Motorola X Force review: Smartphone is not pretty, but very tough

The Moto X Force is not the kind of smartphone likely to be sported by the fashion-conscious set on a Friday night at Asia de Cuba or the Jetty Lounge.

Rather, it’s the sort of device you carry around you when you’re doing something active and high impact. Or failing that, it’s great if you’ve got young children who can’t keep their slippery hands off your expensive gadgets.

The X Force isn’t designed to win any beauty contests. Its simple metal frame is offset by a rugged “ballistic nylon” textured back that feels rugged in the hand, but also a little cheap.

Its 21 megapixel rear camera takes impressive images in a range of conditions, while falling a little short of the likes of the Galaxy S7 and the LG G5. And the 5.4 inch Amoled display promises a lot but falls a little short.

But you don’t buy a smartphone called X Force for its camera, design and display. You buy it because it’s tough. And make no mistake, this is a high-impact smartphone.

I didn’t have the nerve to test whether it could withstand a five-foot drop on a tiled floor as Motorola claims. However, its display survived without blemish after being dropped face down on a hard wood floor several times, as well as a number of medium force blows from a standard hammer.

Most gratifyingly, it survived 24 hours in the company of a colleague’s one-year-old, who had inflicted impressive damage on his mother’s iPhone a week earlier.

Not only did the X Force remain unscathed, its 5MP front camera is intuitive enough even for a toddler to take (several) selfies.

Despite being on the market for some months, the Moto X Force is still a little pricey at about Dh2,549, more than both the HTC 10 and the LG G5. But while it lags in terms of display and camera specs, its nigh-on unbreakable design will definitely appear to rugged outdoor types, as well as any parent whose little darling delights in causing damage to expensive gadgets.

q&a tough and resilient all day long

So how did Motorola make it so tough? Did they leave it in the oven for an extra 12 hours?

It’s what they call “Shatter­Shield” screen technology. It’s made up of five layers, starting with a rigid aluminium chassis and the aforementioned Amoled display, which is in itself quite flexible. Then there’s a dual touch layer, an interior lens and an outer screen protection ShatterShield lens.

So how tough is it really? Should I take it rock climbing with me?

Motorola is pretty realistic that the X Force is resilient but probably not designed to be dropped 200 feet off a mountain. That being said, it’s tough enough to be dropped on a hard floor by a toddler (and an adult for that matter), which matters more to most of us than its climbing credentials.

You mentioned something about a disappointing display?

Disappointing is maybe too strong a word. The X Force’s Amoled display has a stunning 540 pixels per inch density, promising great images. But given the added screen protection layers, the effect is a little diminished. Make no mistake, videos look high quality but you don’t quite get the brilliant colours of the Galaxy S7 Edge.

What else should I know?

It has a large battery that’ll get you through the day with no problem. Internal memory is expandable up to 256GB via microSD. Regrettably, there’s no fingerprint scanner. And as for that ballistic nylon finish? It’s not available in rose gold.

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