back to article Motorola’s X Force awakens a seemingly ‘shatterproof’ future

Here's one of the year's major surprises, and it's a nice one, in the shape of the latest high-end Motorola. It's already attracted acres of mainstream press coverage and that's before it's even generally available. It's the Motorola X Force, and it's the phone that the Daily Mail ran a truck over ... and the display came out …

  1. fruitoftheloon

    Broken iphone screens...

    Indeed, I did wonder if there would be much demand for iphones that come with an already-broken screen, as they appear to be very popular....

    Weird that, producing a thing of beauty (apparently), but they seem to have the structural integrity of damp tissue paper!


    1. Quortney Fortensplibe
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Broken iphone screens...

      "...they seem to have the structural integrity of damp tissue paper!..."


      Glass has got to be one of the worst choices of material 'evarrr!' to protect a delicate precision instrument that's going to be; left lying on all kinds of surfaces, pulled in and out of pockets and carried in the hand, several times a day. And, as if that wasn't bad enough, lots of manufacturers are now making the back out of glass too. So it's twice as likely to get smashed.

      I never understood why they don't make the screens out of some kind of tough plastic [or 'polycarbonate' as they seem to call it these days]. I used to have one of those old JCB Toughphones and you could have hammered nails in with its [toughened plastic] screen.

      OK plastic screens will scratch easier than glass. But it it comes down to a choice of enduring a slightly scratched screen or a completely smashed one, I'd much rather suffer the former.

      1. DrXym

        Re: Broken iphone screens...

        "I never understood why they don't make the screens out of some kind of tough plastic [or 'polycarbonate' as they seem to call it these days]."

        Because you can't charge an arm and a leg for a phone with a plastic screen or case. High end phones come encased in glass and aluminium because it makes the phone look expensive and therefore justifies the premium. Even if the materials probably only add $10 to the cost of production and both impair the function and ruggedness of the phone in obvious ways.

        The irony is most owners are paranoid about breaking their phone that they immediately shove their glass phone into a bump case. So it may as well be made of plastic for all the difference it would make to its appearance.

        1. Robert Grant

          Re: Broken iphone screens...

          Tell that to phone reviewers who dwell bizarrely on a phone's looks, even though all everyone's experience of their phone is is a screen surrounded by a £10 case.

      2. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Broken iphone screens...

        plastic screens scratch very easily, making the screen difficult to read in sunlight.

        best current solution is probably to use an aftermarket - and user replaceable - mineral glass screen protector instead of the common plastic film protectors.

        1. Deltics

          Re: Broken iphone screens...

          Transmissive display technologies are already difficult to read in sunlight. The material covering them has precious little to do with it, except that they tend to polarise that material in an effort to boost contrast which makes them not just difficult but damned near impossible to read in sunlight if - as people most often are in such conditions. - you are wearing sunglasses that happen also to be polarised (to protect that rather more precious thing that cannot be repaired or replaced ... their eyesight)

        2. goldcd

          Re: Broken iphone screens...


          After all manner of increasingly expensive layered plastic films over the last decade - picked up a toughened glass thingie and was blown away.

          Looks better, much easier to fit, feels silky smooth under your finger - and when I did manage to acrobatically pull my phone out of my pocket, hurl it at a wall and watch it crash to the ground - protector was broken, but screen beneath was fine.

  2. seven of five

    too good to be true?

    So, for a mere 500 quid I do get everything one could wish for:

    - stock android

    - large battery

    - dual sim

    - decent camera

    -SD slot

    (and alumunium!).

    Its a trap, isn´t it?

    1. JetSetJim

      Re: too good to be true?

      It's "it's as close to stock as you'll get,", so not stock at all. Don't think it has an SD slot either, although you can get a 64GB version for £35 more, and 64 is big enough for anybody, shirly

      1. Fibbles

        Re: too good to be true?

        The only things I've seen Motorola add to their modern Android phones is a camera app, Motorola Assist, and a process for OTA updates. So yeh, pretty close to stock.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: too good to be true?


