Google and Motorola rumored to be working on X Phone to once again take on the iPhone

Google buys Motorola. Denies any plans to do anything with it. No one believes them. Flash forward. Rumors spread Google is doing something with them. Deep breath. It's rumored to be an "X Phone" designed, once again, to take on the iPhone.

That might sound silly until you realize it's been Samsung, not Google, who's had all the success in the market against Apple. Now that Google owns Motorola, it only makes sense they'd want that division to be profitable as well, and to be an insurance policy against the power of manufacturers like Samsung, the same way Android was an insurance policy against the power of BlackBerry and Microsoft at first, and then very quickly Apple.

Not much is know about the code-named X Phone yet (which really should have been a name used by Microsoft for a gaming phone, but I digress), though Android Central scored some details in their forums:

Apparently this phone is called the "X Phone" or something along those lines and has buttons on the back of the phone. He said that a camera button is in the middle of the phone with volume up and down buttons on both sides of it all on the back face of the phone. He said it is supposed to be more ergonomic while holding the phone.

Best of luck to Google and Moto on this. Sincerely. The faster they push the pace of innovation, the faster Apple and everyone else has to work to stay ahead or keep up.

For the full story on the X Phone, at least as much as we know right now, hit the link below, and then jump back here and tell me what you think. Are Google and Motorola capable of fielding a device that can take significant market share away from Samsung, and profit share away from Apple?

Source: Android Central

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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There are 42 comments. Add yours.

pappy53 says:

I have an iPhone, but I feel that Apple is playing catch-up now.

Kwabii says:

Everyone else who can make a ringtone on their phone without going through iTunes

Caballera says:

yes, cause multiple ways to do the same thing is really innovative and pushing things forward...

gordol says:

I can make ringtones for an iPhone without using iTunes. Look up iRinger.

CORYK333 says:

See, it's the important features, like non-iTunes ringtones. Ummm, wait...really? Go play in traffic

Wildo6882 says:

I have an iPhone and an iPad mini. And while I love them, I agree with you 100%. What really does an iPhone do that an Android phone doesn't? Aside from using iTunes and Apple apps, absolutely nothing. Now on the flip side of that coin, the list is seemingly endless.

SIRNEFF says:

It's not what it does its how it does it.

Wildo6882 says:

I'm just saying, the advancements in technology are definitely on Android's side right now. And the options are there, too. Plus with Jelly Bean, it's right up there on fluidity. I like both platforms, but I'm of the opinion that Apple needs to give us something new and different. As another poster stated, the lack of forward thinking isn't what got us here. Forward thinking got us the iPhone. Stagnant thinking does no one any good. It's technology, it's there because of advancements, and as Blackberry showed us, will die without it. I don't think Apple is going the way of RIM, but I do believe they need something different and innovative to offer.

Nuttz565 says:

Here a couple things that come to mind( and a couple reasons why every time I ditch my iphone to go to the latest and greatest Android device I always come back)

1. Video messaging. Why for the lovee of god does Android not get video messaging. For Instance if I record a 40 second clip in 1080p on my iphone I can send it via text and the iphone will auto convert it so that it can be sent over MMS. Try and do this on Android and it willsimply tell you the file is to large and will not let you send it. Yes I know there is Dropbox and other ways I could do this but this needs to be baked into the system so mom and grandmas can do it.
2. Group Messaging. Android always screws this up. I have used Handcent/GO SMS and all the others but none can do group texting as well as iOS.
3. For me the keyboard on my iphone is still the best at autocorrect. I literally have tried a dozen different keyboards on Android and I have huge sausage fingers but I can still bang out emails better on ios then any android keyboard.
4. Little things like the Apple TV make my iphone better. I can buy a 99$ Apple TV and have all my photostreams, music and send stuff over air play to my tv. Yes Google tried Something similar with a couple vendors but it failed miserably(I tried it with Dish)
I love the power and customization with Android but until they address some of the things I mentioned I will stick with my tiny iphone.

SockRolid says:

Nice "concern troll." A near-classic one at that.

kevin wu says:

buttons on the back of the phone
button is in the middle of the phone

if they are trying to reinvent the camera then the phone is going to fail horribly. users now a days only care about:

screen size
phone size
battery life
apps
camera

personally i only use my camera once a day if necessary, most of the time im using the apps

independentvolume says:

It's that thinking that keeps tech stale. If everyone thought like that the iphone wouldn't exist.

Dev from tipb says:

I don't recall Google (or anybody) ever saying they'd do nothing with Motorola. I do recall them saying they would not give preferential treatment to Motorola in terms of Andoid code.

And that is what matters. Google is going to have a tightrope to walk - at what point does taking Android in new, interesting directions become favoring Motorola over Samsung, HTC, or other Android partners? If they can maintain their balance, this would be a welcome kick in the pants for Android and Apple both.

Linebarrel86 says:

^ This.

Google only took measuremnets to ensure fair treatment among its OEMs.

johncblandii says:

I don't remember them saying that either. Care to clarify Rene?

