Here, in the video below, is a hands-on review of the third-generation Moto X. It answers the question why consumers considering an upgrade should take a look at it, especially those considering the iPhone 6s Plus.
Here, we’re reviewing is a Moto X Pure Edition. The term pure means its unlocked and will accept a SIM card from any carrier: AT&T, Google Fi, T-Mobile, etc. You can purchase the Pure Edition Moto X from the Moto X Moto Maker website, where you can personalize the phone in much the same way that Nike let's customers personalize its running shoes on its website. The site offers 26 rear case colors and materials, 2 front bezel colors, and 10 accent colors, culminating in 320 unique Moto X style configurations. You can expect to receive your customized device within a couple days of designing and ordering it.
The stock version of Android 5.1.1 includes a couple of useful Motorola extensions. The first is active display, which will present notifications on top of the lock screen using a low-power, black-and-white, app-specific icon that pulses slowly to save power. The feature will also illuminate when you turn the phone over or wave your hand over the screen. This approach to notifications, introduced about three years ago, relates to what app designers have learned about notifications from wearables today; people don’t want to be interrupted be each ding, bing, and vibration, and want to be able to access information with only a glance. If you configure the phone to provide access to the notification's content, you can read it with a touch and open it with a swipe up. If you feel that notifications contain sensitive information you wouldn't want so easily available, you can hide the contents of the notifications.
The Moto X diverges from stock Android with two gestures to turn on the camera and the flashlight. A sharp twist will turn on the camera, which will shoot a picture when any part of the screen is tapped, letting users take photos quickly with one hand. Likewise, you can turn on the flashlight with a share-chop motion, convenient when the other is holding a bag of groceries.
Overall, the Moto X compares very favorably to the iPhone 6s Plus Apple announced earlier this month, but it costs a little more than half the price. Finally, here's a breakdown of how the two compare in terms of specs:
- Display: The Moto X has a larger display, at 5.7 inches, compared to the iPhone’s 5.5 inches. It also boasts greater greater pixel density, at 520 ppi compared to the iPhone’s 401.
- Processor: The Moto X is powered by an eight-core Snapdragon 808 clocked at 1.8 GHz with an Andreno 320 GPU. The 6s Plus is powered by a four-core Apple A9 chip also clocked 1.8 GHZ.
- RAM: The Moto X has 3GB of memory compared to the iPhone 6s Plus’ 2GB.
- ROM Storage: The 6s Plus tops the Moto X with options to order up to 128GB, compared to the Moto X’s 64GB. The Moto X, however, can be customized with a microSD slot that accepts up to 128GB memory cards.
- Rear Camera: The Moto X sports a 21-megapixel camera, compared to the iPhone’s 12 megapixels. Previous versions of the Moto X were praised for everything but its camera. Motorola has clearly beefed up and improved this camera. Picture quality is vastly improved compared to last year’s Moto X. It remains to be seen if this camera can compete with the best-in-class Galaxy S6 camera and how it would compare to the 6s Plus in an analysis by a professional photographer. Regardless, it’s a solid camera that takes sharp, colorful images.
- Front Selfie Camera: Both phones sport a 5-megapixel selfie cam with flash.
- Battery: The Moto X boasts a 3,000 mAh battery, compared to the iPhone’s 1,800 mAh battery. The Moto X pays a slim price for the bigger battery, pushing the center of the back case out by 5/32 of an inch while keeping the edges at about the same thickness as the iPhone 6s Plus.
- Weight: The Moto X is about a half-once lighter at 6.24 ounces, compared to the 6s Plus at 6.72 ounces.
- Price: At $749, the iPhone 6s Plus comes with a much heavier price compared to the Moto X’s light price of just $399 for a similarly configured device, giving it a cost of a little more than half the Apple price.