This week, we've been using the Moto X Force. Here's what we thought of living with Motorola’s top phone of 2015.
Sliding the X Force out of its box for the first time was a strange experience. Instead of a sleek metal and glass, precision-engineered piece of technology, I found myself holding a clunky-looking phone with an unusual ballistic nylon rear cover.
But while the Moto X Force didn’t strike me as the prettiest smartphone of the year, it felt really good in my hand. The back feels perfectly shaped to follow the contours of my palm, and the Motorola logo, which sits in a small divot under the camera, gave me an oddly reassuring place to put my index finger.
When I’ve shown the phone off to friends, there’s been a mixed reaction to that ballistic nylon back, but everyone agrees the phone feels really solid and great to hold.
Putting the shatterproof screen to the test
After checking out the design of the Moto X Force, it was time to turn it on. This was what I’d been waiting for – my first chance to check out the ShatterShield, Motorola’s exclusive shatterproof screen (you can see exactly what makes the screen so tough over at our preview article).
The quality is really good, with things looking clear and bright. That’s because the ShatterShield uses a Quad HD AMOLED display, just like the Samsung Galaxy S6 – only it uses other materials to make it tougher. Picture quality isn’t quite as amazing as Samsung’s, but the Moto X Force definitely competes as a 2015 flagship.
Then it was the moment of truth – is the ShatterShield really shatterproof?
To test it, I started by tentatively dropping it from pocket-height onto a carpeted floor. No damage. Next I went for head height. All fine. Finally I put it through a real test and gave it a solid bang on the edge of my desk. I carefully turned it over, holding my breath. Not a scratch on the screen. The Moto X Force really is shatterproof.
The last whack I gave it did put a small dent in the slightly raised bezel around the screen, but that’s much better than a huge crack through the middle of it.
Gesture controls are really useful
Once I had finished beating up the Moto X Force, I had to get back to the serious side of testing the phone. Boringly, that meant getting on with my life as normal. The phone had other ideas, though, and wanted to make the everyday more interesting.
The average person checks their phone hundreds of times a day, normally by picking it up and pushing a button. But with the Moto X Force, I could pretend to be a Jedi every time I wanted to check for new emails. With a simple wave of my hand I could mind-trick it into telling me everything I wanted to know (alright, with a simple wave of my hand I could activate its sensors and turn on the ambient screen that’s full of my notifications, but I can pretend).
That’s not the only cool gesture control the Moto X Force has. Lifting the phone to your ear turns on Moto Voice, letting you whisper voice commands and hear subtle responses. While holding the phone in one hand and using it to chop at the air will turn on the torch.
But my favourite gesture (apart from the Jedi mind trick) is a double twist of the wrist that launches the camera. It makes it so much faster to take a photo, which means I’ve been able to get shots I’d normally miss.
Photography made easy
Speaking of the camera, it takes really good photos. In fact, it’s sitting pretty at the top of our best camera phones list right now.
It’s not just the quality of the 21MP photos that have impressed me, the camera app is really easy to use too. You can tap anywhere on the screen to take a photo, there are only a few simple settings if you want to get a slightly different shot, and the auto mode does a great job of getting the settings right.
The selfie camera hasn’t been forgotten either. Motorola’s managed to squeeze an LED flash onto the front of the phone, so when I was out the other night I could still get decent selfies.
Who needs to worry about recharging?
The thing that I’ve loved most about the Moto X Force is its battery. In this whole week, I’ve probably only spent a couple of hours plugged in.
The battery itself is huge, 3,760mAh, so lasts for ages. And the phone seems to be really efficient too, so I’ve been going a couple of days between charges.
What’s really cool, though, is that the phone comes with Motorola’s Turbo Charger. This pumps five times more power into your phone than a standard charger, giving you up to 13 hours of battery life from a 15-minute charge.
I’ve loved spending the week with the Moto X Force. Sitting here now, I can’t remember anything I didn’t like about the phone apart from the design. If Motorola had made it look a little more modern somehow, it would be perfect.
But I don’t care that much about the style of my phone, as long as it works well. So this time, maybe I won’t give the Moto X Force back to Motorola.