Nexus 5X vs Moto X Pure Edition comparison

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It’s the ultimate Android, the current state of the smartphone art. But are we talking about the Nexus 5X, or are we talking about the Moto X Pure Edition, known as the Moto X Style outside the US? Both phones are brilliant, but is one more brilliant than the other? There’s only one way to find out: put them head to head in a Nexus 5X vs Moto X Pure Edition comparison.

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There are two new Nexus devices: the 5X phone (left) and the 6P tablet. / © Google

Nexus 5X vs Moto X Pure Edition: design and build quality

This Nexus is made by LG, and it’s as well engineered as you’d expect. It’s not a fantastic-looking device, though, and we think it’s a little too similar to its predecessor. It’s longer, thinner and a little bit less angular than before, but it’s not something that’s going to wow you. Then again, Nexus phones are all about showcasing Android rather than their manufacturers’ design skills, so potential buyers may not care. The Nexus also has a fingerprint reader, something the Moto lacks.

The Motorola, however, is a lovely looking thing. By default it’s clad in soft silicone, but you can also go crazy in the Moto Maker store and sheath it in genuine leather or bamboo. The back is slightly curved for extra comfort but doesn’t wobble if you’re using it on a table, and the camera lens is flush with the back instead of protruding like many rival phones' cameras – including the Nexus 5X's – do. All things considered, it looks and feels reassuringly expensive.

moto x style
Motorola's Moto Maker enables you to customize your phone. / © Motorola

Nexus 5X vs Moto X Pure Edition: display and audio

The Nexus 5X has a 5.2-inch LCD delivering 1,920 x 1,080 pixels at a resolution of 424 ppi. The Moto X is bigger and denser: the screen is 5.7 inches, delivering 2,560 x 1,440 at 515 ppi. It’s not an AMOLED this time around; Motorola has plumped for an IPS LCD instead. The Moto has twin front-facing speakers while the Nexus makes do with one.

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There's no AMOLED display on this year's Moto: it gets an IPS LCD instead. / © ANDROIDPIT

Nexus 5X vs Moto X Pure Edition: processor and storage

There’s a six-core Snapdragon 808 inside the Nexus, clocked at 1.8 GHz, and it’s teamed with 2 GB of RAM. Storage capacities are 16 GB or 32 GB, and there’s no removable storage.

The Moto X has the same processor but more RAM – 3 GB instead of 2 GB – and its available storage options are 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB. It also benefits from a microSD slot that you can use to add even more storage. If you like to take lots of photos or video, carry your music collection around with you or install lots of apps, you’ll appreciate this.

The Motorola has another two tricks up its sleeve: co-processors for natural language and contextual computing. Those co-processors drive the phone’s voice capture systems and reduce power usage when it’s in a pocket or purse.

Nexus 5X vs Moto X Pure Edition: camera

The Nexus cameras are 12.3 MP with dual-LED flash on the back, and 5 MP for selfies on the front. The Moto X has a 21 MP rear camera with a dual-LED, and a 5 MP front-facing camera that also has an LED flash. The main Moto camera is Motorola’s best yet, and we were very impressed with its performance. It’s night mode is particularly good: it reduces resolution to a relatively low 3 MP but banishes the noise and grain we’ve come to dread seeing in low-light shots.

The most interesting bit of the Nexus camera isn’t the megapixel count, though. It’s the sensor. The 5X has a new sensor with larger pixels than the norm. That should mean better low light performance – the bigger the pixel, the more light it captures – but we haven’t had the opportunity to test it in real world conditions just yet. We'll update this comparison when we do.

The camera in the 5X is a vast improvement over its predecessor. / © Google

Nexus 5X vs Moto X Pure Edition: software

As you’d expect from a new Nexus, the 5X comes with the latest, greatest Android version – which at the time of writing is Android 6.0, aka Marshmallow. Like any Nexus, its operating system is a completely stock version of Android without the sometimes-unwanted bells and whistles that some manufacturers love to add.

The Moto ships with Android Lollipop, but a Marshmallow upgrade is coming. Motorola hasn’t messed with stock Lollipop very much: it’s just added its own, generally useful apps – Help, Migration, Connect and Moto – and left the UI more or less as Google made it. 

Guess which version of Android the Moto ships with. Go on. Guess. / © ANDROIDPIT

Nexus 5X vs Moto X Pure Edition: battery

The Nexus 5X battery capacity is 2,700 mAh, and the Moto X Pure has 3,000 mAh, but the Moto is driving a bigger, denser screen so the difference in battery life is likely to be minor. As the Moto ships with 5.1.1 Lollipop, however, it won’t have Android 6.0’s efficiency improvements until you upgrade, so in the real world the Nexus may have the edge here.

That said, the Moto comes with a turbo charger, which charged the battery in one hour and 23 minutes in our testing, and got it 16 percent charge after just 15 minutes. That’s really useful.

moto x style moto maker
The Moto is available in shades ranging from subtle to OW MY EYES. / © ANDROIDPIT

Nexus 5X vs Moto X Pure Edition: early verdict

There’s very little difference in price between the two devices: the Nexus 5X is $379 and the Moto X Pure is $399, although we’d expect retailers to start discounting the Moto fairly quickly. That means we’re competing on specs and style, and we think that the Moto X Pure Edition narrowly wins on both.

It has a bigger battery, more storage options and a microSD slot, a superb camera and stereo speakers, plus it looks better and you can really make it your own using Moto Maker. They’re both great devices, but we think the Moto is that little bit greater.

