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Moto X Play vs Moto X (2014) comparison: Play to win?

The Moto X Play is a new kind of phone, Motorola says: it’s a cross between the Moto G (2015) and the Moto X Style, aimed at people who want a great camera and great battery life. That’s a pretty big group – so is this a successor to the Moto X (2014), or is it a decent camera stuck to a mid-range phone? Let’s see what the X Play offers in our Moto X Play vs Moto X (2014) comparison.

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In the white corner, the Moto X Play. In the black, the Moto X (2014). / © AndroidPIT

Lowest price: Motorola Moto X Play

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Moto X Play vs Moto X (2014) comparison: design and build quality

Motorola giveth and Motorola taketh away: to our eyes the Moto X Play looks better than the Moto X (2014). It feels more ergonomic and less slippery than its bamboo-backed predecessor too. However, the metal-effect plastic doesn’t feel as high-end as the Moto X (2014), and while it isn’t an ugly phone, it’s not something you’re going to sit and stroke lovingly for hours on end.

That said, you can customize the Moto X Play via Moto Maker, which you can't do with the Moto X (2014). There is barely any part of it that you can't customize, from front and back colors, different back covers and accent colors, engraving and custom boot screen messages. Whichever colors you go for, your Moto X Play comes with a protective seal to protect it against water splashes. It isn’t waterproof or even water-resistant though, so don’t take it swimming.

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The X Play is well made, but it's a little plasticky compared with its bamboo-backed predecessor. / © AndroidPIT

Moto X Play vs Moto X (2014) comparison: display

The Moto X (2014) came with a 5.2-inch, full HD AMOLED screen that delivered 1,920 x 1,080 pixels at 423 ppi. At 5.5 inches, the Moto X Play display is bigger, but it delivers the same resolution, which of course means slightly lower pixel density: 401 ppi.

That’s still very sharp, of course, but it’s an LCD rather than an AMOLED so it isn’t as saturated or high contrast as the Moto X (2014) display.

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The Moto X Play is bigger, but its screen is slightly less dense. / © AndroidPIT

Moto X Play vs Moto X (2014) comparison: processor and storage

The Moto X (2014) has a quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor clocked at 2.5 GHz, backed with 2 GB of RAM and 16 or 32 GB of internal storage. The Moto X Play has the same RAM and storage, plus the microSD card slot that the Moto X 2014 lacked. The processor is an eight-core Snapdragon 615 clocked at 1.7 GHz.

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The X Play (bottom) has the same storage options as the Moto X (2014), plus a microSD slot.  / © AndroidPIT

Moto X Play vs Moto X (2014) comparison: camera

In addition to its 5 MP front camera, the Moto X Play has an impressive 21 MP rear camera, with the familiar dual-LED flash. That’s a big upgrade from the 13 MP camera in the Moto X (2014). The X Play has better low light performance too, thanks to an f/2.0 aperture compared to the Moto X (2014)’s f/2.25.

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The X Play's camera packs more megapixals than the Moto X (2014), and better low-light performance. / © AndroidPIT

Moto X Play vs Moto X (2014) comparison: software

The Moto X (2014) came with Lollipop and the Moto X Play has even more Lollipop: where the older device shipped with Android 5.1 the newer one gets Android 5.1.1, which, as any Spinal Tap fan knows, is one louder. A Marshmallow update will drop in late 2015 or early 2016, Motorola promises.

Motorola doesn’t mess around with stock Android too much, although its Moto app, with gesture and voice control, is a welcome addition.

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Motorola software is versatile and reliable. / © AndroidPIT

Moto X Play vs Moto X (2014) comparison: battery

The Moto Play X has a huge battery with a whopping 3,630 mAh. By comparison, the Moto X (2014) might as well be powered by a couple of Duracells, given its relatively titchy 2,300 mAh power pack. Motorola says the X Play battery can last two days, which is a bit optimistic, but in our real-world tests we managed to get 21 hours of Wi-Fi social networking and an impressive eight hours of gaming and general messing about.

Both the X Play and the X (2014) support turbo-charging: you can get eight hours’ worth of charge in about 15 minutes and a full charge in just over two hours. That’s pretty great.

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The X Play needs a bigger case to fit its much bigger battery in. / © AndroidPIT

Moto X Play vs Moto X (2014) comparison: early verdict

When we reviewed the Moto X (2014) we said: “two critical elements have held it back from greatness - the camera and battery.” Motorola has addressed both those issues with the Moto X Play, although it’s also made the phone a little less stylish, if a little easier to hold on to.

That makes the X Play a clear winner, right? In many ways, yes. If it's a choice between buying one of these two phones, we'd tell you to go for the X Play. But there's a but. The X Play is definitely better than the 2014 phone, but the camera hasn't seen quite as big an improvement as we’d hoped and the specs are fairly mid-range. So if you’re already rocking a Moto X (2014) and are looking to upgrade, we're not sure we'd recommend upgrading to the X Play – the Moto X Style might be more to your taste.

What do you think? Is this the Moto you’ve been waiting for?


Write new comment:
  • I bought the Moto X Play and really disappoint me.
    First (and the biggest fail), it doesn´t have Gyroscope, so it can not take Photo Spheres.
    Second, theres no Moto gestures (only the one for the camera)

    The camera is pretty good.

  • CJ Brown Aug 30, 2015 Link to comment

    I gave up on Motorola after the piss poor attempt to keep the 1st Gen Moto X (which I am still using 'til the Azus Zenfone 2 arrives in the mail) up to date Android OS wise (please don't tell your Customers we're getting a guaranteed OS Lollipop update, then leave us waiting forever without issuing a statement - that's the sort of bullshit which causes an exodus of Customers)!

    Selling the Moto X Play as the Droid Maxx 2 (Verizon Wireless) in North Ameroca is another epic fail! You lost this Customer, Motorola (erm Lenova)! I predict the Company will go straight to the shitter like Nokia (only for a different reason)!

  • But I thought Moto gesture is not functional on X play?
    Well, I did purchase the X 2014 in August, few weeks after Motorola released the X Play and X Style. What made my choice? Built quality, S801 better than S615 (64 bits is - not yet- a great improvement).... And the Price of course. In France moto x cost actually 289 euros, great deal. The camera can be improved quite easily, by downloading Google camera or zoom camera fx. For the battery, it's sufficient for one day, if you don't play a lot. If you do you can purchase a portable battery like ravpower on amazon or a quick charger aukey. Both costs nearly 10 euros.

    Last but not least, kitkat on 2014 is awesome. 5.1, and lollipop in general, are not well thought... And you can't have it on X play.

    I do agree with you if it's your first time purchasing a moto. But in the end, for two devices close to one another, you'd better check them both in store.
    I still regret the size of the new moto x style... Gosh, moto, why?

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