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Motorola's Moto X Force pairs top specs with an unbreakable display

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The Motorola Moto X Force.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

If you've ever dropped your phone and had the soul-destroying moment of finding your screen smashed to a thousand tiny pieces, Motorola's latest top-end smartphone might be just the thing for you. It's called the Moto X Force, and Motorola boasts that its screen is "shatterproof".

The phone is essentially a better-equipped variant of the Moto X Style (called Pure in the US), which launched earlier this year. Besides a 5.4-inch display with 2,560x1,440-pixel resolution, the Force comes with an octa-core processor, 21-megapixel camera, expandable storage and the option to customise the design with different materials, including leather, using the Moto Maker online tool.

The Moto X Force will hit UK stores in November and will come with a £499 price tag for the 32GB model, or £534 for the 64GB model. There's no pricing available for Australia yet, but the UK prices roughly convert to AU$1,075 and AU$1,155 respectively.

The US version is a Verizon exclusive and it's called the Motorola Droid Turbo 2 -- they're branded very differently, but they are the same phone in all but name. The 32GB model and 64GB model are available for $624 and $720 respectively over a two-year contract.

Designed for the clumsy

The so-called shatterproof display is really the main selling point of this phone. Motorola explained to me that the screen is made up of five different layers that are designed to absorb shock, including a flexible AMOLED display and an aluminium core to keep it rigid. Motorola's apparently been working on this technology for three years.

I saw the phone in a quiet London pub where I wasn't able to test the strength of the display, but CNET editor Dan Graziano had this to say of the US version: "After testing it out myself I find the technology to be quite impressive. I dropped the phone repeatedly from different heights and angles. It showed no sign of damage. The frame wasn't dented, nor was the screen cracked. Wow."

What the Force doesn't have is the same IP67 waterproofing seen on the cheaper Moto G. I think that's a missed opportunity -- if the Force had a strengthened screen and was resistant to water, it could be a great option for outdoor enthusiasts looking for the ultimate rough-and-tumble phone.

Underneath the strengthened screen is a great lineup of specs. The display looks impressive, the octa-core chip seemed very nippy during my hands-on time, and the battery has been boosted to a 3,700mAh cell, which Moto promises will give two days of battery life. That's a big claim and certainly one I'm looking forward to testing. It'll also support wireless charging and you'll be able to fast charge it with a compatible plug. Fast charging will, Moto says, give you 13 hours of use after only 15 minutes of charging.

It comes with 32GB of storage as standard, although you can expand that to 64GB using the Moto Maker tool. I'd personally stick with 32GB, though. With a microSD card slot that accepts cards up to 2TB in size and Android Marshmallow on the horizon, which uses external storage in the same way as internal storage, you won't need to splash out on higher-capacity models.

Instead of Marshmallow, the Force comes with Android Lollipop, which is a disappointment. However, Moto promises an update "soon". There's no date yet -- at least not one I was told about -- but the Moto X range uses pretty much stock Android, so it shouldn't take much tweaking to get Marshmallow on board. I'm expecting it before the end of the year.

This has the same 21-megapixel camera on the back as the Moto X Style, which produced great results for us. On the front is a 5-megapixel camera which also has an LED flash to help light up your face for those dingy bar selfies.

Outlook

Even without its toughened display, the Moto X Force has a lot to shout about. It's stuffed with a powerful processor, a capacious battery and a high resolution display. It also lets you customise the design, a feature I've always appreciated in the Moto range. That it also won't shatter to smithereens when it tumbles from your hand is the cherry on top.

If you're one of the many people walking around with cracked phone screens you can't afford to replace, the shatterproof display may make this the best phone to buy.

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Motorola Moto X Force

Part Number: Moto X Force-black
Low Price: $389.99 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Diagonal Size 5.43 in