What do you think? Is the Moto’s lack of fingerprint sensor a deal-breaker, or would you buy it over the Nexus 5X in a flash? Let us know below.

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  • [email protected] Feb 1, 2016 Link to comment

    I made the horrible mistake of getting the 5x. I have few regrets in life...spending money on a 5x is one of them. There's so many bad things about the device but the camera and camera software are the worst I've EVER seen/used to the point that they're almost useless are rarely take pictures anymore.

    The fingerprint scanner is kind of useful and does work well but most of the time I forget it's there and have never actually needed it.

    The USB-c seems cool however, there still are no USB to C cables that are 'safe' plus nobody has a charger if I happen to forget mine. I know it's the future, but until this becomes more of a standard, it's actually a pain in the ass.

  • Steven F. Dec 21, 2015 Link to comment

    I had a Nexus 5 for 2 years (loved it) until it just stopped working. It wouldn't load the OS (6). It would start to load and crash and attempt it over and over again... I spent a lot of time trying to decide whether to buy the Nexus5x or the Moto X Pure. I even considered another 5 but I went with the Moto X and have been with it for 3 days now. I love the familiarity of the pure Android experience to which I had become accustomed. I chose the Moto X for the expandable memory most of all since I was on a budget and went with the 16 Gb model (standard connectors helped). For essentially the same price I got a phone I could expand as I needed. I must say that I didn't think the Moto X would be that much bigger but I can now say that I find it much more difficult to use one handed. The Nexus 5 was the Right Size for me and this phone at 6" is like a phablet. The Fingerprint scanner is not an issue for me as I don't live where it will be implemented any time soon. The phone will break or just die before that ever happens here. I like the Moto X and the extra sensors it has to wake up and the Moto extras apps. I will obviously know more in a months time about how it feels.

  • Amit Goyal Nov 29, 2015 Link to comment

    First of all, thanks for the insightful article. While going through the specs, its hard to notice the subtle (though important) differences like extra co-processors of moto-x, these things notch up the performance and hence experience. And yes, I am at cross-road right now, to me finger print scanner is not a bigger deal but the build quality & performance is. So I am going to go with Moto-X

  • Mike Denly Nov 3, 2015 Link to comment

    Have a 2014 moto x and wanted the 2015 but no finger print scanner was the deal breaker , went with the 5x

  • Acum Amcum Nov 3, 2015 Link to comment

    What is the point of comparing a 5.2" phone with a 5.7" phone? They are light years apart, in terms of size/handling.. it doesn't make any sense.. It's like comparing SUV's with small hatchbacks..

    • Llon Nov 18, 2015 Link to comment

      Yet you read the article

    • Carlos Garcia Dec 7, 2015 Link to comment

      There are times when such comparisons work for people.

    • B J Jun 15, 2016 Link to comment

      In truth, it's really the only major difference between the phones. Similar features and price, it's why I'm reading. Looking at these 2 phones and I'm really glad this comparison (and others between the two phones) is here.

  • Stephen Daley Nov 2, 2015 Link to comment

    OK so I have been looking at both devices since they came out. Right now I am still loving my OPO but really want more. The MotoX is very appealing as I can customize it and the large screen and battery. But I really want finger print for my Last Pass logins and Android Pay. (Not working on OPO). I also like the USB-c fast charging.

    So I am at a cross roads with the two phones.

    • ROBERT KILZER Nov 2, 2015 Link to comment

      Former Nexus 5, now Moto X Pure Edition. Three points: 1) My Moto X included a fast charger. 2) Don't forget the Moto X supports micro sd cards. I added 64GB for $25. 3) The Moto X will run on any major US cell network (Verizon, ATT, Sprint, et al). With most major cell carriers moving to no-contract by-the-month data plans, the ability to move freely to the best carrier and plan for you is a big deal.

  •   31
    Deactivated Account Nov 2, 2015 Link to comment

    Moto display is so simple, yet really useful and very noticeable when it's gone, ambient display and fingerprint scanning are ok, but Motos extra hardware and simple software is a brilliantly useful daily android user enhancement.

  • Robert Bray Nov 2, 2015 Link to comment

    I grabbed a Style because the 6P was going to take too long to come to Australia and my nexus 5's cracked screen was interfering with the digitizer input. (Cracked right above the connector) so I couldn't wait.

    I don't regret having my hand forced like this. The phone's just lovely. USB C would have been irritating rather than useful (ask again in two years and you'll probably get a different answer) the turbo charge is absurdly useful and finger print scanning would have been nice, but doesn't begin to be a deal breaker. Particularly not when compared with micro sd.

  • Juan López G. Nov 2, 2015 Link to comment

    I fingerscanner is cool but it is not a dealbreaker (even more when Google will limit what you can do with it so no cool and useful stuff) so i bought a Moto. USB type C would be more important for future's sake.
    In almost all aspects the Moto is better. A more fair comparation would be with he Nexus 6.

  • Tim Stevens Nov 1, 2015 Link to comment

    Personally...the Fingerprintscanner is the future and is a big faillure of the moto x!! If the Moto had included the Fingerscanner it would be my next phone.... Now i have to find an alternative and sorry to say this but...i think im going chinese like with Elephone p9000.... A fingerscanner and fast LTE and LPDDR4 is needed to build a flagship device! Period

    • Gabriel Nov 6, 2015 Link to comment

      No it isn't at all. A lot of people don't care about fingerprint scanners.

      • Llon Nov 18, 2015 Link to comment

        Agreed. I don't know why people are so fixated on that.

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