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Sometimes a phone comes along and just surprises you. It's one of those devices that you've stared at, gone over the specs, but just haven't been able to really commit to. But then you just take a chance, you go for it, and the results are way better than you thought they could be. When that happens, it's great, simply because going through the hassle of a return or exchange just sometimes isn't worth it.

I've been surprised by a phone more than a couple of times, most of the time by Samsung's Galaxy Note series (starting with the second one). My biggest surprises, though, were Palm's original Pre and the DROID Incredible by HTC. Both of those devices were pretty low on my radar when they were first announced, but both of those handsets managed to not destroy my expectations, but also find a safe place in my heart for as long as I'm alive and kicking.

Now, another device has managed to do the same thing. Though, I probably shouldn't be too surprised. It apparently did it to a lot of people.

Motorola's Moto X is a sneaky phone. If you're anyone who likes to look at a spec sheet and make an off-hand assessment of a device, then your expectations for the Moto X could have been pretty mid-level. Tempered, even. After all, it isn't a secret that Motorola wasn't going after devices like the HTC One or Samsung Galaxy S 4 with their flagship device this year. The Moto X is about the hardware and software, the combination of the two, some small software tweaks and feature inclusion, as well as customization.

The best part of the Moto X is that when you look at the categories it wanted to fill, wanted to dominate, it does so without much effort. As far as I'm concerned, the Moto X is probably the best implementation of proprietary software on *any* phone, especially when it comes to Android. Yes, custom software from HTC and Samsung, among others, helps those devices stand out, but Motorola's light touch under the hood is just so well done that the company gets a lot of kudos for the effort.

The on-screen, Active Notifications are amazing. Let me just say that right now. They really are. This is a feature that I wish every company could utilize on their own devices, from iOS to Windows Phone to every Android device. It's pretty much perfect.

And once you figure out how specific you must be when you talk to the Moto X, you can't help but want the same same, hands-free technology in every other phone, too. The Moto X has accomplished what Motorola was, hopefully in part, trying to do: make a device that makes all the other handsets out there look like they're missing something.

And they are. A few things.

Except for one, major, ridiculously obvious thing: the camera. As I've stated in the past, the camera has become my most important feature when it comes to a phone, and that's not going to be something that changes anytime soon. More than that, though, it has become something that I just refuse to "bend" with. I won't make an exception for a phone, no matter how great it is, if the camera just isn't good enough.

That's where I'm at with the Moto X, unfortunately. The camera just doesn't do it for me. Sure, it can take some decent shots when the lighting is absolutely perfect, but those conditions are pretty limited these days (thanks a lot, cold weather). Using the Moto X to take photos of my daughters has left me frustrated more often than not, especially since I've used devices like HTC's One, LG's G2, Samsung's Galaxy Note 3, and most recently Apple's iPhone 5s. Motorola's hero device just falls so short in the camera department to these other devices.

But, hey, again, the Moto X was never meant to compete with those devices, right? Unfortunately, the pricing of the Moto X puts it right in the same league as those devices, and thanks to the camera in the device, I know for a fact that I'm going to go with one of those handsets from here on out instead.

The Moto X could have absolutely been my favorite Android device this year, especially with the amount of customization that you can bring to your handset. (I cannot tell you how badly I want a phone with a bamboo back cover, blue highlights and a white front. It looks so nice!) But, all of that only counts for so much when one of the most important features just doesn't cut it.

How do you feel about the Moto X's camera? Did you pick one up, especially with the recent deals? Or have you skipped the device in favor of something else? Let me know!


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