Motorola Moto X Pure Edition Review: Straight-Up Premium Android

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Summary and Conclusion

During our time with the Moto X Pure Edition, we found ourselves continually evaluating it as if it were a top-shelf, flagship, hero device, in the same class as flagships from LG, Samsung, Apple, and the like. And yet, Moto's flagship costs hundreds of dollars less than those phones. Even so, the Moto X Pure's relatively affordable price point didn't stop Moto's engineers from puting out a rock solid design, which improves upon last year's model in a number of ways.

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While the phone didn't take the crown in benchmarks, it won a more understated victory -- the "bang for the buck" award. The Snapdragon 808 churns through tasks that matter with aplomb, and one has to remember that phones at the top of the benchmarking heap cost anywhere from 25 to 40 percent more than the Moto X Pure Edition tested here. To put it all in perspective, this handset didn't miss the benchmarking crown by 25 to 40 percent, oftentimes only falling behind by 5 or 10 percent. Is it worth spending hundreds more to squeeze out a few more frames per second? For the average, mainstream phone buyer, that answer is likely "no."

What this handset does right is nail the essentials for the everyman. There's Moto Maker, which enables consumers to build the phone that perfectly suits them at no additional cost. There's the carrier-free approach, which allows Moto to sell directly to you at a lower cost, while you avoid carrier bloatware and contracts. Every Moto X Pure Edition is sold unlocked, so you can use it with any major U.S. carrier, and you can utilize local SIMs from foreign carriers when you travel overseas. 
While the phone didn't take the pole position in our benchmarks, it can claim a different sort of victory -- the "bang for the buck" award. The Snapdragon 808 inside this device churns through churns through everyday smartphone tasks easily, and one has to remember that the phones at the top of the benchmarking heap cost much more. To put it all in perspective, the Moto X Pure may not be outfitted with all of the latest and greatest internal hardware, but it is still a good performer overall and offers a good user experience. Is it worth spending hundreds more to gain a few more frames per second in a GPU benchmark? For the average, mainstream phone buyer, that answer is likely "no."

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What this handset does right is nail the essentials for the every-man. There's Moto Maker, which enables consumers to build the phone that perfectly suits them at no additional cost. There's the carrier-free approach, which allows Moto to sell directly to consumers at a lower cost, while simultaneously avoiding carrier bloatware and contracts. Every Moto X Pure Edition is also sold unlocked, so you can use it with any major U.S. carrier, and you can utilize local SIMs from foreign carriers when you travel overseas too.

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On the software side, the Moto X Pure may had our favorite version of Android yet. Moto has only tweaked the OS slightly, and its additions are truly additive. There is no Moto inclusion that we wish was left out, and it's refreshing to boot up a phone that is devoid of carrier-installed bloat. That alone enables the handset to perform better than you may expect. In everyday use, this phone feels just as snappy as the latest iPhone or Galaxy while costing hundreds less, thinks in no small part to its clean OS. The camera is a tremendous improvement over the prior generation as well, the Quad HD screen is a pleasure to gawk at, and the ability to add a microSD card is a welcome change now that most manufacturers have eliminated expansion slots.

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If you're in the market for a new, unlocked Android-based smartphone, the Moto X Pure Edition may be the best choice at this point in time. Performance and battery life aren't best-in-class, but overall this phone offers an excellent user experience at a very competitive price point.


     
  • Nice Quad HD display
  • Crisp, clean version of Android
  • Great design and build quality
  • Solid overall performance
  • $399 price point, unlocked
  • Battery life
  • Subpar low-light camera performance
  • Middling graphics performance 



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