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iPhone 6s Plus vs. Moto X Pure – How does Motorola’s premium phablet compare to the best? [Video]

moto x 6s plus wp

Apple got in to the high-end phablet game for the first time last year. And just a couple of months back, it released its follow up to the 6 Plus just as Motorola turned its Moto X into a giant. Can the X Pure compete with what many consider to be the best phablet around?

Like Apple, Motorola has a big focus on design. Although their focus takes them on a slightly different path, the value for aesthetic appeal is there nonetheless. The metal-framed phone can be customized with a number of different color frames, front panels, metal accents and materials to personalize it before it even arrives at your door. With the iPhone 6s Plus, you have four colors. Only one if you want a black front panel. If you want to add leather, wood or a grippy plastic texture, your option is limited to buying a case.

While Motorola went with a curved back that sits comfortably in your palm, Apple went with a flat, smooth all-metal design. Motorola’s is undoubtedly more ergonomic, but in truth, both phones are big and reaching the corners of either screen is a stretch, even if you have large hands. Of course, if you have the iPhone, you can double tap the Home button and make any content at the top of the screen drop lower, making it far easier to reach.

If there’s one thing the iPhone has going for it, it’s an elegance and finesse. Although I’m not a fan of the antenna bands, there’s something quite luxurious about the way the glass curves perfectly in to the metal chassis, almost creating a seamless experience. Even the protruding camera, Lightning port and machined speaker holes are attractive. And you have to admire Apple’s ability to make really slim devices. At just 7.3mm thin, it’s nearly 4mm thinner than the Moto X Style’s thinnest point.

On the flip side, Apple’s insistence on relatively fat bezels means the iPhone 6s Plus is both taller and wider than the Moto X, that’s despite the fact its screen is 0.2-inches smaller. The Moto X Style has nice, slim bezels and still manages to fit in two stereo front-facing speakers in a front panel that’s 4.3mm shorter than the iPhone’s.

What this means in actual day-to-day life is that the Moto X feels like it belongs in your hand and fits easier in to your pocket, while the iPhone 6s is prettier to look at.

On to displays, and very little separates them. Despite being Quad HD resolution, the 5.7-inch LCD panel on the Motorola almost indistinguishable from the iPhone. Colors and sharpness are pretty much the same on both, despite being different resolutions. The Motorola is maybe slightly cooler, which makes blues pop a little bit more, but there really isn’t anything in it. That’s to say, they’re both very good displays with good viewing angles, color accuracy and detail. Neither offers the saturation, deep blacks or vividness of AMOLED screens, but that’s to be expected from LCD tech.

One piece of tech built in to the iPhone’s screen which isn’t on the Motorola is 3D Touch. In essence, the touch panel knows how hard you’re pressing the screen, and can enable special actions within apps, or direct from app icons on the home screen. Having used them for a little while, it’s very easy to get used to, especially when wanting to send a text message really quickly. I sometimes find myself pressing hard on the Moto X Screen, subconsciously hoping something happens. It never does.

As multimedia experiences go, having a slightly larger screen doesn’t quite make the Moto X Style an easy winner over the iPhone. But what does, is the stereo speakers. As always, Apple’s smartphone has a single loudspeaker placed right on the bottom edge, where your finger or palm will undoubtedly rest when watching movies or gaming. That doesn’t make for an immersive audio experience. Having two speakers blast at your face does, and being stereo means you get a proper feel for how the audio should sound.

As software experiences go, it’s the age old arguments of Android versus iOS. Although currently, the Moto X doesn’t have the latest version of Google’s operating system. It runs Lollipop, although an update to Marshmallow should be coming soon. In most regards, it’s a stock Android experience with a few tweaks. iPhones always run the latest version of iOS, so you get all the new tweaks and tricks offered by iOS 9. If your reason for choosing a phone is based mostly on which platform it runs, the decision is already made for you.

