Motorola designs a Google "X" smartphone

Google-owned Motorola is reportedly working on a “sophisticated” handset that is slated to hit physical and virtual shelves in 2013.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Mountain View hopes the device will better enable its mobile Android operating system to compete against Apple’s flagship iPhone lineup.

Internally codenamed “X phone,” the handset is supposed to stand apart from the competition, with Dennis Woodside, Motorola’s chief executive, telling the publication the company was “investing in a team and a technology that will do something quite different than the current approaches.”

He said while Motorola has “fallen under hard times,” it “now has the support of a shareholder in Google that has resources to do big things.”

The X phone project is apparently being coordinated by former Google product manager Lior Ron who specialized in mapping. Unsurprisingly, the project has run into some difficulty implementing certain features such as optimized color saturation and the ability to take panoramic shots.

Indeed, a number of the features drained battery life or had already made their way into handsets currently on the market, such as Apples iPhone 5.

Other issues reportedly included attempts to use bendable screens and materials such as ceramics designed to make the handset more stress-resistant.

Nevertheless, Motorola is planning to enhance the X phone with its recent acquisition of Viewdle, an imaging and gesture-recognition software developer, while keeping to its original plan of launching the device in 2013.