Motorola doubles down on Moto X with Style and Play, and updates Moto G

The Moto X Style will be known as the Pure Edition in the US, and will be sold directly to consumers. The company says both Moto X smartphones will cost much less than other premium devices.

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Roger Cheng (he/him/his) was the executive editor in charge of CNET News, managing everything from daily breaking news to in-depth investigative packages. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade and got his start writing and laying out pages at a local paper in Southern California. He's a devoted Trojan alum and thinks sleep is the perfect -- if unattainable -- hobby for a parent.
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Roger Cheng
3 min read

The Motorola Moto X Style allows you to customize the phone. Motorola

Say hello to the new generation of Moto smartphones.

Motorola, a unit of Chinese consumer electronics giant Lenovo, on Tuesday unveiled the Moto X Style . In the US, the phone will be known as the Moto X Pure Edition and will have universal LTE banding, allowing it to work in any carrier. It will cost $399 unlocked. The company also unveiled the Moto Play , which boasts longer battery life, but comes with a smaller screen. And it showed off a revamped version of the Moto G , its best-selling smartphone of all time, which is available today and which costs $179.99.

The lineup continues Motorola's strategy of embracing a "pure," or unaltered, version of Android, the software that powers the majority of the world's smartphones, a legacy of its time as a unit of Google. That emphasis, along with the Moto Maker customization system, which allows you to tweak the colors and materials used on the device, has helped it establish credibility in a market dominated by Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy S smartphones.

The smartphones represent the first major update since Lenovo acquired Motorola from Google in October. The new products indicate that Lenovo is keeping its promise to give Motorola wide latitude in how it operates. Motorola Chief Operating Officer Rick Osterloh has previously said that he believed Lenovo would allow him to continue his strategy.

Lenovo acquired Motorola to gain entry into more traditional markets where the Chinese company hasn't had a strong smartphone presence, including in the US. It is the world's largest PC manufacturer, but only the fifth largest smartphone maker, according to IDC.

The Moto X Style comes with a 5.7-inch quad high-definition display for crisper images, the ability to quickly charge (it charges 34 percent of its battery in 15 minutes) and a soft-grip back. Like other Moto X smartphones, it can be heavily customized via Moto Maker. It will be available in September.

Motorola pushed to improve the camera to focus faster, to capture more light and to reproduce better color. The Moto X Style will have a 21-megapixel camera, plus a 5-megapixel front-facing "selfie" camera with wide-angle lens.

"It's the best we've ever built," said Jim Wick, head designer for Motorola.

Motorola is opting to sell the Moto X Pure Edition in the US directly to consumers on its own website and through retailers like Amazon, as opposed to going with carrier partners.

The Moto X Play, meanwhile, will get a 3,630-mAh battery, which means it can last two days on a single charge, and the company says you can get up to 8 hours of charge in 15 minutes with its turbocharging capability. It also has a 21-megapixel camera and 5-megapixel front-facing camera. It has a 5.5-inch full high-definition display.

The Play smartphone will be available in August, and will sell for $300 to $400 less than the standard premium phone. It too can be customized via Moto Maker.

While the flagship Moto X smartphones have earned the praise of Android purists, it is the more affordable Moto G smartphone that has helped win Motorola market share. The Moto G is the company's best-selling smartphone of all time thanks to its combination of decent specifications for a low price of $180 without a contract. In comparison, a high-end smartphone like the iPhone 6 retails for $650.

Motorola also improved the Moto G, adding a waterproof coating on the device. In addition, it boosted the camera by giving it a 13-megapixel rear shooter, as well as a 5-megapixel front-facing camera. The phone will come with 4G LTE as a standard feature, as opposed to an add-on as before.

You will also be able to customize Moto G with Moto Maker, a first for this model of the smartphone.

Motorola also unveiled two accessories, the Moto Pulse, an over-the-ear headphone for $59.99, and the Moto Surround, a band that wraps around your neck with ear buds that can be extended to your ears. It will sell for $69.99. Both are wireless and connect to the phone with Bluetooth.