        Go and stand in the corner and write out 100 times:

        "All mobile devices should have a SD slot as this is beneficial to the customer and not the company who is trying to lock you into their services or charge you overinflated prices for bigger memory"

      3. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

        @JetSetJim et al. - Yes, it DOES have an SD slot

        Direct from the horse's mouth, albeit in Portuguese... According to this, you can put up to a 2TB µSD

        For those of us who don't read Portuguese, there's this, although they seem to have missed a zero on the µSD spec.

        1. dajames

          Re: @JetSetJim et al. - Yes, it DOES have an SD slot

          For those of us who don't read Portuguese, there's this, although they seem to have missed a zero on the µSD spec.

          GSM Arena seem to think the same.

          I guess "200GB" means "the biggest µSD card we could find was 128GB, and that works, but we wanted to claim more. The next size up will be 256GB, but nobody makes one yet for us to test ... but we should be OK claiming something in between, and 200Gb sounds impressive!"

          1. What_Does_Not_Kill_You_Makes_You_Stronger

            Re: @JetSetJim et al. - Yes, it DOES have an SD slot

            @ dajames

            There is a 200GB SD Card !

            Been on sale at Argos, amongst others, so it is real.

            See ....


            The size quoted is *always* tested by the Manufacturer but usually is a brand/model you cannot get :)

            In most cases the Max size is limited by the latest tech available when tested.

            I have in multiple devices put 128GB cards when the max quoted was 64GB.

            The external interface is the same, the limit will be if the power and/or addressing has been limited in the device when designed.

            (Usually this happens in cheap devices where the SD card slot has been added as an afterthought to an existing design ..... but not always !! )

            If the SD Card spec does not change all *compliant* cards should work in a *compliant* device.

      4. Creslin

        Re: too good to be true?

        Specs say it has an SD card.

        1. JetSetJim

          Re: too good to be true?

          Bugger - had been to that page but couldn't spot the SD slot support - thanks for the correction. Makes it all the more desirable.

    2. goldcd

      Best so far

      BUT as mentioned in the review, I need decent, front-facing, stereo speakers.

      I didn't use to. I never thought about speakers. Then I got an HTC..

      However it's as close as damn-it to my perfect phone, so maybe I could overlook the speakers..

      1. BenR

        Re: Best so far

        BUT as mentioned in the review, I need decent, front-facing, stereo speakers.

        I didn't use to. I never thought about speakers. Then I got an HTC.


        You *WANT* decent, front-facing, stereo speakers.

        You don't *need* them. You won't die, or get fired, or lose your wife/GF/husband/BF/children/dog/whatever if you don't have them. They aren't central to your continuing existence. You won't vanish in a puff of logic like God when confronted with the idea that proof begets faith.

        While I don't deny the benefits of such speakers - my Moto X Style has them and it makes the device far more media-consumption friendly than the bottom / side mounted single speaker on my previous Z1 - the whole "want / need" conflation is starting to get right on my bloody nerves.

      2. Ian Watkinson

        Re: Best so far

        You're one of those people sitting on public transport playing crap music through your phones speakers aren't you.....

    3. Smig

      Re: too good to be true?

      I had a look at the other two Motorola X phones; the Play and the Style.

      Lovely pieces of kit. The catch being they're too big to fit in most of my pockets.

  3. JetSetJim
    Thumb Up


    I might even buy a Moto now that the screen on my Nexus has bust. My last one was a PEBL, and even that I got for free.

    On the article - I assume there's an SD slot somewhere? And when's it released? Link to product page?

    1. Greg J Preece

      Re: Blimey

      I might even buy a Moto now that the screen on my Nexus has bust.

      Have you considered repairing it yourself? While it's a bit of a fiddle to do, I bought a kit to fix mine for $70 CDN (about 35 quid). It's basically a replacement screen, and there are good YouTube vids showing how to remove the old one and attach the new. Don't forget to get a bit of the correct adhesive (not UV glue) to affix the new screen to the casing.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is great. I use my phone (Z3) all the time, outdoors as well. I have resorted to a cheap rugged case from fleabay and one of those 0.3mm 9H glass screen protectors (well, I say one, I'm on my fourth). Combined with waterproofing (I don't submerse it much but I work outdoors a lot and there's a reasonably amount of rain there) it works pretty well. Also waterproofing protects it against dust from hay, stray, and bedding materials. I've seen loads of phones with dust trapped behind the screens.

