Update: SlashGear has leaked some of the back-plate colors, and claims there will be a total of 16 to choose from. See the picture below for horrifying pastels.


Well, that didn't take long - just a day after Motorola teased the world's first "customizable" phone, ABC News' own Joanna Stern has details on just what you'll be able to do in terms of personalizing your Moto X experience. Are you ready?

Colors and engraving. That's the extent of this "design-your-own-phone" experiment. And, if you want to really push the definition of customization, Motorola will set your phone wallpaper for you from the factory. Not that that's a bad thing, but it's also something that most people, you know, kind of do themselves.

As for the colors, you'll actually get two things to tweak. The first is the back-plate, which makes sense. You'll also be able to separately choose the color of the trim around the edges of the phone. That's kinda neat. The customization will be accomplished through a web store interface on Motorola's site. The engraving option basically sounds like what Apple has been doing with iPods and iPhone for a while - text only. What's unclear is whether devices purchased on contract will be customizable, or if this is an option being reserved for those who purchase devices outright. I've got to assume somehow, though, that some on-contract purchases will be eligible for this treatment, as that is undoubtedly how the vast majority of Moto Xs will be purchased.

ABC goes on to explicitly kill any notion that the phone's internals will be customizable. While there will be multiple storage options, you'll be stuck with the same basic components as everyone else (which makes sense - an internally customizable smartphone is an engineering and manufacturing nightmare).

ABC also claims the device is in testing with Android 4.2.2, and will utilize hardware sensors extensively to perform tasks like launching the camera with a "flick" (I have no idea why you need a sensor to do this, unless it's a touchpad), or activate speakerphone mode when the phone detects that you are driving. Basically, the kind of stuff we've heard a half-dozen times before. For more, head to the source link below.

ABC News

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Phill_S

    And this is when a bunch of people will rage that the idea they could change the internals of the phone, which they made up, wont be coming true.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      But my computer has customizable RAM and a smartphone is basically a tiny computer so they're exactly the same according to the facts I just made up.

      • DarkRain

        I had my hopes up that it will be something like the Green Orange N1 which has customisable hardware (shell, cpu, ram, screen, camera etc):

      • jaduncan

        I think people just don't understand how integrated modern SOCs are. One does not simply cut off 10% of the chip and replace it with another bit of silicon in the same gap.

        • Cerberus_tm

          Perhaps not the SOC, but it would be nice to pick whether or not you want a card reader, how much memory, how much RAM, how large a battery, that sort of thing. Yes, it would be more complex, but I'm sure it can be done. It's what they're all doing already, except that they sell them as "new phones".

          • Cole Mickens

            >"I think people just don't understand how integrated modern SOCs are."

          • Paul H

            The thing is, every change to the board changes bits in the kernel and build settings. Think about it this way, a simple change like GSM to CDMA has to be considered a completely new phone. It's all very fragile.

    • http://androidandme.com/ Taylor Wimberly

      Baby steps. This is just version 1. Wait till you see what happens with version 2.

      • Phill_S

        Stage 3 of Kubler-Ross model achieved :D

        When they start pushing out updates to one flagship phone model in a timely fashion then it might be time to hope for a flagship phone with hundreds of variations which would all need testing by carriers before being pushed out - but we are definitely not there yet.

        • Greyhame

          Imagine the horror getting all those variations through the FCC. Not gonna happen.

      • jm9843

        Why don't you just tell us what's going to happen with version 2?

        • http://androidandme.com/ Taylor Wimberly

          More customization options...

      • Danny Holyoake

        This HAS to be a troll account. AndroidandMe can't even acknowledge the existence of other Android-related tech blogs, due to some childish competition pettiness, there's no way Wimberly would even think about commenting here.

        • jm9843

          Didn't you here? Wimberly took the money and ran.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

            Let's play nice, guys.

          • Mike Harris


        • Justin W

          Don't agree with that. Taylor was friends with a couple of writers from Droid-Life, and they worked together with some of their information.

