Motorola debuted two new phones at its event back in the summer, the Moto X Style (or Pure in the US) and the Moto X Play, which recently saw release as the DROID Maxx 2 in the States. Since I’ve already reviewed the X Play, I wanted to see if the X Pure/Style would be worth the extra money to customers looking to buy…
It’s clear from looking at the two phones side-by-side that they’re from the same family. The cameras sit in the same pill-shaped metal housing, which has the same Moto ‘dimple’. The phones have a similar rounded back, and a similar minimal front panel design. But there are some minor, although important details which are unique.
The X Style feels a lot sturdier, thanks to its strong metal chassis. The X Play, on the other hand, is all plastic and — as a result — is a little lighter. The metal on the X Style doesn’t just make it feel more solid, it also gives it a much more premium appearance.
Even the customization experience feels more luxurious on the X Style. You can choose to have a nice grippy plastic, real wood or leather on the back in various colors. That does have its downsides though: You can’t change your mind once you have it. The rear coating is stuck on. Unlike the X Play, which has removable and swappable plastic rear shells. You can change the look as often as you like, but there’s no premium wood or leather option here. Just 14 different colors of thin, flexible plastic.
One design choice I immediately appreciated with the X Style is that, despite the screen being 0.2-inches bigger diagonally, only 1mm has been added to the width of the phone. The bezels are really slim and make what should be a huge phone, feel really comfortable in hand. It’s considerably narrower than last year’s Nexus 6, despite not losing much screen estate. It’s a wonderful balance of screen size and practicality.
When discussing displays, on paper, it may seem like a no-brainer. 5.7-inch Quad HD LCD versus 5.5-inch Full HD LCD should be no contest, right? Actually, no. Both phones have great displays. There’s very little noticeable difference between them in terms of sharpness. 1080p is more than enough on a smartphone screen. There’s isn’t even that much difference in contrast. Blacks are surprisingly dark on the Moto X panel. Despite being based on the same basic LCD make-up, there’s a surprising difference in tone. Whites are a little yellow-ish on the X Style, where on the X Play they’re cooler and crisper.
If I’m honest, I actually prefer the cooler LCD panel on the Moto X Play, but I wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s better. They’re both great, and choosing between either phone will not hinge on screen performance.
Performance + Battery
Where I noticed the biggest difference between the devices was in performance. While the Snapdragon 615 octa-core chip kept the X Play going smoothly a lot of the time, there were also plenty of times when it would stutter, lag or just pause. It seems to struggle to load data at times, leaving me with a spinning ‘loading’ disk on the screen. With the X Style, I haven’t experienced that at all. It’s been fast, fluid and stutter free. That, of course, is helped by the fact that it has 1GB extra RAM and a more high-end Snapdragon 808 chip.
It’s not a difference in software either, both run a virtually stock version of Android 5.1.1 with a couple of custom Motorola tweaks, and will both be upgraded to Marshmallow in the near future.
The two phones’ performance completely switches in the battery comparison though. Moto X Play’s 3,630mAh battery can keep the phone going for two days. In battery benchmark tests I scored around 3.5hours screen-on time on the Moto X Style, and over 5.5 hours on the Moto X Play without both phones set to around 50%.
Both phones share the same 21MP camera sensor on the back, equipped with phase detection autofocus and dual-LED dual-tone flash. In most instances, results are pretty much the same. Colors and dynamic range are almost exactly the same. Where I noticed the biggest difference was in taking the pictures. The X Play sometimes struggled to focus on subjects that were close-up. It’d go hunting for focus often and come out blurry and out of focus completely.
What’s more, the moto X Style manages 4K video recording versus the X Play’s 1080p.
In conclusion, the Moto X Style is a clear overall winner here for me. Apart from its battery life, it’s better than the X Play in every regard. From speed and performance through design and camera, it’s a better all-round phone.
That said, if the battery is THE most important thing to you, the X Play is a no-brainer. You’ll have to deal with some compromises, but it will keep you going all day without even trying.
In the US, the price difference between the X Pure and DROID Maxx 2 is negligible. In which case, it’s super-easy to recommend the X Pure over the Maxx 2 (X Play). In the UK, there’s a £120 difference in price, and I still think it’s worth the stretch if you can make it. If you can’t, the Moto X Play still performs well for a sub £300 phone.