    Phones have become essential go-everywhere devices for very many people, and it's really encouraging to see some manufacturers taking on these challenges. Although I cannot understand why all the other horsey people I know (mainly girls) insist on iPhones, which are far too water-sensitive, allow too much dust ingress and break way too easily for everyday outdoor use.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "This is great. I use my phone (Z3) all the time, outdoors as well. I have resorted to a cheap rugged case from fleabay and one of those 0.3mm 9H glass screen protectors (well, I say one, I'm on my fourth)."

      Same except the cases kept breaking (!) so I put a glass sheet on the back as well as the front, so far so good.

      The Motorola does look like a worthy successor but for one thing: how long is the OLED display going to last? There's not much point having a 4 year warranty on the transparent bit if the light emitting bit could be failing in a couple of years. This is a genuine question because I would like to know.

      Around here horses are definitely middle class status symbols that are immediately recognised, like black Range Rovers. So are iPhones. So I guess that your other observation is about status signalling.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        The Z3 is a good phone but the official Sony case is rubbish and expensive - it doesnt protect one whole edge of the screen if you drop it when open.

      2. toughluck

        About OLED/AMOLED durability

        I had a Samsung Wave for four years now. The display broke off in a corner, and the glass broke apart in two streaks. It didn't shatter, though, so that's okay.

        The display is still crisp, and I still have it at the lowest brightness, which is more than plenty. At maximum brightness, it's reasonably good in the sun and way too bright for indoors.

        However, I have three qualms with the display: the black isn't black, evenness isn't even and burn-in happens.

        When supposed to display only black, the screen still is lit, if ever so slightly.

        Worse still, there are splotches visible (clearly visible when it's pitch-black around).

        Third, burn-in happens. Around the top and bottom of the display (status bar and basic icons), the burn-in is clearly visible even at mid-brightness (it's obvious when completely white).


        That said, the phone is still usable after four years (to an arbitrary definition of 'usable').

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    OK, so how does the glass "work"?

    A very interesting read, but it doesn't really explain how they've made it (apparently) shatterproof. My experience of glass is that it does shatter, and having layers (eg on a windscreen), toughening (windscreen, gorilla glass), still won't stop it shattering.

    So what's the special sauce here?

    Mutter, mutter, call this a tech web site, going to cancel my subscription, mutter, grumble.....etc

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: OK, so how does the glass "work"?

      As it said, the top layer is hardened and the next is flexible (they are not likely to tell you how it's made exactly).

      We had some armored glass once in a factory I used to work in. The boss spent a fortune putting bars on the glass and as the 2nd from last one was being fitted the landlord started to laugh to himself and right in front of the boss, pick up a lump hammer out of the boss, smacked the glass and we watched it simply bounce off.

      And that was almost 15 years ago.

      Here's an example:

  6. G2

    6.0 "soon"... riiight.

    quote "The Android included is 5.1.1, with 6.0 Marshmallow promised soon" /quote

    i assume that "soon" is the same "soon" that we were promised at the Moto E 2015 launch in february.... 8 months later Moto dropped the bomb on its customers and abandoned us.

    as a Moto E 2015 user (XT1524 - surnia_reteu) that has bought the phone on the promise that will be upgraded "soon" to 6.0 and i'm STILL stuck on Android 5.0.2 all i can say is FUCK YOU MOTO, Never again!

    1. JetSetJim

      Re: 6.0 "soon"... riiight.

      Meh - just root it and go Cyanogen when that build becomes available

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: 6.0 "soon"... riiight.

        That isn't the point JSJ, yes, that is what I did with my Galaxy S3, but we shouldn't have to faff around with DIY builds to premium priced products. They should get updates for at least the theoretical 2 year life span - although most people I know seem to replace their smartphones every 3 - 5 years, I replaced my last phone after 2.5 years and I am getting "yet another new phone," comments.

    2. caffeine addict

      Re: 6.0 "soon"... riiight.

