Moto X Force review: Leading features from a mid-range phone
But Moto’s brand new wonder phone is almost a year old already
- Guaranteed shatter-proof screen
- Two-day, fast-charging battery
- Decent rear camera
- No fingerprint reader
- Last-gen Android software
- A year old already
If you can put the fact that this phone launched overseas a year ago out of your head, this is still one of the best mid-range phones on the market and one that beats the best on the market in many key areas.
Price$ 599.00 (AUD)
You’d be forgiven for being confused about which phone to buy these days. The choice can be bewildering at certain price points – especially in the $500 to $800 region. But when the Moto X Force throws its hat into the ring it backs things up with some head-turning characteristics. For one thing it’s ruggedized, but it doesn’t look it. It actually looks really good.
But there’s an issue. We’ve had late launches in Australia before but the Moto X Force launched as the “Droid Turbo 2” in America a full year ago. So how does it sit in the current market? Are we being fobbed off with the US’ unsold stock?
5.4-inch, 2560 x 1440, 540ppi AMOLED, Shatter-proof display, 3/32GB RAM, Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor with 2GHz octa-core CPUs, Adreno 430 GPU, 21/5MP cameras, Android 5.1.1, 3760mAh battery with fast and wireless charging, microSD slot, NFC, 78 x 150 x 9mm, 169g. Full specs here.
The rigid aluminium chassis feels very solid and while it might not look like much from the front, the textured back looks good, feels good and provides some much needed grip in an increasingly-slippery world. The 2560 x 1440 AMOLED is sharp, bright and vibrant and one of the best we’ve seen. It’s also shatter-proof thanks to Moto’s unique five-layer system and this is backed up with an impressive four-year screen warranty. That could sell this phone on its own. You can watch a video on it, here.
The Snapdragon 810 processor might be getting a little long in the tooth, but it’s no slouch and all apps open without lag and we saw no slowdowns at any time.
What we really missed was a fingerprint reader. Having to draw a screen unlock pattern every time feels like the olden days now (even the $348 Oppo F1s has one). But then, we mustn’t forget, that’s pretty much where this phone is from.
In terms of software, Moto has a (sometimes) noticeable layer on top of last-generation’s Android 5.1.1 (Lollipop). We struggled to configure the central voice recognition (it said our very quiet office was too noisy) and it’s hard to think of any feature which wouldn’t be better replaced with the latest version of Android. It’s no deal breaker for most people and general usage is fine, though. But power users will be disappointed.
The 3760mAh is one of the largest on the market and we found it did indeed last the stated two days. On top of that, it’s compatible with both the major PMA and Qi wireless charging standards. Just to add a cherry on top, it also offers “TurboPower” fast charging which provides ‘eight hours of power in just 15 minutes.’ This is one of the best battery performances we’ve seen for years. It too could sell the phone on its own.
We’ve been impressed with elements of Moto’s camera’s before – particularly the fast, accurate focusing which (almost) works very well all the time. We found the 21-megapixel rear camera to be impressively sharp and generally very accurate with exposure. You’re supposed to tap the screen to take the picture, focus and also slide your fingers along the screen to zoom and (in the centre of the screen) move a slider to change exposure. Not surprisingly you end up performing a function that you don’t want quite regularly. You can use the volume button to shoot but this moves the screen as you take the picture. A simple shutter button wouldn’t go amiss.
The sharpness and fast focusing translate well into video which supports 4K. While not perfect (it never is on phones), the Force captured some of the best video we’ve seen from a phone. The image is sharp, accurate and even the digital stabilization meant that walking shots were useable. The focusing could take it’s time on occasion but it’s better than most. It’s also impressive in low light environments with the screen enhancing and bringing out detail in real-life, dimly-lit areas, which only the best cameras manage.
The selfie camera isn’t quite such a winner. The picture is noticeably much softer and we’re starting to miss the Beauty-mode options seen elsewhere! Some highlights blow out a bit easily but generally it’s very usable.
There’s a great deal to like here: the build quality and ruggedisation is arguably the best around, the screen is excellent, the battery is excellent, the rear camera is very good indeed.
But if you buy this at a high price you’ll just know that it’s a year old already and splashing out on a new phone shouldn’t come with a let-down like that. That said the $599 price point compares favourably to the US$624 last year, so the price has dropped in real terms.
