Motorola's return to the smartphone market after a year ensconced in Googliness raised many questions about how the handset pioneer would introduce a competitive smartphone without appearing to have most-favored manufacturer status from Google. The company responded in two ways. First, instead of trying to smother the look and feel of Android, it embraced it nearly to the extent of a Nexus phone. Second, it added a few thoughtful differentiators. These include a pulsing time display that adds notifications even when the screen is off and camera activation via a twist of the wrist. More notably, it enhanced access to Google Now by enabling hands-free activation with the prefix, "OK, Google Now..."
LG, another Android handset company that had fallen from feature phone grace, came next with its G2. Like the Moto X, the G2 implements some clever sensor-driven and gestural features, including a "knock" (double-tap) to activate the screen and an automatic call-answering feature activated by putting the phone up to your face. But unlike Motorola, LG muscled up its device with a nearly bezel-free 5-inch display, a battery that more efficiently fills the case, a 13-megapixel camera with optical image stabilization and the flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, which sees its US debut in the G2. (LG also highlighted much of its rear-mounted power and volume control placement, which is different, but not necessarily better (at least for the right-handed).