Battery Life

Battery life is a huge concern in the smartphone space these days, especially as phones get bigger and more powerful. The Moto X includes a unique 2200 mAh, 3.8 V (8.36 Whr) stacked battery made by LG chem, which maximizes battery volume given the Moto X’s rounded form factor. Motorola was very vocal about the battery life of the Moto X, and made the claim of up to 24 hour of mixed use with the device in addition to up to 13 hours of call time. Given the smaller (albeit AMOLED) display and dual core SoC, the Moto X was an easy target for the narrative that higher end specs and quad core SoCs are killing smartphone battery life, which many immediately latched onto and parroted claims of amazing battery life.


The Moto X's stacked battery

Of course, the real question is how the Moto X stacks up to the competition in our objective tests. I have to admit that my initial subjective impressions of the Moto X battery life were not all that great. My first time daily driving the Moto X was after getting it in NYC and flying home – I left the hotel with it fully charged, spent 4 hours in a plane with it in airplane mode, and Moto X still died in the baggage claim before I could make it home. The second time I daily drove the Moto X, I also managed to kill it doing nothing out of the ordinary before I got back home. I honestly can’t remember the last time I drained a phone completely actually using it. Since those couple of times I haven’t had problems making it through a full day when I’ve daily driven the Moto X, but that’s with my usual opportunistic charging from every available wall socket and USB port, and my mixed use definitely isn’t 24 hours, rather closer to 8.

Our objective battery life tests are unchanged so I’m not going to go through all of it in excruciating detail again – you can read any previous review and get the details. At a high level we calibrate the display to exactly 200 nits, then run through a bunch of webpages with content every dozen or so seconds until the device dies, on both cellular, and WiFi. The call test is self explanatory – there’s voice at both the originating terminal and terminating terminal, and we time how long the call goes for until the device dies.

AT Smartphone Bench 2013: Web Browsing Battery Life (4G LTE)

AT Smartphone Bench 2013: Web Browsing Battery Life (WiFi)

Cellular Talk Time

Battery life on the Moto X doesn't turn out to be all that much different from the other flagships based on APQ8064 on LTE. In fact, it's about par. That's not too surprising for me considering compared to the HTC One and SGS4 it's the same CPU (Krait 300) and process (28nm LP). For better battery life we'll need better efficiency, which will come either through newer process (28nm HK-MG variants at TSMC) or even more efficient CPU architecture.

In reality, having fewer cores here means in something multithreaded like our battery test (Chrome is very multithreaded) it needs to send the Moto X's two cores to a higher frequency and voltage state than the four on the other devices. I'm not surprised at all to see invalidation of the "fewer cores translates to better battery life" narrative others have crafted. The only validation is that having two fewer cores does translate to less dynamic range in power use. It all becomes a matter of how you're using the device at that point, however. On WiFi the Moto X does do pretty well, and Motorola has always had very good talk time. 

One thing I will note is that the Moto X does have a power saver mode, but it appears to just disable background sync and put the data connection to sleep aggressively. It doesn't change the governor so that the max CPU frequency is lower (say the 1.1 GHz state) like a lot of other OEMs power savers do, which seems like a missed opportunity. 

The Moto X comes with a dual-USB port 850 mA charger, like the previous revision of Motorola devices. In practice I've seen the Moto X reliably pull closer to 1 A from the Moto X bundled charger.

What's interesting however is that the Moto X can charge up to the maximum BC1.2 rate of 1.5A. If you use that kind of charger, it charges impressively fast, around 2.3 hours. 

Device Charge Time - 0 to 100 Percent

Display & Sound CPU Performance
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  • chrone - Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - link

    Great review, Brian and Anand! :)

    Did you notice any transition animation jank/stutter and sluggish/choppy scrolling on Moto X day to day use? Would really like the smoothness of Apple iOS landed on Android world in the future. :)

    I often encounter transition animation jank/stutter when opening or closing apps, switching in between apps, and entering-swiping-leaving home screen on Nexus 4 running Android 4.3. Perhaps the soc and battery thermal throttle and lack of random write IO are the culprit of janking or stuttering on Nexus 4 transition animation and scrolling performance.
    Reply
  • GrimR. - Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - link

    Thanks AT for the review. I've not seen such an in-depth review that actually considers the hardware components of this phone so objectively without doing the "OMG-no-1080p-screen-no-quadcore" whining. :) Appreciate it.

