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Motorola Moto X Style Review: In Depth

The Good

  • Sharp, spacious screen
  • Streamlined UI
  • Great battery life

The Bad

  • Camera struggles with contrast
4.5

Motorola Moto X Style Review: The bigger of Motorola’s two new flagship phones (its smaller sibling being the Moto X Play) also packs more premium specs, but is it worth the extra cash? Check out our full Moto X Style review.

I really enjoyed my time with the Moto X Play, the first of Motorola’s new pair of flagship phones to hit the UK in 2015. The 5.5-inch screen was bright and colourful, performance was smooth and the clean, junk-free interface was a satisfying experience. If you fancy a bit of vanilla Android, the Moto X Play was as good as you’ll get outside of a Nexus device.

Now Motorola’s Moto X Style is here, setting its sights on mobile movie lovers with its bigger Quad HD screen and more premium specs. At a shade over £100 more than the X Play (this phone starts from £399), is the X Style worth the bump in price?

Motorola Moto X Style Review - Moto X in the hand

Design

The Moto X Style definitely staggers straight into phablet territory with its mighty 5.7-inch screen, although it doesn’t feel that big when you clutch it. Big, certainly, but not a whopper like last year’s Nexus 6. That rounded, long-and-narrow design, textured rear end and well-placed buttons means it’s comfortable to clutch and just about usable one-handed. Of course, the top end of the screen will still defy your thumb, making for some awkward fumbling to drag down the notifications bar unless you use both mitts.

Motorola’s online Moto Maker tool allows you to custom design your X Style, so you can pick the colour of the front and rear panels, the tint of the edging and even the accent of the plastic strip that holds the rear camera and Moto logo. It’s possible to create some exceedingly colourful, eyeball-stabbingly clasharific designs, so choose carefully if you go down that route – although we love the wood and leather options for an extra twenty quid.

Motorola Moto X Style Review - Top edge of Moto X

The X Style isn’t water resistant like the Sony Xperia Z5 but it is ‘splash proof’ and can happily be used in the pissing rain, great news for fellow UK residents. And our X Style came with a transparent bumper in the box for added ruggedness, although this also had the unfortunate side-effect of making the X Style look bloody awful.

Screen and media

The star of the X Style show is undoubtedly the grand 5.7-inch Quad HD screen, making this one of the cheapest WQHD handsets you can buy right now.

That 2560×1440 resolution means that around 515 pixels are crammed into every square inch of screen space. As a result your photos and HD movies will look stunning, with the option of realistic, subtle colours or a vibrancy boost in the display settings. However, even with colour richness turned up to max, the X Style’s screen is still more subdued than some super-rich AMOLED panels.

Motorola Moto X Style Review - Screen and Media

You can also ramp up the brightness to eye-popping levels, making the X Style comfortable to use when you’re strutting out and about in actual daylight. Viewing angles are decent, with that spacious screen making it easy enough for two people to enjoy YouTube cat videos without having to crush their skulls together.

As for audio quality, the X Style once again boasts stereo speakers that point straight at your face, like the One M9’s excellent BoomSound blasters. These bad boys are seriously powerful, pumping out audio of a decent quality for mobile speakers

And while the Moto X Play only came in 16 and 32GB variants, the Moto X Style can be snapped up in 32 or 64GB. It’s not a massive reason to choose the Style over the Play however, as both phones comes with a microSD memory card slot for expansion – something you won’t find on the Google Nexus phones, incidentally.

Motorola Moto X Style Review - Moto X can be used with one hand

OS and user experience

The Moto X Style doesn’t differ from the Moto X Play when it comes to the general user experience. This is pretty much vanilla Android Lollipop with a few of Motorola’s apps bolted on, to help ease migration from another phone or keep you from being disturbed at inconvenient times.

Check out our Moto X Play review for more info.

Battery life and performance

For the Moto X Play, Motorola stuck with a modest Snapdragon 615 chip, backed up by 2GB of RAM. In the X Style, this is boosted to the hexa-core Snapdragon 808 (as found in the LG G4) with 3GB of RAM.

Everyday performance is joyfully smooth, as usual with the 808. Games including Hitman Sniper and Beat Buddy run perfectly – no dropped frames or little skips to ruin your flow, even with frantic, fast-paced action games.

Motorola Moto X Style Review - Screen

While the Moto X Play didn’t live up to our expectations for battery life, often dying after just 24 hours of moderate use, the X Style happily goes the distance. Standard phone use (regular messaging and web browsing and the occasional app play and camera snaps) gives close to two full days of charge while heavier use will still see the X Style last a day and a half. Try streaming video non-stop and you can expect six hours of life, just over average for a modern mobile.

TurboPower charging means you can get a few hours of life from just 15 minutes at the plug point, as long as you’re restrained and don’t go playing GTA or anything.

Cameras

The Moto X Style rocks the same 21-megapixel camera as the cheaper Moto X Play, and while it’s often very effective, it also requires the occasional bit of manual fiddling and struggles with imperfect lighting.

Motorola Moto X Style Review - Moto X Camera in action

For everyday use, the X Style’s snapper is generally solid. Photos are packed with detail even when viewed on a big screen, although the lens starts to show its limitations when your scene has too much contrast (i.e. light and dark spots). There’s a built-in HDR mode to help cope, but it isn’t as strong as some rivals’ and so those dark areas still look a little hazy.

The only way to counter this is to bring up the manual focus wheel and alter the shot brightness manually, which isn’t always a great solution. In seriously low light the X Style also falters, although the two-tone flash manages to illuminate faces without turning everyone into ghosts.

Home movie obsessors will enjoy the future-proofed ability to shoot Ultra HD (4K) video, something lacking on the cheaper Moto X Play, as well as standard 1080p and slow motion 720p footage. Quality on all counts is good, although you will get some shake if you’re moving your hand too much.

You also once again have a 5-megapixel front-facing camera, but unlike the Moto X Play this selfie cam boasts an LED flash for those essential club snaps. Our low light selfies were still a little grainy but certainly did the job for Facebook.

Verdict

Motorola’s Moto X Style is a solid all-round flagship phone that may not excite with original or stand-out features, but has plenty to offer all kinds of users. Want to stay entertained or do the odd bit of graft on the move? That spacious Quad HD screen and slick performance will satisfy. Always on the road? Luckily you have long battery life to keep you connected. With little to frustrate beyond the occasional photo let-down, this is one of the best Moto flagships of recent times.

You can grab a range of accessories for the Moto X Style from MobileFun.co.uk, including the latest cases, screen protectors, headsets, power banks, memory cards, car holders to turn it into a sat-nav device and plenty more besides.

Specification

Screen size5.7-inches
Screen resolution2560x1440
WeightN/A
OSAndroid 5.0 Lollipop
Rear Camera21-megapixel
Front camera5-megapixel
ProcessorSnapdragon 808
Memory3GB RAM
Storage32/64GB
4G LTEYes

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