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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  • cheinonen - Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - link

    4K is a marketing term thanks to Sony and everyone else. In the actual definition, 4K doesn't have a set aspect ratio. A film mastered at 4K is 4096 pixels wide, and the height is totally dependent on the aspect ratio. If it is flat, then it's 4096/1.85 pixels high. If it is scope, it's 4096/2.39 pixels high.

    Sony, LG, Samsung and everyone else are using 4K to mean 3840x2160 pixels for the home. UltraHD is the technical name now (with Rec. 2020) but that was finalized after the 4K horse had already left the barn.
    Reply
  • Impulses - Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - link

    Kind of ironic, I bet UltraHD sounds catchier or at least more descriptive to the layman... 4K's definitely spreading fast tho. Reply
  • rcpinheiro - Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - link

    You're right, marketing teams are using "4K" incorrectly but at least here in AnandTech I expected writers to use standard names correctly.
    4K is a standard created by Digital Cinema Initiative, it uses JPEG2000 compression and bitrates upto 250Mbps.
    (I agree with use Impulses, for the layperson "Ultra HD" sounds better than the techy term "4K")
    Reply
  • Krysto - Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - link

    It is a marketing term - an unfortunate one. Because I don't want them to ruin the ratios when they get to that resolution. They should keep the UHD resolution to scale perfectly from 1080p (4x the pixels). If some OEM's decide that to have "real 4k" they need to make the resolution 4kx2k, that would really SUCK!. Reply
  • mike55 - Monday, August 26, 2013 - link

    Brian, what are your reasons for preferring some LCDs over Samsung's OLED panels? Reply
  • Doh! - Monday, August 26, 2013 - link

    I could tell you couple reasons as a long time user of Sammy's OLED panel in my phone but I'm not Brian. Having said that, burn-in is one of the issues for many OLED panels. Reply
  • Impulses - Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - link

    For me, the over saturated colors IMO, not the best for viewing photos, and I've started to view a lot of non-smartphone photos on my phone now that my camera has Wifi/NFC (most current gen Panasonic/Sony do, even Canon's newest DSLR, the 70D). Reply
  • mike55 - Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - link

    It's unfortunate that a lot of manufactures seem to disregard the sRGB color space when it comes to implementing OLED panels in their devices. I'm not sure I would've bought my GS4 if it weren't for the "movie" display mode that gets it somewhat close to the sRGB gamut. Reply
  • comomolo - Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - link

    I'm not Brian either, but I don't care too much about color accuracy on a phone. I do care about something the N9 invented and amazingly nobody else still copied it yet: permanent display of the time and notification icons. That can't be done efficiently with an LCD and its so useful I simply can't understand it took that long to come to Android. Even this MotoX isn't implementing it fully. You still can't just take a look at the phone on the table and know the time or if some new message is in, if there's a missed call or text, etc.

    I haven't seen a single burned pixel on an AMOLED screen (been using Samsung phones for a while, and lots of friends too). Regarding color accuracy, I don't believe the technology itself is responsible for that, but factory calibration. Android might/should allow for user calibration (the same we do with monitors) and make this a moot point.
    Reply
  • Heartdisease - Wednesday, August 28, 2013 - link

    Well that's strange. My Galaxy Nexus has had burn in for quite awhile and it is getting more pronounced. Turn any amoled 180* from your normal orientation and look where the on screen buttons were. If you don't see it on the rest of the screen your blind. Reply

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