Moto X Pure Review: What The Nexus 6 Should Have Been

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Yeah, I know I’m bound to incur the wrath of fans of last year’s Nexus 6, especially the diehard ones, but the Moto X Pure is simply what the Nexus 6 should have been. There was no other way for me to word that without offending someone so there we are. Let’s move on to our Moto X Pure review and see why I think this is a fantastic flagship phone.


What’s In The Box

  • Moto X Pure 64GB (designed in Moto Maker)
  • Fast charger with cable attached
  • Sim removal tool
  • Guides and warranty info


Motorola seems to have become comfortable with a similar design for all its current smartphones that originated with the original Moto X. The Moto X Pure design is pretty identical to the Nexus 6 with the same metal frame and non removable back. It’s still a lovely design and still current enough to not make it dated or about to go out of date. The microUSB charging port is on the bottom center and Moto supplies its fast charger with the phone. The fast charger is now all one unit, not a separate charging brick and cable like most phones.


The headphone jack is on the top of the phone which I find inconvenient and not eye appealing at all, I prefer the headphone jack on the bottom for a couple of reasons. For starters, it doesn’t look as bad sitting on the dash of the car, with the cable sticking up out of the phone it looks gaudy. Also when I used wired headphones, I tend to put my phone in my pocket USB side up, having the headphone jack on the bottom lets my headphone cable naturally come out of my pocket. Probably a minor complaint but none the less, a complaint.

Probably the best thing about the Moto X Pure design is Moto Maker. Moto Maker allows you to customize your phone how you want it, tailored to your look. With different back colors and materials you can really go crazy and make something very unique. You can even customize the speaker grills and camera band. I went with a charcoal grey back with dark metal accents, very subtle and simple. Moto Maker is easily one of the best features has on its Moto devices.

The size of this phone is also a big plus. While the Nexus 6 clocks in with a 5.9″ screen, the Moto X Pure clocks in at 5.7″ screen. The Nexus 6 chassis is significantly larger and harder to handle even with larger hands. The Moto X pure is much easier to handle and much slimmer than the Nexus 6 and that is a huge plus in my book.


The volume rocker and power button are both located on the right side, the volume controls are smooth and power has texture so you can tell the difference. One thing I noticed with the Moto X Pure buttons was the amount of give or play they had, they seem to wiggle very easily and it was kind of annoying. Interestingly enough, we found the Moto X Play had the same issue so this is likely a design choice and not an issue with our particular devices. After extended use you kind of ignore it but it is something to be aware of.


The Moto X Pure’s 2K QHD screen with a resolution of 2560×1440 and 520ppi is by far one of the nicest screens I’ve  used. Most higher end smartphone screens are getting better and better almost making it an even playing ground among them. What it really comes down to when choosing a screen is how much do you like over saturation and natural color? The Moto X Pure tends to be more vibrant than the iPhone 6s Plus and just a slight less vibrant than the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 so it’s a middle of the road display. Personally I like the more natural look of the iPhone but that doesn’t make this display bad by a long shot. The display on the Moto X Pure is wonderful and most buyers will be happy with the way it looks.



This is the part where I think this phone is what the Nexus 6 should have been. There will be the Nexus purists who will likely be very vocal against my opinions here but they have every right if they like.

The Moto X Pure ships with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop and is expected to get Android 6.0 Marshmallow anytime now. The nice thing about the X Pure is most of the Android experience on this phone is the stock experience. It’s almost as if you’re getting a Nexus device. It ships with the stock Android look and Google Now launcher and is nearly identical to the Nexus 6 in terms of Android software.

What makes the Moto X Pure just a step above the Nexus 6 is the addition of useful software features the Nexus 6 does not have. Usually Android OEM’s add a barrage of useless apps and other tricks that tend to be useless more than useful. The opposite is the case here with Motorola. If you read our Moto X Play review, Jason Bouwmeester really nailed it on the head when it comes to the Moto software, and it’s why it’s a better phone than the Nexus 6.


Of course you have Motorola Migrate for transferring over photos, video, contacts and texts from your old phone but you also have the Moto app which has useful features for Assist, Actions, Voice, and Display. The voice assist allows you to control your phone in a variety of ways like alarms, playing music or getting directions and it works with the display off. Moto Assist allows you to manage your phone around your life like silencing it when you know you’ll be driving or when you have the Monday morning meeting.

