DxOMark Mobile Report: Motorola Moto X Style

Summary

The Moto X Style is Motorola's latest flagship smartphone, replacing the 2014 edition of the Moto X. In the camera department the new model uses a 1/2.4-inch 21MP BSI CMOS sensor that is combined with a fast F2.0 lens and a dual-LED flash. On the software side of things there is a new user-activated night mode that uses higher ISOs and is therefore capable of better exposing very dark scenes and freeze motion in low light, albeit at a reduced resolution. As before, the video mode can record 4K footage. Images and video can be viewed on a 5.7-inch quad-HD screen. Please also have a look at our Motorola Moto X Style preview and image samples.

With a DxOMark Mobile score of 83 the Motorola Moto X Style achieves the third highest score in the DxOMark smartphone rankings, slotting in right behind the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and in front of the Sony Xperia Z3+. The DxOMark team reports that the Moto X Style images show "very good detail preservation and low noise in outdoor conditions, good exposure, accurate white balance and generally pleasant colors". They also found that the "autofocus is accurate in all lighting conditions". 

On the downside, "flash images without an additional light source are slightly over-exposed", additional tungsten light when shooting with flash can lead to a "slightly unstable autofocus", some highlight clipping can be observed and "in outdoor conditions, blue sky saturation is sometimes visible."

When shooting in video mode the Moto X Style shows "good detail preservation in both bright and low light conditions, one of the best stabilization results to date and fast white balance and exposure adaptation." However, "some autofocus instability in indoor conditions and noise in the corners in low light conditions" were observed as well.

Still Photography

Color, Exposure and Contrast

The DxOMark team found that when shooting with the Motorola Moto X Style "white balance behavior is good, pictures are well exposed and colors are generally pleasant." On the downside, some highlight clipping is noticeable.

Overall DxOMark awarded the Motorola Moto X Style scores of:

  • 4.6 out of 5 for Exposure
  • 4.5 out of 5 for White Balance accuracy
  • 3.8 out of 5 for Color shading in low light*
  • 3.0 out of 5 for Color shading in bright light*
  • 4.2 out of 5 for Color Rendering in low light
  • 4.5 out of 5 for Color Rendering in bright light

*Color Shading is the nasty habit cellphone cameras have of rendering different areas of the frame with different color shifts, resulting in pictures with, for example, pinkish centers and greenish corners.

Noise and Details

DxOMark's engineers reported that the Motorola Moto X Style images show "very good detail preservation in outdoor conditions" and that "noise is barely visible in outdoor conditions". "In low light detail is still visible" but " some noise is visible in low light" as well.

Texture Acutance

Texture acutance is a way of measuring the ability of a camera to capture images that preserve fine details, particularly the kind of low contrast detail (such as fine foliage, hair or fur) that can be blurred away by noise reduction or obliterated by excessive sharpening.

Sharpness is an important part of the quality of an image, but while it's easy to look at an image and decide visually whether it's sharp or not, the objective measurement of sharpness is less straightforward.

An image can be defined as "sharp" if edges are sharp and if fine details are visible. In-camera processing means that it's possible to have one of these (sharp edges) but not the other (fine details). Conventional MTF measurements tell us how sharp an edge is, but have drawbacks when it comes to measuring fine detail preservation. Image processing algorithms can detect edges and enhance their sharpness, but they can also find homogeneous areas and smooth them out to reduce noise.

Texture acutance, on the other hand, can qualify sharpness in terms of preservation of fine details, without being fooled by edge enhancement algorithms.

A dead leaf pattern is designed to measure texture acutance. It's obtained by drawing random shapes that occlude each other in the plane, like dead leaves falling from a tree. The statistics of this model follow the distribution statistics in natural images.

In this example from a DSLR without edge enhancement, sharpness seems equal on edge and on texture. Many details are visible in the texture.

In this second example, edges have been digitally enhanced, and the edge looks over sharp, with visible processing halos ("ringing"). On the texture part, many details have disappeared.

At first sight, the images from these two cameras may appear equally sharp. A sharpness measurement on edges will indeed confirm this impression, and will even show that the second camera is sharper. But a closer examination of low contrasted textures shows that the first camera has better preservation of fine details than the second. The purpose of the texture acutance measurement is to qualify this difference.

Note: Acutance is a single value metric calculated from a MTF result. Acutance is used to assess the sharpness of an image as viewed by the human visual system, and is dependent on the viewing conditions (size of image, size of screen or print, viewing distance). Only the values of texture acutance are given here. The measurements are expressed as a percentage of the theoretical maximum for the chosen viewing condition. The higher the score, the more details can be seen in an image. 
 
For all DxOMark Mobile data presented on connect.dpreview.com we're only showing 8MP equivalent values, which gives us a level playing field for comparison between smartphone cameras with different megapixel values by normalizing all to 8MP (suitable for fairly large prints). DxOMark also offers this data for lower resolution use-cases (web and onscreen). For more information on DxOMark's testing methodology and acutance measurements please visit the website at www.dxomark.com.
Luminance texture acutance decreases noticeably in low light.
In terms of texture acutance, the Moto X Style performs very well in good light but trails its rivals in lower light conditions.   