Putting the OS argument aside, both perform like flagships. The iPhone’s powerful dial-core A9 processor powers through most tasks with ease, performing Geekbench tests reveals why too. Its single-core performance is staggeringly high at over 2500 points, while multi-core performance is still 1000 higher than the six-core Snapdragon chip inside the Motorola. In daily use, you probably won’t notice any difference. Both phones are fast and fluid, while the iPhone will load graphically intense content a little faster.

It’s a different story with battery life. The iPhone’s battery may have a lower capacity battery at 2,750mAh (compared to the Moto’s 3,000mAh) but it seems to last longer in daily use. Most days, I can almost get to the end of a second day on a full charge with the iPhone 6s Plus, while the Motorola might get me to 1.5 days. But, if you ever want to charge it, the Motorola does so much quicker. With TurboPower, the Motorola can charge almost 70% of its battery in half an hour. That’s enough to get you through a full day.

Again, like the displays, there’s not much difference in quality of imagery when comparing the Moto X and iPhone. Motorola proudly exclaimed its new camera module is better than the iPhone 6 when it was launched. While that may be the case, it’s not immediately obvious. Both cameras can take great pictures, with good color accuracy and sharpness. Neither is particularly wonderful in low light conditions, and both can shoot 4K resolution video. Motorola’s boasts 21MP vs. the iPhone’s 12MP, meaning pictures are much bigger from the Moto X.

As an overall package, in many ways, both represent what’s best about their respective platforms. The Moto X might not have a fingerprint sensor, or a pressure sensitive display, but everything else about it is superb. As a kicker, the Moto X Pure costs just $399 in the US SIM-free and unlocked for the 16GB model. The same storage on an iPhone 6s Plus will cost you a princely $749. What’s more, you can expand the storage of the Moto X Pure up to an extra 128GB using a MicroSD card. To get that kind of storage an iPhone 6s Plus, you’re paying nearly $1000.

Many an Apple fan will argue that the company’s continued software support, fantastic app ecosystem and customer service are worth paying nearly double for a comparable piece of hardware. I don’t disagree too strongly. If you want an iPhone, you have to pay for it. On the flip-side, if you’re wanting to find out what life’s like on the ‘Dark Side’, it’ll set you back just half of the cost of an iPhone to get a very compelling, fantastic device.

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  1. Selva Prakash (@selva83) - 7 years ago

    At just 7.3mm thin, it’s nearly 4mm thinner than the Moto X Style’s “thinnest” point. – But The audio says thickest point.

  2. tincan2012 - 7 years ago

    Some would say this review was biased towards Android, a prime example being the anti-Apple comment regarding value for extra cost. Some would say that this was not an objective comparison but rather the opinion of a covert Android user. And some would say the snide remarks about iPhones delivered with a British accent was just perfect for the overall tone of the video. Bravo Cam.

    • bhayes444 - 7 years ago

      I admit to not watching the video, but in the written review I didn’t see how it was biased one way or another. The tone of the article was seemingly apologetic towards the shortcomings of both devices, essentially saying they are both good. The only part that seemed to be “anti-Apple” was when the author stated a clear cut fact that the Moto X costs half as much as the iPhone and is a better value; which it is if looked at a cost to component comparison. Value matters to some people and not as much to others, especially those who want to use iOS because there is only one type of phone to get that runs it. The author states his opinion on how he viewed the different characteristics of each device (screen, camera, looks, etc.), and despite whether or not one is better on paper than the other (e.g. The A9 blows away the 808 in benchmarks), his perception was that they were on the same level; albeit not equals.

      • samuelsnay - 7 years ago

        But the Moto isn’t a better value. Besides not featuring some of the amazing tech of the iPhone 6S+ (3D Touch, Touch ID), it also benchmarks WAY worse than the iPhone.

        So you’re paying less for a shittier phone. As you should.

        The article tried to paint them as nearly even, and then put the iPhone up as costing a “princely” sum. Ridiculous.

      • krakowian - 7 years ago


        Last summer, I discovered the Moto X (first generation), and learned about a second generation coming out in the fall, about the same time as the new iPhone 6. I have been an Apple-only person since the early 90s. I have had three generations of iPhones, but last summer, I bought an original Moto X really cheap, with the intention of testing the waters of Android, to see if I could stomach living with Android, or if I needed iOS. My plan was that if i like Android enough, I would get the then new Moto X, and if not, a new iPhone 6. That was the plan.

