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The Moto X is Back, But It’s Not the Phone You Remember

The Moto X4 is a midrange phone that sneaks in a one-of-a-kind Bluetooth feature.

For a while there, we thought the Moto X line was done. Once Motorola’s flagship phone known for its commitment to stock Android, the Moto X was seemingly replaced by the high-end, modular Moto Z last year. But, after a yearlong hiatus, the Moto X is indeed coming back — just without a lot of the features that made the phone special in the first place.

Besides always having a stock Android option, the Moto X was known for high-end hardware and the Moto Maker, a browser-based tool that could be used to customize the phone’s exterior before purchase. It was pretty fun to play around with the color and material options! Unfortunately, that’s all gone. Announced this past week, the Moto X4 is a midrange phone, deferring to the more expensive Moto Z2 Force, and it’s coming as is.

The Moto Z design can’t be changed because Motorola needs to make sure subsequent versions of that phone work with the backplate Moto Mod accessories they’ve invested so much in — with no such imperative for the Moto X, we figured they’d get back to having a little fun with the design. After all, what other phone has gotten the designer touch?

That doesn’t appear to be the case — we’re looking at a silver or black glass back with a camera bump in the same spot as the one on the Moto Z, with no customization options. The days of the Moto Maker, sadly, appear to be over (and for proponents of removable batteries, that’s one less option for you). At the very least, an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance is a good consolation prize.

Inside, we’re looking at a Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 SoC with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. That’s pretty low on the storage end, but there is a microSD card slot that supports cards up to 2 TB in size. It has a 5.2″ 1920 x 1080 display and a fingerprint sensor on the front. The phone is powered by a 3,000 mAh battery, which seems fine for the specs — overall, it seems like it’ll be a nice everyday phone, but it won’t be something that can handle high-end experiences like VR games and graphics-intensive mobile games.

If you don’t care about either of those things, then you won’t get a bad phone for €400 (U.S. pricing hasn’t been confirmed yet). Normally we’d say that’s too high for a midrange phone (the OnePlus 5 is sitting there at $480), but the 630 chipset is a pretty nice one, and we haven’t seen it in many other phones. The camera array is pretty good, too — it’s got a 12 MP autofocus sensor with an f/2.0 lens and a 1.4-micron pixel size along with an 8 MP sensor with a wide-angle 120-degree f/2.2 lens and a 1.12-micron pixel size. No premium fixings like OIS, but that’s decent for a midrange phone.

There are a couple of unexpected wrinkles that make the phone worth considering, too. One of them bucks the stock Android trend in a good way — the phone has Amazon Alexa built in. That doesn’t just mean that it comes preloaded with the app, either — you’ll be able to issue voice commands to Alexa even when the Moto X4 is asleep.

It’s also got a neat little Bluetooth trick that no other phone has — we’ve heard Motorola licensed the tech from another company just for the Moto X4. Using a Bluetooth connection, the Moto X4 can not only connect to four devices at once, but stream synced music to all of those devices as well. It should be a neat little music sharing feature for groups of friends, and it’ll work with Bluetooth speakers as well as Bluetooth headphones.

The Moto X4 is making its debut in Europe, but Motorola and parent company Lenovo are saying the phone will be released in the United States before the end of the year. That’s cool and all, but we’re still going to miss the Moto Maker!

Check out more of our IFA 2017 coverage right here!