Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it has been discontinued. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.
Over the past two years, Motorola has transformed from the joke of the phone industry to one of its leading manufacturers. 2014’s Moto X didn’t have the most impressive specs, but its balance of functionality, affordability and polish has only grown on us since its release. Motorola has pitted this year’s Moto X Pure Edition – or, as it’s known outside the U.S., the Moto X Style – against the competition’s top smartphones, and while it’s a decent contender, there are a couple significant hang-ups.
The Moto X Pure is a truly big-screen phone, sporting a 5.7-inch 1440p LCD display that’s rich and bright. At over 6 inches tall, it’s directly comparable in size to phones like the iPhone 6 Plus and the Samsung Galaxy Note 5. That’s huge, especially if you have small hands, but this is the direction all phones are going. We find it less of a nuisance with every new phablet we test – it’s the way manufacturers are driving the industry, so we’d best get on board. Thankfully, there’s good reason to: A phone that can double as a tablet, a book page or a movie screen is a phone that’s hard to put down. Love it or hate it, 5.7 inches is the new normal.
Beneath that screen, Motorola has packed the same Snapdragon 808 hexa-core processor you can find in the LG G4. Given that the Galaxy Note 5 has an octa-core processor, you’d expect Motorola’s six-core device to only offer about 75 percent of the processing power of Samsung’s best smartphone. We found in our benchmark tests, however, that it managed a very respectable 82 percent. You’ll still notice the occasional hiccup in gaming frame rates or UI smoothness, but you shouldn’t be held back from accomplishing anything on the phone. From a value standpoint, the Pure Edition shines.
And then there’s the battery.
Despite featuring the exact same 3000 mAh battery as its Samsung-made competition, the new Moto X only stays powered for half as long. In the battery benchmark tests we run for our smartphone reviews, Motorola’s phone failed after just four and a half hours of heavy gaming and processor use. Conversely, the Galaxy Note 5 made it through almost nine and a half hours. It’s a huge discrepancy that’s very noticeable in day-to-day use.
After charging the phone’s battery overnight, you can squeeze through a single day without plugging it back in, but good luck getting much further. We definitely recommend keeping a charger in your car or at your office desk. Usually we suggest carrying a spare battery and swapping it out, but the Moto X’s battery isn’t removable – another solid knock against the phone.
The inevitable question arises, then: Is it worth dealing with poor battery life and second-tier performance for a more affordable take on stock Android Lollipop? The answer depends on how much you love Google’s platform. Befitting the Pure Edition moniker, Motorola hasn’t tweaked the Android operating system, settling instead for a single Motorola app that packs a bunch of extra functionality. You can disable it if you don’t like it, but we actually enjoy Motorola’s enhancements, like silent black-screen notifications and gesture-based launching of the phone’s much-improved, but still lagging, camera.
Much though we hoped the Moto X Pure would blow us away, it’s merely decent – a solid return to form for its creators. There aren’t any gee-whiz features like fingerprint scanners here. Instead, Motorola has opted for an affordable take on the modern phablet: tall, bright, intuitive and just a tad clunky. The device’s weak battery life is a real turnoff, but if you can see beyond it, you’ll discover a smartphone that’s worth checking out.