Those looking for the best bang for as little buck as possible will find a plethora of options on the market these days. Today we take a look at the Nexus 5X and Moto X Pure Edition, a couple handsets that offer reasonably high-end specs but at a price range that isn’t too hard on the wallet. It’s almost a no-brainer to put these two head to head, as we know many of you are wondering which is the better deal.

Let’s jump right into the details and find out, shall we?

Design

Though there is only a slight price difference between these two handsets, a substantial contrast in design and materials is present. The Nexus 5X is a direct successor to the previous generation Nexus 5, something that is definitely apparent when taking a look at the plastic build. Those who loved the Nexus 5 design will feel right at home with the newer Nexus handset.

The Nexus 5X is super lightweight and provides great one-handed maneuverability. Thanks to its matte finish, rounded corners and tapered back, it also happens to be very comfortable to grip.

Nexus 5X VS Moto X Pure Edition-3

On the other hand, we have the Moto X, which is obviously the larger of the two, mostly thanks to its bigger display. Its metal frame gives it a rigid feeling you simply can’t achieve with plastic, while the curved body lets it rest comfortably in the hand. It’s not the best to operate one-handed, but its thin side bezels, small top and bottom chin make it surprisingly manageable. It’s nice to have a phone that doesn’t feel like a slippery soap bar, that’s for sure.

Nexus phones typically stick with traditional colors (black and white), but this time around Google threw in a new blue hue to spice things up a bit for Nexus 5X fans. That still pales in comparison to the endless options Moto Maker offers for the Moto X, though. Aside from all the usual colors, people can also opt for wood, leather, different colored accents, engravings and even special greetings. You can truly make the Moto X your own.

Nexus 5X VS Moto X Pure Edition-14

Display

The Nexus 5X and Moto X both use LCD technology, but the main difference here is the size of the panel. The Moto X screen is half an inch larger at 5.7 inches. Meanwhile, the Nexus 5X display is only 5.2 inches. Another important difference is the resolution in these screens. While the Nexus 5X conforms with a 1080p definition, the Moto X sports a nice QHD 2560x1440p panel.

But resolution is only part of the equation. It is true that some 1080p screens can be better than certain QHD ones, but this is not really the case here. While the Nexus 5X has good viewing angles and an overall enjoyable experience, it just doesn’t compare to what we see in Motorola’s contender. The Moto X screen is brighter, crisper and offers more vibrant colors. Not to mention the fact that it’s significantly larger, which makes it ideal for media consumption.

Neither have bad screens, but putting them side to side makes it pretty obvious who the winner is when it comes to display quality.

Nexus 5X VS Moto X Pure Edition-19

Performance

Taking a look at the internals, we see that the 5X and Moto X are actually quite similar. The 5X is running on a Snapdragon 808 processor with 2 GB of RAM. The Moto X has the same chipset, but you also get an extra gigabyte of RAM for a total of 3 GB. Regardless, the difference is small enough to not really notice a difference in performance. Both run stock Android (near stock in the case of the Moto X), which helps significantly in terms of fluidity and overall stability. It also helps that these phones are sold unlocked and not through traditional carriers, which gets rid of bloatware woes.

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Just in case you are curious about benchmarks, Geekbench showed no real differences in how these two score, which pretty much falls in line with our experience. It’s no huge surprise, as they use the same processor, clocked at the same speed.

Hardware

A couple pieces of hardware make this year’s Nexus phone slightly superior. One of them is the addition of a USB Type-C port. This technology is reversible and makes life a whole lot easier. In a way, it’s one of those things you can’t let go of once you get a taste of what it brings. The downside is that the practical side of USB-C won’t be noticeable until more products adopt the new technology. To be honest, USB-C can be more of an inconvenience at this point, due to the lack of support.

The second key addition is the fingerprint reader in the Nexus 5X. The Moto X doesn’t sport one, and with these sensors becoming the norm, it’s a bit shocking Motorola opted for dismissing biometric authentication. The fingerprint sensor in the Nexus 5X is extremely fast and accurate. In fact, I would say it’s one of the best I have ever used. It’s a shame Motorola’s device won’t be able to take advantage of this new trend.

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Alternatively, the Moto X does have the leg up in internal storage. You get 3 memory options: 16, 32 and 64 GB. On the other hand, the Nexus 5X only has 16 and 32 GB iterations. Furthermore, the Moto X also has support for microSD, a feature Google ditched long ago.

 

On the battery department, you are looking at a 2700 mAh battery on the 5X, which isn’t too bad, but it’s also not outstanding. Meanwhile, there’s a slightly bigger 3000 mAh battery in the Moto X. On paper, you’d expect a bigger difference, but that’s not really the case, at least right now.

