If the Android ecosystem has done anything in the last year, it's made us take a serious look at what $400 gets you nowadays. There are a lot of answers to that question right now, but the two most popular are easily the Moto X Pure Editon and the OnePlus 2. Motorola and OnePlus have focused for the last year on being budget-focused without sacrificing much, and in many ways both have delivered. (Supply constraints and wait lists not withstanding for OnePlus.) The Moto X Pure Edition and OnePlus 2 both offer compelling and unique experiences, which can make trying to choose between them a little difficult.
That's where we come in. Here's what you need to know when comparing the Moto X Pure Edition to the OnePlus 2.
At first glance, there's not a ton of difference between the OnePlus 2 and the Moto X Pure Edition. The OnePlus 2's 151mm tall casing isn't noticeably different from Motorola's 154mm tall casing in the hand, and if you're looking at black models of these phones they both look like slabs of glass with curved, textured backs. There's a lot of little details that make of the differences, and you feel them once you have held both in your hands. The Moto X Pure Edition is just barely wider than the OnePlus 2, but it is also slightly thicker and heavier. This would normally make the OnePlus 2 easier to hold, but the curved sides of the Moto X Pure Edition beat the hard screen edge on the OnePlus.
While these phones are quite close in size, the Moto X Pure Edition is packing a noticeably larger and considerably nicer display. The 5.5-inch IPS LCD screen on the OnePlus 2 isn't bad, but the 5.7-inch TFT LCD display on the Moto X is one of the nicest LCD displays you can get today. The Moto X Pure Edition display is also 2560 x 1440 instead of the 1920 x 1080 display offered on the OnePlus 2, but the difference in text sharpness isn't really what sells you one the Moto X Display so it's not quite as big a deal as the overall quality.
Where OnePlus decided to put a high-quality fingerprint scanner on the front of its latest smartphone, Motorola stuck with its previous design and went with front facing speakers. There's no fingerprint scanner on the Moto X Pure Edition at all, so if that's something you find important in securing your phone it's certainly a mark against Motorola. On the other hand, noticeably better speakers on either side of a noticeably better screen make using the Moto X Pure Edition a whole lot more interesting when we're talking about games or video. It's really all about what you think is important in a phone when comparing these particular features.
While neither of these phones is sporting any form of wireless charging, the OnePlus 2 is missing considerably more. There's no microSD card slot, no NFC radio, and no Quick Charge function in the OnePlus 2. While neither of these features missing are huge deal-breakers on their own for many, the Moto X Pure Edition has all three without a problem. In fact, the Moto X Pure Edition comes with a Motorola-made Turbo Charger to make sure your phone only needs to be plugged in for a few minutes to get more than 50% battery back if you're running low. The OnePlus 2 offers USB-C instead, and while adopting a new standard early is cool it doesn't do much for users yet.
If we're looking at just the specs, OnePlus offers a hardware solution that is technically more capable than the Moto X Pure Edition.
The one unique piece of hardware in the OnePlus 2 is the special notification toggle. While every Android phone has a volume rocker, almost none of them have a quick switch to get you to silent mode without having to turn the screen on. This three-stage switch also lets you enable priority notifications if you set it to the middle, which can be especially useful if you've got a call that needs to come through no matter what. It's a nice addition to the phone, and something you won't find elsewhere.
If we're looking at just the specs, OnePlus offers a hardware solution that is technically more capable than the Moto X Pure Edition. The Snapdragon 810 processor clocked at 1.8GHz with 4GB of RAM is certainly more than the Snapdragon 808 processor clocked at 1.8GHz with 3GB of RAM, but the real-world difference in performance between these two phones is nonexistent. The Snapdragon 810 in the OnePlus 2 quickly shuts down two of its eight cores when performing complex tasks to avoid overheating, making it functionally similar to the Snapdragon 808's six-core layout in actual daily use. The extra GB of RAM is nice if you're doing a ton of things all at once on your phone, but you'll rarely find a situation where it's actually necessary.
