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Motorola Moto X Force Smartphone Review

Manuel Masiero, Tanja Hinum (translated by Liala Stieglitz), 03/23/2016

Tough. According to Motorola, the Moto X is the very first smartphone in the world to have an unbreakable screen. However, our test shows that the 5.4-inch handset not only comes with a decent amount of resistance, but it also convinces with plenty of other first-rate configuration features.

For the original German review, see here.

It is hard to imagine life without a smartphone and it is almost a catastrophe when the loyal companion falls down in an unwary moment and shatters irreparably. A whole industry thrives from selling screen protectors, leather cases and security glass for preventing just that or to at least enable the handset to survive an accident. The robust, premium Motorola Moto X Force smartphone doesn't need any safety nets. It is the world's first device to feature ShatterShield, which is to most definitely prevent the screen from shattering or cracking according to the manufacturer. The Moto X Force even tolerates moments of wetness without damage thanks to its water-repelling nano finish.

Despite its toughness, the 5.4-inch Moto is not an unhandy, ruggedized brick. It is a 169 gram lightweight with a classy aluminum casing and decent configuration. The smartphone delivers high-performance with 3 GB of working memory, Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 MSM8994 octa-core processor and Adreno 430 graphics unit as appropriate for its class. A screen with a resolution of 2560x1440 pixels, an enduring and quickly recharged battery, extensive communication equipment and a 21-megapixel primary camera that shoots outstanding pictures in daylight are also part of this bundle.

Since the Moto X Force plays in the smartphone premium league, it has to compete with equally strong rivals. We used the following smartphones, all with a similar configuration and size, for comparing the Motorola: Apple iPhone 6s, LG G4, Microsoft Lumia 950, Samsung Galaxy S7 and Sony Xperia Z5.

Motorola Moto X Force (Moto Series)
Graphics adapter
Memory
3072 MB 
, LPDDR4
Display
5.4 inch 16:9, 2560 x 1440 pixel, capacitive touchscreen, 540 ppi, AMOLED, 1440p quad-HD, ShatterShield, glossy: yes
Storage
32 GB eMMC Flash, 32 GB 
, 23.2 GB free
Connections
1 USB 2.0, Audio Connections: 3.5 mm headset jack, Card Reader: micro-SD card max. 2 TB, NFC, Brightness Sensor, Sensors: accelerometer, gyroscope, Hall sensor, magnetometer, proximity sensor, supports wireless Qi charging and charging pad, infrared, OTG, Miracast, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA
Networking
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (a/b/g/n = Wi-Fi 4/ac = Wi-Fi 5), Bluetooth 4.1 LE, GSM (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz), UMTS (850, 900, 1700, 1900, 2100 MHz), LTE (frequency bands B1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 17, 20, 25, 28, 40), nano-SIM, head SAR 0.549 W/kg, body-worn SAR 0.781 W/kg, Dual SIM, LTE, GPS
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 9.2 x 149.8 x 78 ( = 0.36 x 5.9 x 3.07 in)
Battery
3760 mAh Lithium-Ion, Battery runtime (according to manufacturer): 48 h
Operating System
Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Camera
Primary Camera: 21 MPix max. resolution: 5344x4008 pixels, dual-LED flash, 1080p HD videos (30 FPS), 4K videos (30 FPS), HDR videos (1080p and 4K)
Secondary Camera: 5 MPix max. resolution: 2592x1944 pixels, wide angle lens, flash
Additional features
Speakers: stereo speakers, Keyboard: virtual, Keyboard Light: yes, power supply, quick start guide, 24 Months Warranty, ruggedized
Weight
169 g ( = 5.96 oz / 0.37 pounds), Power Supply: 30 g ( = 1.06 oz / 0.07 pounds)
Price
700 Euro
Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

 

Case

Motorola manages to install a virtually "unbreakable" screen in its smartphone with a self-developed ShatterShield system. It is based on five panel layers. An aluminum bezel creates the first or the lower-most layer. The second layer is an AMOLED screen that is to lessen shocks with its flexible build. Then a double-layer of touchscreens follows - when one malfunctions, the second takes over. The outer-most and fifth layer is a foil made of an especially hard plastic, which is to prevent dents and signs of use. In case it does scratch or display other minor bruises, it can be removed and replaced with a new screen protector. However, its price of 30 Euros (~$33) in the manufacturer's online shop is not exactly cheap.

Despite its special build, the screen does not feel different than those of other standard smartphones. The screen is embedded seamlessly into the elegant and stiff aluminum chassis. Its handling is just as smooth as the physical power and volume controls on the handset. In conjunction with the slip-proof back (more about that below), it results in a very high-quality total impression. The only compromises involving the ShatterShield are its slightly higher weight than those of the comparison devices, and its thicker display bezel makes it a few millimeters wider.

