Moto X Pure Edition Review – Flagships Don’t Have To Be Expensive

When you hear about a flagship phone, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Probably a high-end device like the Galaxy Note 5 right? Generally a flagship device is the best a company has to offer, and usually they don’t come cheap. However, they don’t have to be expensive. For 2015, Motorola has proved that with their flagship, the Moto X Pure Edition. Starting at nearly half the cost of most flagships, Motorola may have a hit on it’s hands. Let’s find out.

Specs

  • 5.7” TFT IPS Display – 2560×1440
  • Snapdragon 808 Processor
  • 3GB RAM
  • 16/32/64GB Storage (expandable via microSD)
  • 21MP Rear Camera
  • 5MP Front Facing Camera w/ Selfie Flash
  • 3,000 mAh Battery
  • Front facing speakers

Hardware & Design

So let’s kick things off with the design. It looks pretty familiar right? That’s because it’s essentially the same design Motorola has been using for the past few years, but evolved. The biggest difference? Well, it’s just that, this phone is big. With that 5.7” screen up front this is by no means a small phone, but it doesn’t feel big. The Moto X Pure Edition does a spectacular job at thinning the phone out to where it’s not too big even for some one-handed use. The size is nearly identical to the Galaxy Note 5, but thanks to the curved back it feels a bit smaller since it fits in your hand a little bit better.

The soft grip back on the Pure Edition makes this one of the grippiest phones ever.

The soft grip back on the Pure Edition makes this one of the grippiest phones ever.

That back is also a huge highlight of the phone. There are three material choices for the Moto X Pure Edition. Leather, Wood, and soft grip. The model I picked up has a royal blue soft grip back and not only does it look great, but it also is easily the grippiest phone on the market today. It’s not even a competition. This phone is insanely grippy.



The outer edges of the device also bring the same premium aluminum frame and it feels just as good. It gives the device the premium feel it needs and rounds out the awesome construction of the phone. Overall, the hardware on the Moto X Pure Edition is nothing short of stellar. The design is familiar, but it’s just as good looking and practical as ever.

The metal frame around the Moto X Pure Edition provides a very premium feel.

The metal frame around the Moto X Pure Edition provides a very premium feel.

MicroSD Card Support

Since this is a first for a Moto X, I felt it deserved it’s own section. The Moto X Pure Edition is the first Moto X with support for microSD cards. You can simply insert a card of up to 128GB to expand the storage on your phone. To access that SD card, pop out the SIM tray and flip it over. Not only am I happy Motorola included this option, but I’m also impressed at the clever implementation. Kudos Moto.

Display

Aside from the size, how’s the screen on the new Moto X? It’s great. Upgrading from a 1080p panel to Quad-HD is definitely noticeable and the new display is also much brighter, but to do this Motorola gave up the AMOLED screens of years past. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it does mean that colors aren’t quite as good as they could be and that Moto Display isn’t quite as cool. Don’t get me wrong, the new IPS panel is awesome, but I would have preferred another AMOLED display.

The 5.7" IPS panel on the Moto X Pure Edition is great, but I would have preferred another AMOLED.

Software & Performance

Out of the box the Moto X Pure Edition runs Android 5.1.1 with Motorola’s few customizations. Things are just like they’ve always been this year, Motorola keeps things as pure as they can and what they do add only enhances the experience. This year, there’s a handful of options in the Moto suite. Moto Display, Moto Voice, Moto Assist, and Moto Actions. Sound familar? Yeah, that’s probably because this is the exact same setup from the 2014 Moto X. Don’t me wrong, that’s not a bad thing, but I would have liked to see some big new addition.

The software on the Moto X Pure Edition is near stock, but the camera app is still terrible.

The software on the Moto X Pure Edition is near stock, but the camera app is still terrible.

Now that’s not to say there’s nothing at all new. There are a couple fresh additions. One includes the ability to choose between Moto Display or Stock Android’s Ambient Display and more. My personal favorite however has to be the new “lift for Moto Voice” action. This feature allows you to simply lift your phone from pocket to ear to enable a discrete version of Moto Voice. So instead of having to shout a trigger word and then hear the results out loud, you can listen to it as you would a phone call.

As far as performance is concerned, the Moto X Pure Edition is a beast. It’s not the fastest phone out there, but in day to day life, you’ll love it. The Snapdragon 808 and 3GB of RAM provide plenty of power for games, multitasking, and more. The only reason I say this isn’t the fastest device out there is the software. There are some major performance hiccups now and then, but I feel very confident that Motorola can fix this in future updates.

