As time went on, more about the phone became clear. We were quite sure it would be running the dual core Snapdragon S4 mentioned before, and it would have 2 GB of RAM, a 4.7” 720p screen, it would be offered in 16 GB and 32 GB variants, it would have NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, and 802.11ac WiFi. At this point, I was somewhat annoyed, as the idea of having a phone without a microSD card slot seems like nothing more than a ploy by the phone manufacturer to squeeze more money out of the consumer while providing less value: “Oh, you want to store music on your phone? Give us another $50-$100 and we’ll add another 16 GB. Too bad you can’t change your mind later; we don’t give you the choice.” I was not surprised by this though, as Google has been idiotically eschewing microSD card slots on their devices for a while now, on the laughable premise that microSD cards “confuse” consumers, and so the solution is to not even give them the option. Thanks Google, I really enjoy being told I’m too stupid to understand the concept of having my data stored in one of two places, especially while you’re trying to sell me on this idea of “cloud storage”, which is a much more confusing/complex concept for a layperson to understand than a physical storage device like a microSD card.
Again, this wasn’t a deal breaker to me. I still saw it as an opportunity for a new Nexus-like device that would be carrier unlocked, with better specifications than the Nexus 4, at a very reasonable price. This was especially important to me, because as a Verizon customer, I haven’t even had the option of buying a Nexus phone since the Galaxy Nexus. I was still excited to buy a phone at a reasonable price that would work on my network, that despite not having top end specs for CPU, RAM, and storage, would at least have the latest in connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, 802.11ac WiFi, and 4G LTE.
By now the rumors had already leaked about the extra features Google and Motorola had been teasing us with: an always-on microphone that would allow users to speak commands anytime, an “Active Display” that would allow users to check notifications by activating only the necessary pixels without having to turn on the entire screen, Motorola Connect which would allow users to sync texts and phone calls with their computers and would also provide lost phone tracking, Motorola Migrate which users would install on their previous phone, and it would transfer all the phone’s data to their new Moto X, and finally, Motorola Assist that would detect certain states of the phone and act accordingly (e.g. when moving above a certain speed, it would assume you’re driving and would put the phone in “Driving Mode”). These features seemed like cool extras, though it would be hard to justify them as selling points. I saw it as Google trying to differentiate this phone from the Nexus devices that had come before it, providing not just a stock Android experience, but stock Android along with some unique features that users would appreciate rather than see as bloatware.
Soon we saw Motorola release a new line of products, the Droid Mini, Ultra, and Maxx. The general opinion of these phones is that they’re irrelevant, just as the majority of Motorola products have been since the original Droid launched in 2009. What was significant about this launch though, was that Motorola was touting their “new X8 chip”, which would clearly be the chip in the Moto X as well. They said these new Droids would be packing octa-core processors. This assertion left many experts confused and annoyed, wondering what chip this could possibly be.
Soon the answer became clear: Motorola was using a dual core Snapdragon S4 MSM8960DT clocked at 1.7 GHz. We were familiar with the MSM8960T, but wondered what the extra “D” signified. That also soon became clear: the MSM8960DT is almost identical to the MSM8960T, but replaces the dual Krait cores with Krait 300s instead. That leads to the obvious question of where the heck the “octa-core” designation comes from. The answer should have been a red flag to all those of us waiting for the Moto X. It was the first sign that Motorola (and now Google) were trying to sell us BS. Motorola counted up the two CPU cores, the four GPU cores, the contextual computing processor, and a natural language processor, and decided that by adding those numbers together, they could say they had an eight-core chip. One commenter on ArsTechnica parodied the announcement in the best way possible, saying
“I'm working a 36-core SoC design. 16 of the cores are 6510's, 10 ten are Z80's, two are Hercules Graphics Adapters, two are FM synthesizers I pulled off of old SoundBlaster Pro or Adlib cards (whatever I could find at Goodwill), three are 8088s, and the remaining three are actually people doing jobs it offloads to Amazon's Mechanical Turk.”
This sums up Motorola’s approach to core counting quite well.
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