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Lenovo Moto Z vs. Moto X Pure: Does Lenovo’s new flagship stand up to last year’s champ?

Lenovo has finally taken the wraps off the long-awaited Moto Z. The Moto Z, the successor to last year’s Moto X, actually marks a pretty big change for the Moto lineup. Sure, Motorola was already under Lenovo’s control by the time the Moto X Pure was announced, but it was likely already planned by the time Lenovo finalized the acquisition. That means that the Moto Z is the first device Lenovo has had a real say in. But how does the Moto Z stack up against the previous flagship, the Moto X Pure (Style)? Check out the head-to-head showdown below to find out.

Writer’s note: The Moto X Pure and Moto X Style are the same device, just renamed for different regions. We’re going to refer to the phone as the Moto X Pure.

Related: Motorola slims down with the Moto Z, then fattens up with snap-on mods

Moto Z

Lenovo Moto Z

Moto X Pure

Moto X Pure

Size 153.3 × 75.3 × 5.2 mm (6.0 × 3.0 × 0.2 in) 153.9 x 76.2 x 11.1 mm (6.06 x 3.00 x 0.44 in)
Weight 4.80 ounces 6.31 ounces
Screen 5.5-inch AMOLED 5.7-inch LCD
Resolution 2,560 × 1,440 pixels, 535ppi 1,440 × 2,560 pixels, 520ppi
OS Android 6.0 Marshmallow Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Storage 32/64GB 16/32/64GB
SD Card Slot Yes Yes
NFC support Yes Yes
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 Qualcomm Snapdragon 808
RAM 4GB 3GB
Connectivity Wi-Fi, LTE, GSM, CDMA, HSPA+, EVDO, UMTS, Edge Wi-Fi, 4G LTE, HSPA, GSM, CDMA
Camera Front 5MP, Rear 13MP Front 5MP, Rear 21MP
Video 4K 4K
Bluetooth Yes, version 4.1 Yes, version 4.1
Fingerprint sensor Yes No
Water Resistant No No
Battery 2,600 mAh 3,000 mAh
Ports USB-C (No headphone jack) Micro USB, 1/8″
Quick Charging Yes Yes
Wireless Charging No No
Color offerings Black with gold trim, black with grey trim, white and gold Many through Moto Maker
Availability Verizon in summer, unlocked in fall Amazon

Specs

Moto Z

Let’s make something clear from the outset — the Lenovo Moto Z is obviously a better phone. Just how much better, however, is debatable.

Let’s start with the processor. While the Moto Z comes outfitted with this year’s Qualcomm flagship processor, the Snapdragon 820, the Moto Z Pure opted for a Snapdragon 808 rather than last year’s equivalent. There are a number of possible reasons for this. The Snapdragon 810, for example, suffered from heating issues, something that also prompted LG to opt for the 808 instead of the 810 in the G4.

Of course, none of this really matters — all that matters is performance. And perform the 820 does. While the Snapdragon 808 achieved a score of 68,508 from AnTuTu — the Android benchmark used most often– the Snapdragon 820 sits at a cool 136,383. What does that mean in the real world? Apps will load faster, the phone will be more responsive, and it will last longer as apps become more processor-hungry. If you’re an app addict, you’re going to want to go for the Moto Z.

Related: Modular phones at war: Lenovo Moto Z vs LG G5

The device also comes couple with a 4GB of RAM, whereas the Moto X Pure only offers 3GB. The extra RAM will help during processor intensive tasks like gaming.

When it comes to storage, however, the Moto Z isn’t really all that much better. Both of the phones come in either a 32GB or 64GB configuration, however the Moto X Pure also comes with a 16GB option. Basically, there are fewer storage options for the Moto Z, but it starts with more, which should be helpful.

Winner: Moto Z

Design

Moto Z

Design preference is subjective, but there are a few interesting things to note about these two devices. First up is thinness. The Moto Z is actually one of the thinnest “premium” devices available, so if you’re looking for a sleek and stylish phone, the Moto Z is an excellent choice. That’s not to say that the Moto X Pure doesn’t have a lot going for it — the device has a similar design to previous Moto phones. It’s a stylish phone, to be sure, but nothing to really write home about. Perhaps the best thing that the Moto X Pure has over the Moto Z is that it doesn’t have a camera bump. The Moto Z, on the other hand, suffers from serious camera bump syndrome.

