News by Andrew Kameka on Friday August 16, 2013.
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Motorola is trying something rather unique to promote the soon-to-launch Moto X - letting people build their own phone. A major tagline for the new Android smartphone is that the Moto X is "Designed by you. Assembled in the USA," and the Moto Maker website is how users will be able make each phone have their individual touch. I have been granted early access to Moto Maker and decided to record a guided walkthrough of the process of creating a phone. Here are my thoughts.
For starters, Moto Maker seems less powerful than I anticipated. Motorola says that the phone is "Designed by You" and offers more than a dozen colors that can be selected as the main color of the phone. That doesn't seem like an abundance of choices. A Motorola executive at a recent demo compared Moto Maker to NikeID, Nike's website that designs custom sneakers, but NikeID builds obsessively detailed footwear with thousands of possible combinations. The Moto Maker has fewer options when selecting the basic color for the back, black or white for the front, and colors for the accents. It doesn't seem like the palette is diverse enough for Motorola's claim that it supports 2,000 combinations. Motorola says that it plans to expand choices to have more textures, colors, and build materials possible with Moto X, but the initial website will focus on these core options.
Moto Maker isn't limited to the external process; customers can also customize some internal aspects of the device. One thing I enjoyed is being able to put a custom message on the start screen so that I always see "Greetings, Lord Kam" when the phone powers on. The site also lets users select a wallpaper, link a Google account to have information prepared when the phone arrives, and users can spend an extra $50 to upgrade the Moto X's paltry 16GB of storage to 32GB. The included wallpapers didn't grab my attention, so I'm looking forward to getting the Moto X in my hands and really personalizing it in a way that cannot be done online.
That leads to my final issue - waiting. I won't be doing much waiting because the Moto Maker process is ridiculously fast. My personalized Moto X was designed in less than five minutes, and that's including a few minutes of vacillating between different colors because of my indecisive nature. The phone should be assembled and delivered within four days, so things should move along quickly. Unfortunately, Moto Maker is temporarily an exclusive to AT&T handsets. Verizon has stated that it will also be included on the website later this year, and Google says it hopes to have all of the major carriers involved, but AT&T is the only way to customize a Moto X at the moment. As you can see from the video below, Moto Maker is a very simple and quick way to make the Moto X geared more for your personal needs. Personally, I need it to be on more carriers.
UPDATE: At the time this video was recorded, Motorola supported engraving custom messages onto the back of the device. The company has since scratched those plans because of quality-control issues leading to unreliable results. Motorola will resume offering engraving at a later date.
Andrew is MobileBurn.com's managing editor. He is based in Miami, Florida.