Motorola Moto E (2nd Gen) Review

CPU And System Performance

In this section, we evaluate system-level performance by running a series of synthetic and real-world workloads, along with some browser-based Web tests. 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 system performance.

We’re including the HTC Desire Eye in our performance charts for the same reasons we included it in our discussion of camera quality. Plus, it will be interesting to see the difference in performance between last year’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 (4x Krait 400 @ 2.26 GHz, Adreno 330, 2GB RAM) and the new low-end Snapdragon 410.

In our first test, the Snapdragon 801 outscores the 410 by a margin of two in the single- and multi-threaded CPU System test and overall, which is pretty close to the difference in CPU frequency. The performance delta between the Adreno 330 (578MHz) and the Adreno 306 (400MHz) in the Graphics test is a more substantial 6.5x.

The overall score for the Moto E (2nd gen) is very close to the Moto G (2nd gen). However, the newer Cortex-A53 CPUs in the Moto E manage to outperform the Cortex-A7s in the Moto G by 19% in the System test. The Moto G does perform 28% better in the Memory test, which tests the speed of the internal storage.

Performance in AndEBench looks similar to what we saw in Basemark OS II, with the Desire Eye out front by a margin of ~2x and the Moto E very close to the Moto G.

Narrowing in on CPU performance, the out-of-order architecture of Krait 400, with nearly twice the clock speed, gives it about twice the performance of the narrower, in-order A53 in the Moto E. We also see the Moto E outperform the Moto G in CPU performance again, albeit by a slimmer 13% margin in CoreMark-HPC. Since both have the same number of cores running at the same frequency (1.2GHz), we can see the advantage of the A53’s architectural tweaks. Based on the A7 design, the A53 is still dual-issue, but the limitations on the second issue slot have been removed (the A7 cannot issue load/store or FP/NEON operations from its second issue slot). ARM made several other improvements to the A53’s front-end design, including improved conditional and indirect branch prediction and more instruction and data prefetching.

Despite having the same 4.2 GB/s of theoretical memory bandwidth, the Moto E gets 50% better throughput than the Moto G in the Memory Bandwidth test. Some of this advantage may be from the memory modules themselves, but a lot of it is probably due to the improved front-end design of the A53.

AndEBench Pro Storage Test





512B SW512B RW4KB
SR
4KB
SW
4KB
RR
4KB
RW
256KB SR256KB RR
Moto G (2nd gen)213514105111625867140654291742979
Moto E (2nd gen)18435363671176616327564469544572
% Diff-13.6%-31.3%-39.4%-27.6%-28.9%-32.2%4.1%3.7%
First letter: S=sequential, R=random
Second letter: R=read, W=write
Values in KB/s - Higher is better
File Size: 5, #Folders: 3, #Files/Folder: 1

The Moto G outperforms the Moto E once again in storage performance, this time by 22%. Looking at the test breakdown in the table above shows that the NAND in the Moto E performs better with larger blocks of data, actually performing about 4% better than the Moto G at 256KB. Still, these numbers are less than half of what we see in flagship phones, translating to slower app launch times.

The ~2x delta between the Snapdragon 801 and 410 shows up again in both the single- and multi-core Geekbench results. We also continue to see the Moto E outpace the Moto G: about 30% on average in single-core and about 20% on average in multi-core.

Performing well in synthetic tests is all well and good, but the results are not directly transferable to everyday use cases. This is certainly evident in PCMark where the Moto E outperforms the Moto G by only 8% and is nearly equal to the Desire Eye.

The reason for the discrepancy in scores between the synthetic tests and the more real-world PCMark has to do with the behavior of the CPU governor. Some OEMs will optimize for performance, routinely pushing the CPU cores to max frequency. Others will opt for a more balanced mixture of performance and battery life, limiting the CPU’s max frequency for less demanding workloads like those we see in PCMark.

The HTC Desire Eye uses a fairly aggressive CPU governor optimized for battery life. In the Writing and Web Browsing tests it more or less uses a single core clocked at a conservative 960MHz, with very short spikes up to 1958MHz. In the Photo Editing test, where we see a much wider gap between it and the Moto E, it uses a single core clocked at 1728MHz with frequent spikes to 2265MHz, its max clock frequency.

Performance scores fluctuate a bit more in the web browsing tests although the order remains the same. The Moto E is between 15-43% slower than the Desire Eye, but between 13-24% faster than the Moto G.

Our tests show the Moto E (2nd gen) pull ahead of the Moto G (2nd gen) in both CPU performance and memory bandwidth thanks to the improvements in its newer A53 CPUs. Its internal storage performance generally lags behind the Moto G by 20-25%, however.