Kwabii says:

I love apple. I just don't understand why some simple things aren't implemented in the OS yet

Dev from tipb says:

One of the problems with Android at the high end is that you face a choice between great hardware with questionable software upgrade schedules (GS3) or great software support with not-so-great hardware (Nexus 4). An "X Phone" that hits both sides would be fantastic, both for Android and for spurring Apple further.

Premium1 says:

How exactly is the hardware not so great in the nexus? Quad core, 2gb ram, pretty good camera for a nexus device(compared to previous nexus devices)

Dev from tipb says:

It's not *bad* (though the LTE support is a deal-breaker for some), but the point is there is no single SKU that has the best hardware and software/upgrade path on that side of the fence.

SockRolid says:

Google / Motorola will launch X phone. And it will be another Nexus. Negligible sales, also-ran market share. It'll fall into the "other" slice of the Android pie.

Why? Because Samsung can and will fork Android. To optimize it for their own hardware. To fork their own app store and content store. To leverage their market share and continue to crush all other Android hardware makers.

But the main reason why Samsung will fork Android is so they can control their own destiny. They can't trust Google, now that Google will be competing against them. And they could, in theory, provide a better user experience with their Android fork by cutting back on the ads. And improve users' privacy while they're at it.

So yes, Google needs to release a Motorola X phone. To help the non-Samsung Android fork survive.

chitoac#IM says:

I sold my ipad 1 and got Samsung tab 2. It got some good stuff but still doesn't fell smooth and apps fail. Sold it in a week and bought and iPad 4, soo happy now. I learn my lesson :)

lungho says:

Ditto!

I got a Samsung tab as a gift and I honestly tried to like it. Hell, it was free. My main problem with the thing isn't the hardware, it's the software. The workflow in Android OS is nowhere nearly as smooth as iOS. The responsiveness of the touch interface lags. I even had to download 2 additional browsers just to visit all the sites I normally go to. That just BS. I want a product that just works. Can't wait to replace this thing with an iPad.

Rene Ritchie says:

I've been using a Nexus 4 for the last few days. I posted this on the Android Central forum, but I'll copy it here. Apple is still ahead on certain crucial areas (user experience) but far behind in others (Google Now, inter-app communications).

  1. Google Now crushes Siri
  2. I miss not having my non-Gmail accounts in a unified inbox with my Gmail accounts (I have 2 of each)
  3. Intents are fantastic. The flexibility of apps in general is fantastic.
  4. Google Play is much better than the Android Market I remember (and the App Store sucks worse than it used to in terms of search and curation -- too many scam and junk apps)
  5. Android scroll views are still terrible. Worse than iOS 1. Keyboard lags like iOS 4. I think Butter was a failure and Google needs to re-write UI prioritization from the ground up. (Like Apple needs to re-write multitasking and inter-app communication -- both were bolt-on solutions)
  6. Animation is way better and the overall look is way, way better than pre 4.x versions
  7. Icons are still inconsistent and poorly designed. Hire the Iconfactory already.
  8. I have no use of widgets. Data should come to me no matter where I am. I shouldn't have to go look for it. Actionable notifications are the near-future of UI.
  9. Settings in notification center are awesome, but the two-finger swipe is awkward.
  10. Call quality is fantastic.

You can read the rest of the thread here:

http://forums.androidcentral.com/google-nexus-4/237468-rene-has-nexus-4-a.html

Dev from tipb says:

Interesting read (and refreshing lack of snark on that forum thread).

Derek_B says:

Microsoft really missed the boat by not calling their platform X-Phone instead of Windows Phone. More closely tying it into their successful Xbox platform would only have helped them.

gordol says:

The one major reason I am planning on getting an iPhone to replace my Droid X is media sync. Currently, no one does it as well as Apple. But if anything Android becomes that capable before I make the switch, I'm stying with Android.

Louie Adame says:

I think apple will do a massive redesign UI next year as we all know johny ive is the new head both external anf internal design of apple products. Im guessing widgets within homescreen and icons which for it does make sense.

Dark_Blu says:

I seriously doubt there will be any sort of UI redesign in iOS next year. Next year will be an iPhone 5S that will look basically the same as the current iPhone 5. There will be incremental upgrades. The UI will look exactly the same and behave exactly the same as every other version of iOS, and it will be hailed as the second coming, as fanboys wait in long lines outside stores, to purchase it in massive numbers. Perhaps Siri will finally have a "woman's voice" or better yet, perhaps there will be various voice and accent choices for Siri, but probably not. There will be no revolutionary changes. That's just not how Apple works.

Dark_Blu says:

It has nothing to do with emotion. Just stating the obvious. Why would Apple revamp the OS or the iPhone when incremental upgrades sells the iPhone every single year? You're off base dude. Pay attention to the details and you'll see that I'm right. So far, Apple's annual iPhone approach has not resulted in a reduction of iPhones sold in the USA, where they sell wildly. The rest of the world is another matter entirely, and that is more likely to be based on price rather than Android fanboy perspectives.

gordol says:

I'm not questioning your analysis, just the way it's presented. You are coming off as a jilted fanboi yourself.

