The new Moto X has a metal frame and a 5.2-inch screen

Motorola will start shipping the smartphone later this month from $500 without a contract

Motorola Mobility has upgraded its flagship Moto X smartphone with a metal frame, a more powerful processor and a bigger screen -- so users who liked the size of the original are out of luck.

Motorola has been turning its fortunes around thanks to various models of the Moto G and E, which have been selling well, though the Moto X hasn't done so well.

It hopes to change that with a new version that was shown off at a hotel in Berlin away from the IFA trade show, rather than on the show floor itself.

One of the issues with the first Moto X is that it didn't have the hardware to compete with other smartphones in its price range. Motorola hopes to change that with the new Moto X, which is powered by a 2.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, instead of a slower dual-core processor.

The company has also upgraded the camera -- one of the original's weak spots -- from 8 megapixels to 13 megapixels.

But the big difference in the hardware is the switch from a 4.7-inch screen with 720p resolution to a 5.2-inch screen with 1080p resolution. The smartphone market has been moving toward screens 5 inches or just above, and it seems Motorola felt it couldn't be left behind.

To help keep the phone running longer with the larger screen and higher resolution, the battery capacity has been increased from 2,200 mAh to 2,300 mAh.

But the larger screen, obviously, means a bigger device. The new model is 5 grams heavier than its predecessor, at 144 grams, and is slightly longer and wider, at 140.8 milimeters by 72.4 millimeters -- though it's also a bit thinner, at 9.9 millimeters thick.

The good thing is that it still feels pretty light and easy to hold thanks to the curved back, but it's still a big phone.

Motorola hopes the new phone will help capitalize on its recent success. The company sold 8.6 million smartphones in the second quarter, up from 6.5 million in the first three months of the year, and more than double what it sold in the same quarter a year earlier, according to ABI Research.

One of the big trends at this year's IFA has been using metal casings to make phones look and feel a bit more luxurious. Motorola has jumped on this trend and equipped the new Moto X with an aluminum frame instead of one made from plastic. For the back, users can choose from materials such as leather and different types of wood.

Moto Maker will still be offered for users in the U.S. and Germany who want to customize their device. The program will soon be expanded to include the U.K. and France as well.

One of the main selling points of the original Moto X was Motorola's voice control features. That's still the case, and Motorola has added the ability to customize voice prompts with terms other than "OK, Google Now" as well as the ability to use gestures to control the phone.

The new Moto X will start shipping in North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia starting later this month. It will cost from US$99.99 with a new two-year contract or unlocked from $499.99.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

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