        Turns out, I not only liked Android, I quickly fell in love and have become dependent on it. My youngest has been using my old iPhone, and honestly, when I have to work on it for her, it drives me crazy, it’s so limited. Motorola has created a beautiful blend of extensions to Google’s stock OS that make using the phone seamless for how I like to use my phone (it was the Moto Voce, Actions and Display functions that grabbed my attention). In fact, I loved what I had so much, that I’ve kept that old phone for an entire year. I destroyed it just recently, and ended upgrading to a new Moto X. Before I did, I looked again at the new iPhone 6S and plus. It took me all of about 30 seconds playing with them for me to come to the conclusion that it offered me absolutely _nothing_ for the extra _hundreds_ of dollars I’d have to pay for it. Not only that, but then I’d be stuck going back to iCloud and Apple’s spotty record with cloud services. It almost gives me hives thinking about it. Sure, I do prefer Apple’s privacy standards, but on the other hand, I also prefer how Google is able to just about read my mind. Every Monday evening, I have to take my daughter to swimming lessons in bad traffic, and every Monday evening, my Google Now shows me what my drive time is, including traffic. I get this every morning and afternoon for commute times, as well. My Google Now shows me articles that generally are interesting to me, or at least enough of them that I find Now an essential part of my daily routine. Apple has nothing like this. With a quick “Marvin, Listen up” I can tell my phone all kinds of things or ask all kinds of questions. It doesn’t need to be on, nor do I need to push a button. I know that Apple now offers this, but notice I get to chose what to say. Small detail, but I would literally get tired of saying Siri or Google all the time. If I get tired of my paranoid android, I can change my phrase to something else.

        Now, I grant that not everybody will find these things useful or functional (and I didn’t mention the chop and twist motions to turn on the flashlight and camera), and that some people would rather pay hundreds more for a phone from Apple that offers them other features, and privacy that is unparalleled in the business, and also those timely updates. On the other hand, Moto has always been rather good with updating too–not like Apple or Nexus, but fairly good. I understand that other people have different priorities, and I shan’t pretend that their choice is inferior. Each of us has different priorities, and this is the beauty of choice. So, you’re an Apple fan. So am I, but I’m not a bigot, and neither should you be. Or maybe you are just trolling, and hooked me. I don’t mind, because I get to share my perspective.

      • Rich Davis (@RichDavis9) - 7 years ago

        Here’s some tidbits left out.

        Apple iPhone 6/6S+ support Bluetooth 4.2
        Moto supports Bluetooth 4.1

        I know it’a not a huge deal for most. Doesn’t Apple support LTE Advanced. Does the Motorola? I can’t tell.

        Between having the more expensive 3D touch display, fingerprint ID sensor, more recent Bluetooth chip, I think Apple’s cost is higher and the fact is that Apple is the ONLY smartphone mfg that’s actually making a decent profit, everyone else just breaks even or loses money. Plus, I get nervous buying products from companies that get sold off many times within a few years. That tells me that Motorola is unstable as a business.

    • rafalb177 - 7 years ago

      100% agree.

    • rafalb177 - 7 years ago

      The video was posted on 9to9Google. Now we know.

    • srgmac - 7 years ago

      I would imagine that you did not watch the video at all, and I would also imagine the fanboys here would be quick to like your post without even seeing it…Sigh. I thought the review was very well done, and the point I found profound and almost laughable for anyone taking Apple’s “side” is this — Since the iPhone has no expandable storage, if you want 128GB, you will end up paying almost 1000 dollars. Yep, that’s right…the price of a decent laptop. Since the Moto supports MicroSD, you can add a 128GB MicroSD card for around 40 dollars. I don’t know how any Apple fan can justify this — it’s so silly and so friggen stupid I don’t even want to talk about it anymore.