    But where is the Lumia 925 and Lumia 1020 reviews? :( Please post them too, they came out way before the Moto X.
    Reply
  • bntran0410 - Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - link

    I created an account just so that I could thank you for writing such a great review! There are so few true tech writers around that actually write about technology. I am glad there we still have anandtech to have reviewers that actually review with this level of technical detail and scientific backing to what is written. Thank You! Reply
  • elotrolado - Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - link

    I, your average user, am buying a Moto X, honestly. And here's why: I researched the HTC One and Mini, Samsung S4 and Mini, and the Moto X is the clear winner. Primarily, the One and S4 are too large for me, as I want something pocketable and easy to handle. In addition the S4 is too complicated with both"features" I would not use and Touch Wiz. I do love the One's front facing stereo speakers (let's make this standard in all phones) and the Zoe photo feature, but again, the Moto X is pocketable with the largest ratio of screen to phone dimensions of possibly any phone on the market, and 720p is just fine especially given it allows for long battery life. I drive alone in my car quite a bit and have yet to find a bluetooth headset that works well. I am really looking forward to using the voice activated controls of the Moto X to do all kinds of things, as well as enjoying the quality of the speaker to actually hear the person on the other end. Active notification is pretty great too. The phone does seem priced a bit high, but for a tool that I'll use everyday that will increase my productivity and make my life easier and safer while driving, an extra $50 or so is certainly worth it. Last, I expect this phone to get Android updates quickly, right after Nexus devices, and this will only enhance it's already awesome software abilities well into the future. Reply
  • elotrolado - Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - link

    I, your average user, am buying a Moto X, honestly. And here's why: I researched the HTC One and Mini, Samsung S4 and Mini, and the Moto X is the clear winner. Primarily, the One and S4 are too large for me, as I want something pocketable and easy to handle. In addition the S4 is too complicated with both"features" I would not use and Touch Wiz. I do love the One's front facing stereo speakers (let's make this standard in all phones) and the Zoe photo feature, but again, the Moto X is pocketable with the largest ratio of screen to phone dimensions of possibly any phone on the market, and 720p is just fine especially given it allows for long battery life. I drive alone in my car quite a bit and have yet to find a bluetooth headset that works well. I am really looking forward to using the voice activated controls of the Moto X to do all kinds of things, as well as enjoying the quality of the speaker to actually hear the person on the other end. Active notification is pretty great too. The phone does seem priced a bit high, but for a tool that I'll use everyday that will increase my productivity and make my life easier and safer while driving, an extra $50 or so is certainly worth it. Last, I expect this phone to get Android updates quickly, right after Nexus devices, and this will only enhance it's already awesome software abilities well into the future. Reply
  • shackanaw - Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - link

    PC Magazine reported that Iqbal Arshad, Motorola's senior vice president of engineering said "We've done additional optimizations on top of that such as optimizing the entire Linux user space to move it to an ARM instruction set, cache optimization, Dalvik just-in-time optimization, and we've changed the file system."

    In this review, you guys covered the changes to the file system, for which I applaud you for being much more thorough than any other reviewers, but can you comment about any of the other things he mentioned?
    Reply
  • Miroslav - Wednesday, August 28, 2013 - link

    Excellent article Brian, and just FYI http://www.forbes.com/sites/patrickmoorhead/2013/0...

    :)
    Reply
  • PeterO - Thursday, August 29, 2013 - link

    Simply put, Brian, you've penned an outstanding review. Depth, tone, observation, telemetry to conclusion ~ all top shelf. It's a genuine critique. Thank you for the enormous amount of work and heart put into this piece. The passion and dedication shows, and it's a true pleasure to read. Reply
  • massysett - Thursday, August 29, 2013 - link

    I've never understood why geeks worship at the altar of "stock Android." Believe it or not Google is not the only company that has interesting ideas on how to create a UI for a mobile phone or tablet. Handset makers can add useful enhancements.

    I've got a Nexus 7 and an HTC One and, before that, a Moto Droid Bionic. All worked fine and I wouldn't even pay $5 more to change the HTC One or the Droid Bionic to "stock Android".
    Reply
  • ThortonBe - Thursday, August 29, 2013 - link

    I'm excited to hear that audio testing will get more visibility. I also really appreciate the GIFs. Reply

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