Feb 16:Smartphone screens are brittle, expensive, and downright depressing when broken. We’ve heard countless stories of how the smallest drop has shattered a screen, followed by the heartbreak of having to shell out a lot of money for repairs and then having to live with a ‘fixed’ smartphone. According to Motorola’s own statistics, 51 percent of smartphone users have shattered or cracked their display at some point.
Manufacturers have tried to do their part to make such damage less upsetting for customers, such asSamsung’s offer of a one-time screen replacement during the first year of purchase. Additionally, Apple may soon accept phones with broken screens as part of its trade-in program. While these may be some consolation to victims of a broken screen, why not dream of better?
That’s where the Rs. 49,999 Moto X Force comes in. The phone comes with what the company calls a ‘ShatterShield’ display, and Motorola assures buyers that the screen of the phone is ‘shatterproof’. It’s designed to take a pounding, including being dropped onto solid surfaces from heights and at angles that would result in gaping cracks through a typical smartphone’s screen, and shivers down the spines of the owners of said smartphones. Motorola further backs up the guarantee with a four-year warranty on the display, which covers accidental damage. And above all, this is a flagship smartphone with all the bells and whistles you’d expect to see. We review the ‘unbreakable’ Motorola Moto X Force.
Look and feel
Motorola’s current lineup of smartphones tends to stick to a formulaic look, and the Moto X Force follows this trend. The Moto X name now has four current-generation models: the Moto X (2nd Gen),Moto X Play, Moto X Style and Moto X Force. All of them have similar aesthetics and styling. However, the Moto X Force, being the flagship, has a bit more going on than the rest.
The key differences are visible at the back, with the ‘ballistic nylon’ rear panel that we first saw on last year’s Moto Turbo (Review | Pictures). One key advantage of this is that the phone’s back panel is effectively scratch-proof, and it also looks rather good. Near the top are the camera, flash, and the Motorola logo. It’s a beautiful look that goes well with the rest of the device.
Although the edges feel a bit sharp, the Moto X Force is still easy to hold, thanks to the natural grip that the nylon back offers. However, thanks to the large screen and heavy frame, the device feels unwieldy and is hard to use with one hand.
Specifications and software
When a smartphone costs nearly Rs. 50,000, there are some obvious expectations from the specifications sheet which the Moto X Force does live up to, with top-end innards. Powering the smartphone is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 SoC, which is currently Qualcomm’s flagship smartphone SoC. There’s also 3GB of RAM and either 32GB or 64GB of internal storage. Keep in mind that the 64GB option costs a bit more at Rs. 53,999, and that you can add expandable storage up to a theoretical 2TB, although the current highest capacity for microSD cards is 200GB.
The single-SIM smartphone also supports 4G connectivity, with support for the FDD-LTE and TDD-LTE bands currently used by operators in India. The phone has a non-removable 3760mAh battery, and comes with a massive 25W charger. Along with Qualcomm’s Fast Charge technology, this ensures that the phone can go from zero to 100 percent in less than an hour, which is incredibly useful. The only issue we had with the charger is that it doesn’t have a detachable USB cable, so you’ll need a separate cable to connect the Moto X Force to a PC. The phone also supports wireless charging, but you’ll need to buy a separate accessory for this. Connectivity options include Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.1 and NFC. The phone is truly fully loaded and fairly future-proof.
The Moto X Force has a 21-megapixel primary camera with dual-tone LED flash and variable focus, and 5-megapixel front camera with single-tone LED flash and fixed focus. The rear camera can record up to 4K-resolution video at 30fps, while the front camera records up to full-HD resolution video. The rear camera is also capable of recording slow-motion video at 720p.
The camera app is a bit tricky to use, because of what we feel is an over-simplification of its functions. There is no dedicated capture button; instead, you simply tap anywhere on screen or press one of the volume keys to capture photos. Buttons in the bottom corners allow you to switch between the front and rear camera, and shoot video. There are no other controls on screen, but you can bring up some controls by swiping from left to right. This menu allows you to control HDR, flash, focus and exposure, picture ratio and video resolution, among other things. Swiping from right to left brings up the gallery, while swiping up and down control the zoom. We often accidentally triggered the shutter when we were trying to swipe or attempting to control focus and exposure, and a lack of optical image stabilisation meant that we had to compose our shots very carefully and often shoot in burst mode to get good results.
Considering that the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 SoC is one of the best in the world, performance on the Moto X Force is fantastic. As previously stated, the bare bones interface and performance-tuned software play a large part in this, as does the 3GB of RAM. Whether it’s loading web pages, playing games or running heavily encoded videos, the Moto X Force performs flawlessly. Resource-heavy apps such as the camera, popular social media platforms, Whatsapp and Netflix work perfectly well. Overall, we felt that the Moto X Force didn’t quite perform as well as the Nexus 6P, but it certainly came close.
The Moto X Force is undeniably a force to reckon with among smartphones. This is a powerhouse of a smartphone with good looks, a superb screen, great performance and an excellent camera. Above all, it has a killer feature that’s currently exclusive to it: the Moto X Force’s display is truly shatterproof, and as a result, the phone can take a pounding like no other. If you have a habit of dropping your phone often or have had to deal with expensive mobile phone repair bills in the past, you should seriously consider the Moto X Force.
Unfortunately, these features come at a considerable price. Despite the obvious advantages of shatter-proof construction and the high-end specifications and performance, Rs. 50,000 is far too much money to pay for an Android smartphone. Additionally, the lack of dual-SIM connectivity and a fingerprint sensor may be a put-off to many, so the Moto X Force isn’t quite as perfect as it seems. However, it’s still one of the most innovative and interesting smartphones we’ve used, and one that fully lives up to its claims.