    • Bob

      I was kinda hoping they were going to have different models with different internals, like a faster processor or something at a higher cost or something
      but advertising a phone entirely around ~customization~ when all you can really do is something that's been a feature of smartphones for years is kind of a greaseball move

      • Phill_S

        Having different models with different internals is a step backwards though - remember the days when HTC launched 14 different phones in one year and managed to let them all slip two versions behind the curve for upgrades - later abandoning the majority to mothballs promising to just make less devices but support them better.

        At this point in the market with the current upgrade paradigm just having one flagship, one cheap device and some kind of phablet is basically the most a manufacturer should have. Pump out some budget stuff for second and third world markets but when you start increasing the number of devices you start lowering the quality of experience.

  • Leif Sikorski

    This makes completely sense. There are so many consumer who buy cases or skins to differentiate their phone from others - they don't want the out of the box product that everyone else has. It gets more "personal".

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      I'm pretty sure most people buy cases under the flawed assumption that they make their phones invincible to the smartphone's natural predator: concrete. But yes, there's that, too.

      • Kenny O

        Exactly. This is why I never use cases. The safer the case the more it makes your phone look like garbage.

        • Justin W

          Plus, it's always better to go naked. Looks better on most phones too!

      • Gandalf_Teh_Gray

        Eh Moto makes phones that usually stands up well to concrete, and I know that cases have saved my GN from it.
        I do miss the feel of the back plate though.

  • Polyg0n
    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Thanks! Updated our post.

      • Polyg0n

        Also on their post: "This bit of customization will ride alongside additional choices of inner configurations based on the consumers “needs” – aka wants."

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

          Yeah, I'll take ABC's word of no internal customization's over SG's. They're way too vague, and ABC specifically says internal storage options only.

          • Polyg0n
          • Justin W

            Hmmm... I wonder if they have all the colors up yet?

          • Polyg0n

            I've only seen those 2 pictures.

          • Justin W

            I checked the NWE website and wasn't able to find any other pics. Oh well.

            Also, the Taiwan leak from a few months ago shows the black, so we know 5 out of the rumored 12 or 16 colors.

          • Justin W

            They also said the Droid Ultra would be the same device, even though The Verge's article shows differently. I'm inclined to believe AP and The Verge over any other website.

  • Kenny O

    So you are telling me that I don't have to change the wall paper myself??? Take my money now. I can't tell you how many times I wished my device came with my favorite wall paper already set. This is truly the future. Next, you are going to tell me that they can even pre load a live wallpaper.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      I am telling you EXACTLY that. But wait, there's more - we'll even ship it powered on.

      • Kenny O

        You just blew my mind. Do you think it would be too much trouble to ship it with my favorite ring tone as well?

        • Kenny O

          But all kidding aside, I do think it's pretty cool to get it engraved from the factory.

          • Wyatt Neal

            I think it would be awesome if you could get just a little more engraving than some text ... say like a 96x96 BW png or something. A tiny android on fire would amazing.

          • http://www.toysdiva.com Toys Samurai

            Text only? No thanks. I am looking at my Zune right now (it's been gathering dusts for a long long time. I pulled it out at the bottom of my drawer), and I still love how I was able to pick engraved graphics. Granted, I couldn't use my own graphics, but at least it's more excited than just having my name in ... Droid Sans?

            I hope the text can be arranged in any way I want, then. At least, I can make it interesting.

        • andy_o

          It will also ship with calls having been made to your girlfriend.

          • Justin Foster

            MY GOODNESS!!! I wonder if they can pre-sync my Gmail account, login into my Facebook, Install my launcher, Pre-set the brightness, and even have my lockscreen password already set up! Who needs to think! TAKE MY MONEY!!!