      Odd, seeing as how my 2012 Moto G has 5.1 on it.

      Sure that's Moto and not the operator?

      1. Midnight

        Re: 6.0 "soon"... riiight.

        You have a Moto G.

        G2 has a Moto E.

        Those are two different phones. One of them is still receiving updates, and one is not.

      2. dominicr

        Re: 6.0 "soon"... riiight.

        In some countries Motorola/Lenovo seem to have released Android 5.1 for Moto E 2nd Gen and not in others. In UK my Moto E 2nd Gen is stuck on 5.0, and I have a sim-free phone (unlocked at purchase, bought from Tesco). My network is 3 but updates appear to come from and be controlled by Motorola. So why are they not letting us have 5.1...?

      3. G2

        Re: 6.0 "soon"... riiight.


        Sure that's Moto and not the operator?


        i bought it full price retail, unlocked... not tied to any operator. it's Moto pure.

    3. dotdavid

      Re: 6.0 "soon"... riiight.

      Apparently the Moto E 2015 is now on the Marshmallow release list.

      Motorola do seem to be taking longer releasing these updates since being sold to Lenovo though (probably due to staff layoffs) so I wouldn't count on timely updates for any of their phones anymore, unfortunately.

    4. MrWibble

      Re: 6.0 "soon"... riiight.

      Strangely enough, Moto yesterday announced that the 4g Moto E 2015 is getting Marshmallow!

      Moto Blog (Updated)

      (Ignore the posted date, it was updated yesterday)

      1. G2

        Re: 6.0 "soon"... riiight.


        Strangely enough, Moto yesterday announced that the 4g Moto E 2015 is getting Marshmallow!


        *puzzled*.... so instead of making a new blog post / announcement sequel for additional devices that will get v6 in the near future, Moto decides to quietly update the old one without telling anyone or even marking in the blog text WHICH items in that list are the newly updated ones... they just tossed them in the list there hoping nobody remembers the original item list ... probably just to cover their legal butts? They only mention at the top of the post that it was updated. All that being said, if they ever bother launching v6 i hope they launch directly to v6.0.1+ as 6.0.1 has been released already.

        They should know how a blog post notification system works. Blogspot's RSS feeds can be used to notify you of new posts but the usual RSS reader apps won't notify you of edits to posts that way back (Motorola's blog is quite active), so i'd take their announcement with a large pinch of salt.. make it a large truck of salt.

    5. IsJustabloke

      Re: 6.0 "soon"... riiight.

      Just out of interest... what do you think 6 gives you over 5?

      is 5 so unusable that teh phone is all but unusable or is it simply the case that you want to be able to say "ihaslatestgreatistiinit!"

      1. dajames

        Re: 6.0 "soon"... riiight.

        what do you think 6 gives you over 5?

        For one thing, the app permissions model is quite different in 6, giving the user more granular control over what an app can do.

        That's a big advantage (for the user) and well worth upgrading for (if it works).

    6. Smig

      Re: 6.0 "soon"... riiight.

      Since when was any manufacturer responsible for updates?

      You bought the phone with version x.yy.z

      This expectation of ongoing updates and patches is typical of the selfish whining monkeys that have become so prevalent in recent years.

      That reminds me. I'm off to the garage to demand that the manufacturer drops the latest, more powerful and more efficient engine into my car.

      Me thinks I'll be told to go forth and multiply.

      1. Down not across

        Re: 6.0 "soon"... riiight.

        Since when was any manufacturer responsible for updates?

        You bought the phone with version x.yy.z

        This expectation of ongoing updates and patches is typical of the selfish whining monkeys that have become so prevalent in recent years.

        It is not unreasonable to expect updates in any computerised equipmenT (be it bugfixes, security fixes or functional enhancements). Most manufacturers offer updated firmware for their kit (not talking about phones here).

        Also some manufacturers already advertise on release of the product that it will get x.y.z update, in which case it seems perfectly reasonable to me to expect that update to be provided as it quite likely influenced your original purchasing decision.

        That reminds me. I'm off to the garage to demand that the manufacturer drops the latest, more powerful and more efficient engine into my car.

