State of Android: Part 2

Wed Dec 11, 2013

Kit Kat has been out for a while now and I wrote about it on launch day, but I’d like to talk more about Android phone hardware.

When the Nexus 5 came out, people were suitably enthusiastic about specs that looked great on paper. After a few weeks of real-world use, a few issues came up. The most egregious of  these was a poorly optimized camera that suffered from severe shutter lag. I was thinking about getting this phone for my wife, but held off because it seemed maybe the HTC One was a better bet (despite being almost a year old). However, Google pulled through recently and released a software update to fix the worst of the camera issues. Sure, the camera app could use a UI overhaul, but this will come in time. So I pulled the trigger on the Nexus 5 and feel good about it.

But for me personally, I’m not 100 percent sold on LG. Despite boasting some impressive specs for the price, the Nexus 5 is not considered the best Android phone of 2013. Nor is the HTC One, which held the crown for a while when it was released early in the year. Most experts now agree that the Moto X is the best Android phone you can buy. The funny thing is, the Moto X doesn’t have the fastest processor or the highest screen resolution. But this phone has something important going in its favour - good design. In many ways, the Moto X has taken its design cues from Apple. By dropping out of the spec wars and focusing on an excellent user experience, the Moto X seems like a phone people just enjoy using - a phone with soul.

But the Moto X will suffer the same fate as other skinned phones - a sudden drop-off in software support long before Google’s baby, the Nexus 5. The real question is, why isn’t the Moto X Google’s flagship? They own Motorola, for heaven’s sake. But they keep partnering with LG or Samsung to produce Nexus phones. Bizarre. What I’m waiting for is a true Motorola Nexus phone. That will be something special and if it happens in the next couple of years a lot of Android enthusiasts will be very happy.

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