After weeks of eager anticipation, the Moto X Style has finally been made available for pre-order through Motorola’s moto-maker in the UK, and in other key markets.
Time to rejoice for those of us who had decided it was to be our new phones…or so I thought.
Sadly, the realities have been far less positive, at least for UK customers. Having gone through the Moto Maker process, it seems that once again, UK consumes are getting screwed over on price.
The basic spec – now, thankfully with 32gb of storage – has been priced at £399. That’s a good £20 cheaper than last year’s base model which only came with 16gb storage! The added premium for a wood or leather back has remained at £20, the same as last year, while the upgrade from 32gb to 64gb internal storage is now £35. That means that a 64gb leather/wood backed Moto X Style through the Moto Maker is £454 while a 32gb leather/wood is £419.
At first glance that seems like a decent enough deal, and Moto make it a little better with a £10 limited time discount code – UKWELCOME10 – which drops the prices to £444 and £409 respectively, and there is free postage on any order over £75! For a non-leather back with 32GB it works out to £389 delivered, which, for a modern flagship device, does seem like a bargain, especially when you consider Sony’s Xperia Z5 is being priced at £520–550 at third party retailers!
But first appearances can be deceptive. We here at Geek Power we like to get the most for our money, so we did a little digging on the Moto X Style pricing and came up with some disappointing and annoying results.
Firstly, the plastic backed 32gb version of the phone is being listed on third part retailer sites at a significant discount to Motorola’s. To some extent, this is understandable, as the extra customisability obviously comes at a premium. But the third party retailer prices aren’t a slight discount.
It is available from the likes of Clove and Handtec for a good £50 cheaper than the Moto price. Handtec are even offering the bamboo backed 32gb version for £347.99, nearly £70 cheaper than Moto!!! (I should point out that Handtec have advised that they are currently waiting updates on prices from their suppliers so there is no guarantee that they won’t have to increase their prices in the coming days. Clove have suggested that they do not expect their price to increase, but couldn’t definitively confirm for the same reasons.)
If third party prices do not rise, that is bordering on an unreasonable mark-up for some relatively minor customisations to accent colours, a 14 character “engraving”, and a personalised message on the boot screen.
But that isn’t the only problem. We get that sometimes OEMs charge a premium to buy directly, while third party retailers tend to offer better prices in an effort to secure sales. Even if we exclude third party retailers, we Brits are still getting screwed over by Motorola.
While we may be used to the frankly absurd tendency to convert US dollar prices straight in the Sterling at $1:£1, instead of the appropriate rate, the same is now true when we look across the Channel to our European brethren.
The Moto X Style is available across most of the major European markets now and everyone else is getting a better deal. In both Germany and France moto-made 32gb, silicone backed X Styles will set you back €499, or €489 including the €10 discount code (DEWELCOME10/ FRWELCOME10). A 64gb leather backed X Style is shipping for €564 or €554 if you include the €10 discount .
If you convert at current rates, that cheaper prices works out to be just about £356 for basic and about £400 for 64gb leather – nearly £40 cheaper than the same phone bought through the UK store!
If you look at the US’ X Pure version which is essentially the Style in all but name and a couple of local market tweaks to the LTE bands (Style-1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 17, 20, 25, 28, 40, 41 / Pure 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 25, 26, 38, 41) it looks even worse. The soft-backed 32gb variant converts to about £350 on the US moto-maker, while a leather/wood backed 64gb version would be about £410, without any discount codes. That leaves the UK buyer paying a premium of nearly £60 for the basic, and £35 for the 64gb leather version compared to the US.
But businesses don’t tend to run on current exchange rates, so perhaps those comparisons are a little unfair. Assuming the phone design and costings started at some point late last year/early this year, the exchange rate would have been based on some period last year or the previous year. Additionally, despite now being owned by a Chinese company (Lenovo) Motorola Mobility remains a US company, and having been under Google for a few years, the likelihood is that it would still have been pricing in US dollars last year rather than Euros or pounds. So lets take a look at what that shows us.
At historical exchange rates the Moto X Pure starts at $449 for the silicone backed 32gb version that is the base Style version. That works out to be about £270 at last year’s Dollar to Pound exchange rate, which, is around £330 when you include the UK’s 20% vat. That price rises to $524.99 for a leather/wood backed 64gb version which equates to £320 straight conversion and £385 including vat. That works out to a premium on the basic handset of £50 including a £10 discount, with the leather/wood 64gb handset at nearly a £60 premium, which is just ludicrous.
I cannot deny that the Moto X Style is still one of the cheaper high-end handsets at launch, nor can I deny that it looks like a very nice phone. I also absolutely love the leather on my 2014 Moto X, and was seriously considering upgrading to the X Style once it was released. But the UK pricing for this device is just absurd. Even if you take into account exchange rates, sales tax/vat, and the added logistics of shipping and delivering to a relatively small market like the UK, I cannot see how Motorola can justify the premium they are asking UK consumers to pay.
It look even less of a well priced high-end handset when you consider that a lot of this year’s flagship devices have come down in price now that they are a couple of months old. The Moto X Style’s £399 starting price is more than the current prices for the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the LG G4 despite all having similar specs and the latter coming with a leather back option! And could seem like even less of a good deal once the Nexus device(s) are released later this autumn. But if you are desperate to get hold of a Moto X Style, you could try one of the third party retailers, or other European moto-makers if you want to avoid the UK consumer tax Moto have levied on the UK moto-made device.