For all the glory surrounding the new camera sensor, Motorola’s default camera has an unintuitive design, one that eschews functionality in favour of simplicity. For example, by default, the camera app expects you to shoot without a dedicated shutter button. A semicircular carousel can be pulled from the sides which includes all the settings, which are very few to begin with. You can switch on HDR mode, switch on the flash, choose a special night mode, trigger control of focus on or off, set a timer, shoot a panorama, and trigger Quick Capture. There are absolutely no manual settings or filters available, and what makes this worse is the fact that Motorola doesn’t allow third-party apps to use the camera API. Furthermore, by default, the control of focus and exposure setting is off and we recommend that you switch it on. Once you do that, you can achieve granular control over depth instead of focussing on the entire canvas.
The 21-megapixel camera on the Moto X Style is definitely leagues ahead of the sensors we’ve used on the previous generation Moto X devices as well as the Nexus 6. It can focus really fast and shoot faster than most mid-range phones out there. Our daylight shots, once we adjusted the focus accurately, produced some fairly accurate colours and the details in the image were intact too. Even the dynamic range was fairly good, and it managed to bring out the highlights and shadows accurately. The HDR mode wasn’t really required on most occasions, but when used in extremely bright environments the HDR mode managed to bring out subtle changes without changing the overall tonality of the original image. The camera started to struggle when we shot indoors and in low light. The noise compression algorithm starts working overtime and you start getting smudged details in indoor settings. In darker conditions though, the noise in images starts becoming fairly visible and pronounced. The F2.0 aperture doesn’t really do justice.
Out of the box, the Moto X Style shoots 1080p video, but the resolution can be bumped up to 4K. The details were really impressive and the colour accuracy was also spot on. It shoots both 4K and 1080p at 30fps and we didn’t notice any frame drops. However, since the camera lacks image stabilisation of any sort, we ended up with slightly shaky and blurred imagery often. The 720p slow-motion video was far from impressive and we’ve seen better on devices like Samsung Galaxy S6 and the iPhone 6.
On paper, the 5-megapixel front facing camera also includes an F2.0 aperture for better shots in low light, but unfortunately this didn’t translate in real life. Our test shots were quite muddy and lacked details. You need adequate light for decent looking self portraits. The flash helps bring out some of the lost details, but ends up casting a harsh light on the face. In daylight though, selfies do look impressive.