Apart from thickness, the Moto Z is very attractive. The metal, unibody design gives it a premium look and feel, however, the back of the device seems far more susceptible to fingerprints. Of course, you can eliminate that problem with a Moto Mod, a proper case, or you can just deal with it. Either way, it’s something to note.

Related: Snap one of these Moto Mods on your Moto Z to give your new phone super powers

There’s an elephant in the room when it comes to the design of the Moto Z. It’s thin, but only because Lenovo decided to get rid of the headphone jack. Rumors have been circulating for months that Apple will do the same, but Lenovo seems to have beaten Apple to the punch. Bluetooth headphones are slowly becoming the norm, and you’ll still be able to use headphones with a USB-C adapter, but it’s still an annoyance.

Another thing to note is that the Moto Z can get new powers with Moto Mods, of which there will be a few at launch. Known mods include a projector, battery pack, speaker, and covers for the back of the phone, which are thin and even bring the back in line with the camera, thus eliminating the aforementioned camera bump. These actually seem like they could be pretty helpful in certain situations, so if any of them appeal to you, you’re going to want to go for the Moto Z over the Moto X Pure.

However, the Moto X Pure is more customizable through Moto Maker.  You can choose between a number of wooden, leather, and grippy plastic backs to personalize your device. It seems that the Moto Z version of Moto Maker simply allows you to choose the Moto Mod backing. Sure, there are a few color options, but the device itself isn’t anywhere near as customizable.

Winner: Tie

Display

Motorola Moto X Style Pure Edition Finals

Both the Moto Z and the Moto X Pure feature a 2,560 x 1,440-pixel screen, however the display on the Moto X Pure is slightly larger. That’s great for those who want bigger a display, but it also means that the pixel density is slightly lower. It’s probably unnoticeable, but it remains something to keep in mind.

Of course, there’s something more important to talk about when it comes to the display on these two phones — the technology behind them. The Moto X Pure utilizes an LCD display, though the Moto Z steps things up with an AMOLED. What does that mean? Well, the black levels are going to be much deeper and colors a little brighter on the latter. OLED is largely seen as the heir to the display, at least on smartphones, so it makes sense for Lenovo to switch it up. It’s also better at conserving battery life.

Winner: Moto Z

Camera

Moto Z

The front-facing cameras on these two devices are very comparable, however the rear-facing shooters vary to a greater degree. The Moto X Pure touts a 21-megapixel camera, while the Moto Z opts for 13-megapixel camera. Pixels aren’t everything, though, and that’s about the only place where the Moto X Pure is technically better than the Moto Z. The Moto Z’s camera has an aperture of f/1.8, which is larger than the f/2.0 aperture on the Moto X Pure, meaning that it should be more capable in low-light situations. Not only that, but the Moto Z offers optical image stabilization, so you’re less likely to produce blurry shots, in addition to laser autofocus, which should help the camera focus a little quicker than other phones.

Related: Hands on: Lenovo Moto Z

Basically, the Moto X Pure’s camera has more pixels, but the shots on the Moto Z are going to look better. And, if you really want to meet that megapixel count, you can opt for the Moto Z Force instead, which has a 21-megapixel camera with the same other camera specs as the Moto Z.

Winner: Moto Z

Software

Motorola Moto X Style Pure Edition

There really isn’t much to talk about when it comes to software. The Moto X Pure shipped with Android 5.0, but quickly updated to Android 6.0 after the new software was released. Both phones are likely to get Android updates as they become available, since both offer near stock versions of Android. Still, the Moto Z will likely receive updates for longer than the Moto X Pure because it’s a new device, so if you’re planning on making this your phone for more than a few years, but still want quick updates, the Moto Z may be the better device for you.

Winner: Moto Z

Conclusions

The Moto Z is a better phone in almost every way. It has a better processor, more RAM, a better camera, a better display, and so on. The only thing we don’t know yet? Price. The Moto X Pure is still an excellent phone, and will likely be a lot cheaper now that the Moto Z is on the scene. If you can afford it, however, you’re most likely going to want to go for the Moto Z.