Edge Acutance

Edge acutance is a measure of edge sharpness in images captured by the phone's camera. Again we're only looking at the most demanding of the three viewing conditions that DxOMark reports on - the 8MP equivalent.
In terms of edge acutance the Moto X Style leads the competition at all light levels.
Edge acutance is very high across all light levels.

Visual Noise

Visual noise is a value designed to assess the noise in an image as perceived by the human visual system, depending on the viewing condition (size of image, size of screen or print, viewing distance). The measurements have no units and can be simply viewed as the weighted average of noise standard deviation for each channel in the CIE L*a*b* color space. The lower the measurement, the less noise in the image.

Noise levels are low across light levels. 
The Moto X Style measures the lowest noise levels among the competition in this comparison.

Noise and Detail Perceptual scoring

DxOMark engineers don't just point camera phones at charts, they also take and analyze scores of real-world shots and score them accordingly. Their findings for the Motorola Moto X Style were:

Natural scene

  • Texture (bright light): 5.0 out of 5
  • Texture (low light): 3.5 out of 5
  • Noise (bright light): 4.3 out of 5
  • Noise (low light) 3.2 out of 5
Bright light sample shot
100% crop: very good detail preservation
100% crop: noise is barely visible
Low light (20 Lux) studio shot
100% crop: detail is still visible
100% crop: some noise is visible

Artifacts

Phone cameras, like entry-level compact cameras, tend to suffer from artifacts such as sharpening halos, color fringing, vignetting (shading) and distortion, which can have an impact on the visual appeal of the end result. DxOMark engineers measure and analyze a range of artifacts. Their findings after testing the Motorola Moto X Style are shown below:

  • In outdoor shots blue sky saturation is sometimes visible
  • Color fringing is noticeable in scenes with high contrast
  • Ringing is slightly visible

Perceptual Scores

  • Sharpness 4.3 out of 5
  • Color fringing 3.5 out of 5

Measured findings

  • Ringing center 8.6%
  • Ringing corner 2.5%
  • Max geometric distortion -0.2%
  • Luminance shading 16.8%

Distortion and Chromatic Aberrations

The graph shows the magnification from center to edge (with the center normalized to 1). Like many smartphones the Moto X Style shows a slight pincushion distortion, which you are not going to notice in normal photography.
Some lateral chromatic aberration is measurable and just about noticeable in some high-contrast scenes.

Autofocus

DxOMark also tests autofocus accuracy and reliability by measuring how much the acutance - or sharpness - varies with each shot over a series of 30 exposures (defocusing then using the autofocus for each one). As with other tests these results are dependent on the viewing conditions (a little bit out of focus matters a lot less with a small web image than a full 8MP shot viewed at 100%). Using the 8MP equivalent setting, the Motorola Moto X Style performs reliably in all light conditions. The overall score is 98/100 in bright light and 79/100 in low light.

Pros: 

  • Accurate autofocus in all lighting conditions
  • Fast autofocus in bright light conditions

Cons: 

  • Slight overshoot during preview
Autofocus repeatability - average acutance difference with best focus: low light 10.52%, bright light 1.48%

Flash

DxOMark scored the Motorola Moto X Style 76/100 overall for its flash performance, which is average among the current generation of top-end smartphones. 

Pros: 

  • Accurate white balance

Cons:

  • Autofocus is slightly unstable with additional tungsten illuminant
  • Without any additional light sources flash images are slightly over-exposed
  • Strong chromatic noise visible in the corners
  • Some slight color shading is visible, pink on the left and green on the right

Overall DxOMark Mobile Score for Photo: 83 / 100


Video Capture

DxOMark engineers put phone cameras through a similarly grueling set of video tests, and you can read their full findings on the DxOMark website here. Overall DxOMark found the Motorola Moto X Style's video footage to show good detail in both bright and low light but strong noise to be visible in low light shooting.

Pros: 

  • Good detail preservation in both bright and low light conditions
  • Good stabilization, one of the best results to date
  • Fast white balance and exposure adaptation

Cons: 

  • Some autofocus instability in indoor conditions
  • Strong noise is visible in the corners in low light conditions
  • Some frame skipping occurred in one video

Overall DxOMark Mobile Score for Video: 83 / 100

DXOMark Mobile Score
83

DXOMark Image Quality Assessment

With 83 points, the Motorola Moto X Style achieves the second highest DxOMark Mobile score in the DxOMark smartphone rankings, slotting in right behind the Samsung Galaxy S6 and in front of the Galaxy Note 4. The DxOMark team found the Moto X Style images to show very good detail in bright light, with good exposure and white balance. Additionally the autofocus worked reliably in all light conditions. However, some flash images can be over-exposed and highlight clipping can be visible in high-contrast scenes. 

Detail in video mode is equally good and the testers were impressed by the Moto Style's video stabilization and fast white balance and exposure adaptation. However, noise creeps in when recording in lower light. For a more detailed analysis, visit www.dxomark.com.

Photo Mobile Score 83   Video Mobile Score 83
Exposure and Contrast 90   Exposure and Contrast 90
Color 83   Color 85
Autofocus 89   Autofocus 75
Texture 78   Texture 87
Noise 77   Noise 76
Photo Artifacts 84   Video Artifacts 87
Flash 76   Stabilization 79