Motorola Moto X Force review

Forceful in more ways than one

Motorola Moto X Force review

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This is a high-end Motorola phone, which means it's automatically one of nicest phones to use on the market.

In truth, I could have written such positive impressions of the Moto X Force's interface before I even opened the box, because Motorola is one of precious few manufacturers to consistently offer us a pure Android experience.

Out of the box it'll run Android 5.1.1 software, but you can upgrade it to Android 6.0 Marshmallow right away when you connect up to the internet.

Starting up the Moto X Force for the first time is deeply refreshing, coming off a string of Android phones with customised UIs as I was. There's none of the bloatware, the inessential and just plain confusing duplicated apps, or the garish bespoke menu layouts.

Android 6 is a crisp, fluid, modern OS, and it runs just peachy on the Moto X Force.

Google Now is a rightward swipe away, providing its contextually sensitive and personalised snippets of information in bite-size fashion, while the app drawer pushes recommended (typically frequently used) apps to the top of the pile.

Motorola Moto X Force review

That's not to say Motorola has had no input with the Moto X Force's software. As with the Moto X Style and Moto X Play, there are a couple of discrete Motorola apps tucked away in the aforementioned app tray in the shape of Connect and Moto.

Connect can be used if you've got a Motorola-branded peripheral to use with your Moto X Force, such as the attractive Moto 360 smartwatch. It's pretty inessential, and probably won't be touched by most people.

The Moto app is far more useful. Through it you can set up Motorola's voice assistant, as well as manage gesture shortcuts and lockscreen notifications.

The voice component is nothing special in these days of Google Now, Siri, and Cortana, but it's handy that it can work even when the screen is off. I did have some trouble setting it up and getting it to recognise my launch phrase, however, and I hardly have an unusual accent.

Motorola Moto X Force review

Marginally more useful, I found, were Motorola's gesture commands. Twisting the phone twice reliably jumps to the camera from sleep, while a 'double karate chop' will initiate the torch – although it might also enable you to test out that unbreakable screen if you're not careful.

While these gestures are neat, I still prefer the sureness of the Galaxy S6's double home key press camera shortcut, or even the iPhone 6S's control centre shortcut for torch control.

The gesture I liked the best by far, and used multiple times every day, was Moto Display. This is enabled by default, and simply shows you the time and reveals the unlock command when your hand is near the display.

Motorola Moto X Force review

It's also another way in which the Moto X Force's AMOLED display technology is put to good use, because it only lights up the necessary pixels for the task. This saves power, and ensures that your whole bedroom isn't lit up when you check the time in the wee hours of the morning.

It also means the phone is always primed and ready for your swipe-to-unlock motion without you having to fumble for the power key or double-tap the display to wake it.

All of this runs extremely fluidly on the Moto X Force, and that's not just down to the laudable lack of needless software tinkering on Motorola's part.


This is the fastest phone in the 2015 Motorola fleet. Whereas the previous champ, the Moto X Style, ran on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 808 CPU, the Moto X Force is powered by the more capable Snapdragon 810.

There isn't loads in it, and the two chips are closely related, but the Snapdragon 810 has two additional cores for low-intensity tasks, and it has the definite edge in performance terms.

Like the Style, the Force features 3GB of RAM, which is pretty much the standard for a high-end Android phone in 2015 (although it should be noted that some have started including 4GB).

Motorola Moto X Force review

Anecdotally, playing complex 3D games like Dead Trigger 2 and Need For Speed: No Limits didn't hamper the Moto X Force's performance at all. Admittedly that's the case with almost any mid-range Android phone these days, but remember that the Force has a QHD display to drive – that's a lot of pixels to push around.

More scientifically, the Moto X Force scored an impressive 4757 on techradar's Geekbench 3 multi-core benchmark tests. That's exactly 1200 more than the Moto X Style with its Snapdragon 808 managed, and is pretty much on a par with the Samsung Galaxy S6 and its impressive custom CPU.

Perhaps that 'Force' moniker is more than a reference to the phone's toughness – it could well be a nod to its impressive power too.