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My month with the Moto X Pure

That headline should probably read “slightly less than a month with the Moto X Pure” but that’s not what this series is called.

moto x pureMy month with the Moto X Pure Edition was cut tragically short when the phone met a tile floor and came out worse for the interaction. I didn’t think the sinking feeling when you pick up your phone after a tumble and see a haze of cracks on the screen could be any worse. Turns out, it can. Just try it with a phone that doesn’t actually belong to you.

Coming off an enjoyable month with the Moto E (2nd Gen), moving to the Moto X was quite an upgrade. A very noticeable speed boost, a much bigger and brighter screen… a generally smarter smartphone experience.

Perhaps the biggest leap forward was the camera which captured amazing, beautiful images. Great timing, given that my wife and I had our second child in the time I was testing the Moto X Pure.

The Moto X Pure is thing of beauty

Some among the tech press are calling the Moto X Pure the best Android smartphone experience you can have. After a month using the phone, I can certainly see why. I may not entirely agree (I think the title would belong to the Nexus 6P (which we’ll spend a month with soon) but it’s a close race to call and ultimately, it’s all a bit subjective.

What the Moto X Pure offers is a clean, unencumbered Android experience. Near the tail end of my testing, shortly before the phone’s tragic meeting with the tile floor, it got the update to Android 6.0, Marshmallow. I didn’t have enough time with the newly upgraded OS to determine if it solved the battery woes that had started to crop up in my time with the Moto X Pure.

Staying power

Battery woes, right. Let’s talk about that. I get the sense, digging through online discussions, that it’s not the phone’s fault. It bears mentioning, though, that some days the Moto X would want to quit well before I did. These weren’t especially heavy use days, necessarily. Digging in to the battery use breakdown info in the standard Android Settings menu didn’t turn up any apparent offenders. It was my hope that a rogue process was to blame for the less than stellar battery life I was experiencing but my investigation turned up nothing obvious. Given that the Moto X Pure typically receives praise for its battery life, I really wish I’d had more time to dig in and find out what the issue was.

The Moto X is a beautiful phone. It’s powerful enough that slowdown wasn’t an issue in day to day use; everything I’d ask the Moto X Pure to do was a cinch. I didn’t run any benchmarks because this series is supposed to be experiential as opposed to experimental. That said, benchmarks aren’t hard to find and the Moto X performs well.

In the time the Moto X Pure Edition was working in top form, I found the “Turbo Charge” feature that promises up to 11h of battery life (standby, presumably) with just 15 minutes plugged in to be a life saver. I found that 1/2 hour on the charger just before heading out for the evening gave me plenty of juice to get through an evening event.


Expandable storage via MicroSD cards is a killer feature for me and I was very happy to find it in the Moto X Pure. The way this storage is handled in the phone is neat too: The MicroSD card goes on the flip side of the SIM card tray. Hardly a selling feature but heartening that a manufacturer has figured out a way to do a solid body, water resistant design with non-removable battery while still incorporating the option to add extra storage. I wish more manufacturers would follow suit.

While it seems removable storage in Android phones is becoming the exception as opposed to the norm, I really hope we’ll see this trend reverse.

Too little, too late

The Moto X Pure Edition comes with a wrap-around clear plastic bumper in the box. We’ll never know if this bumper would have protected the phone. On the day the phone was hurtling toward its fateful meeting with the tile, the bumper had long since broken and been removed. On the included accessories front at least, we’ll give the Moto X an A for effort but a C for execution.

The bumper in question is a semi-rigid plastic affair. It snaps on snugly but it has a real point of weakness in the tiny strip of plastic where the cutout for the volume rocker is. This piece was broken in short order. Once broken, it was only a matter of time before the whole thing got snagged and subsequently broken on its trips into my pocket.

8/10, would Moto X Pure again

I enjoyed my time with the Moto X Pure Edition. Objectively, it’s an attractive and powerful phone. I didn’t walk away from the experience thinking about buying one for myself, which I consider to be the best yardstick. Despite the lack of expandable storage, I’d be looking more toward the Nexus 5X with maxed out internal storage at this price point.