Buyers can select between white/silver and black/gray color combinations for the Moto X Force's front and bezel. The casing's rounded back, which gives the smartphone a height of 9.2 millimeters in the tallest spot, is black "Ballistic Nylon" by standard. It is weaved nylon textile that provides the fingers with good grip. However, its rough surface texture will unlikely appeal to everyone and is also difficult to clean. The Moto X Force is also available with a "Soft Grip" back like the Moto X Play, and for 20 Euros (~$22) more it comes with grained leather. The back cannot be removed and consequently the battery cannot be replaced.

Two nano-SIM cards can be inserted in Motorola's smartphone simultaneously. However, since the second slot is a hybrid slot also for a micro-SD card, the user has to decide whether two nano-SIMs are to be used or a combination of one nano-SIM and one micro-SD.

149.8 mm / 5.9 inch 78 mm / 3.07 inch 9.2 mm / 0.3622 inch 169 g0.3726 lbs148.9 mm / 5.86 inch 76.1 mm / 3 inch 9.8 mm / 0.3858 inch 155 g0.3417 lbs146 mm / 5.75 inch 72 mm / 2.83 inch 7.3 mm / 0.2874 inch 154 g0.3395 lbs145 mm / 5.71 inch 73.2 mm / 2.88 inch 8.2 mm / 0.3228 inch 150 g0.3307 lbs142.4 mm / 5.61 inch 69.6 mm / 2.74 inch 7.9 mm / 0.311 inch 152 g0.3351 lbs138.3 mm / 5.44 inch 67.1 mm / 2.64 inch 7.1 mm / 0.2795 inch 143 g0.3153 lbs

Connectivity

Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 MSM8994 high-end SoC powers the Moto X Force. Alongside the integrated Qualcomm Adreno 430 graphics unit and generous 3 GB of RAM, the fast octa-core processor smoothly renders all up-to-date Android applications and games. Approximately 23 GB of the 32 GB storage was available on our review sample ex-factory or after reset. Users who need more storage can take the 64 GB model of the Moto X Force. A reasonable 45 Euros (~$50) extra is charged for it in Motorola's online shop. The internal storage can also be expanded by up to 2 TB via the micro-SD slot, which is the technical limit for the SDXC standard. However, micro-SDXC cards with a capacity of over 128 GB are still very rare. 200 GB cards are sold sporadically.

Micro-SD cards can be integrated either as external storage or via Fusion storage so that the internal and external storage look like one big partition. Photos, data and selected apps can be moved between the internal storage and SD card as pleased.

Left: no interfaces
Left: no interfaces
Right: volume control, power button
Right: volume control, power button
Upper edge: 3.5 mm jack, nano-SIM/micro-SD card slot
Upper edge: 3.5 mm jack, nano-SIM/micro-SD card slot
Lower edge: USB port
Lower edge: USB port

Software

Android version 5.1 runs on the Moto X Force, but it can be updated to version 6.0 right away. The update warranty will also be continued by Lenovo since the brand Motorola will soon cease to exist. The manufacturer has barely modified the latest Android 6.0 compared with the original. Therefore, the offer of apps is largely limited to Google's standard apps like YouTube, Gmail, Chrome and Maps. Motorola supplements the software diversity by its smartphone manager "Connect" and the app "Moto" that turns the smartphone into a personal assistant via gesture and voice detection.

GPS: indoors
GPS: indoors
GPS: outdoors
GPS: outdoors

Communication & GPS 

The Moto X Force supports GSM and UMTS pentaband and covers a total of 13 LTE channels. In terms of communication, the smartphone offers a very wide range and should also always find a way to connect to local mobile networks even abroad. The smartphone can automatically select the faster network when two SIM cards are inserted into the handset.

With Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.1+LE and NFC, the Moto X Force is perfectly equipped for short-range data transfer. The reception was impeccable in both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands in the network, and always as fast as expected or as fast as the counterpart allowed. A signal was even received through three walls, although the strength dropped by up to 50% then. That also happened when moving more than 10 meters away from the router. Neither affected Internet browsing especially since there were no connection losses or other interruptions in the test.

The GPS reception is without reproach. It allows a very accurate localization indoors. The Moto X Force was even a bit better outdoors. The smartphone also improves that a bit more outdoors. The smartphone also maintained its high accuracy when we took it on our almost 14-kilometer test route along with our Garmin Edge 500 reference navigation device. The Moto X Force kept up well with the GPS navigation system and only deviated insignificantly in total. The difference between the two adds up to just 30 meters - it cannot get much better than that.

GPS Garmin Edge: total
GPS Garmin Edge: total
GPS Garmin Edge: crossing
GPS Garmin Edge: crossing
GPS Garmin Edge: route
GPS Garmin Edge: route
Motorola Moto X Force: total
Motorola Moto X Force: total
Motorola Moto X Force: crossing
Motorola Moto X Force: crossing
Motorola Moto X Force: route
Motorola Moto X Force: route

Telephone & Call Quality

The Moto X Force delivers a good call quality in both landlines and mobile networks. Our contact always understood us well thanks to the enabled noise suppression. The callers sometimes found voices sounded a bit stifled on both sides - other smartphones from the same performance league, such as Apple's iPhone 6s, do a better job. The phone app offers solid Android standards: A search box for names and numbers is present, and swiping left twice quickly opens the contact list.

