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Did Motorola finally deliver a great camera in the Moto X Pure Edition?

Derek Walter | Sept. 24, 2015
We put Motorola's newest smartphone to the test, comparing it to last year's Moto X and the Galaxy Note 5.

I found the Note 5 marginally better at reproducing the details of the flowers. There’s an ever-so-slight focus problem with the Moto X Pure Edition, but none here with the Note 5. It could be a case where the Optical Image Stabilization, something absent in the new Moto X, really pays off, but in bright outdoor light the shutter speed should be so fast it shouldn't make a difference.

A low-light test with a snake on a chair

The Achilles’ heel of the 2014 Moto X was the camera’s underperformance in low light settings. The situation has vastly improved with the Moto X Pure Edition. But as you’ll see, you’re still more than likely not going to turn out with a great picture.  

The Moto X Pure Edition still struggles in a moderately dark room.  

moto x pure snake on a chair
Check out how noisy the wall is behind the chair.

The background is entirely too noisy, and the camera doesn't replicate the color well. Unfortunately, you'll have to rely on flash or super powered editing skills to improve a photo like this 

moto x 2014 snake in a chair
The Moto X (2014) just isn't any good in low light.

However, last year's phone is even worse. It's dark, lacks detail, and is so full of digital noise that it looks like its covered in ants.

note 5 snake on a chair
The back wall isn't nearly as busy with the Galaxy Note 5. The chair and snake also pop much better.

It's no contest: the Note 5 actually pulls off a decent photo in a less-than-ideal setting. The snake actually pops thanks to how well the camera catches the different color schemes, and there's drastically less noise throughout. 

The verdict

The Moto X Pure Edition has the best camera Motorola’s ever produced. It should suffice for most situations, save for very low light settings. As the photos indicate it’s also a substantial improvement over 2014’s Moto X. If you want to explore a few more pictures from the Moto X Pure Edition, here’s a gallery of some that I took during a recent weekend in San Francisco. 

If you want the absolutely best Android camera available you’re still best to go with one of the flagship Galaxy phones (Note 5, S6, S6 Edge, or S6 Edge+) or the LG G4. The optical image stabilization and years of smartphone camera know-how still put them at the top.

Yet for a phone that costs $300 less than Samsung’s devices, Motorola is punching above its weight. You won’t get the number one camera, but you’ll get a rather good one in a highly customizable package without any bloatware.

 

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