Moto X Style review

Motorola's latest flagship packs a sizable punch

Moto X Style
Moto X Style

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Motorola likes to keep Android as is, opting not to put its own overlay on Google's operating system and in turn giving you a pure user experience.

With little to no tweaking of the Android platform, it means Motorola can push out software updates to its handsets a lot quicker than the likes of Samsung, HTC and LG, who have to spend time applying their own interfaces and features before rolling it out to customers.

The Moto X Style launched with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, but has been upgraded to Android 6.0 Marshmallow. We're still waiting to see if Android 7.0 Nougat will arrive.

Anyone familiar with Android will feel immediately at home on the Moto X Style, and the reduction in bloatware will likely be a welcoming presence for many.

On the whole I do prefer stock Android, as it allows me to customise the experience to my liking, but it does mean the X Style doesn't benefit from various value-add features found on rival handsets.

Motorola Moto X Style review

Swipe from left to right on your home screen and you'll be taken to Google Now, with your relevant cards displaying things such as your schedule, news and useful location based information.

Move the other way and you'll find the usual home screen panels which you can fill with apps and widgets. Hit the app draw button and at the top of the vertically scrolling menu you'll get a row of recommended apps - the ones the X Style thinks you'll want based on your usage.

I found these app suggestions were usually the ones I already had on my home screen, which sort of defeated the point of having them at the top of the app draw as I only ventured there to access less frequently used applications.

Motorola hasn't completely shunned Android however, with a trio of applications which come pre-installed on the Moto X Style.

Motorola Moto X Style review

They are Connect, Migrate and Moto. Connect is a potentially handy app if you've purchased one (or more) of five different Motorola peripherals with your X Style, be it a Moto 360 smartwatch or a pair of Moto Pulse headphones.

It allows you to adjust the settings of each device when it's connected to the X Style, but it's a pretty limited offering and with it only working with Moto branded products I ultimately found it a little unnecessary.

Migrate is an app you'll use a maximum of two times, as it helps you move your data from your old handset to the Moto X Style, and then from the X Style to a new handset when it's time to upgrade.

If you're shifting between Android phones then Migrate is very useful, moving photos, messages, contacts and more between phones, but if your other handset is on a different operating system it'll only handle contacts.

Motorola Moto X Style review

The Moto app is the most interesting, and useful, out of Motorola's trio of pre-installs allowing you to set up voice commands, enable gesture controls and manage handy notifications which display on screen when the phone is asleep.

First is the always listening voice command. Set up a trigger phrase, bark it at the Moto X Style and even if it's on the other side of the room (you'll have to speak up if it is), screen off and locked, it'll spring to life.

From there it's just your standard Google search voice, so you can ask the X Style things like what the time is, whether it'll rain today, or tell it to set you a reminder to buy milk at 5pm this evening.

The fact it can be triggered even when the screen is off is a useful feature, and while more and more manufacturers are starting to bring this functionality to their handsets, Motorola's been doing it for a while.

Motorola Moto X Style review

Next up in the Moto app are a range of gestures, allowing you to quickly turn on the torch with a double karate chop action, or fire up the camera with a double twist of the hand. They're fun to do, and I found the Moto X Style did an excellent job at recognising my actions.

Another action doesn't require you to touch the X Style at all. If you just want to check the time, or whether you have any notifications you can just move your hand over the handset and the screen will display those details.

This is perfect when you're phone is sitting on a desk and you just want a quick update on what is going on. I did find I triggered the screen when I didn't want to at times though, which is a bit of a waste of battery.

You can however turn off each gesture within the Moto app if you're not a fan.

Motorola Moto X Style review


The Moto X Style packs in a hexa-core Snapdragon 808 processor and 3GB of RAM, giving it the same amount of power as the flagship LG G4. In short then, the X Style has plenty of power under the hood.

General navigation is fluid, and apps open and close promptly - although you don't get the lightning quick reactions of the Samsung Galaxy S6 here. That's not an issue, especially when you consider the X Style's cheaper price tag, and you're unlikely to notice any speed related issues.

The Moto X Style happily ran multiple apps at the same time, and load times for the demanding Real Racing 3 and Family Guy Quest for Stuff games were impressive.

I ran the Geekbench 3 test on the handset several times, and the Moto X Style scored an average of 3557 on the multi-core benchmark. That puts it on par with the likes of the HTC One M9, but behind the Sony Xperia Z5, Samsung Galaxy S6 and iPhone 6S Plus.

Don't let that put you off though, the Moto X Style still has plenty of power and it handles pretty much anything you throw at it with ease.

John McCann
Global Managing Editor

John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.