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Moto X Style vs Galaxy Note 5 comparison

Motorola and Samsung have both launched new high-end devices, less than a month apart. The former's flagship, the Moto X Style – aka the Moto X 2015, aka the Moto X Pure Edition – is bigger and faster than its predecssor, and it's certainly pretty. But is it pretty impressive when held up against the latter's amazing Galaxy Note 5, which boasts a top class camera and display, as well as the S Pen? Let’s find out in our Moto X Style vs Galaxy Note 5 comparison.

motorola moto x style camera
The Moto X Style is a really good looking phone. / © ANDRODIPIT

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Moto X Style vs Galaxy Note 5 comparison: design and build quality

The Moto X Style is a good looking phone with an aluminum housing, a curved back and a choice of materials for the back, including real wood and Saffiano leather. If you’ve ever fancied a phone with a walnut back, or wanted a choice of colors including acid greens and sky blues, the Moto is the phone for you.

By comparison the Note 5 looks a little staid. It’s a nice enough design, and the glass back makes it more stylish than most Samsungs, but it does look rather like the work of a design team trying to copy as much of the iPhone 6 Plus as possible without getting sued. And of course, it has that little design flaw where putting the S Pen in backwards can do serious damage to the device. On looks and not-killing-your-phone-with-a-stylus terms, the Moto X Style is streets ahead.

moto x style
The range of colors and materials for the X Style is huge. Fancy a walnut one? We do! / © Motorola

Moto X Style vs Galaxy Note 5 comparison: display

Motorola decided to go with a 5.7-inch screen for the Moto X Style and increase the resolution to QHD. So now we have a display of 2,560 x 1,440 pixels at a density of 520 ppi, and Motorola has apparently been able to correct the yellowing that the previous generation suffered from. The whites are more pure and the colors on the screen look more realistic.

The Note 5 display was recently judged the best smartphone display ever made, by screen-testers DisplayMate. Once again it’s a 5.7-inch display running at 2,560 x 1,440, and as it’s an AMOLED it delivers the strong contrast and high saturation we’ve come to expect from Samsung’s flagships. It's certainly brighter and more saturated than the X Style display.

moto x style vs note 5 teaser 2
The X Style display is good, but the Note 5 was recently judged the best phone display ever. / © ANDROIDPIT

Moto X Style vs Galaxy Note 5 comparison: processor and storage

The Moto X Style has a six-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor clocked at 1.8GHz, 3 GB of RAM and 32 / 64 GB of on-board storage plus a microSD slot.

The Note 5 doesn’t have a microSD slot, but it does offer 32 / 64 GB of storage. The processor is an eight-core Exynos 7420 clocked at 2.1 GHz, and that’s teamed up with 4 GB of RAM. The Note 5 is more powerful and performed better in benchmark tests, shown below.

Moto X Style vs Note 5 benchmark
The Samsung's (right) more powerful processor means better benchmarks. / © ANDROIDPIT

Moto X Style vs Galaxy Note 5 comparison: camera

The Moto X Style packs a 5 MP selfie shooter with its own LED flash, while its main camera has a whopping 21 MP to play with. Cameras have often been weak points in Motorola phones, but this time the firm seems to have addressed the issues: according to the image quality experts at, the X Style camera is in joint second place with the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. You’ll never guess what camera is at number one.

If you just said "Note 5!" you’d be wrong, but only slightly: the winner in DXOmark’s rankings is the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, but that just happens to have the same camera as the Note 5. That means a 5 MP front camera and a 16 MP main camera with optical image stabilization and really impressive performance. It might not have as many megapixels as the X Style's camera, but it’s the superior shooter here.

moto x style vs note 5 backs cameras
The X Style is the second-best mobile camera around. Guess what's first? / © ANDROIDPIT

Moto X Style vs Galaxy Note 5 comparison: software

Motorola doesn’t like to mess with stock Android too much, so the Moto X Style will ship with Android Lollipop 5.1.1 and the Moto App, which is where you’ll find extra features such as Motorola’s voice and gesture control. An Android Marshmallow update will be made available in either late 2015 or early 2016.

The Note ships with Samsung’s own TouchWiz and S Pen software on top of Android (5.1.1 in this case), and while Samsung has rightly been criticized for TouchWiz bloat, the 2015 version is much more stripped back. An Android Marshmallow update is expected before Santa Claus fires up his reindeer.

It's not possible to call a winner on this front – the choice would really come down to personal preference on how much customisation you like.

