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Hands on: Motorola Moto X Style Pure Edition

When Motorola gives you this much phone for $400, Samsung and Apple look silly

Motorola’s Moto X Style sends a strong message to the smartphone world, by matching the competition spec-for-spec, then selling it for at least $200+ less. It’s damn convincing too.

If you can’t beat ‘em with brand power, hit ‘em where it hurts: their wallets. While Apple, Samsung, LG, and HTC try to sell their flagship smartphones for record-breaking prices of $550 and up, Motorola is taking a different approach. It’s selling the brand-new Moto X Style Pure Edition for a more reasonable $400 unlocked. Before you gp thinking it’s far less technically capable, you should understand the new Moto X is just as high-end and powerful as the Galaxy S6, the iPhone 6, and the G4. But at a far lower price.

You’ll feel like a celebrity owning something that you designed to suit your tastes – not those of the masses.

You’ll feel like a celebrity owning something that you designed to suit your tastes – not those of the masses.

ZTE, OnePlus, and others have tried this tactic, but for a different reason – they are trying desperately to build brand recognition in the U.S, a problem Motorola doesn’t have. Carriers love Motorola – Verizon even has a special relationship with the company and carries their Droid phones exclusively — and anyone 24 or over is likely to have owned a Motorola phone at one point in their lives. It’s a name that has plenty of pull.

Therefore, Motorola doesn’t have to woo anyone with low prices, but it’s doing it anyway, just to prove a point. It’s saying you don’t have to pay $500+ for a flagship smartphone anymore. Really, you’re just paying for the brand, so why not come on over to ours? Motorola’s got one damn nice phone to tempt you too — so let’s meet the Moto X Style.

It’s a gorgeous phone

Motorola’s hardware has always had style in spades, so it makes perfect sense to call its flagship the Style. A slim metal frame encases the phone, which sports a removable back cover that you can swap any time you want. You can even design your own with Moto Maker. Just like with the previous Moto X, you can choose from various color backs made of genuine Safflano leathers by Horween, real wood, and other materials. Depending on where you live, you get your pick of 18 different inlays and 7 different accent colors. So if you want, you can even have a sky blue back with a magenta pink metal accent next to the camera.

Motorola showed off several cool options, including a gorgeous plum purple back, a deep red leather, and a lovely warm wood with a gorgeous grain pattern. The variety is not only fun, but it’s something you don’t get with any other phone save the OnePlus, and that phone’s back cover options are much more limited. It’s the same thrill you get when you design your own Converse sneakers for the first time – you feel like a celebrity owning something that was designed by you to suit your own tastes – not those of the masses.

Motorola doesn’t have to woo anyone with low prices, but it’s doing it anyway, just to prove a point.

If you feel overwhelmed by all the choice, Motorola will also have the following standard looks: Dark Gray frame and accents with the Black Soft Feel inlay or the White lens and Silver Frame combination with the Bamboo inlay. Regardless of what colors you pick, the Moto X Style is undeniably stylish.

The back is slightly curved to fit into the palm of your hand comfortably, and the smooth metal felt great against my skin. Although it’s a big, iPhone 6 Plus-sized phone, the Moto X doesn’t feel unwieldy or tough to hold. That gentle curve makes all the difference, which is probably why it’s become so common on larger phones these days.

Flagship specs for a fraction of the price

The insides of the Moto X Style make just as big of an impression as its outside. The phone’s 5.7-inch screen packs 2560 x 1440 pixels, resulting in a higher pixel-per-inch density than the iPhone 6 Plus and a bigger screen overall. To put the phone’s compact dimensions into context, the Moto X Style has a Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4-sized screen, but with tiny bezels and a screen-to-body ratio better than the iPhone 6. All in a shell that’s slightly smaller than the iPhone 6 Plus. Naturally, the screen looks fabulous, and when you bump the brightness up, it looks even sharper.

Motorola Moto X Style Pure Edition

Malarie Gokey/Digital Trends

Motorola gave the processor and RAM a boost, and much like the LG G4, the new Moto X chooses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 808 processor over the problematic 810. While both ZTE and OnePlus are betting on a reworked 810, hoping that it doesn’t overheat like the first version did, Motorola chose not to take the risk. If anything, the 808 matches the 810 in terms of performance – at least from what we’ve seen so far. Once the 810 v2.1 comes out on the OnePlus 2, we’ll make a better judgment. During our brief time with the Moto X, the combination of the 808 and 3GB of RAM made for a fast and powerful user experience.

Although many companies are opting out of fitting a MicroSD card slot, Motorola isn’t among them. The Moto X Style comes in 16, 32, and 64GB storage options, all of which can be expanded with a MicroSD card up to 128GB. That’s great news for those who take tons of photos and store videos on their phones.

Motorola’s well known for its super fast charging and great battery life, and the new Moto X Style comes with both of those features. The 3,000mAh cell should last at least “a full day,” the company said, adding that the Moto X Style is the “fastest charging smartphone in the world.” The TurboPower mode on the Moto X offers 10 hours of power after a mere 15-minute charge. We’ll have to test the phone to verify these claims, but if Motorola’s charging works as well as advertised, it’s going to charge faster than any other Android phone.

Camera

Motorola’s cameras typically suck – they’ve been the low point on the company’s phones for years now, but Motorola says all that has changed now. The Moto X Style sports a 21-megapixel rear-facing camera that’s said to focus faster, capture images quicker, handle low light better, and reproduce color more accurately than last year’s model. Motorola bragged that photographers say it’s one of the best three smartphone cameras in the world and showed off some pretty photos with the tagline, “Shot on Moto X Style,” which is eerily reminiscent of those “Shot on iPhone 6” billboards.

Motorola Moto X Style Pure Edition

Malarie Gokey/Digital Trends

Only time will tell if Motorola’s got it right this time, and we’ll update you on how well it works in our full review. Its 21-megapixel resolution, f/2.0 aperture, Phase Detect Auto Focus, and Dual Color Correlated Temperature flash certainly sound as though they’ll be an improvement.

Meanwhile, the front-facing selfie cam is 5 megapixels, which is quickly becoming the standard for self-respecting Android smartphones. It even has a wide-angle lens, so you should be able to get your friends in the shot, too.

Pure Android is absolutely glorious

Pure Android – There’s nothing quite like it. Although Google only owned Motorola for a brief moment in time, it seems that stock Android has really stuck with Motorola, for which I’m most grateful. Android 5.1.1 Lollipop looks stunning on the Moto X Style, and the complete lack of clutter is refreshing after all that TouchWiz, Sense UI, Emotion UI, (insert pretentious Android skin name here) nonsense you see on other phones. Motorola respects Android so much it even named the U.S. version of the Moto X Style the “Pure Edition.” Android lovers, this one is for you. Of course, Moto Assist and a few other little Motorola features are included, but they are actually useful.

Conclusion

Motorola’s Moto X Style is a bold response to the leading players in the smartphone industry. It packs all the high-end specs users expect from a premium flagship phone into a gorgeous, customizable body, and then sells the phone for a fraction of the price its competitors name. Motorola is all but declaring that the extra $200+ you’d spend on phones from Apple, Samsung, LG, and HTC is for the brand alone. The Moto X Style has everything its main competitors have, and in some cases, its spec sheet is better. Pay less; get more, Motorola says, and it’s a pretty convincing message.