  • Lucas Laws

    Honestly, if you expected any more than this, then you haven't through this through very much. They won't let you change internal, because that affects supply lines. Why have to worry about 3 multiple SKUs for processors, screens, etc, which affect inventory (both cost and cost to stock) for one, and assembly for another. The backplate/trim is likely assembled by hand in any case, so this is a very easy thing to customize, since you're not changing anything except putting a couple more bins on an assembly line.

    And the personal aspect is very appealing. If they have something more durable than whats out there and appearance customized to my liking, why bother with a case and the added bulk?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Yeah, if it's ruggedized out of the box, that'd be cool. But I kind of doubt it'll be any more rugged than the GS4A / Xperia Z, which really aren't all that rugged apart from the water / dustproofing.

    • http://www.toysdiva.com Toys Samurai

      100% agree with you. I never believe in the rumor that the processor, or RAM can be customized. People who made it up clearly had no idea how a phone is built, and just get over excited.

    • Drew M

      It's more than that...each hardware configuration would require FCC approval.

      • marcusmaximus04

        Surely, it can't be that complicated to get blanket FCC approval. It doesn't hold up notebook/desktop computer manufacturers and they allow full customization of everything.

        Note: I'm not saying there are NO additional challenges associated with phones, but nothing that should affect FCC approval any more than it does for normal computers.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

          It's different for cellular communication devices. Each one has different radio baseband firmware, antennas, frequencies, etc.

          Laptops have very standard Wi-Fi and Bluetooth configurations.

          • marcusmaximus04

            So then one FCC approval per radio/frequency(the latter is done already for any phone headed for multiple carriers). Each configuration of the same phone would have the same antennas and such.

            All configurations of other hardware are things notebook manufacturers already do(especially those who offer cellular radios in their devices).

      • Freak4Dell

        As I understand it, with computers, a system that has been FCC certified can then have parts swapped with other FCC certified parts without having to send the system through the FCC approval process again. I would imagine that if we ever got to the point where phone parts could be snapped and plugged in like computer parts can, that same sort of rule would apply.

  • Alex Martin

    That "turn the camera on with a flick" (detected by the accelerometer/gyroscope?) sounds potentially useful. I think I'll try that on Tasker right now.

  • Kenny O

    "People will be able to buy the mid-range phone via the web but also buy standard versions through carrier stores."

    This kind of leads me to believe the carrier subsidized models will not be customization.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Hard to say if that means you can't order subsidized models through Motorola (or have the carrier let you customize on their site?). That'd be an OEM first outside Apple AFAIK, though. But yeah, that's why I brought up the question.

      • Lucas Laws

        The article on The Verge said this outright. "The Moto X will be available to order from a website (likely Google Play) as well as directly from carriers, though customers will only be able to customize the device if they choose the former route."

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

          Still doesn't say whether or not the Moto site will sell subsidized handsets. A long shot, but also still not confirmed.

  • mgamerz

    Perhaps the plate can have an image printed on it? That's be pretty cool.

  • wierzbik

    It will be customizable when I will be able to order device with Cyanogenmod of out the box.
    They'd save my 20 minutes to flash it - that's also the time of my present phone being stock :D

    • Kellic

      Why would I want my phone to be buggy as hell out of the box? CM ain't all the great, contrary to what their fanbois say. I've used it off and on, on a half dozen phones over the year. Consistently its capabilities are outstanding. Its coding and stability is junk at best.

      • squiddy20

        Depends on the phone. I've used primarily nightlies as my daily driver for over a year on my Sprint Galaxy Nexus (toroplus) and have had minimal issues with the ROM itself.

  • James_C_L

    I'll file this under the "who gives a fuck" folder

  • lensgrabber

    hmm looks like they are going to lure people with colored backs instead of specs. oh well... Nexus 5 maybe will hit the spot.

    • Justin W

      I wonder if the N5 will be based on this design. That would be interesting.

  • Mastermind26

    Welp, that certainly is underwhelming. :/

    • Christopher Saylor

      I think it's a nice colorful option. It will attract more consumers than would have just bought the base model of the phone (since this really doesn't turn anyone off from the base phone model)

      I see no problem with it.

