Of the three smartphones Motorola has recently launched, the Moto X Style (or Moto X Pure Edition for those in the United States) is the device with the best hardware. It’s the true flagship successor to last year’s Moto X, and with a price tag starting at $399 unlocked and off-contract, Motorola is positioning this device very strongly in a market crowded with high-end handsets.
The Moto X Style isn’t a small device, packing a 5.7-inch 1440p display on the front. Motorola has taken a leaf out of LG’s book in opting for Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 808 SoC over the hotter and more power consuming Snapdragon 810, alongside 3 GB of RAM and a 3,000 mAh battery. The same Moto features from the previous-gen model also return, including Moto Display and always-on voice commands.
The handset is very similar in size to Samsung’s Galaxy Note 5 (...) however, the Style doesn’t feel like a thick phone in your hands due to the curved body; it’s a more ergonomic and easier to hold design than the Note 5.
Motorola has also been putting a lot of effort into their camera offering, which has been a low point of their previous smartphones. The Moto X Style features a big 21-megapixel sensor coupled with an f/2.0 lens, 4K video recording and new camera software, which promises to be a much better shooter than in the 2014 Moto X.
With the aforementioned 5.7-inch display on the front of the Moto X Style, the handset is significantly larger than last year’s 5.2-inch Moto X. Increasing the size of the Moto X is an odd choice, especially considering most consumers currently prefer a handset in the 4.7- to 5.2-inch size range, but Motorola seems to be hoping their less powerful Moto X Play is just as good an option for those wanting a smaller device.
Personally I don’t mind the larger size of the Moto X Style, and the screen real estate it provides. The handset is very similar in size to Samsung’s Galaxy Note 5, although the curved body of the Style results in a phone that’s thicker than Samsung’s offering, at just over 11mm at its thickest point. However, the Style doesn’t feel like a particularly thick phone in your hands due to the curved body, and because it’s a more ergonomic and easier to hold design than the Note 5.
The Style is a decent handset from a visual perspective, with a plain, smooth Gorilla Glass 3 panel on the front protecting the display and providing a good amount of ‘swooshability’. The edges are constructed from metal, which gives the device a premium touch and added durability, while the back panel is available in a variety of materials.
The Moto X Style unit we tested came with a black rubberized plastic back panel with a horizontal corrugated pattern, which helps make the phone so easy to grip. It doesn’t really give the handset the same slick premium look as the HTC One M9, Galaxy Note 5 or iPhone 6s Plus, but I still quite like the Style’s overall look and feel with this type of back panel applied.
Several other style and material options are available through the Moto Maker, which gives you the ability to customize the Style before you order the device. The real wood and genuine Saffiano leather options for the back panel make the Style look more unique, and you can choose from many color highlights for the camera surround and front facing speakers, allowing you to produce a truly personalized device.
It should be noted, though, that once you choose a particular option through Moto Maker, you cannot swap out any aspect of the design for a different option (without enormous difficulty). The back panel is not removable, for example, so if you choose the leather option you’ll won’t be able to swap it out for a wood back down the track.
Around the edges of the Moto X Style you’ll find a micro-USB 2.0 port on the bottom, between two polycarbonate strips allowing the wireless radios to ‘breathe’ through the metal rim. On the top is a 3.5mm audio jack and a removable tray containing both a nano-SIM slot and microSD card slot. On the right side are both the power button and volume rocker, the latter of which is slightly too close to the power button for my liking, leading to some accidental presses on occasion.
On the front Motorola has provided the Style with dual front facing speakers, which provide great stereo audio when watching videos, playing games and listening to music. The quality of the speakers aren’t quite as good as I’ve heard from the HTC One line, but I’m glad Motorola has realized the benefit of placing the speakers on the front rather than the sides or back.
The front is mostly dominated by the 5.7-inch IPS TFT LCD with its 2560 x 1440 (1440p) resolution, providing a pixel density of 515 pixels per inch. The screen occupies an impressive 76% of the device’s front profile, which is almost identical to the similar-sized 5.7-inch Galaxy Note 5, thanks to slim bezels to the left and right of the display.
The quality of this display is very good, exhibiting balanced color output that’s neither too oversaturated nor too washed out. This LCD isn’t quite as good as Samsung’s AMOLED that they’ve used in the Galaxy Note 5, but in many ways the Moto X Style’s display holds its own, such as in color temperature and viewing angles.
The choice to go with a 1440p display over 1080p is still contentious even a year after the first 1140p phones were released, as the added pixel density doesn’t make a significant difference while affecting power consumption and performance. The Style’s LCD is undoubtedly crisp, delivering an awesome viewing experience, and at 5.7-inches there are some slight differences in quality between this display and a similar sized 1080p panel that make the extra resolution somewhat worth it.
In terms of brightness, the Moto X Style is relatively easy to view outdoors thanks to a high maximum brightness level, and automatic brightness does a good job of managing luminance indoors. Early 1440p displays suffered in the brightness department compared to their 1080p counterparts, but these issues have been resolved in second generation panels.
And of course, with 5.7-inches of screen real estate, the Moto X Style is an excellent media consumption device, especially thanks to the front facing stereo speakers that make gaming and watching videos great. The device itself isn’t too difficult to hold and operate with its large display, and Motorola has (like Samsung with the Note 5) struck a great balance between phone size and display real estate.
There are going to be some people with small hands who have difficulty using the Moto X Style due to its large size, so for those people it’s probably better opting for something smaller. However I don’t have the hugest hands going around, and I had no problems adapting to the size of the Style after a weeks’ use or thereabouts.