Moto X Style vs Galaxy Note 5 comparison: battery

The Moto X Style packs a whopping 3,000 mAh of battery power, and so does the Note 5; and with identically sized screens, we’d expect them to get very similar battery life. Both devices support fast charging, and in the case of the Samsung, that fast charging can happen wirelessly: its Fast Charge platter gives the Note 5 a full tank in about two hours, although fast charging only works with that specific charger. On a cable the charging time drops to just 90 minutes.

moto x style vs note 5 backs taeser 3
The Note is more powerful, but the Style is more beautiful. / © ANDROIDPIT

Moto X Style vs Galaxy Note 5 comparison: early verdict

The Moto X Style is a very close competitor to Samsung’s fantastic flagship. What differences there are are minor: the Moto has fewer processor cores but does have a microSD slot; the Samsung has more RAM and a slightly better camera; the Samsung is slimmer, but the Moto is better looking.

There is one really big difference between the two phones though, and that’s the price. The Galaxy Note 5 costs $700, while the Moto X Style is $399. The Note 5 is better, but we don’t think it’s nearly-twice-the-price better. You’d need to really like the S Pen to choose the Samsung over the Motorola.

moto x style vs note 5 sides
The differences between the Moto X Style and the Note 5 are minor... except for the price. / © ANDROIDPIT

What do you think? Does the Moto X Style have the style Samsung lacks, or do you the S Pen and two more cores are worth the extra money? Let us know below.

Readers' favorite comments

  • Nickname303 Sep 6, 2015

    Motorola phones are aimed at people who want a good phone with stock android and truly useful extra features. They're not aimed at brainless, brand obsessed, naive people who can't think for themselves, like you. So you're welcome to your Samsung, it suits your mentality. I'll stick with my Motorola thanks :)


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  • As a long time sammy note GT-N7000 user I have had plenty of time to make a considered appraisal and It's nice to say the note GT-N7000 is still a useful phone today, ok it doesn't have all of the bling a modern phone now has but for general use it's still in the game.
    I buy a phone based on function first form second, I like a phone that just works, this is my primary concern, stability and longevity are key factors for me and the Note GT-N7000 did that. A lot of people go on about the touchwiz but i've never had a problem with it and found it to be very useful in my work, but needs change and I've been looking for a new phone for a while now. The time for change is upon me and It has all come down to the Moto X Style and the Note 5, unfortunately for the Note 5, I cannot justify the cost compared to the Moto X Style, it offers excellent value for money and being a tight git value for money is the clincher here.

    I think the camera debate is just an exercise in splitting hairs, when I want to take amazing photos I reach for my Nikon D7100. With regard to the processing power, I think in a real world day to day environment you'd hardly notice the difference between the CPU's so again this is a splitting hairs exercise. I personally think the Note 5 is the better looking of the two phones but that is a secondary consideration for me because most of the time the phone will be in a case and in my pocket, plus most adults I know would not be impressed by the look of a phone although for the first few weeks I will be evangelising the Motorola Moto X Style to everyone I meet lol!

    All in all there is no contest here, the Moto X Style is the winner, it's a lean, mean, featured machine, yes it has form too but it also has function by the bucket load and all of that for a very reasonable price. Based on this, the Moto X Style is my next considered purchase. Now what do I spend the £200 I have left on?

    Oh! a slightly large footnote...
    All Android phones seem to have an issue with memory and the space to install apps to. This never seems to be alluded to but is a big concern for me because I use quite a lot of apps. We see mention of 16, 32, 64 and even 128GB but this is a misleading spec unless it is broken down into its areas of allowable usage.

    What do I mean by that?
    Ok you get an android phone or any phone for that matter and they quote 16GB of space; ignore the microsd card expansion as this has no affect on what I'm talking about. Of that 16GB we have the OS and any of the stock or brand apps taking that space up. Now we can hardly remove the OS so why are we not quoted less? When we eventually get used to the phone and have installed all of our favourite apps we start to become concerned with space and when we check we find that we don't have 16GB we have 11GB to play with and that doesn't include any of the apps we have installed. But, it gets more misleading, we are NEVER quoted the space allocation for installing third-party apps to! well, I'd say that's a pretty important bit of info and in all of the reviews I have ever seen Not one has commented on this.

    As an example on the GT-N7000 you get approx 1.97GB of space to install YOUR apps but, you can't fill all of that, you can push to 2/3 of it maybe even 3/4 but you start to get warnings about space running out and the memory usage will start to get close to its maximum too and consequently the phone will start to lag and you will get frustrated as you wait for your app to launch.

    You can have all the space you want to store photos etc but the memory and the app installable space is crucial and I'm gobsmacked no reviewer has talked about this.

    So with this subject mentioned what is the app allowable space for the MotoX Style?

  • Wow.. Samboy much? The only place Samsung has moto beat is the camera.. 4gb of ram.. Sure it needs it cuz of touchwiz.. And your benchmark test is useless. Mid range motos have been out preforming samsungs since the first note in real life. I love all phones but this article is one sided. Your "tests" are thought out poorly and I'm pretty sure you've never touched a moto x just piggybacked on other reviews

  • Surjan Sep 7, 2015 Link to comment

    Moto x style when it supposed to launch in India????? Date ???