      • Scott Thomas (@scottgfx) - 7 years ago

        Does Android still have the delineation between internal and external storage? Last I heard, you couldn’t install apps on the external storage.

  3. Mark Granger - 7 years ago

    No comparison review between an iPhone and Android is complete if you don’t mention the atrocious lack of timely OS updates for critical security issues on Android. Apple iOS users enjoy same day updates for all current devices for all updates for free and for many years. Adoption rates for the latest OS updates are vastly higher for iOS than Android. All of this means that when there are news of serious security exploits in the wild, Apple can be counted upon for a timely update. Security is so bad on Android that they can be remotely hacked if they have WiFi enabled. I would not recommend an Android phone to anyone unless they plan to pick up one for $50 at Walmart to control their drone without ever activating it.

    • srgmac - 7 years ago

      Did you watch the video? He mentions this at around 4:00 in.

      • tincan2012 - 7 years ago

        Yes but says that if you have the ‘newest’ iPhone, you will have updated OS.. implying that older iPhones are not supported which is not true.

      • Cam Bunton - 7 years ago

        Didn’t mean it to come out that way. I meant it to come across as the iPhone have much better support, for longer.

  4. srgmac - 7 years ago

    Good review — I think it’s very objective. The speaker and bezels of the iPhone is it’s clear downside. I also appreciate the curved back of the Moto. But 3D touch on the iPhone makes it so much better IMHO.

  5. 89p13 - 7 years ago

    Potato /Potato – At these price points buyers should be buying for all the features – but, more importantly, for the ecosystem that surrounds their choice.

    I can NEVER foresee going into the Android world – but that doesn’t make it bad — just wrong for me! As far as any benefits that the Android system may have, the lack of security; carrier loaded bloatware and hassle / delay of getting the latest OS says I stick with Apple! Steve said it all to the carrier(s), “Keep your software off my phone! I’ll make them – you sell them!”


  6. Doug Aalseth - 7 years ago

    Thank you for calling it a phablet. It seems like once Apple came out with a large phone, a lot of sites dropped the word. While I don’t see myself going to Android or WinPhone, I don’t want a phablet. I find them too big to be convienient as a phone and too small to do anything useful. I really prefer my 5C, it’s small enough to carry on my belt and doesn’t feel like I’m talking into a dinner plate when I’m using it. Yet it’s big enough to check a text or e-mail or an address if I really have to but mostly I use my iPad for that sort of a thing. In a few years when the second hand 5C I’m using finally needs to be replaced, if Apple doesn’t have a swmall phone in their lineup I’m not sure what I will do.

  7. Jurgis Ŝalna - 7 years ago

    Motorola is having some obvious framedrop at 2:33 and 2:43.

  8. Gregg Brown (@WPIAZ) - 7 years ago

    I own the 6s Plus. I did consider android phones, but there is there one thing that you never read in these reviews is the huge difference in resale value which more that makes up the difference in starting price. Also, if you are like me (iMac, iPad, MacBook Pro owner), it is almost impossible to justify a switch.

  9. mytawalbeh - 7 years ago

    I feel sorry for the Moto X ..
    I would pay $2000 to get an iPhone.

  10. Rich Davis (@RichDavis9) - 7 years ago

    Motorola? They got sold off to Google and then Google sold Motorola off to Lenovo and in the process they’ve been laying off just about everyone as they have turned to China for mfg. So I don’t know how much of these Moto products are actually designed by Motorola.

  11. Greg Buser - 7 years ago

    I don’t know if the new Moto X is different, but I have a first generation Moto X and I absolutely hate not having a home button. The phone is constantly either trying to unlock itself in my pocket or trying to dial the phone.

  12. Russ Valev - 7 years ago

    Don’t forget, the resell value of all Android phones are horrible, especially Motorola, I have both systems, for abuse Droid, for Personal pleasure Apple products. I work for a Ford and all executives meeting, 95% of people use Apple products only.

  13. Marvin Fillibert - 6 years ago

    haha fanboy losers trying to justify paying double for a worse device. you idiots are pathetic