A day of ordinary: Motorola’s flagship X Style reviewed

This year, Motorola has not one, but two smartphones it wants to call flagship, offering a choice between solid battery life in the X Play or solid specs and looks in the X Style, but does this last model live up to its namesake?

Features

The second flagship for Motorola this year, the X Style takes Motorola’s design used on other handsets we’ve seen thus far, stretches it, and applies the latest and greatest technology for the true flagship.

Does it have the goods to be Motorola’s best yet?

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Inside the handset, you’ll find one of Qualcomm’s six-core processors, the Snapdragon 808, clocked at 1.8GHz and paired with 3GB RAM, 32GB storage, and offering upgradeable storage via a microSD card slot found at the very top of the unit.

Google’s Android 5.1 arrives on this phone out of the box, meaning you get “Lollipop”, and you get it mostly without the bloat, as per the stock experience Motorola normally provides.

Cameras are offered here, too, providing a 21 megapixel rear camera with phase detection auto focus and 4K video capture, while the front camera provides a 5 megapixel camera when you need that selfie.

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Connections are fairly normal for a flagship phone, providing 802.11a/b/g/n and 802.11ac network connectivity, Bluetooth 4.1 with support for Low Energy (LE), GPS, and Near-Field Communication (NFC). Mobile connectivity also caters for Category 6 4G LTE, essentially providing download speeds maxing out at 300Mbps, while upload maxes at 50Mbps, network dependent, of course.

All of this sits under a 5.7 inch Quad HD display, providing a resolution of 2560×1440 under a layer of Corning’s scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass 3.

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Ports and connections are fairly limited on this phone, with only one pin ejectable tray mechanism up top, providing both nanoSIM and microSD on the same tray, while the remaining ports include a 3.5mm headset jack at the very top and a microUSB data transfer and charge port at the very bottom.

Buttons are small in number too, with a power button and volume rocker on the right edge, while all other buttons are on screen and digital.

The battery is rated at 3000mAh and is not removable.

A bumper is included in the box to protect the edges of the phone.

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Performance

It’s not unusual for a mobile company to have one major flagship for the year, but in 2015, one of the mobile originals has two, and with the first of the X series out of the way, it’s time to get stuck into the more premium of the two, the X Style.

This is a little different from the Play, not just because it has a different name. No, this one is about having the best of the best in regards to spec, screen, and all that jazz, and Motorola even plans to deck it out with a lovely finish, providing the option for wood among other things.

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For our review, however, we didn’t see the wooden model, which in Australia arrives with a silver frame, white cover, and bamboo back.

We received the “black soft feel inlay” variant, which is another way of saying “textured plastic back”, though we’re sure it makes Motorola feel like plastic has become premium when it’s just plastic.

Still, it’s a comfortable back, with a texture you can grip offering thin grooves up and down the handset.

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Even the edges are nice, and Motorola has followed in the X Play’s footsteps, providing a home button with slight ridges allowing you to quickly identify which button you’re touching when you need to, different from the flat button of the volume rocker.

It is a touch thick, we do need to acknowledge that, especially in comparison to other phones out there, with a measurement of 11mm at the thickest point size being something that could throw people off, especially since it is much thicker than the competition, which current hovers around at just under 7mm to around 9mm usually at the thickest.

There’s no doubting that the X Style isn’t your ordinary handset, although it also might be, but we’ll get to that in a moment, because it’s time to tackle the screen, one of the areas where it’s clear Motorola is hoping to impress.

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While Motorola has been lagging behind the likes of LG and Samsung when it comes to high-end screen technology, it’s even pulling ahead of other competitors in the X Style, delivering the company’s first WQHD display, offering 2560×1440 pixels of pleasing picture quality.

While other large displays go for AMOLED, Motorola is sticking with an In-Plane Switching (IPS) screen that looks very nice, and the clarity is certainly there, with a good 520 pixels per inch offered in this 5.7 inch screen.

That’s not an industry beating display, sure, but it’s lovely all the same.

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Powered up and on, and the performance is also pretty solid, with Motorola opting for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 808, the six-core processor we saw earlier in the year on LG’s G4, providing enough speed to let you get the most of apps found today, and then some.

Throughout our time with the Moto X Style, which arrived with Google Android 5.1 “Lollipop”, even though it felt more like the Android overlay had been updated to 6.0 “Marshmallow”, we found it snapped along from app to app with pretty much zero lag, offering one of the cleanest Android experiences found without going to a Nexus device from Google.

And what makes it like this?

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