Motorola Moto X Style review: So near and yet so far

Price when reviewed

If I was on the committee that decided the name for Motorola’s new flagship smartphone, the last word on my lips would have been “Style”. Not because the Motorola Moto X Style is an ugly phone – but because it’s a risk. It becomes a rod with which to beat it; an easy headline if the product fails to meet with expectations.  

So it’s a jolly good thing Motorola’s phone design department knows its onions; it has slowly been refining its smartphone design for a few years now, and the culmination is the Moto X Style.

Is this smartphone everything you’d expect it to be? Yes and no. In some ways it’s absolutely gorgeous. The sample Motorola sent me for this review has a white screen surround, framed with curvaceous aluminium with a pale gold finish, while the gently arced white rear panel was finished in a subtly rubberised material that’s beautifully soft to the touch.

It’s far from the thinnest, lightest phone around, measuring 11.3mm at its thickest point and tipping the scales at 179gm, but it is elegant in a way that makes you want to pick it up, hold it and stroke it. The real beauty of the Motorola Moto X Style’s design, however, isn’t that this particular version is a looker; it’s that it’s customisable.

Log on to the Motorola Moto Maker service and you’ll be able to choose between three different frame and screen-surround colour combinations, ten colours of soft-grip plastic, four wood finishes and four types of Saffiano-leather rear panels.

But then Motorola goes and spoils it all by pockmarking the front fascia with a battery of hideous sensors and cameras. Above the screen are five blobs of varying size, shape and positioning; below it are two grey dots. They’re not attractive, and painfully obvious on the white-fronted version; if you want my advice, go for the black Moto X style – it hides most of them neatly away.

Elsewhere, the Moto X Style follows the template set down by the Moto X last year and the gargantuan, Motorola-manufactured Nexus 6. This means the volume and power buttons are located on the right-hand edge, with the latter textured so you can locate it quickly without looking.

As with last year’s model, you can’t remove the backplate and get to the battery beneath, but the Style does have a MicroSD slot for expanding on the 32GB or 64GB of internal storage. It also has Corning Gorilla Glass 3 on the front for scratch and shatter resistance, and the phone has been treated inside and out with a water-resistant coating. This won’t protect it from a prolonged dunking, but it should survive a rain shower.

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