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Moto X Pure Edition: Top 5 features of Motorola’s compelling new flagship

by Brandon Russell | July 28, 2015July 28, 2015 8:42 am PDT

Motorola didn’t just announce one device on Tuesday, but three, and headlining the company’s fresh lineup is the Moto X Pure Edition (AKA Moto X Style elsewhere in the world), a flagship in every sense of the word. Not only does it come equipped with the type of specs you’d expect from a flagship in mid-2015, but it comes with the same great experience of past Motorola flagships. If that’s not enough to grab your interest, then how about this: it’ll be offered unlocked for just $399.

Motorola has quietly offered some of the best smartphones on the market over the past few years, and this year is no different. The Moto G is great for affordability, while the Moto X Play offers flagship features at a tantalizing price. But it’s the Moto X Pure Edition that stands above them all, a device that combines the latest specs, design improvements and software features Motorola is known for.

Below are our top 5 favorite features from today’s Moto X Pure Edition announcement. At such a low price, Motorola appears very committed to becoming one of this year’s premiere players. Find out what makes the Moto X Pure Edition so promising in our list below.

Unlocked/Universal LTE banding

When Motorola says the Moto X Pure Edition is unlocked, it means unlocked. And that’s a big deal. When it launches in the U.S., it’ll be compatible with every carrier under the sun, and support every band of LTE. Just pop in your favorite SIM and you’ll be good to go. This is huge for folks who aren’t tied to a carrier contract and want to hop around. Now you can tote your new Moto X Pure Edition along with you; the power is essentially in your hands.

Devices that support every single LTE band have become more accessible over the last several months, but this is the cream of the crop. Motorola’s approach caters specifically to the consumer, which is a nice change for once. A lot of times a device will work on most carriers, but not all. The recently announce OnePlus 2, for example, won’t work on Verizon.

So if you’re a traveling nomad who doesn’t like to be stuck with one carrier for too long, the Moto X Pure Edition will assuredly be unlocked, giving you the freedom to hop from one place to the next without limitations.

Price

And that brings us to the next item on today’s agenda: price. For a while Motorola got price all wrong. When the first Moto X came out, people were upset that it offered “mediocre” specs for a flagship price. But over the past several months, Motorola has slowly evolved its approach, and now offers some of the best value for your dollar. When the Moto G becomes the company’s best-selling device, you know Motorola is doing something right.

For $399, here’s what you get: 5.7-inch edge-to-edge Quad HD display, 1.8GHz Snapdragon 808 processor, 3GB of RAM, 16GB/32GB/64GB of expandable storage, Android 5.1.1, 21-megapixel camera with f/2.0 aperture, 4K video recording, 3000Ah battery with Turbo Charging support, front-facing speakers and water-resistance. That’s a pretty terrific value for what you get, especially when some devices are hundreds of dollars more unlocked.

You might have to accept a few more lawn mower jobs to afford it, but the Moto X Pure Edition sounds like one of the best values of the year. Of course, a device like the OnePlus 2 is slightly cheaper with competitive specs, though the Moto X Pure Edition might have the edge in some respects, such as the expandable storage, Turbo Charging support, and what Motorola promises will be a “best in class” camera. All that for $399? Sounds like a deal to me.

Design/Moto Maker

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Motorola device if it didn’t have such an excellent design. Since the first Moto X came out, Motorola has offered some of the best designs on the market. They’re not always the flashiest, but they’re functional and comfortable, like they were designed by an actual smartphone user, and not some committee that did a short-sighted market study. The Moto X Pure Edition looks to have refined last year’s Moto X design, which was one of the best out there.

Even better, customers will still have access to Moto Maker, which remains one of the best services out there. When you buy the Moto X Pure Edition, you’ll be able to customize everything from color, to accents, to what’s engraved on the back. Folks will still be able to choose from genuine Saffiano leather, which Motorola says is sourced from Horween, a U.S.-based leather company. There are wood options, too, giving folks hundreds of different combinations to choose from.

What I’m most excited about is how refined the Pure Edition looks over last year’s Moto X. The screen spans edge-to-edge, offering the most screen real estate in the smallest possible package. Meanwhile, the device’s overall shape has been tweaked slightly to be more comfortable in the hand; that small dimple was also minimized, which is a welcome change over last year’s model. All of this contained in an aluminum frame, which gives the device a wonderfully premium feel.

Camera

Motorola knows its devices don’t offer a great camera experience; it acknowledged this more than a few times during its presentation on Tuesday. But the company promises that’ll change with the Moto X Pure Edition, which is claims will be “best in class.” That’s a bold statement from a company that traditionally has fallen short in this category. And with devices like the Galaxy S6 and G4 on the market, it has a mountain to climb.

With a 21-megapixel sensor and f/2.0 aperture, Motorola is confident the Moto X Pure Edition will offer the crispest, most beautiful photos ever taken by a smartphone. It showed some examples during its presentation, and they certainly looked terrific. But those could have been doctored, and Motorola obviously wanted to put its best foot forward. It’ll be a whole different ball game when we actually use this thing out in the wild. A controlled environment is much different from the real world.

That said, if Motorola does manage to live up to its claim as best-in-class, then it’ll have a real winner here. Cameras are arguably the most important feature in a phone; get it wrong and the best design, software experience and hardware options might not be enough to save it. Hopefully when the device launches in September, we won’t be looking back and wondering what in the world made Motorola so confident.

By saying it’ll easily offer the best mobile camera on the market, the pressure is on to deliver.

Pure Android

Even before Samsung and HTC were dialing back their custom Android skins, Motorola was offering a terrific pure Android experience. Rather than focusing efforts on creating a Frankenstein Android, Motorola made apps that are actually useful—and in some respects make the experience better than what you’d get with a Nexus device. It started with the Moto X in 2013, and it’s even better in the year 2015.

Like previous Motorola devices, users will have access to features like Moto Assist, Moto Display and more. These experiences complement Android, not detract, making for a more pleasant experience overall. And what’s great is that they’re apps, which means Motorola can update them without needing to worry about waiting for carriers and that whole nightmare-ish process.

There are merits to skins like TouchWiz and Sense, but once you use Motorola’s vision of Android, you’ll see why it’s so important—and liked by users. You might not find some of its tweaks all that useful, and that’s OK. At least you still have a near-stock version of Android without all the fluff pulling it down. That’s a very big deal, and shows that Motorola is still very committed to Google’s vision of pure Android.

Wrap-up

For the most part, the Moto X Pure Edition is everything we expected: better specs, better design and a mind-blowing price. But that’s exactly what we wanted. Motorola has offered such a terrific software/hardware unity that it’s not expected to make any sweeping changes. By building on the foundation of previous Moto X devices, the company is further staking its claim as one of today’s premiere handset makers, and the Pure Edition is its masterpiece.

It’s a little disappointing it didn’t decide to go with something like USB Type-C, and there’s no wireless charging. But you still get expandable storage, a terrific display, all-day battery and what Motorola claims is the best camera on the market. All for $399. When it launches in September, it could very well be among the top smartphones of 2015.


Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...

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