Using it in the real world, the Moto E (2nd gen) definitely feels faster than the Moto G (2nd gen). This is quite a strange turn of events as now Motorola’s low-end phone is faster than its latest mid-range device. When the Moto G (2nd gen) was announced, our biggest criticism of it was that it did not include the A53 CPU, when other competitors’ devices did at the time.

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17 comments
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  • emad_ramlawi
    Lenovo k30-W for the win
    all the above +
    HD ready resolution 720p
    internal storage 16GB
    the only con, is there OS, which is good, but not really vanilla android
  • atljsf
    i bought one and had to return it, it restarts while charging and motorola at this moment hasn't solved the problem, a shame because it is a nice fast phone
  • tekelymailcom
    The only international variant mentioned is the XT1505 but there are more. I found very interesting the XT1523 which has 16GB, dual sim and digital TV reciever.
  • HideOut
    There might be an error in the speaker/sound part above. "Plugging in a set of good headphones provides a similar listening experience. Relative to the iPhone 6, bass has less punch and the Moto E lacks clarity; the signal-to-noise ratio seems higher." The S/N ratio on the Moto E should be LOWER, not higher if it sounds like its lacking clarity.
  • HideOut
    There might be an error in the speaker/sound part above. "Plugging in a set of good headphones provides a similar listening experience. Relative to the iPhone 6, bass has less punch and the Moto E lacks clarity; the signal-to-noise ratio seems higher." The S/N ratio on the Moto E should be LOWER, not higher if it sounds like its lacking clarity.
  • HideOut
    site posting is not working well...Either nothing or multiples
  • MobileEditor
    Quote:
    The S/N ratio on the Moto E should be LOWER, not higher if it sounds like its lacking clarity.


    Good point. I must have been thinking of THD, which is expressed as a percent. I've made the necessary correction.

    - Matt Humrick, Mobile Editor, Tom's Hardware
  • Dr3amCast
    I also purchased this phone and experience the restart while charging issue. Also, the performance is on par with a very, very basic Lumia 510 I had the misfortunate of having to use for a short time. The phone chugs while multi-tasking. And I mean by just hitting the home screen instead of closing out of apps. And even that takes an inordinate amount of time. I'm talking a noticeable 3-4 seconds after you hit home: your background wallpaper shows up, but no icons or app try icon, then another second or 2 later the icons show up. It's performance is dreadful. As well is its 1GB of memory. If I'm in the car I use bluetooth and Google Play Music / Google Maps. If I begin navigating to a destination and begin playing music Maps will close. I'm assuming due to lack of sufficient RAM. If I'm at a stop light and open snapchat, Google Play Music, Maps or Waze will close if I view a Snap. It's really rather frustrating the more you use the device. And I don't have many apps on here at all. Essentially just FB, Twitter, Snapchat, Waze, WatchESPN, HBOGo. That's all. It's frustrating seeing reviews like these on this phone that don't actually put it through its paces for a decent amount of time.
  • MobileEditor
    Quote:
    I also purchased this phone and experience the restart while charging issue. Also, the performance is on par with a very, very basic Lumia 510 I had the misfortunate of having to use for a short time. The phone chugs while multi-tasking.


    I'm sorry you had a poor experience, but thanks for taking the time to add your story. This is why we included the HTC Desire Eye in our performance evaluation, so our readers could see the performance delta between some lower-cost devices and last year's flagships running Snapdragon 801 SoCs, which are now considered mid-tier.

    Our unit did not experience the restart while charging issue, and while this comes as no solace to you, the Moto E handled its 1GB of RAM better than the Lumia 830 did during our testing and evaluation.

    - Matt Humrick, Mobile Editor, Tom's Hardware
  • quadrider21
    I've experianced BT connectivity problems with both the Moto G and this new Moto E when connected to various cars. I'd be wary purchasing these phones if you rely on BT connectivity in your cars.
  • MyDocuments
    Interesting reading and thanks for the review.

    I bought the original Motorola-E (3G) for an older family member as a replacement for their aging Nokia clamshell phone that barely managed a days life depite having a new battery. The problem was not only living in a relatively weak signal area but more that it was constantly running Bluetooth whilst being paired with a car-stereo for hands-free operation. Therefore I assumed that a more modern cellphone with a newer Bluetooth implementation could last a whole lot longer.

    After extensive internet research I dicovered that the original Motorola-E had very good battery life (a few day of talk time) and very good call-quality, and seeing as said family member was likely to be using it mainly for calls I could assume that the internet-reviewed (hammered!) battery-life could thus be extended, and indeed this was proven correct.

    At that time and around 90-100 GBP from the local Argos & SIM free I considered it a cheaper alternative for a mainly calls, minimum data use (unless at home on the WiFi of course - I'm thinking of updates), small-ish, slightly rugged; Gorilla-Glass, removable back-cover and serviceable (replacement batteries). A throw in the bag type mobile that might survive a re-shuffle with other items in said bag (keys, pens, loose-change, etc.). It also uses a (charger not supplied) standard micro-USB connector for charging, so the car-charger and home-charger can be any number of generic cheap types. Thieving was another consideration, hence a cheaper-end phone hopefully providing a less attractive target.

