When the Samsung Galaxy S6 debuted earlier this year, the Korean manufacturer surprised the world by introducing a major overhaul to the build quality and design of its flagship, which better matched the premium price the series commanded. While this was a much-needed change, it did result in some previously signature features going by the wayside.
On the other hand, the latest high-end offering from Motorola retained a lot of what made its predecessor so good, and it remains mostly familiar, save for the bump in size, slightly more refined design elements, and necessary upgrades to key hardware aspects.
How does Motorola’s inexpensive flagship fair against what is arguably the best Galaxy S smartphone that Samsung has ever produced? We find out, in this in-depth look at the Moto X Style (Pure Edition) vs Samsung Galaxy S6!
In terms of design, the first thing you will notice with these two smartphones is how different they are when it comes to the overall aesthetics.
As mentioned, the Moto X Pure Edition retains a lot of the design language of its predecessor, apart from the significant bump in size, including a metal frame, and the curved corners and back that allows for the device to nestle nicely in the palm of your hand. Given its larger footprint, the handling experience isn’t the most comfortable, but the ultra-thin bezels around the sides of the display and small top and bottom chin make for a device that is a lot more manageable that what its 5.7-inch display might suggest. The standard rubbery silicone backing provides a lot of grip as well, but if that is not very important, there are plenty of other options available to you via Moto Maker.
Like the other Moto X family members before it, one of the biggest selling points of the current Motorola flagship is the level of customization available to you. Moto Maker allows you to pick and choose your own color scheme, accent colors, and material for the back cover, and you also have the ability to add custom engravings and messages on the back, for that little bit more of a personalized touch. This kind of personalization is unmatched by any other OEM, and is a very unique aspect of the Moto X experience.
On the other hand, the Samsung Galaxy S6 may have only a handful of color options to choose from, but the big story with the latest Galaxy S flagship was Samsung’s decision to be done with plastic, in favor of a glass and metal unibody construction. With a lot of familiar elements, it does look like a Samsung smartphone through and through, but it looks and feels far more high-end, as is expected from a flagship device of this caliber.
The glass on the back can be a fingerprint magnet, and does make the phone somewhat slippery as well, but given its more compact size, one-handed use is still very comfortable with the Galaxy S6.
The Moto X Pure Edition comes with a 5.7-inch IPS LCD display, while the Samsung Galaxy S6 features a 5.1-inch Super AMOLED screen. With the resolution of both displays being 2560 x 1440, sharpness is of no concern with either. The Galaxy S6 does come with a higher pixel density of 577 ppi compared to the 520 ppi of the Moto X Pure Edition, but that is a difference that is going to hardly be noticeable. What is notable however is the distinction caused by the different underlying technologies of these two displays.
Samsung is well known for its display prowess, and once again, the Super AMOLED display of the Galaxy S6 offers the vibrant, saturated colors and high contrast that we’ve come to expect. The inky dark blacks are not only great for battery life, but also look much cleaner when compared to the grayish blacks on the LCD display of the Motorola smartphone.
That’s not to say that the display of the Moto X Pure Edition is disappointing in any way. It is a great looking screen with surprisingly great colors, viewing angles, and brightness, and while the use of AMOLED might have made more sense given some of the software features available with the Moto X, the switch to LCD is certainly not a deal breaker. Gaming and media-consumption is also very enjoyable with the Moto X Pure Edition, with users able to take advantage of the additional display real estate this is available to them.
Under the hood, the Moto X Pure Edition features a hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor, clocked at 1.8 GHz, and backed by the Adreno 418 GPU, while the Samsung Galaxy S6 comes with an octa-core Exynos 7420 processor, clocked at 2.1 GHz, and backed by the Mali-T760MP8 GPU. While both devices offer 3 GB of RAM, you are dealing with the much faster DDR4 RAM with the Galaxy S6, compared to DDR3 on the Motorola device.
The Moto X Pure Edition may not be winning any specs races, but Motorola’s focus with their devices has always been on providing a great user experience, and that, fortunately, continues to hold true with their latest offering. Courtesy of a near-stock software iteration, the Moto X Pure Edition is fast, fluid, responsive, and rarely skips a beat. Swiping, scrolling, opening applications, multi-tasking, and gaming are all handled extremely well, and ultimately, that is what is going to matter the most.
On the other hand, Samsung flagships have always come with whatever was deemed the latest and greatest at the time, but unfortunately, real world performance has historically never lived up to expectations. This time around, Samsung decided to give the Snapdragons of the world a skip in favor of their in-house processing package, and that has proved to be a fantastic move.
The Galaxy S6 performs the way a flagship should, with a lot of credit going to Samsung’s optimization of their Touchwiz software suite, that comes with a lot less bloatware and unnecessary features than we’ve seen from Samsung in the past. The Galaxy S6 is easily the smoothest performing Samsung flagship that has ever been released, and while it still has its flaws, like the aggressive RAM management, it is still leaps and bounds ahead of what we’ve seen from the company over the years.
In storage, the Moto X Pure Edition is available with 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB of storage, while the Samsung Galaxy S6 comes with 32 GB, 64 GB, and 128 GB variants. The higher storage options may be the better way to go with the Galaxy S6, given the lack of expandable storage, a previous staple feature that Samsung decided to remove this time around. The story is the opposite with the Motorola flagship however, with the Moto X Pure Edition featuring expandable storage via microSD card, something that wasn’t available with its predecessors. This means that you will be able to alleviate any storage concerns, even if you opt for the base 16 GB model.