Keep in mind the Nexus 5X takes advantage of Android 6.0’s Doze, which does offer much better standby time by putting your device in a deeper slumber when sleeping for longer periods of time. Once the Moto X gets its own taste of Doze technology, the Moto X might offer an advantage here — though the QHD display may still keep things pretty even.

Nexus 5X VS Moto X Pure Edition-1

Neither handsets feature wireless charging, but they do charge rather quickly. The Moto X takes advantage of Motorola’s TurboPower charger, while USB-C definitely speeds things up for the Nexus 5X. You will be up and running in no time if you plug in for just a little while.

Camera

It is common knowledge that Nexus phones have never been known for their cameras. Coincidentally, the same can be said about Motorola’s handsets. The good news is both Google and Motorola took things up a notch this year to make sure their flagships could keep up.

The Nexus 5X sports a brand new Sony-made 12.3 MP sensor, laser auto-focus, an f/2.0 aperture and a large 1.55 microns pixel size. On ther side, the Moto X takes advantage of a 21 MP sensor, phase detection auto-focus and a similar f/2.0 aperture. Neither have optical image stabilization, but in the 5X’s case, the improved sensor is said to make up for it.

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The camera software isn’t spectacular in either case, but I do prefer the dedicated on-screen shutter button on Google’s camera app. It’s quicker, precise and more intuitive to use than Motorola’s tap-to-shoot method. In terms of launching the camera, they both have their quick ways of doing it: the Nexus 5X camera can be launched by double-tapping the power button, and Motorola’s phone applies the wrist-twisting gesture we know so well by now.

What about video? Both cameras can record 4K video and slow motion clips at 120 fps. I will say the 5X produces better colors and sharper video, but it gets much shakier when moving. The Moto X does produce more stable video.

Moto X camera samples

Nexus 5X camera samples

Overall, both cameras are great, but there are some key differences in the images they output. The 5X typically produces cooler images, as opposed to the warmer tones from the Moto X. Where the Nexus 5X does shine is in overall color reproduction and dynamic range. The colors are less vibrant in the Moto X, and I found the Nexus 5X is better at handling shadows and highlights.

Software

Of course, the biggest advantage of owning a Nexus phone is in the software, something that doesn’t change with the Nexus 5X, as it is one of the first phones to ship with Android 6.0 Marshmallow. And since it’s a Nexus, it will have no bloatware, a stock Android experience, and quick updates. The Moto X continues to be on Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, but Motorola is generally good at updating its handsets. Especially with their flagships.

Aesthetically, the software experience between these two phones is practically identical. Not much really changed in terms of looks when Marshmallow was introduced. One of the few differences is in the app drawer, which now scrolls vertically. But you could do the same in the Moto X if you download the Google Now Launcher.

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Obviously, the main differences will come thanks to Android 6.0, which introduces Google Now on Tap, granular app permissions, Doze and other handy features. These will all come to the Moto X at some point, but that is another advantage of going Nexus. You will always get the newest software before others!

The Moto X also has its own set of tricks under the sleeve. Moto X users are huge fans of Motorola’s touchless controls, extensive gestures and getting screen notifications when slightly moving the device. It’s a special experience in both cases; you just need to figure out your preferences.

Specifications

 Nexus 5XMoto X Style (Pure Edition)
Display5.2-inch LCD display
1920 x 1080 resolution, 424ppi
Corning Gorilla Glass 3
5.7-inch display
Quad HD (2560x1440) resolution, 515 ppi
Processor2.0GHz hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor1.8 GHz hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor
RAM2GB3GB
Storage16, 32GB32 or 64GB
MicroSDNoYes
SoftwareAndroid 6.0 MarshmallowAndroid 5.1.1 Lollipop
Fingerprint scannerYesNo
Camera12.3MP rear-facing camera
5MP front-facing camera
21 MP rear-facing camera with dual LED flash
5 MP front-facing camera
BatteryNon-removable 2700mAhNon-removable 3000mAh
Wireless chargingNoNo
Dimensions147.0 x 72.6 x 7.9mm, 136g153.9 x 76.2 x 11.1 mm, 179g

Gallery

Price & conclusion

With the Nexus 5X starting at $379 and the Moto X at $400, the $21 difference really won’t be an important factor in your decision. They are both very affordable phones that offer great bang for your buck – you really can’t go wrong with either.

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With that said, I would personally choose the Moto X Pure Edition. Customers get a larger display, higher resolution, better build quality, microSD support and a near stock experience, as well as enhancements from Motorola. Not to mention endless customization from Moto Maker.

Next: Nexus 5X Review

Of course, the Nexus 5X has its awesome fingerprint reader, USB Type-C, stock Android and a great camera, but in terms of value I say the Moto X offers more bang for your buck.

Buy Moto X Pure
Buy Nexus 5x
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