How do you take one of Android's best phones and make it even more enticing?
That's the challenge Motorola faced this year as it sought to move its widely acclaimed Moto X forward to a third generation. The company's answer is the new Moto X Pure Edition -- a device that takes the same basic blueprint as its predecessor and supersizes it, both figuratively and literally.
Perhaps the most noteworthy feature of the Moto X Pure Edition is its price: The phone is being sold unlocked for $400 -- a full $100 less than the starting price of last year's model and $300 to $400 less than most current flagships, which tend to retail for $700 to $800 off-contract. The Moto X will work on any U.S. carrier, so you can simply buy the device from Motorola, Amazon or Best Buy and pop in any SIM card. If you want to change to another carrier, all you have to do is get a new card and swap it in.
Sounds pretty intriguing, right? It should -- but there are some caveats. After spending the past several days using the Moto X Pure Edition in the real world (and spending the past year using the previous-gen Moto X as my own personal phone), here's what I've discovered.
A familiar design -- with a few new twists
At first glance, the Moto X Pure Edition looks more or less like a bigger version of last year's 2014 Moto X. The phone has the same gently curved back surrounded by the same aluminum frame. The front even has the same metallic grilles at its top and bottom.
And, as with the 2014 model, you can custom-build the new Moto X to look any way you like -- one of the coolest parts about purchasing this phone. This year, Motorola's Moto Maker tool allows you to pick from three different frame and front color combinations along with 10 differently colored plastic backs, four different real wood backs and four different real leather finishes. (Going with a wood or leather option will add $25 to your device's total.)
The Moto Maker customization tool
From there, the Moto X Pure Edition starts to set out in some new directions. First of all, the plastic backs on this year's phone represent a change from those used on past Moto X models: While past devices offered a smooth-feeling "soft touch" finish, the new phone has a "soft grip" texture with a diagonal-line pattern and an almost rubber-like feel. It's easy enough to grasp, but I can't help but think it comes across as a bit less elegant than the "soft touch" style of yore.
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