Of course, it’s not like the competition is flawless here. Our favourite Huawei Mate 8 also launched late here and is looking long in the tooth. It launched at $900 and can currently be had for similar to this. Also there’s the Huawei P9 with it’s fantastic camera, but it’s fragile compared to the force.
Our main worry is that this phone’s successor will appear overseas as soon as someone buys this. But if you can put all of that out of your head, this is certainly one of the very best mid-range phones on the market and one that beats the best on the market in many key areas.
Join the newsletter!
Dyson Supersonic™ Hair Dryer Fuchsia/Iron
cloudandco Smart Cane
Nespresso Creatista Coffee Machine
WD MY PASSPORT™ X Gaming Storage
SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™
Panasonic OLED 4K Ultra HD TV - TH-55EZ950U
Panasonic OLED 4K Ultra HD TV - TH-77EZ1000U
Apple iPhone X
Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44
Bang and Olufsen BeoVision 14
Toys for Boys
Bose SoundLink Micro
Lego Mindstorms EV3
UBTech First Order Stormtrooper Robot
LaCie Rugged USB-C Portable Hard Drive
Propel Star Wars T-65 X-Wing Drone
Google Daydream View VR Headset
Ubiquiti Network’s Front Row Camera
Leica M10 Digital Rangefinder Camera
Onyx Smart Walkie Talkie
Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K
WD MY CLOUD™ HOME Personal Cloud Storage
PETKIG Go Smart Dog Leash
Toffee Bags Commuter Satchel
Belkin Pocket Power 10,000mAh
iRobot Roomba 980 Vaccum Cleaning Robot
Xbox One X
Panasonic Hi-Fi - SC-UA7GS-K
Dearear Endear In-ear Wireless Earphones
Amazon Echo Bluetooth Speaker
Nest Protect Smart Smoke Alarm
Kogan Bluetooth Soundbar
Logitech Doodle Collection Wireless Mouse
Tile Pro Bluetooth Tracker
Panasonic Portable Splashproof Fun - RF-D20U
Fallout Geeki Tikis
Raspberry Pi Starter Kit
Ikea NORDMÄRKE Wireless Charging Pad
3SIXT 3-in-1 Smartphone Lens Kit
Urbanworx Full HD Action Camera
Lexon Flip Alarm Clock
Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Huawei Mate 10 Pro Review: A solid winter flagship that cribs from the best
- 2 Google Pixel 2 review: not quite 'pixel perfect' but damn close
- 3 Google Home Mini review: a welcome addition to the smart speaker family.
- 4 Huawei Nova 2i review: Flagship features get smuggled into the mid-tier
- 5 Moto X4 review: This is what a world without MotoMods looks like
Latest News Articles
- BenQ unveils a pair of new ergonomic eSports mice
- Microsoft's path to a smarter Bing and Cortana includes tapping Reddit users' opinions
- BuyDig has a 27-inch 4K monitor with FreeSync for $350
- Try VR for cheap: Windows Mixed Reality headsets are on sale for nearly half off today
- Newegg has dropped the Ryzen 7 1700X to $300
PCW Evaluation Team
I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.
It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.
Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.
The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.
The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.
The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic
- LG V30+ review: The videographer's smartphone arrives
- Fitbit Ionic review: Impressive but not quite iconic
- Xbox One X review: Brave new world
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
Product Launch Showcase
- CCProject ManagerQLD
- FTSenior Project ManagerOther
- CCSenior Agile Business AnalystNSW
- CCProject Manager - IVRVIC
- FTDigital BAOther
- FTStorage & Data Protection Team LeadACT
- FTiOS DeveloperWA
- FTQA Lead / TesterNSW
- CCRPA DeveloperVIC
- CCSenior MySQL Database Administrator - SydneyQLD
- CCProject ManagerNSW
- CCSenior Data governance consultantVIC
- FTFinance Analyst (Part-time)Other
- TPProject Manager - IaaSQLD
- FTReporting AnalystQLD
- TPSenior CRM Business AnalystQLD
- CCSolution / Enterprise ArchitectWA
- FTService Desk/Technical Support - Windows OS & MS Office SuiteOther
- CCCRM Solutions/ Technical ArchitectVIC
- FTApplication Support Technical LeadQLD
- FTCyber Security Governance SpecialistOther
- CCSystem Analyst - AxwayACT
- CCContracts OfficerNSW
- FTSenior PM - Skype for BusinessOther
- FTSenior Solution ArchitectVIC