As for whether the UI should change, I don't think it does. At least, not the major portions of it. Not when the biggest rival and many launcher skins for Android are aping the iPhone look. The only real change that I would like to see, based on what I see in other devices, are home screen widget functionality. I would like to, without needing to jailbreak, have a one-tap ability to toggle things on/off, like BlueTooth, WiFi, GPS and "airplane mode". My old Crapberry had this, my current Droid has this, but my iPad I have to jailbreak first, and then it's only via the pull-down notification panel.

Oh, and maybe some alternative keyboard layouts. Most alternative keyboards for Android have tap-and-hold functionality on the keys to access numbers and punctuation that in iOS requires opening another "page" of keys first and then switching back if there is no space before the next letter, such as email addresses (in plain text fields) or passwords.

Dark_Blu says:

I simply stated facts as they stand and never implied anything having to do with your "jilted fanboy" notion. I currently own and use an iPhone 4S and have never had any problem with it. There are however people out there who hoped for more than incremental upgrades from Apple and didn't get them. Perhaps they are "jilted fan boys". So, your "questioning of my analysis" is actually attempting to question facts. Only a complete idiot questions facts. The fact is that Apple has used and re-used the same approach with only two real differences, adding LTE and a 4" screen (which everyone else had last year). And while some may not agree with the incremental upgrade approach that Apple uses, it works every time, they make a ton of cash, and even you can't question those facts.

BrianTufo says:

I currently own an Android phone (Galaxy Nexus) and I also have the Nexus 7. The issue with Android lies with the variety of devices made every month. Other than the Nexus devices, what device out, even the flagship devices, has the latest version of Android (4.2/4.2.1)? I'm sick and tired of seeing Google announce new features with Android version X and never seeing them on other devices until that version is either now not the current version or just before the next version is announced. In February I'm coming back to iPhone simply to not have to root and flash ROMs/Kernels to get better performance out of my phone. I'm also sick of garbage battery life and useless features like Miracast which I will probably never have a device to use with that. I own an Apple TV and miss Air Play a lot.

tl;dr Androids problem is Android IMO.

gordol says:

Just remember, that your "useless" feature is someone else's "must have" item. I have no use for AirPlay and I don't even like the concept of Siri. My iPad is jailbroke in order to gain some functionality that is native in Android: Power toggles for WiFi/BlueTooth/etc without having to go into the device settings, and the ability to set a default web browser. Conversely, I had to (try to) root my Droid X in order to get it to actually sync music with my desktop so I could have proper iPod functionality. Which nearly killed the phone.

iOS has AirPlay, which works only with other Apple products, Android has a DLNA server which works with a wide variety of other branded products.

Each platform has its good and bad points. It's easier to customize Android, iOS is more stable. They both have "useless features" and "must-have items", and those could be the very same function, depending on who you ask.

9thWonder says:

Pretty much any smartphone in the market is taking on the iPhone; and ever other phone being sold in that market.

Dark_Blu says:

It will be interesting to see what Motorola comes up with for next year. It's time for Google to jump into the fray and be a bit more "hands on" with Motorola. Motorola finally produced a phone on Sprint with a side slider, but the drawbacks outweigh the benefits. Sealed in battery that should've been the RAZR Maxx battery instead of the small, weak battery they included. I've heard on the Sprint forums that the battery life is terrible and that's pretty unforgivable on a Motorola Phone that doesn't even approach the functionality and battery life of the RAZR M. If Google gets more involved with Moto, they can address issues and turn things around there.

CORYK333 says:

I love the talk of "bendable" screen tech bc it's a wonderful thought. BUT....people need to realize that OTHER PARTS WON'T BEND!!!! It'll be pretty cool to have a bendable/flex screen, except the chips & radios on the inside break when trying to "flex" said screen. Just not happening in the next 3 years at the very least. Lets work on battery-tech & not just tossing bigger batteries in devices, I'm talking about actual advancement in the tech.

Dark_Blu says:

I agree that battery tech needs to catch up. And honestly, the only reason any Android vendor is doing sealed battery phones is because the iPhone has a sealed battery. I've never had my iPhone 4S crash or lockup, but I understand that on the Photon Q, if it freezes, you're in a world of hurt trying to reboot the thing.

wamadden4 says:

Yawn.... another "iPhone Killer".... as we all know, they don't exist... X Phone, LOL please... If droid wasn't crap, there would be no need to come out with 100 phones a week trying to get it right... I got my iphone 5 and I am super happy with it...

drnggaj13 says:

its not about having 100 phones its options ...i worked for vzw and att 70% ppl use there smartphones only is the web and emails still the smart ppl like us i have the samsung nexus and my wife has the sam s3 ...its simple its good and bad that ios is the sam across the platforms ....with low end andriod phone and high end ...when you get great sw and like the samsung nexus and s3