        They're not replacing the phone's CPU over the air are they. More like you're off to the garage to get your ECU firmware sorted for dodgy emissions controls.

  7. BenR

    Screw you Motorola.

    This phone pissed me off beyond belief.

    Primarily because I'd upgraded just before this came out - with absolutely no publicity or fanfare might I add! - and this device was EXACTLY what I was looking for.

    Instead, I ended up with the Moto X Style, which I decided to go for instead of the Xperia Z5 and the Nexus 6P. Now I don't regret my choice because it's a great bit of kit. But, it is just a smidge on the big side. The lack of an AMOLED screen is vexing, because it makes Moto ActiveDisplay pointless. A smaller battery in the bigger and more power hungry phone seems bizarre. And I was somewhat hoping for wireless charging too. On the plus side, the X Style is very sexy looking, and doesn't look quite as bloated as this one does.

    The Force still ticks every box for me however, and I'm just gutted it a) wasn't out, and; b) there was no indication that Motorola were releasing *anything* else.

    And, of course typically, it was announced mere days after my return period on the X Style (Pure) ran out. Had I known, I'd've stuck with my still perfectly working and functional Z1 for a few weeks longer.

    About the only downside to the Force is that you don't get the options for the wooden backs, which do add a touch of class in my humble opinion.

  8. Dan 55 Silver badge

    An almost indestructible phone...

    ... so how long is it going to get Android updates for?

  9. djstardust


    This is a genuine innovation in smartphone technology. How many phones do you see every day with smashed screens and how much does it cost to repair them?

    I can guarantee this will be glossed over and Android manufacturers will follow Apple with their touch 3D or whatever it is.

    That's life!

    1. Whitter

      Smashed screens

      With the old Nexus, it was smashed back-plates that was the biggest gripe.

  10. Richard Taylor 2

    Now if it was also waterproof

  11. AndyS

    >Motorola guarantees display damage for four years, but only the top two layers. Quite how you'd damage the bottom three without first damaging the top two is a puzzle, though. Perhaps by taking a bullet?

    My wife's Moto G went this way. It was run over, screen down, in a case. It appeared fine afterwards, and was clearly still working (touchscreen and all - you could answer calls by guessing where to swipe). No visible damage to the screen. However, broken it was - the display didn't display.

    I replaced the screen & it jumped back into life. In the process I found some fairly substantial dents from the back, all the way through the battery & main board, into the back of the screen.

    It's still not burst into flames, surprisingly, despite being used daily by the kids for games & videos.

    She recently replaced it with a 2nd gen Moto G, on which she broke the screen in a more conventional way a few weeks later. Some factory in China is making good money on her.

  12. Unicornpiss

    2 things...

    -SD card slot

    -Fingerprint sensor

    Not having an SD card slot is a deal breaker for me, as I have a 64GB card full of data that I move from phone to phone. I've gotten used to and spoiled by the fingerprint sensor--so nice to be unable to unlock your phone in a second without anyone seeing the code you type in.

    Actually if you included both of these things and shipped it with Cyanogen and/or the ability to easily root from the factory, I would never consider any other phone.

    1. NotBob

      Re: 2 things...

      One of my cow-orkers has the US version, and I'm fairly certain it does have an SD card slot of some sort (presumably microSD) for all of your horse-porn storage needs.

  13. Rob Daglish

    Sd card

    It does have an SD slot. I was torn between this and the Z5. I think the x force is better value, but I went for the z5 as I'm very happy with the m2 I had (and still use as I haven't managed to unbox the z5 yet) and I really like my Z3 compact tablet, so it keeps a consistent interface for me, until Sony update one and not the other I suppose...

    Oh, it's described as "water resistant " by moto, while Sony are back tracking on their waterproof description of the z5. If the xforce had a fingerprint sensor, I'd have said stuff the interface difference!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sd card - while Sony are back tracking on their waterproof description of the z5

      I think they overestimated the ability of some users to replace the little bungs. If you treat the Z series the way you would treat an underwater camera (i.e. inspect before and after use) it seems to be fine.

