Sitting at the top of Motorola’s 2015 line-up, the Moto X Style (or Moto X Pure Edition if you’re in the US) manages to blend high-end specs with a sleek build and still come in at a price that won’t make your wallet cry. It isn't the flashiest or most feature-laden Android phone you can buy right now, but it’s certainly one of the best.
Motorola has again made a fantastic device – following on from the equally impressive Moto G (2015) and Moto X Play – by keeping things simple, tuning all the elements so they work perfectly well together and offering buyers the chance to customise their phone with Moto Maker.
If you have £360 (or £399, if you want to buy it direct from Motorola and add some of your own flare) then the Moto X Style is the best smartphone you can buy with your buck.
Motorola has stuck to a familiar design blueprint with the Moto X Style. I'd have liked to have seen a couple of new flourishes about the device, but the final look is both functional and sleek.
In many ways, the Moto X Style feels like a grown-up Moto G. Plastic is replaced with metal around the rims, the buttons are a little less loose and the rubbery plastic sits flush around the back.
Unlike the Moto G, however, this is a big phone. It doesn’t quite cross into Nexus 6 territory, and even though it has a larger 5.7-inch display it still has a smaller footprint than the iPhone 6S Plus.
If you’re coming to the Moto X Style from a smaller device then it will take some getting used to. Reaching to the corners of the display with one hand is virtually impossible – unless, you’re a basketball whizz – and there have been numerous times when I've fumbled with the phone after scooping it up off a table.
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The addition of a metal rim adds rigidity, but it doesn’t feel quite as solid as last year’s Moto X. This seems to be one of the minor changes made for in order for the price to come down.
Flip the phone over and it still bulges out towards the middle. It’s about as far away from the flat backs of the iPhone 6S and Samsung Galaxy S6 as you can get. Regardless, the phone is a pleasure to hold and so easy to slip into a jeans pocket.
The classic Motorola dimple remains, although its smaller size means it’s a less satisfying spot upon which to rest your finger. This area is screaming out for a fingerprint reader and I’m surprised Motorola didn’t add one in. Again, I guess it was to keep the price down.
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Like in previous years, Motorola isn’t only selling one or two versions of the Moto X Style; anyone can design their own handset using Moto Maker. You can change the accent colours, pick between a white or black front and replace the durable rubbery back with various leather or wood offerings.
My review unit was a fairly standard white device with silver accents – but being able to add some personality to make the handset your own is one of Moto’s killer features.
Which back should you opt for? Well, the rubbery finish certainly is tough – it’s like always having a case on – but bear in mind that the white model picks up marks easily. Both the leather and wood options are flashier, but how either finish will wear over time is questionable.
Note that the front of the white model looks particularly "busy". Along with the camera and front-facing speakers, there are three, very visible sensors for the Moto Display feature (I’ll get onto this later), a duo of ambient light sensors plus the front-facing camera and flash. I understand all are necessary, but they're less obvious on the black model.
Although it's been just over a year since we started seeing quad-HD panels appear on phones, they’ve already started trickling down to the cheaper devices.
What’s more impressive here is that Motorola hasn’t skimped at all on the Style's IPS LCD display. The 1440p, 1,440 x 2,560 display is predictably sharp – pixels are indistinguishable no matter how close you get – but it’s also super-bright and viewing angles are excellent.
Colours do have a tendency to pop a bit too much and therefore look oversaturated. Unlike the Nexus 6, however, it doesn’t suffer from a dominating yellow tint. On the whole, colours are accurate – whites are bright, while red and yellows look good. If it falls down in an area it’s the black, as these pale in comparison to blacks reproduced on the Sony Xperia Z5's LCD panel.
If you have a particular dislike for vivacious hues, then colours can be made to look more realistic by switching the colour mode to normal. Head to Settings then the Display option.
As is the case with many Android phones, the auto-brightness is overly sensitive and creates a juddery, uneven movement when you move from a dark room to a light one.