Customizable off-contract Moto X goes on sale, but it's still tied to AT&T
If you're in love with the customization options of the Moto X, but not so much in love with AT&T, you may now purchase a customized version of the smartphone without a contract, straight from Motorola.
Although AT&T began selling the Moto X last week, there was no way to customize the phone's colors, accessories and other features without signing up for a two-year contract. Now, customers can buy the phone directly from Motorola's Moto Maker site, at an off-contract price of $579.
Keep in mind that the off-contract version is still tied to AT&T. Although the phone should work on T-Mobile's network, you'd still have to ask AT&T to unlock the phone first, and AT&T only unlocks Android phones if you have an active account in good standing. You can't just buy the phone and immediately take it to another carrier. (An unlocked "Developer Edition" Moto X is forthcoming.)
Still, given that AT&T has a timed exclusive on Moto Maker customizations, this is your only option for the foreseeable future. Moto Maker allows you to customize the phone's colors, choose matching accessories, and pre-load the software with your Google account, a greeting, and wallpaper.
It's somewhat surprising that the off-contract Moto X costs so much, when the build cost is reportedly just $221, according to an estimate by IHS. That estimate includes $209 for components and $12 for manufacturing, with the U.S.-based assembly costing about $4 to $5 more per phone than devices assembled in Asia.
In May, Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside talked about the opportunities for Motorola to build “low-cost, high-quality” smartphones. “We can attack, and we can do things and challenge the business model that exists now in ways that our competitors can’t,” he said at the All Things D conference. And yet, at $200 on-contract and $579 off-contract, the price doesn't look much different from other high-end phones.
For more on the Moto X, check out TechHive's mostly-positive review.