      • Mastermind26

        Mmmm. Not a problem per se, but more of a let down for the definition of "customization". it's nice and all, but not what the hype of the moto X rumor mill set as the expectation.

  • Paul_Werner

    Sorry, had to do it

  • jamaall

    I buy Motorola for their high quality builds, not for a colored piece of plastic.

  • Garry DeWitt

    Well at least I don't have to think about replacing my HTC one =/

  • jamaall

    Please let kevlar or metal be an option for the back plate cover

  • Bob G

    Awwwww yeah! Purple phone here I come!

  • Freak4Dell

    I knew the custom internals were too good to be true. This isn't a computer where you just snap stuff into the motherboard's ports.

    The engraving thing is sort of cool, but if I end up buying it, I'll probably pass on that to save resale value.

  • Lupe Fiasco

    It doesn't really matter if you hate the covers, the good part that you get out of this is that the cover is removable which means removable battery which possibly means micro sd card. While that may not seem important to some people it is at least something worth noting.

    • Freak4Dell

      Since it's a built-to-order phone, the cover doesn't necessarily have to be removable. They could just use a "non-removable" cover when building it. Considering Motorola was one of the first Android makers to go away from removable batteries, I wouldn't expect them to change their minds now. The SD slot should still be there, though...Motorola hasn't gotten rid of that in their other phones yet.

      • Lupe Fiasco

        Yeah, but I have a feeling Motorola's goal is to take some attraction from the Samsung lineup, how do you that? Offer everything it does (Meaning SD Card and Removable Battery) + better price point and a close to stock Android experience. Most likely that will not be the case, but it would be a smart move if they did that in my opinion.

        • Justin W

          I personally think the non-removable battery is a non-issue for most people (hell, take the iPhone for example - hasn't ever had a removable battery, yet people still flock to it). I don't know many who really carry a second battery around with them everywhere, and with batteries, the technology available and used shouldn't fail between the time you purchase the device and the time you upgrade to your next device (based on a 2 year contract).

          • Lupe Fiasco

            Yeah, I would have to agree. I didn't mean to intend that Removable Battery & Micro SD are a major factor in Samsung's success with the Galaxy Lineup but it is a selling point none the less. I do think the major role that will play in whether the X1 succeeds or not is Storage options, and Marketing. Something that Samsung exceeded at compared to HTC and Google. HTC has great hardware but horrible marketing, Google has great marketing but under par hardware in my opinion. Not saying the Nexus 4 sucked but it wasn't exactly amazing either.

            Yeah Micro SD isn't that big of a deal If the manufacturer can provide decent storage space, until 32gb at least becomes the standard as you said, Micro SD cards will always be in the storage space argument.

          • Cherokee4Life

            Removable Battery isn't JUST for using more than 1 battery. Battery pulls being a very close 2nd if not 1st.

            The MicroSD card isn't just for apps to SD..... easily transferring documents to a computer. Pictures as you said. Flashing. A lot of people (I would assume) would like to carry their pictures from their old phone sd card to their new phone. Not everyone who uses Android uses Cloud storage...

            128GB I don't think will be the norm anytime soon. 64GB I agree with and 32GB. But 4GB still has a very attractive price point for non 1st-world countries. Shoot if a 4GB phone was cheap enough off contract I would buy one of each smartphone.

            You make valid points but i feel like your only thinking of some people and not the world as a whole.

          • Justin W

            Battery pulls aren't necessary with devices without removable batteries. Most devices with non-removable batteries have hard-reset options (the HTC One's is to hold the power button for 10+ seconds), and it will force a reboot regardless of what state the software is in (I've even done this after soft-bricking my device).

            Edit: I also agree with the 4gb comment about non-1st world countries. I don't agree with, however, allowing those devices to be sold in 1st world countries, since they really only hold enough storage space for a couple of apps. The thing is, though, 8gb flash storage costs aren't much more than 4gb (the same can be said for 16/32Gb over 8gb, but it's slightly more to upgrade to those). 32Gb just needs to be standard at this point.

