The Moly X1 is one of the few Windows Phones that do not originate from Microsoft. Like the newer brands of Windows phones, it originates from Microsoft’s newer, smaller, third-party OEMs – Coship to be specific. The firm has produced a few Windows phones, with two of them on sale right now and a third tentatively scheduled for release later this year.
Moly sent me a Windows phone X1 a month ago, and I did intend to review it after two weeks, in fact I started to prepare a review afer two weeks. Semi-fortunately, due to unforseen events I was unable to complete the review when I had intended, giving me an extra two weeks to use with the phone and develop my opinion. As it’s a relatively hum drum Windows phone, I won’t bore you with discussion of specs, speeds and feeds, you can get that all here (along with the phone should you be interested).
The phone itself is a 5.5 inch affair, that’s thin, light and covered with glass. What that means is that while it has a glass front, the back of the phone is also glass – durable, fingerprint magnet glass.
In actual use? Its great. It has 2GB of RAM paired with a Snapdragon 410 which means there’s less loading and more actually doing stuff. I can switch from WhatsApp to Telegram to Messenger without skipping a beat. Windows mobile may run smoothly on low-end hardware, but just because it can doesn’t mean users should always have to put up with bargain basement internals (coughs at the general direction of the Lumia 650 ).
Hardware is only half of the package when discussing phones, there’s also the software that the phone runs on which becomes more and more important to consumers. For Windows phone users, you’re looking at a bone stock version of Microsoft’s Windows 10 Mobile OS. There are no proprietary software additions or pre-installed apps that extend functionality, in essence, it’s a more pared down version of Windows than what ships on Microsoft’s own handsets. While this is good for fans of stock software, you can’t help but wonder whether the lack of any extra work is a good thing or not.Nokia, HTC and LG used to ship additional software on their Windows phones all the time, and while not all of them were the best you couldn’t help but admire an OEM who went the extra mile to make sure their hardware had great software to go with it. Annoyingly enough, it doesn’t support the Windows Insider program, so I can’t use any of Microsoft’s new emojis, or tell Cortana to sync things to my phone, or any of the goodies coming with the Anniversary Update yet. Sure the Moly would probably get it when it’s rolled out, but a phone aimed towards Windows phone fans without Windows Insider access just doesn’t make sense to me.
Unfortunately – in my opinion – Coship doesn’t take advantage of the 5.5 inch screen of the Moly X1, deciding to display the same content on the screen as the smaller Lumia 640 or 650. While Windows 10 does allow you to change your dpi there is a hard limit that can be set by OEMs, and affects how high or low the DPI can be set , as well as how certain legacy 8.1 apps like WhatsApp and the old Skype app appear on the screen. Coship set the threshold too low, and I’m not a fan of how that affects usability.
However, there are some flaws with the hardware of this nice looking package. Remember the aforementioned glass back? It picks up finger prints, grease and stains like nobody’s business. You’ll need a tissue or other cloth on hand to keep this stain free, you’ll also need to be careful about dropping it. While it is Gorilla Glass, it is still glass, and may possibly break under the right stresses. I should note that I dropped it from chest height to the floor(albeit carpeted) just to see how susceptible it was to breaking, and it took the drops like a champ. Now I won’t recommend dropping your phone on purpose, but that should give you an idea of how much it can take from accidental falls.
My major annoyance was not with the glass, but rather with the flaps on the top. For the phone to be fully waterproof, flaps were installed on the top of the device, obscuring the power and headphone jack buttons. The problem there is that I rather like having access to those buttons unencumbered, and Samsung and Sony have also shown that there can be waterproofed phones without the need to have the ports covered, making this a poor design decision.
Finally, the battery life wasn’t as good as expected for a phablet class device. It’d be one thing if I could use the phone like my Lumia 650 and expect an all day or thereabouts battery life, it’s another thing entirely that the phone heats up around the camera lens when in use. It’s not a good quality in a mobile device, and one I hope Coship avoids in their next batch of handsets.
The bottom line? Moly’s first Windows phone is a pretty interesting one to me. It has a lot of great ideas but just fails at the execution. Not to mention the current pricing. While I did get a unit directly from Moly, the Moly X1 costs £229 (currently on discount) on Amazon. For comparison, I can pick up an NFC equipped, Carl Zeiss powered, Lumia 640 XL from the same site for £150, or for £169 a Motorola Moto G4 with a 1080p screen and more.. Sure it may not have a fancy design, but it’s cheaper, has a larger battery and is more solid. I’m not too disheartened about Moly considering this is their very first Windows phone, they have released one other budget phone and plan to release a high-end metal phone later this year.
Remember what I said about an OEM who went the extra mile to make their devices feel great? That’s the feeling I’m not getting from the Moly right now. Every Windows phone worth talking about has a gimmick, the Coship Moly X1 does not. After using this for a month, I still have no idea who it’s for. It has a large screen, but average screen quality. It has an ok battery, but it drains and heats up, and is glassy back gets too dirty for my liking. It runs WIndows 10 Mobile, but doesn’t have access to the Windows Insider program (a deal breaker for fans). If Moly hopes to reach a success in the Windows phone niche, it’ll have to really think hard about who it wants to make its phones for, and build towards that.