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.
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 Edition||ZenFone 2||LG Nexus 5X||BLU Pure XL|
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.
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.
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.