Finally, there's personalization to keep in mind. OnePlus offers several backplates to make your OnePlus 2 stand out in a crowd, but this gesture pales in comparison to the massive customization list available through Moto Maker on Motorola.com. A Moto X Pure edition can have many different color and material options, as well as engravings and custom boot screens to make the phone even more personal.
OnePlus and Motorola follow similar philosophies when it comes to delivering a great Android experience. These interfaces are built to add features to the already great stock Android UI, and they are built to be largely opt-in from the beginning. Your Moto X Pure Edition and your OnePlus 2 can basically look and feel like a Nexus phone, but if you want something a little more there are options you can add on. Where OnePlus focuses on interface alternatives and software partnerships to enhance the Android experience, Motorola is all about context and simplicity in their offerings.
One thing no one really knows when it comes to these two phones is how reliable software updates are long term.
The OnePlus 2 UI is augmented by a couple of key parts. They have partnered with companies to include a more capable virtual keyboard and an audio equalizer to get the most out of their speaker, but there's also some fun things made by OnePlus. You can personalize the colors of a lot of the interface, which can be useful if you're not a fan of all the white backgrounds Google has baked into Android over the last fer versions. There's also a lefthand panel you can access from the desktop full of quick launch items for apps you use frequently, contacts you talk to on a regular basis, and even information from your calendar. It's a nice, clean, fast interface, and OnePlus calls it Oxygen OS.
Motorola's special software is almost entirely app-based, which means you can disable them when you want and they update through the Google Play Store. The Moto X Pure Edition is a continuously improving product as a result, since the Moto Display, Moto Voice, and Moto Actions are constantly improving and being updated through the Play Store instead of a whole system update. These context-based features turn the music on when you're in a car, set your notifications to silent when you're in a meeting, and keeps your phone quiet when you're sleeping. The software is also always listening, so you can give commands even when the screen is off and the phone will wake up to complete the task. There's also gesture controls like launching the camera with a wrist flick or activating the flashlight with a chop. All together, these features create an experience that feels like the phone is actively making your day easier, which is cool.
One thing no one really knows when it comes to these two phones is how reliable software updates are long term. Motorola and OnePlus both have software teams on staff dedicated to bringing the phone to the next version of Android when it is available, but delivery and performance after those updates has been a questionable experience from both manufacturers. While Motorola certainly has more experience than OnePlus, recent stumbles make it impossible to be sure one way or the other.
Battery life and Camera
Motorola's 3,000 mAh battery is indeed smaller than the 3,300 mAh battery in the OnePlus 2, but you'll find the battery life between to two to be relatively similar. In our tests, both phones were able to get though a 15 hour day without issue, but in most cases the OnePlus 2 would wind up with right around 5 percent more battery remaining than the Moto X Pure Edition. This isn't a large enough difference to celebrate on most occasions, but if you're at the end of the day and not near a power source that 5% could be a big deal. On the other hand, fast charging on the Moto X Pure Edition means you only need a few minutes plugged in to get you way more battery than the OnePlus 2.
Camera quality is another matter entirely. Motorola's 21MP rear camera sounds impressive next to the 13MP offering OnePlus has in their phone, but in our compares the cameras each had their own unique strengths and weaknesses. The 5MP front camera on both is great for video, but the flash on the front of the Moto X Pure Edition makes it better for those low light selfies when you need them to live.
And the winner is ...
It's not hard to see why the Moto X Pure Edition is the better option for people looking at these two phones. Motorola has a more compelling hardware package (plus you can customize how things look), a more personal software package, and performs either on par or above the OnePlus 2 in many areas. Plain and simple, it's more phone for the same amount of money, and it's an experience you're unlikely to walk away from anytime soon.
That's not to say the OnePlus 2 is a bad phone, especially if a fingerprint scanner and personalized software are things you find important, but compared directly to the Moto X Pure Edition it's clear most folks will appreciate what Motorola is offering for $400.
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