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Motorola Moto X Style review

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Motorola Moto X Style review

Where one phone-maker goes, the others often follow. That's the law of the smartphone business.

HTC and Sony were among the first to launch different-sized versions of their phones for different budgets, and now everyone’s at it: witness the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge and Edge Plus, and the Google Nexus 5X and 6P. And now it’s Motorola’s turn.

It unveiled the Moto X Play and Moto X Style at the end of July. We've already taken a look at the Play, and were impressed by its reasonable price and much improved camera.

Now comes its bigger brother, the Moto X Style. Can it impress too? Let’s find out.

Pros

  • Simple, fuss-free version of Android
  • Looks stylish
  • Powerful, especially for the price

Cons

  • Bit on the heavy side
  • Large size won’t be to everyone’s liking
  • Doesn’t run Android Marshmallow software out of the box

First impressions

  • It's rather large
  • It's not light
  • And it's not slim either

motorola moto x style review 1 resized x 3

The Moto X Style is a beast! Its 5.7-inch screen is noticeably bigger than last year’s Moto X, and slightly larger than the Moto X Play.

It’s pretty portly too. But not enough to turn us off it. And heavy enough to do some real damage if thrown. Not that we’d advise doing so.

Design

  • Water-resistant, which is reassuring
  • Dual front-facing speakers give full, rich sound
  • Feels less premium than the iPhone 6S and Samsung Galaxy S6

motorola moto x style review back

Like the Play, the Style looks quite a lot like last year’s Moto X from the front. But like the Play, it has a new back complete with a new Motorola dimple to rest your finger.

Also like the Play – and last year’s model – you can design the phone how you like using the Moto Maker website.

Ours came with the standard soft grip back, but you can choose from four types of wood (an extra £20) or four types of leather (also £20) if you’re feeling flash.

It all makes for the most customisable phone around.

  • Build: Glass and plastic
  • Weight: 179g
  • Dimensions: 153.9x76.2x6.1-11.06mm

Screen

  • QHD resolution looks stunning
  • Too big for some
  • Great colours

motorola moto x style review homescreen

The 5.7-inch screen is a decent size, and might even be too large for some people.

Though it’s not much bigger than the 5.5-incher on the Play, that extra size really makes a difference – it’s a real stretch to reach the top corner one-handed. Those with smaller hands will really struggle.

But it’s nice and bright, and the Quad HD resolution (2,560x1,440 pixels – four times as many as HD) means images pop and are clearly defined.

If anything, it’s a little too bright, which can hurt your eyes at night. But that’s more a niggle than a real issue.

  • Size: 5.7 inches
  • Resolution: 2,560x1,440 pixels
  • Technology: TFT LCD

Camera

  • Better camera than the X Play’s
  • Still some graininess in low light
  • Less intuitive focus than other handsets

motorola moto x style review sample photo

The snapper has always been the weak point in Motorola’s line-up: while its phones offer great value for money, and neat new features, all handsets from the Moto G to the Moto X have been a letdown when it comes to taking pictures. This year, Motorola has upped its game.

We’re happy to report that like the Play, the Style has a far better camera than its predecessor.

That’s because it has the same 21-megapixel snapper and 5-megapixel front-facer as the Play.

Photos are well balanced, and low-light performance is streets ahead of last year’s Moto X.

It also has plenty of extras, like HDR mode (high dynamic range, which takes lots of different shots and merges the best of each into one ‘ultimate’ picture), dual LED flash, and optical image stabilisation, which are all welcome.

Press anywhere on the screen and it’ll snap a picture, which means you still have to swipe left for the dial to adjust the focus. It’s less intuitive than touch to focus on other handsets, but you soon pick it up.

It also has the same great motion control to open the camera (known as Quick Capture). When the phone is asleep, hold it and twist your wrist twice to jump straight to the camera. It’s a very neat way to make sure you don’t miss a shot.

  • Camera: 21MP
  • Optical image stabilisation: Yes
  • Unique features: Quick Capture

Performance and battery life

  • Fantastic performance
  • Same great extra features
  • Slightly disappointing battery life

motorola moto x style review settings

Active Display is present and correct, a feature we’ve been in love with since last year’s Moto X. It shows the time and notifications when you wave your hand over the screen.

Hold the notification, and it’ll reveal more about it. You can then swipe up to open the app, right to dismiss it, or down to unlock and go to the home screen.

It’s very intuitive, and will save you unlocking your phone hundreds of times a day. Which should be a boon for battery life.

We say should, because the battery is one of the few areas where the Style let us down. While beautiful, that screen devours the battery.

With heavy use, it was crying out for a charge before dinner. Though with more restrained use, it did last us until bedtime.

What’s puzzling is the cheaper Play actually has a bigger battery than the Style. Go figure.

The other letdown is that it doesn’t come with the latest version of Android. Instead you’re stuck with 5.1.1 Lollipop. It’s not a major deal, but when you’re spending hundreds of pounds on a new phone, you expect the latest version.

Thankfully the Style runs an unfussy, simple version of Android. So we shouldn’t have long to wait before getting a taste of Marshmallow, since those delays are usually caused by manufacturers adding extra features and design changes of their own.

Performance-wise, it’s great. That 1.8GHz processor and 3GB of RAM give you as much grunt as you’d expect, with games and videos playing predictably smoothly.

It even has a microSD card slot to bolster the 32GB or 64GB of storage.

That’s impressive, especially considering this feature is missing from a lot of Android phones that cost way more than the Style (we’re looking at you, Samsung).

  • RAM: 3GB
  • Battery capacity: 3,000mAh
  • OS and version: Android 5.1.1 Lollipop

Value for money

Starting at £399, the Style is a bit of a steal. Admittedly competition has never been fiercer for great value smartphones (the OnePlus 2 and Nexus 6P are also worth considering), but no other handsets offer these features and the unparalleled level of customisation.

Verdict

  • Great camera
  • Excellent Motorola-only features make it stand out
  • Chunky and heavy
  • Could have better battery life
  • Amazing screen
  • Not the latest version of Android

It’s less pricey than Apple and Samsung’s flagships, and slightly less stylish, but the features more than make up for it.

If you don’t want to follow the Apple/Samsung/Google Nexus herds, the Moto X Style may well be the phone for you.

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