you what you need to know.

The phone itself hasn't really changed from the version you'll find in the US. It has the same dual-core 1.7GHz processor and a 4.7-inch display with a 720p resolution. It's only available with 16GB of storage and you can't expand it with a microSD card, so you'll need to be careful about how many apps you're downloading.

The design is physically identical, with the curved back that makes it very comfortable to hold. In his full review, my esteemed colleague Brian Bennett said the phone felt "pretty damn good" and that the rounded frame fit his manly palm "like a glove".

The Moto X will be available in the UK in either white or black. In the US, the phone can be customised with a wide variety of colours and backing materials -- including bamboo -- using the Moto Maker website. With so many colours and accents to choose from, Motorola says there are "thousands" of configurations possible. At the London launch, however, Motorola told me that the customising isn't available in Europe but that Moto is looking at bringing this to the Moto X "at some point".

Latest Google software

It's running the latest version of Android, known as 4.4.2 KitKat, with features including a combined app for Hangouts and SMS conversation, and full-screen games and media. The Moto X also makes heavy use of voice control: say, "Okay Google Now," followed by a question such as "what is the weather in London like today?" or, more helpfully, "where is the nearest pub?" and it'll give you a quick answer.

You don't need to press any buttons to wake the phone before speaking either. The phone's microphones are always listening for your questions, so you can leave your phone on your desk and simply bark your questions at it. You can ask it to call contacts too, activating the speakerphone when the call connects. I wasn't able to give this a proper test in the noisy London event, but Brian found it worked well.

Other software features include an 'Active Display', which gently pulses a notification on screen, so you can see who's calling or texting without having to wake the phone up. Pressing and holding the screen will show more information, or you can swipe to open it.

Around the back of the phone is a 10-megapixel camera, which can be quickly opened by twisting the phone in your wrist twice so you can get shooting quickly. Again, I wasn't able to fully test it, but Brian found it started up extremely quickly, allowing him to snag photos of his toddler that slower cameras may have missed. Image quality was impressive and settings like HDR mode and slow motion video were welcome additions.

But isn't the Moto G better value?

The Moto X has to compete with the Moto G though, which earned a great deal of praise (from me) thanks to its impressive lineup of specs for a superbly cheap price. On paper, there doesn't appear to be a massive improvement -- both phones have the same screen resolution, for example, so the Moto G actually has a sharper display, thanks to its smaller size.

Numbers aren't everything though -- the dual-core processor found on the Moto X produced more impressive results in Brian's test than the Moto G's quad-core, and it uses power extremely efficiently, delivering good battery life too.

The Moto X's camera surpasses the Moto G's 5-megapixel snapper, and it will make use of 4G networks in the UK for super-fast data speeds -- something not available on the Moto G. Whether that makes the Moto X worth the additional £250 remains to be seen when I get both handsets side by side.

In the meantime, check out our photo gallery above and make sure to leave your thoughts in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

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The Moto X will only be available in white or black in Europe.

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The wide array of customisable colours and finishes are still only offered in the US.

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The back panel's curving design is very comfortable to hold.

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It's not the most luxurious design ever seen, but it's not exactly ugly either.

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The display has a 720p resolution, the same as the much cheaper Moto G. The Moto G's smaller screen size however makes it a little sharper.

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The microphones on the Moto X are always listening. Say "Okay Google Now" to activate the voice search, even when the phone's in standby.

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You can use voice search to ask for directions, weather details or simply to Google any inane question you can think of, all without needing to ever touch the screen.

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On the back is a 10-megapixel camera which is a more impressive figure than the 5-megapixel snapper on the Moto G.

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It's not super-skinny, but it's perfectly easy to slide into tight jeans.

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A 3.5mm headphone jack sits on the top.

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It's a plain, but attractive design.

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The phone comes running the latest Android 4.4.2 KitKat software.

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When in standby, the phone will gently pulse when a notification comes through. You can tap and hold to read more or swipe to open.

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