Moto Actions is probably my less favorite of the software inclusions, you can access your camera, flashlight and other functions by twisting or chopping with your phone. I found it kind of silly but I know some people will find it useful. Moto Display is the best feature of the Moto bundled software, it allows you to see your notifications on screen without the screen coming on which saves battery life like crazy. These small software additions make using the Moto X Pure much more fun and useful than the Nexus 6.


The Moto X Pure’s engine compartment is no slouch, it has a hexa core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 CPU clocked at 1.8 GHz, and it also has 3GB of RAM pushing out all that power. Playing games and watching movies is a breeze on this device and the 2K HD screen looks great doing it. I had no problem multi-tasking and moving from one app to another. The Moto X Pure did heat up fairly easily when playing intense games or watching movies for a long period.


As Jason found in his Moto X Play testing, I too found that the phone lagged after a long period (a week or more) without being rebooted. After rebooting the phone returned back to its normal performance and I had no issues. This isn’t out of the realm of normalcy for smartphones, many manufactures have similar issues. It mostly depends on how heavily you use your device.


The dual front facing speakers on the Moto X Pure are loud and clear, very acceptable sound. Not headphone quality but certainly better than an iPhone or Samsung whose speakers are bottom and rear facing (edit: the Note5 is bottom facing, I should know this as I own one but I also owned the Note 4 and my brain was stuck there when writing this, thanks reddit for clarifying). The speakers are really great for movie watching and video gaming.


The 21MP rear facing camera is a great shooter indeed but I expected more out of it than I got. While the images aren’t horrible by a long shot, they’re also very comparable to phones with less megapixels like the iPhone 6s Plus and Galaxy Note5. That being said, Motorola has included some of it’s nifty camera software tricks like the ability to under and overexpose on the fly which is great for capturing the correct light.

I found outdoor pictures to be awesome, most smartphone cameras take great outdoor shots with good lighting. I did find indoors and low-light to be less acceptable but not awful. Again, camera technology has come a long way and the Moto X Pure camera is still an excellent camera overall. Video quality on the Moto X Pure is great as well, outdoors video is especially nice.

Where the Moto X Pure shines is the front facing 5MP selfie camera. Probably one of the better front facing cameras I’ve used and certainly much better than the iPhone 6s Plus front facer.

Reception/Call Quality

Reception on the Moto X Pure will depend on your carrier and location but I had zero issues and call quality was also really good. My wife actually thought of all the phones I’ve used this one sounded the best on the other end with no background noise or annoying echoes.


Battery Life

Packing a non-removable 3,000 mAh battery the Moto X Pure got me through my 17 hour day without an issue. I generally unplug at 5am and plug back in at 10pm and end up somewhere around 15-20% battery left. The Moto X Pure probably won’t get the same amount of life as the Moto X Play’s 3630 mAh battery but it does at least get through the day. The Moto X Pure supports Turbo Charging but not Qi Wireless charging, which is nice to have but honestly is slower than Turbo Charging.


The Moto X Pure comes in 16/32/64GB storage options and includes a microSD slot which supports 128GB expansion.


Starting in at $399 for the 16GB model and going up from there, the Moto X Pure is one of the most affordable smartphones in its class and well worth the starting price. Our review unit was configured in Moto Maker and is the 64GB model with a final price of $499.


Wrap Up

When I purchased the Nexus 6 I thought it was a great phone and it really still is. You’ll get faster updates to your Android system with the Nexus 6 due to it being supported by Google and that’s its strongest selling point. But the Moto X Pure has so many more quality useful software features that it’s worth risking a less than speedy software update from Motorola. The price point of the Pure is also a winner, this is an affordable well specced out of the box smartphone and totally worth looking into.

Moto X Pure
4.6 Out of 5
Nailed it
Very easy to handle even with a 5.7" screen. Motorola's added software is useful and useless. The design is nice and the screen is wonderful. Good speakers and near pure Android experience.
Needs Work
Volume and power buttons have a bit of play in them that can be annoying. Headphone jack is not in the best position. Phone can heat up quickly with intense use.
Bottom Line
When I purchased the Nexus 6 I thought it was a great phone and it really still is. You'll get faster updates to your Android system with the Nexus 6 due to it being supported by Google and that's its strongest selling point. But the Moto X Pure has so many more quality useful software features that it's worth risking a less than speedy software update from Motorola. The price point of the Pure is also a winner, this is an affordable well speced out of the box smartphone and totally worth looking into.
Reception/Call Quality5.00
Battery Life4.25
*We reviewed a retail unit of the Moto X Pure purchased by the reviewer through Moto Maker.
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