The Moto X is still rolling out to all corners of the (American) Android world, but the T-Mobile variant is getting an update that improves camera performance dramatically. The difference is noticeable in a variety of situations, most notably in backlit and low-light settings. Presumably the update will hit other Moto X variants once testing and certification is completed by the carriers.

sm1-NotUpdated sm1-Updated

Low light – left: not updated, right: updated

The Moto X uses a fairly large sensor with 1.4µm pixels with an RGBC color array and F/2.4 aperture. It should take great snapshots, but the initial software seems to produce images with odd white levels and washed out colors with too much noise reduction. The update improves all that – the exposure is more accurate, white balance is less touchy, and the noise reduction doesn't blot out details.

sm4-NotUpdated sm4-Updated

Outdoors – left: not updated, right: updated

It's telling the T-Mobile version of the Moto X is the first to get the update. The carrier isn't selling the device in stores, preferring to leave that up to Motorola. So it's a $600 unsubsidized purchase if you want in. The magenta carrier seems uninvolved in the software update process, but other carriers are likely taking a look at the update before it rolls out.

Update: Motorola just posted the changelog for the update to build 139.12.57, and it includes a number of improvements beyond the camera. The changelog only lists T-Mobile users for now, and says the update can be downloaded through the device update menu (I'll believe it when I see it). Here's the full feature list:

  • Camera – Improved Photo Quality: Improved capture of natural light (auto-white balance) and color accuracy for more precise exposure in outdoor and backlit scenes
  • Camera – Improved Focus: Faster touch to focus time and reduced unnecessary refocusing in low light conditions and scenes with continuous motion
  • Camera – Faster Switching: Shortened the time it takes to switch between rear and front-facing cameras, as well as transition between the viewfinder and the Gallery app
  • Enhanced Touchless Control: Increased accuracy and responsiveness when using Touchless Control, and added easier training of the “OK Google Now” trigger
  • Improved Motorola Migrate Experience: Improved transfer of content from an old Android phone to a new Motorola phone
  • Google Drive – 50GB Promotion: Added a promotion expiration date - customers have 30 days from phone activation or installation of this update to redeem the 50GB offer
  • Calling – Improved Voice Quality: Fixed an issue that could sometimes result in choppy audio being heard by the person you’re talking with on your Moto X
  • Moto Care – Lost Device Finder: Fixed an issue that could sometimes prevent a lost phone from reporting its location to the Moto Care Lost Device Finder service
  • Motorola Assist – Driving Detection: Fixed an issue that could sometimes cause the phone to read out text messages and announce calls when not in Drive mode

[AnandTech, Motorola]