Motorola Moto X: First impressions preview

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If you've clicked here looking for an early hands-on impression of the newly launched UK version of Motorola's Moto X, you may be in for a bit of a shock - the popular smartphone is not totally brand new, and has in fact been making waves in the US since August 2013.

However, the Moto X only just launched in the UK, meaning this is our first chance to have a play with the coveted handset.

The Moto X actively discourages users from leaving sticky fingerprints all over its 4.7in Gorilla Glass screen - this is a smartphone designed for hands free living.

So when you're lounging on the sofa and have a desperate yearning to know what the time is in New York but your 130g Moto X is sat on the other side of the room, you need not move a muscle. Simply say "Google Now, what time is it in New York?" and the device will spring into life.

The Moto X's touch-free controls also allow you to get directions, set an alarm, or call someone - even when you're up to 15 feet away from the device.

Potential worries about security are negated when you realise that the Moto X tunes itself specifically to recognise your voice. When we tried instructing a phone that had learned the dulcet tones of someone else, the screen remained resolutely black until the real owner piped up to give the command.

With many handsets, the notion of voice control is still relegated to the realms of gimmick. It becomes more of a specialist taste - something WHSmith would keep behind the counter and you'd have to ask for - but once you attune the Moto X to your voice the feature works remarkably well. Training your smartphone is vital though - if you try using the voice feature straight away (like we did), your Moto X will have a hard time understanding you.

Motorola has been keen to emphasise the Moto X's "Active Display,"which means that even when the phone is asleep you can check the time and view your notifications. Relevant messages and information appear in quiet pulses on the 1,280 x 720 pixel display. It's great for those who have that constant itch to check their phones regularly and certainly looks pretty, but it seems like an unnecessary waste of its 2200mAh battery when you could just hit the power button for the same effect.

Once you've finally got inside your phone, you can take full advantage of its features. Motorola Assist's Driving mode makes your Moto X read incoming text messages aloud and allows you to reply to text messages directly using your voice. Meeting mode, meanwhile, silences your phone whilst sending out an auto-reply text message to anyone who tries to contact you whilst you're tied up in the boardroom. Finally, sleeping mode allows you to set what hours you'll be in the land of nod and sets the device to silent for that period, but also gives you the option to let your favourite contacts get through to you immediately so you never miss an important call.

All these features are powered by the Motorola X8 mobile computing system which features a 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro chipset complemented by a natural language processor and a contextual computing processor as well as 2GB of RAM.

These allow features like the responsive 10-megapixel camera (activated by two flicks of your wrist) to function without guzzling all your battery power. And the Moto X is indeed a nice device to hold, with its curved back resting comfortably in the palm.

Elsewhere, UK Android enthusiasts may feel the wait has been worth it, as our version of the Moto X ships with Android 4.4 KitKat, the latest version of Google's mobile OS. It's not quite a stock version, but it's pretty darned close and we'd expect future updates to come to this device fairly speedily.

So what will this fairly tidy package set you back? The Moto X is available from a wide range of UK retailers and costs £380 SIM-free - a reasonable enough price for a mid-range device that generally impresses and packs a number of premium features.