The Moto Suite is just as good as ever, but there's not much that's new.

The Moto Suite is just as good as ever, but there’s not much that’s new.

Battery Life

Inside the Moto X Pure Edition is a 3,000 mAh battery. With a 5.7” display, it seems odd that a battery this size would be included. So how does it perform? Well, it’s not good. This phone is unlikely to get you through a day of moderate usage. Generally I’d get through my normal 15 hour day, but that’s with really light usage. Maybe an hour of screen of time and no taxing applications. Anything more than that and you’ll be plugging in at some point during the day.

One quick note, Google Play Services decided to run rampant on this device for me. None of my other devices did this at the time, and I’m not sure what caused it. Hopefully the update to Android Marshmallow will sooth some of the battery woes on this phone.

Luckily, this device does come with Turbo Charging out of the box and, whoa, it’s fast. Right now most devices bring fast charging, but the Pure Edition feels like it charges much faster than the majority of them. In comparing the Nexus 6 and the Moto X, the X charged far quicker. Now granted, the Moto X does have a smaller battery, but when we’re talking a difference of over 20 minutes, it’s clear the Moto X does indeed charge much faster. Part of this is thanks to Motorola’s new turbo charger which promises (and delivers) faster charging speeds. It does this by delivering a much higher output. The previous turbo charger deliver a 1.8A charge while the new one delivers a 2.86A charge.

Battery life on the Moto X Pure Edition is good, but it's a bit temperamental.

Battery life on the Moto X Pure Edition is good, but it’s a bit temperamental.

Camera

One of the biggest improvements to the Moto X Pure Edition over basically every other Moto device is the camera. The 21MP sensor is a very solid shooter, but it’s still not perfect. Megapixels aren’t everything, and that’s clear with this camera, but nonetheless this is a very good camera. It doesn’t quite match up with phones like the Galaxy Note 5 and LG G4, but it’s far better than anything Motorola has ever put out. There’s a sample gallery available below.

My biggest gripe about Motorola’s camera is still the camera app. While most OEMs have adopted the same tap-to-focus/shutter button implementation, Motorola insists on their dirt-simple tap to shoot method. Does it work? Yes. Is it easy to use? Not. At. All. The biggest problem with the camera app is getting your subject in focus. This app would be just fine if Motorola’s sensors were better at focusing, but they’re not.

Speakers

On the front of the Moto X Pure Edition are two front facing stereo speakers. Long story short, they are awesome. Sound is crisp and clear and these speakers are loud. Now when I say loud, I don’t just mean loud enough to hear them in your quiet room, I mean loud enough to hear in just about every situation. They are loud enough to the point where I rarely had the phone on full volume.

The speakers on front of the Moto X Pure Edition are some of the best out there.

The speakers on front of the Moto X Pure Edition are some of the best out there.

Universal LTE

One of the lesser known features about the Moto X Pure Edition is the compatibility. In a feature Motorola calls “Universal LTE”, the new Moto X is available for use on every major US network and most MVNOs. What does that mean to you? For one thing, it means you can use this phone on the network of your choice. It also means that if you want to switch networks, you just need a new SIM card.

MotoMaker

Last but not least, let’s talk MotoMaker. Just like in years past, you can completely customize your Moto X however you’d like. Choose from materials, colors, storage, accents, engravings, and even boot-up greetings. This year new options include a champagne frame color, 10 new soft grip backs, and 7 new accents colors. Aside from the Royal Blue/Dark Gray color combination I got, I think my favorite has to be then cognac leather and champagne frame/accents.

Price

This portion of the review is probably the most impressive. The Moto X Pure Edition is cheap, and I mean really cheap. For just $399 (before taxes and fees), you’re getting a 5.7” QHD display, a 21MP camera, front facing speakers, turbo charging, complete customization, and more. At this price, there’s simply no better option. The more you think about it, the more the price impresses you. With it’s maxed out options (64GB storage, leather back, and add a SIM card), you’re only looking at $530. Now look at a comparable phone like the Note 5. At it’s base 32GB model, it’s still over $200 more expensive. That alone speaks for itself, the Moto X Pure Edition is an awesome deal.

Final Thoughts

So in the end, is the Moto X Pure Edition a phone worth picking up? Yes. If you’re in the market for a new phone and you want a great overall experience, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with the Pure Edition. The biggest complaint I have is the battery life, but quick charging does help there.

Starting at $399, the Moto X Pure Edition is not just a good phone for the price, it’s just a good phone period.