          • Cherokee4Life

            By no means are Battery Pulls necessary, i agree with you. But I loved the ease of battery pulling.

            I can see the 4GB being a standard for like 3rd world countries to reduce the price. But I still feel ike if they offer the 4GB or 8GB they should have a microsd card.

            I have a feeling that Moto is now Google, sd cards and removable batteries are just a dream at this point anyways :(

          • Chris

            Thats why we have Dropbox.

            3rd would countires have a lot more to worry about then 4GB phones....

          • Justin Foster

            "You can't install apps to SD on most 4.0+ devices unless you are rooted (though I think TouchWiz will be including this feature in a future update)..."

            Lol, so the Apps2SD feature should be dependent on the device manufacturer? Heeeck no. Google needs to start putting its foot down. If Android supports a feature, your device should support it, obvious.

            Users should not have to look to rooting or custom firmware for this simple feature.

            No Micro SD slot problem goes beyond just insufficient storage on the device. What about people who like to transfer files between phones more easily? Just swap SD cards, simple! It's not that hard of a thing to implement. It should be a no-brainer.

          • Justin W

            Google *removed* this feature from AOSP. I haven't been able to install Apps to my SD card since I got my Bionic, but before that I was able to with my OG Droid.

            Swapping data between phones isn't an issue if you have a Google account. You can pull up all your pics via G+ (or Picasa, or Facebook, or Dropbox, etc.), your music from Play Music, books, etc. I think it's more of a tangibility thing - people concerned about MicroSD cards are afraid they'll lose all their data if they don't have possession of it, when, in reality, it's more likely that it'll be lost if they have it on a MicroSD card.

        • Freak4Dell

          The crowd that wants a removable battery is really just a vocal minority. The majority of people don't care either way. I would rather Motorola stick to their focus on great build quality than try and become a Samsung clone. Samsung phones don't sell that well because of the removable battery...they sell that well because of the billions and billions of dollars Samsung spends to put their name in your face every second of every day. I'm not opposed to a removable battery, but only if they can keep build quality levels up like they've been doing. Hopefully if they do use a removable battery, they'll also use a thicker, sturdier polycarbonate for the housing and back. A nonremovable battery also helps in the internal design of the phone, since you don't have to worry about making the battery fit in a spot that's easy to access. This probably adds to Motorola's ability to put giant batteries in their phones.

          • wirelessmodz

            I won't by a phone without a removable battery .that is until the day comes that none of them have a removable battery

          • G

            It's actually the other way

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      There is absolutely nothing here indicating the cover will be removable. These are just shells. The fact that the headphone port is part of the shell makes me think these will not be removable, but I also don't see any screw holes.

      • Freak4Dell

        The angle of the picture in the article just shows that there's a groove for the headphone port, but somebody just posted a picture of another color that shows the cutout for the entire headphone port, so I'd have to agree with you. This does not look like a removable cover.

        • Cherokee4Life

          what? you can't see the inside of the covers except the green one.. how do you know that it isn't a whole and not a notch?

          • Freak4Dell

            Why would the green one be of a different shape than the rest of them? I specifically said that only the green one confirmed that the cutout for the whole port was there.

            Unless you're trying to say the hole is actually a notch to get the cover off, which is a huge stretch. A hole that big just to get the cover off would be ridiculous.

          • Cherokee4Life

            I completely read that differently. my fault, i thought you were saying something else

      • Lupe Fiasco

        Ok, I reworded it to say "might be a removable battery"

    • Chris

      no need for a silly SD card if the phone will have 32 or 64GB of onboard storage. Removeable battery? why make the phone thick? if the razr can have long ass battery life then this phone could...

      • Justin Foster

        The user should be able to use as much storage as they want. Multiple SD cards easily solves this problem.

