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


View All Comments

  • Civilized - Monday, August 26, 2013 - link

    "...the network status logo and bars are also a different shade of blue than the battery and time icons adjacent to it."

    This one sentence perfectly sums up's mobile reviews. Great job Brian and Anand, the reviews have been consistently fantastic here.
  • teiglin - Monday, August 26, 2013 - link

    I don't know that it says much about Brian's reviews (I mean, seems pretty obvious just looking at the status bar), but it sure as hell sums up US operator software quality. That is fucking surreal, that AT&T pushes its logo into the phone firmware without even bothering to check the RGB values of existing icons. I just don't even...

    I like the phone a lot and would love to use Moto Maker to make one--this is definitely a speak-with-your-wallet thing; I really want Motorola to be successful with this--but I'm not suffering a locked bootloader, especially with this sort of blatant software flaw. When Maker is available for tmo or the dev editiion it'll be worth a second look.
  • Impulses - Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - link

    Isn't the different blue just the same AT&T blue that they use on other devices regardless of the present color scheme? I'm not trying to excuse theirbehavior either way, just saying, it might be happenstance rather than neglect.

    Frankly the tweaking of the signal indicators bothers me a lot less than the ever present AT&T tag on the far left... Probably because a lot of carriers and OEM are guilty of the former (AT&T has even tweaked the untouchable iPhone's bars...) yet no other carrier splashes their name on your notification bar like that.

    To be fair, I believe it does disappear once you actually have notifications, or it has on previous AT&T phones anyway...
  • SoC-IT2ME - Monday, August 26, 2013 - link

    Charge time of the GS4 - it takes just over 2hrs for a full charge, not 2.8hrs as per your graph.

    The Moto X looks like a great phone, but now that SAMOLED has improved with it's colour saturation, this screen seems to garish and overblown.
  • Honest Accounting - Monday, September 16, 2013 - link

    Who supplies the screen for the Moto X? Reply
  • APassingMe - Monday, August 26, 2013 - link

    "I’d posit that the optimal size is...."

    Typo maybe?
  • Galcobar - Monday, August 26, 2013 - link

    Posit is correctly spelled, and used. Reply
  • bakedpatato - Monday, August 26, 2013 - link

    Where did you guys get a box of 5.56 blanks? Anand's X does look quite nice. Reply
  • SomeGuyonaBike - Monday, August 26, 2013 - link

    This is the second review I've read in which AT&T's address book sync service is described as being a big annoyance... What are the problems with this service? Does it periodically bug you to use it even if you choose not to, or something like that? Reply
  • jeffkibuule - Monday, August 26, 2013 - link

    Why should software you never use be on your phone? Reply

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