    A chubby-stylus was added for less that a pound, the type that can be attached with a small line to the headphone socket for safe keeping, as older family members tend to have drier skin and so touch screens aren't always as accessible to them.

    The only thing missing iirc was the camera light that can be a handy aid on dark nights, however to mitigate that the main-screen illumination can also be sufficient for emergency use.

    I have to say that I am still pleased with the original Motorola-E purchase and have to wonder how the battery life compares with light useage when the newer model likely required a larger battery due to the faster processing power and extra electronics that it now facilitates, some can be switched off I know but always leaking power.
  • tstng
    I have an issue with the Battery Life tests you've done. The new 2015 Moto G uses the same 2390mAh as the new Moto E, and not the 2070 mAh. The 2070 mAh is used in the old Moto G versions. So, while the 4.5in screen of the Moto E would increase battery lifetime over the 5.0in Moto G, the difference should not be that big.
  • MobileEditor
    Quote:
    I have an issue with the Battery Life tests you've done. The new 2015 Moto G uses the same 2390mAh as the new Moto E, and not the 2070 mAh. The 2070 mAh is used in the old Moto G versions. So, while the 4.5in screen of the Moto E would increase battery lifetime over the 5.0in Moto G, the difference should not be that big.


    The Moto G (2nd gen) has a 2070 mAh battery according to Motorola, and this is the model we tested. I should have used the generation nomenclature (like in the text) in the chart rather than the year to avoid confusion.

    - Matt Humrick, Mobile Editor, Tom's Hardware
  • tstng
    There are currently 4 versions of the Moto G:

    The original, released in Nov 2013, which had 4.5in screen, 5 mpx cam, and 2070 mAh
    The updated one, released in May 2014, same specs except had storage expansion and LTE, same 2070 mAh.
    The first 2nd gen, released in Sep 2014, which had 5in screen, 8 mpx cam, no LTE, same 2070 mAh.
    The updated 2nd gen, released in Feb 2015, same as above, except has LTE and 2390 mAh. This is the one you should have been reviewing, but i guess you mixed them up. Dont believe me, here's the comparison of the last 3 versions (the original excluded cause the site can only compare 3 at a time)
    http://www.phonearena.com/phones/compare/Motorola-Moto-G-LTE,Motorola-Moto-G-2014,Motorola-Moto-G-LTE-2015/phones/8655,8898,9155

    And before you say that site has it wrong, ALL proper reviews comfirm it has 2390 mAh battery, and decent battery life span in tests backs this up. And I even checked at my usual online shop and confirmed it as well.
  • MobileEditor
    Quote:
    There are currently 4 versions of the Moto G:


    While a 4G version of the Moto G (2nd gen) with a larger 2390 mAh battery does exist, my understanding is that it was only ever released in Europe. There is no mention of it on Motorola's US website, and when I requested a Moto G review unit from Motorola, they sent me the 3G (2nd gen).

    Have you actually seen one for sale in North America? Can you buy one unlocked? I checked online and could only find the 4G (1st gen) for sale.

    - Matt Humrick, Mobile Editor, Tom's Hardware
  • tstng
    1814010 said:
    Quote:
    There are currently 4 versions of the Moto G:
    While a 4G version of the Moto G (2nd gen) with a larger 2390 mAh battery does exist, my understanding is that it was only ever released in Europe. There is no mention of it on Motorola's US website, and when I requested a Moto G review unit from Motorola, they sent me the 3G (2nd gen). Have you actually seen one for sale in North America? Can you buy one unlocked? I checked online and could only find the 4G (1st gen) for sale. - Matt Humrick, Mobile Editor, Tom's Hardware


    Well, that is the oddest thing I have ever seen. Why wouldn't Motorola sell the best version of their merchandise in the US of all places? That's just bad business in my opinion. Well, at least the confusion is cleared up, but the review is misleading to anyone in Europe.
  • MobileEditor
    Quote:
    Well, that is the oddest thing I have ever seen. Why wouldn't Motorola sell the best version of their merchandise in the US of all places? That's just bad business in my opinion. Well, at least the confusion is cleared up, but the review is misleading to anyone in Europe.


    It's definitely confusing, but not as bad as the Galaxy Note 4, for example. It comes in over 20 different SKUs for different regions and carriers, and they have different combinations of SoCs, baseband processors, audio codecs, camera sensors, etc.!

    While we have readers from all over the world, the main Tom's site focuses on North America. We do have regional Tom's sites (UK, Germany, France, Italy, etc.) that cover products sold in those areas, though.

    - Matt Humrick, Mobile Editor, Tom's Hardware