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Moto X Pure Edition review: A clever phone with a killer price

JR Raphael | Sept. 18, 2015
It isn't perfect, but Motorola's latest flagship has a lot of compelling qualities -- and considerable bang for the buck.

The use of LCD is also perplexing in that it isn't particularly well-suited to one of Motorola's most distinguishing and helpful features: Moto Display. Moto Display shows you the current time and any pending notifications whenever you pick up your phone or wave your hand over its screen (from as high as almost a foot away). It shows the info in a series of small circles in the center of the display; you can touch any circle to view more details and then optionally open or dismiss the notification.

Moto Display was clearly made with AMOLED screens in mind, as those screens are able to light up individual pixels without illuminating the entire display -- which makes perfect sense for a system that shows small amounts of info while keeping most of the screen dark. LCD screens, in contrast, rely on backlights and consequently require the entire display to light up in order for any pixels to be shown.

That's a lot of technical mumbo-jumbo, I realize. But when you see Moto Display in action on the Moto X Pure Edition, the effect is very apparent. Thanks to the use of LCD, the time and notification info on the screen is noticeably dimmer and more difficult to read than on previous versions of the phone -- and while the bulk of the display stays black, you can plainly see that the whole thing lights up every time the feature activates (which is especially noticeable when you're using the phone in a dim environment).

04 moto x moto display
The Moto Display feature on the new Moto X (left) feels like a step down compared to the 2014 model (right).

The Moto Display info also doesn't consistently and regularly "pulse" on and off when a notification is pending on the new Moto X, as it did on past models (thus effectively turning the inactive screen into an enhanced notification light of sorts). Sometimes, a new notification will flash for a few minutes and then stop; other times, it'll flash just once and then appear again only when you manually activate the feature. And when you do manually activate Moto Display to see info on the Pure Edition's screen, that info remains present for about half as long as it does on the 2014 model -- giving you a brief two-second window to see and start to interact with it.

The implementation isn't unbearable, by any means, but it also isn't ideal. It feels more like a weird workaround than a setup that actually fits the feature, and it may be a bit of a letdown for anyone who's accustomed to the superior implementation the previous Moto X phones have provided.


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