  14. Quortney Fortensplibe


    "'s as close to stock as you'll get, with the all-seeing Eye of Sauron (the Google search bar) that can't be removed from the Moto launcher...."

    Oh yes it can!*

    * Remove Google Search Bar From Android Lollipop

    * Remove Google Search Bar From Android Marshmallow

    [*DISCLAIMER: Sometimes. On some hardware. On some Android variations. YMMV]

  15. Gene Cash Silver badge

    NICE, but...

    It's US$625 for 32GB, to $720 for the 64GB

    Zing. Icon for my wallet... I would want a bigger screen though, for looking at roadmaps & weather radar.

    1. RustyNailed

      Re: NICE, but...

      Conversely I want a slightly smaller screen with the same internals (accepting it would result in a smaller battery). Given all the other features, and lack of fingerprint reader aside, I'm seriously considering the X Force as a replacement for my Sammy GS3. Sadly it seems that that current fashion dictates that top internal spec requires a display footprint the size of a small dining tray.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    even at £495

    ok, I'll come back when this feature is available on Chinese look-alikes ;)

  17. Teddy the Bear

    More Apple screens?

    Interesting that Moto are fixing a problem which seems to be much more of a problem for iPhones than for other devices.

    Used to work in a phone retailer and I would see at least two broken iPhone screens every day, whereas other manufacturers' broken screens were much more unusual. Much as I dislike Apple, I just can't bring myself to believe that their build quality or design is that much worse than any other manufacturer.

    Is it just that there are more Apple devices to get broken? Or are Apple device owners more careless? Or are Apple devices simply designed such that they break their screens? I really don't know. But good work Moto for building something truly innovative. Hopefully Cupertino will nick their design!

    1. 's water music

      Re: More Apple screens?

      Maybe Apple owners have a greater likelihood of trying to procure a repair rather than living with it or replacing the device. My impression is that there is a higher expectation of after sales service from Apple for whatever reason

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: More Apple screens?

      From what I've seen of friends with iPhones and Android phones that have sustained a broken screen, the iPhones almost always keep working just fine when the screen shatters, while the Android (at least the Galaxys a few friends dropped and broke) lost touch sensitivity on part of the screen making them paperweights.

      Apple's release cycle also factors into it. If you break it in May, maybe you just keep using it while broken for a few months until the new ones come. If you break an Android any month, unless you are locked into a certain phone like Galaxy Note, there is always a "latest and greatest" model that just came out so less incentive to wait and use the broken one in the meantime.

      1. Unicornpiss

        Re: More Apple screens?

        We have hundreds of these devices (iPhone 6) at work. Usually the actual display doesn't shatter, but the overglass is starred by drops that the previous generations of iPhones and any Samsung or Moto device would have shrugged off. (and all of our phones have some kind of case) We've had a few bent too by people putting them in their back pockets. Typically we replace or repair at least 2 iPhones a week due to either shattered glass or hardware issues. (usually poor reception)

        I think people fix their iPhones when the glass is shattered not because of display issues, but because you're risking a cut every time you slide your finger across the display, or at least shuddering from the sensory experience of it.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: More Apple screens?

      Or are Apple device owners more careless?

      Not a statistical sample, but I see a lot more Androids carried in flip cover cases, and Apple phones in cover-less back shells, or no cover at all. To be fair to Apple owners, they've paid for what they consider to be premium design, no point in covering that up. For us Android types, there's only a tiny fraction that you'd call designs worth showing off.

      1. Unicornpiss

        Re: More Apple screens?

        I personally don't have much love for iPhones. But I agree that most Android devices are pretty unremarkable looking. With the exception of my old Droid Razr Max, which was a slick looking phone that fit my hand nicely. I've never liked the 50s diner kitchen table chrome border around my Samsung Galaxy. Though for that matter I think the iPhone 6 looks pretty cheaply made compared with earlier devices.

  18. Tom Paris

    Obvious (or stupid) question..

    if it's unbreakable then why don't they make the back out of it too?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Obvious (or stupid) question..

      Same reason they don't make aircraft out of the same material as the black box that always survives.....

      Whatever that is.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like