        • Chris

          Even Google themselves don't like Sd cards. What solves the problem is stop having phones with puny 8Gb-16GB storage spaces. 32GB should be the new standard. Bessides, most phones have a limit on the amount of SD card it can read. Example many HTC phones can only support up to 32GB./

  • Mike Harris

    I wonder if they'll let us buy additional backs so I can be like a teenage girl and change them to match my mood or outfit.

  • PSco

    Very glad they won't let you choose the internals. They would have fragmented their own device right off the bat.

  • kabloink

    I am hoping for a woodgrain one.

  • Kid.Drunkadelic

    well the someone leaked documents or whatever lead me to believe that the internals wont' be setting bench marking scores on fire. Which im cool with (not the one to play FPS's on my phone, but on Mah tablet that another story) If they can pull this off with dated internals wonder what the SoC in the N4 is going for these days? Anywho if they can make this a indescrutable phone that is as smooth as my N4 with bigger than 16gb options and maybe some cool art engraving (like the zune hd's had) Im in

  • NoBullet

    "Hell yes I got my customized blue Moto X!"

    *puts black protective case over it*

  • Kwadwo Firempong-Boakye

    This Moto X idea might be the biggest flop in smartphone history if its not executed right. I mean if select wallpaper(which one eventually changes anyway) color customization of back plate and side grill (which will become futile because there will customizable protective cases for the device from various brands) are the kind of options available then what's the point? I really hope Motorolla has a lot more than these alleged options to offer, especially as its their first phone release after officially changing their branding. Please just don't flop it.

  • Lary Blodgett

    Viva Movil it's all about style and custom phones.

  • iGamer777

    I am actually pleased with the fact that it won't have the customizable hardware, because otherwise there wouldn't be any custom ROMs for it and I wouldn't get it because of that. Well, I won't get it anyway because Motorolas are extremely hard to get in Ukraine, let alone the Motorola phone with a personally preset wallpaper.

  • DJ SPY

    Some of these "innovative" things are nothing new to Motorola. For example the bionic and RAZR had an option where the phone could sense if it was inside your pocket so the screen would turn off on its own. People have forgotten about these things because they all said "gimme stock android!! I don't care if it's very limited in what it can do and doesn't do anything revolutionary!" So Motorola/Google have been taking those things out with every update.

  • Thriller87

    I will be interested to see what makes the X phone so special and see if google is really investing in Motorola.

  • Jose Torres

    So it looks like the colors we can pick are the colors around the Moto logo.

  • Phill_S

    I hope these images are just the midrange device. They look so janky and cheap.

    What is worse is how great the last gen of RAZR devices looked, esp the midrange i/M.

    The green cover in the comments looks the worst thanks to being the best quality image, ugh.

    • Guest

      I agree, front looks ok, but the back looks cheap and it seems it's not rugged, they could have done better. (Moto Razr i is damn sexy)

  • Guest

    I really really hope that the phone is water and dust proof, but it doesn't look like it, I wanted this phone so much but I don't know if I can leave waterproof phones.

  • http://thedangerbrain.com/ Alfonso Surroca

    So, you can swap the back/faceplate, just like on my Nokia 8210... about 15 years ago. And the T-Mobile Sidekick had dozens and dozens of swappable backs/faceplates at T-Mo locations like a decade ago.

    Heck, you could get dozens of complete art pieces laser engraved onto the second-generation Zune, and it came with a wallpaper to match, *and* a poster of the art you had engraved.

  • Markoff

    it looks extremely cheap, hope it feels better than it looks

  • XawFear

    Reminds me of the good old Nokia 3310 times... where everyone changed the covers twice a week (worked on almost all phones that days)

  • Shalom Bhopale

    Moto X ....what a let down.

  • Justin Foster

    Lol, Motorola, u didn't need a July 3rd ad for this nonsense.

  • FrillArtist

    Again, Android blogs hyping up their wet dreams and disappointing themselves when they get rumors or information. When will you lot learn?