Another advantage the Moto X Pure Edition has over the Samsung Galaxy S6 is in terms of speaker quality. The former comes with a dual front-facing speaker setup which sounds fantastic, and provides a far better audio experience for gaming and watching videos when compared to the single, bottom-mounted speaker of the latter. The speaker of the Galaxy S6 is not bad by any means and can actually get quite loud, but it does pale in comparison to the Moto X Pure Edition.
The Galaxy S6 does feature a few extras in hardware that aren’t available with the Moto X Pure Edition, starting with the fingerprint scanner. If you appreciate the added benefit and security of having a fingerprint reader, then the reader on the Galaxy S6 is certainly not going to disappoint. The reader is fast, reliable, and easy to set up, and its touch type nature is a far better implementation that the swipe gesture version seen with some of Samsung’s earlier flagships. Apart from unlocking the device, the fingerprint scanner is also compatible for use with Samsung Pay and Android Pay, for that layer of extra security when using these mobile payment systems. The Galaxy S6 also comes with a heart rate monitor on the back, which is a useful addition for some.
On the battery front, the Moto X Pure Edition comes with a 3,000 mAh battery, larger than the 2,550 mAh unit of the Samsung Galaxy S6. Neither battery is replaceable, and while that is standard for the Moto X device, it is a significant departure from the norm for the Samsung flagship. The battery life is better with the Moto X Pure Edition, but not significantly so.
Both devices come with fast charging capabilities as well, making it extremely easy to get both phones up and running in a short time. The Samsung Galaxy S6 also comes with support for both standards of wireless charging, which is always a nice option to have.
The Moto X Pure Edition comes with a 21 MP rear camera, with phase detection auto focus and a f/2.0 aperture, while the Galaxy S6 features a 16 MP camera, with a f/1.9 aperture, and optical image stabilization.
Moto X Pure Edition camera samples
The Moto X series has never really been known for its camera capabilities, but the Moto X Pure Edition features some significant improvements this time around, resulting in a camera experience that can finally match up to the rest of the competition. Both smartphones are capable of taking excellent photos in most lighting situations, but the edge has to be given to the Galaxy S6 here, for its better dynamic range and low-light performance.
Samsung Galaxy S6 camera samples
Where the Moto X Pure Edition falls short is with regards to the camera application. It is far too minimalistic, especially when compared to what is available with the Galaxy S6. The GS6 camera app comes with a few more options and manual controls that really help make a difference. Futhermore, tapping on the viewfinder to take a shot on the Motorola device just doesn’t feel as intuitive as having a dedicated shutter button.
On the software side of things, both smartphones are running Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, but the experience each offers is completely different from the other. With the Moto X Pure Edition, you get a near stock Android iteration with some useful features from Motorola baked in, such as twisting your wrist to open the camera, chopping twice to turn on the LED flash, glancing at notifications with Moto Display, or discreetly performing voice commands, just to name a few.
The Galaxy S6 on the other hand, comes with Samsung’s typical Touchwiz interface, and while it is a significant departure from stock Android, it is a much cleaner and toned down build of Touchwiz this time around. There is a lot less bloatware, and Samsung also got rid of a lot of unnecessary features. Those that were useful are retained however, such as multi-window, and motion gestures, like swiping your palm over the screen to capture a screen shot, or flipping the phone over to mute a call. Things may not aesthetically be very different from previous iterations of Touchwiz, but if you aren’t a fan of the look, you can now easily change it via the built-in theme store. The theme store is extremely robust, with a lot of options to choose from, and is probably one of the best features of this new version of Touchwiz.
If getting timely updates is of concern, the safer bet would be on the Moto X Pure Edition to get the official update to Android 6.0 Marshmallow first, but hopefully, we won’t be waiting too long for either of these devices to get updated.
|Samsung Galaxy S6||Moto X Style (Pure Edition)|
|Display||5.1-inch Super AMOLED display|
Quad HD resolution, 577 ppi
|5.7-inch IPS LCD display
Quad HD resolution, 515 ppi
|Processor||2.1 GHz octa-core Exynos 7420 processor|
|1.8 GHz hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor
Adreno 418 GPU
|RAM||3 GB||3 GB|
|Storage||32/64/128 GB||16/32/64 GB
expandable via microSD up to 128 GB
|Camera||16 MP rear camera with LED flash, OIS|
5 MP front-facing camera
|21 MP rear camera with dual LED flash
5 MP front-facing camera with wide angle lens and front-facing flash
Universal LTE bands
|Battery||2,550 mAh||3,000 mAh|
|Software||Android 5.1.1 Lollipop||Android 5.1.1 Lollipop|
|Dimensions||143.4 x 70.5 x 6.8 mm|
|153.9 x 76.2 x 11.1 mm
|Colors||White Pearl, Black Sapphire, Gold Platinum, Blue Topaz||Moto Maker
Coated Silicon Rubber
Horween leather and natural wood
So there you have it for this in-depth look at the Moto X Style (Pure Edition) vs Samsung Galaxy S6! When picking up any new smartphone, price always has an important role to play, and we’ve seen a big surge in devices that continue to offer great specifications and features at affordable price points. Considering that the Moto X Pure Edition features a large Quad HD display, great front-facing speakers, a pretty decent camera, and a lot of customization via Moto Maker, its $400 starting price makes it one of the best bang for your buck devices of 2015.
The Galaxy S6 is clearly the more expensive of the two, by a big margin, but it offers a few useful like extras, like a fingerprint scanner, wireless charging, and more powerful specifications. It is up to you as to whether these features are worth the extra cost, and if they are, then the Galaxy S6 will certainly not disappoint. However, if you are looking for a smartphone that provides a lot of value for not a lot of money, look no further than the Moto X Pure Edition.