  • Regarding the battery, even though the screens are the same size, doesn't the Motorola's draw more current than Sammy's AMOLED?

    For me, more easily upgradable vanilla android is very important. And Motorola's pricing means I can finally get away from carrier-branded, and crippled, phones. The carriers will eventually keep the Samsung on an old version of Android even if Samsung releases another update. The Moto X Style will be free of this and I imagine even upgradable by the community when Motorola stops offering updates.

    The Motorola's SD card is also useful for everyone who isn't always connected to the cloud and doesn't have unlimited data.

    The one thing I worry about with the Motorola is the battery. Until ifixit or some similar site does a teardown and shows that it is possible to replace the battery (by dismantling the phone), then I will hesitate to buy it. A phone with an unreplaceable battery is going to be trash in three years. Old phones work great as cameras, GPS traces, music players, etc. as long as you can put a new battery in them.

    I also wish this review had mentioned weather-proofing. A phone with no waterproofing can't be used in the rain. All phones need to get beyond that vulnerability.

  • just me Sep 7, 2015 Link to comment

    Its a $ thing with me. I just need a good PHONE, full hd, ac and nfc.

  • I got $245 gift card and free wireless charger from bestbuy on note 5, and i have to pay the amount in installments as my phone is on at&t next. So price difference is not much as above if you get a good deal.

  • TF Shaw Sep 6, 2015 Link to comment

    I would much rather have quick android updates, no TouchWiz, and not have every single Google app poorly copied by Samsung and crammed onto my device as bloatware. Sure the Note 5 is a nice phone, but like all Samsung devices, and I own several, they ruin it with their software. For those reasons alone I would rather have the Moto X. Hopefully Samsung will wise up in the future and change my mind, but for now I'm walking away from Samsung mobile.

  • coreyho Sep 6, 2015 Link to comment

    DxOmark is not the best way to evaluate the camera of a smart phone. Because the website overlook the experiences of taking photos that isn't less improtant than image quality.

  • Motorola made moto X style better but it can't beat Samsung's NOTE 5

  • fahim Sep 6, 2015 Link to comment

    i think 'note 5' is better

  • Misha Sep 6, 2015 Link to comment

    I suspect that Samsung is going to be under the gun shortly. It will no doubt get many of the diehard fans to purchase the Note 5. With the SD card option gone, removable battery gone, and no option to enable customers to upgrade storage past 64GBs, the Note 5 is going to have a tough time warranting its premium price when compared to many of the other new phones on the horizon. This Moto X Style, along with the others slated to be released soon from Apple, LG, Huawei, and Sony, even if being nosed out by a few of the Note 5's features, are going to represent significantly more bang for the buck than the Note 5.

    Don't be surprised to see either a price drop on the Note 5 and/or a 128GB option arrive shortly. I've stuck with Samsung for some time now, but the other phone manufacturers are catching up and beating Samsung on features and price. Even if Samsung's Note 5 or 6 Edge plus win by a few points, the other phones may be more than "good enough" and represent a much better value.

    If you were thinking about the Note 5 or Galaxy 6 edge plus, you may want to sit it out for a while and let competition complete their announcements over the next month or so. Once customers start figuring out that Samsung's competitors are more than happy to provide features that Samsung won't offer customers, and offer more value, it is going to have to use price to lure them back.

    Resist the urge to trade your phone in today and throw $$$ at the latest technology. You may find that the $700 Note 5 they were looking over at introduction has fallen in price by $100-$200 and Samsung introduces a 128GB model as well.

  • Mike de Sep 6, 2015 Link to comment

    Note 5 is better

  • A design team trying to copy the iPhone? And a design flaw that could damage your phone by putting in the pen wrong? I'm sorry, but this is not professionally written.

    • coreyho Sep 6, 2015 Link to comment

      Not only Samsung, HTC, Huawei and even sony xperia also copy the IPhone. lol...IPhone is the origin of the univers.

  • Not even a comparable the Galaxy Note 5 and S6Edge+ pimp slaps any silly Motorola handset so easily it's comical. True phablets experience is the Note and S6Edge+ Motorola nothing more than another crappy Nexus 6 that was useless in November 2014

    • Motorola phones are aimed at people who want a good phone with stock android and truly useful extra features. They're not aimed at brainless, brand obsessed, naive people who can't think for themselves, like you. So you're welcome to your Samsung, it suits your mentality. I'll stick with my Motorola thanks :)

    • Kyle Sep 6, 2015 Link to comment

      Uhm, dude, is Touchwiz your girlfriend? Who the fuck likes Touchwiz Interface! Yea they're the best display, the best camera, the best processors, but can you believe that despite the freaking 4gb or 4gigs of RAM, they still close apps in the background?! AND its 4gb ram when off, when you power it on, everything's taken by the mighty touchwiz. such a dick.

  • I'm going for pure android experience

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