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Motorola Moto X Pure Edition Review

The Moto X Pure Edition’s software is purely Android, its attractive styling is purely Motorola, and its customization options make it purely yours.

Performance And Battery Life

In this section, we evaluate system-level performance and battery life by running a series of synthetic and real-world workloads. There are several facets to overall device performance, including single- and multi-threaded CPU performance, memory and storage speed, and GPU rendering, all of which will be probed by our suite of benchmarks. If you're interested in learning more about how these benchmarks work, what versions we use, or our testing methodology, please read our article about how we test mobile device performance.

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Instead of just running one or more CPU cores at max frequency like synthetic benchmarks do, PCMark’s varied real-world workloads migrate from small to big cores and exercise the CPU governor just like the apps we normally use do, which makes it a good indicator of overall performance. After using the Moto X Pure Edition for awhile, it’s not surprising to see it perform well in this test. For the most part, the UI remains fluid and the phone never felt slow.

Looking at the individual tests, there’s no specific area where the Moto X falls behind its competitors. It even manages to outperform the OnePlus 2 and its Snapdragon 810 SoC in most tests. In the Writing test, the Moto X uses its two higher-performing Cortex-A57 CPU cores to good effect, posting the highest score, higher even than the Galaxy S6 edge+ or the OnePlus 2, which prefers using its lower-power Cortex-A53 cores for single-threaded workloads.

Like we saw with the LG G4, the Moto X Pure Edition does not shy away from using its A57 cores, unlike the Snapdragon 810 devices. The Moto X, like the G4, can also use all six cores simultaneously for multi-threaded workloads, at least for short durations.

The extra performance from the power-hungry A57 cores takes its toll on battery life, however. In the PCMark endurance test, the Moto X lasts as long as the Asus ZenFone 2 but falls short of the OnePlus 2’s 7.5-hour mark. The Nexus 5X, with a smaller battery (and display), also lasts longer than the Moto X.

Battery life, however, is only part of the story; we also have to take performance into account. By multiplying the PCMark battery life by the overall performance score and dividing by 1000, we get a composite metric that gives us an estimate for how much total work can be done on a single charge.

PCMark Composite Work Score
Galaxy S6 edge+OnePlus 2  Moto X Pure EditionZenFone 2  LG Nexus 5XBLU Pure XL
280721392100210018411580

The Moto X can get as much work done as the ZenFone 2 before it runs out of juice. After taking performance into account, it pulls ahead of the Nexus 5X by 14% but still comes in behind the OnePlus 2.

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The Moto X’s Adreno 418 GPU cannot match the peak performance of the Adreno 430 in the OnePlus 2 or Mali-T760MP8 in the Galaxy S6 devices, but it does outperform the GPUs in the less expensive ZenFone 2 and BLU Pure XL.

In our LG G4 review, we took a more in-depth look at the Adreno 418 GPU’s performance. In addition to being slower than the Adreno 430, we also found that it’s 10% to 20% slower than the Adreno 420 used in the Snapdragon 805 SoC. Like other Qualcomm GPUs, the Adreno 418 has good ALU performance relative to its peers. Based on our tests, however, it appears that Snapdragon 808’s reliance on LPDDR3 RAM limits memory bandwidth to the GPU, especially when rendering at the Moto X’s native QHD resolution. Fortunately, most Android games render at lower resolutions before scaling up to the panel’s native dimensions. While reviewing the LG G4, which also uses a Snapdragon 808 SoC, we played several different games, including “Asphalt 8” (high visual quality), “Brothers in Arms 3” (Better Quality setting), and “Star Wars: Uprising”, and did not notice any significant frame rate issues, even after about forty-five minutes of continuous gaming.

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The GFXBench 3.0 battery test focuses on the GPU and is an indicator of battery life during intense gaming. It also effectively gauges a device’s ability to dissipate heat.

The Moto X Pure Edition lasts about three hours while gaming, which is about the same as most other phones, including the LG G4 that has a similarly sized battery and screen. Because of its lower-resolution 1080p display, the ZenFone 2 achieves about the same performance level as the Moto X, but lasts 21% longer (the battery life test runs at the device’s native resolution).

Unlike the G4, which throttles back GPU frequency after about 23 minutes, reducing peak performance by a mild 7%, the Moto X experiences no thermal throttling at all. This impressive performance stability is a result of Motorola’s thoughtful design. The SoC is covered by a copper heat spreader that presses against a large metal plate, which contacts the Moto X’s metal chassis on the sides. This provides a conduction path that moves heat from the SoC to the metal chassis, which acts as a large heatsink. So while the Moto X feels warm in your hands, you’ll experience no degradation in gaming performance.

  • jojesa
    Wow! It took you a while to get your hands on a Moto X PE.
    Reply
  • ummduh
    Wow! It took you a while to get your hands on a Moto X PE.
    No kidding! I've been looking for info on the next version of this thing already!
    Reply
  • abbadon_34
    I love the Star Wars / Star Trek reboot analogies, I've been struggling to find a way to described them, and this is perfect!
    Reply
  • abbadon_34
    Shouldn't the battery test show how long it take to RECHARGE the battery? With standard 1A and QC chargers, simple graph, or just 50%, 90% 100%
    Reply
  • bluelady1960
    I have this phone ....now...I love everything about it but..the battery would get hot ..make sure that you turn on the cooler .I used Motorola product c in the TV business for years ...damm fine products...
    Reply
  • Arcendus
    Next year on Tom's Hardware: our review of the Samsung Galaxy S4!
    Reply
  • sosofm
    I love the 3900Mah battery on my Droid Turbo. Motorola make verry good phones.
    Reply
  • amk-aka-Phantom
    You forgot to mention that this phone doesn't support Camera2 API, and that SUCKS. Stock Moto Camera is garbage, barely anything is adjustable manually. Also, LG G4 can shoot 1080p60 videos with the same SoC while this thing can't. (2160p30, 1080p30 or slo-mo 720p120 played in 30 fps)

    Disregard all battery life tests, all you need to know is that this phone dies after 3-4 hours of browsing on Wi-Fi, not gaming. Turbo Charging offsets that to an extent, but it annoys me because more charging cycles = shortened battery lifespan. BTW @abbadon_34: about 1 hour 15 minutes from 5 to 100% and 30 minutes from 5 to 50% on bundled Turbo charger; I used a normal 5 V charger a few times but didn't record how long it took :(

    Still love this phone though. There might be worthy alternatives this year but I was looking for Qualcomm SoC (so I can get CyanogenMod later - which, annoyingly, is still not there fully), decent camera, stock Android, large and at least FHD display and full support for less-than-obvious features such as USB OTG (works fine) and Miracast (works great, who even needs Chromecast?), and all that for a reasonable price. And on that front, this phone delivers like no other. Ideally, though, I'd rather it have FHD AMOLED, larger battery (like on Moto X Force - I think it's known as Droid Turbo 2 or something in the US, the one with shatterproof display) and full support for Camera2 (and 1080p60 recording, since both the SoC and the sensor can do it). Not inflating the price just for lulz in some regions would also be greatly appreciated...
    Reply
  • Kamen Rider Blade
    I've had the Moto X Pure Edition since launch. It's an awesome phone. Especially considering that I went from a Google Galaxy Nexus -> Moto X Pure Edition. It's definitely best to get the phone that you want.
    Reply
  • NeatOman
    I wanted to get the Moto X Pure but i really wanted to wait for a new generation of SoC's and the 820 seems to be it. I think I'm going to get the LG G5 after having only Nexus phones for the last 3 1/2 years (Nexus 4, Nexus 5.. still).
    Reply