Front-facing camera: HDR photo
Front-facing camera: HDR photo
Webcam: HDR photo
Webcam: HDR photo

Cameras & Multimedia

The 21-megapixel primary camera is one of the biggest strengths of the Moto X Force. The photos with a resolution of up to 5344x4008 pixels convince with very good color reproduction, have an exceptional richness in detail and they can easily compete with the very good camera lenses of an Apple iPhone 6s Plus or Samsung Galaxy S7 in good light. A light haziness covers the photos in less favorably illuminated scenes, which is only noticed negatively on some blowups. The lens with an aperture of f/2.0 is supported by a dual-LED flash with color correlated temperature. It can shoot panorama or HDR photos and adds GPS data when desired. Videos can be recorded in time lapse (720p) or at 30 FPS plus HDR in 1080p and 4K resolution of 3840x2160 pixels. The camera app does not offers manual settings for either the 21-megapixel primary camera or for the 5-megapixel webcam that also produces very appealing photos.

Image Comparison

Choose a scene and navigate within the first image. One click changes the position on touchscreens. One click on the zoomed-in image opens the original in a new window. The first image shows the scaled photograph of the test device.

Scene 1Scene 2Scene 3

We compare a photo of X-Rite ColorChecker Passport taken in predefined light conditions with the factual reference color to check the color accuracy of Moto X Force's primary camera. The photo is not edited afterward. The direct comparison shows that the aberrations in color saturation are almost throughout kept within very tight limits. The Moto X Force tends to desaturate colors a bit only in the grayscale levels in total.

We photograph our test chart in controlled artificial light to evaluate the image sharpness. Especially the enlarged section of the photo's center shows that the Moto X Force reproduces all image areas clearly and can again indomitably compete with premium devices, such as Apple's iPhone 6s.

Test chart: Primary camera
Test chart: Primary camera
Section of image center
Section of image center
X-Rite ColorChecker Passport
X-Rite ColorChecker Passport
Color reproduction: Primary camera (above: camera's color, below: sRGB reference)
Color reproduction: Primary camera (above: camera's color, below: sRGB reference)

Accessories

The Moto X Force's box contains a power supply with micro-USB connector, a quick-start guide and a small tool for opening the nano-SIM/micro-SD slot. Neither a headset nor other accessories are included despite the high price of approximately 700 Euros (~$782). Both can only be purchased separately in the online shop. In addition to wireless in-ear headsets (80 Euros, ~$89), a power bank (50 Euros, ~$55) and replacement screen protectors (30 Euros, ~$33) are found here.

Warranty

Motorola includes a 4-year warranty on the ShatterShield and 2 years on the smartphone's other parts, which naturally excludes intentional damage or normal signs of use. However, how does the time-limited warranty on the screen fit to the allegation that it definitely will not break? To say it with Motorola's words: The smartphone is "not shatterproof nor has it been built to withstand all damage from dropping." The standards are set very high. The screen proved to be as tough as promised in the test. Drops from a table or on a hard ground did not affect the Moto X Force. The user should not overdo it with that, though. The smartphone might bruise when treated roughly.

Input Devices & Handling

Powered by an octa-core SoC, the Moto X Force responds extremely fast to inputs no matter if they are entered via the accurate touchscreen or the physical keys. Delays when swapping between menus, opening apps or other lags that would thwart smooth use were not observed in the test. The same is true for the virtual keyboard, which reserves half the screen in landscape and portrait mode, providing pleasantly sized keys. Content is not covered unnecessarily thanks to this half-height design, and the user always keeps the overview.

Virtual keyboard in landscape mode...
Virtual keyboard in landscape mode...
...and portrait mode.
...and portrait mode.

Display

Moto X Force subpixels
Moto X Force subpixels

Buyers looking for a smartphone with a great screen will find it in the Moto X Force. Motorola's handset reproduces the QHD resolution of 2560x1440 pixels on its 5.4-inch AMOLED panel. That equals an extremely high pixel density of 540 PPI, which makes it virtually impossible to see single pixels on the screen. Among the comparison devices, only Microsoft's Lumia 950 (564 PPI) and Samsung's Galaxy S7 (577 PPI) have an AMOLED alongside WQHD resolution, which even achieve a slightly higher pixel density than the Motorola.

With an average brightness of 335.6 cd/m², the Moto X Force seemingly lags behind a bit in the category comparison. However, its illumination of 91% is very homogeneous. When distributing bright and dark areas evenly (APL 50), the maximum brightness in the screen's center climbs from 337 to 381 cd/m². The maximum brightness even increases to 481 cd/m² when enabling the brightness sensor, which is quite close to premium smartphones like Apple's iPhone 6s (552 cd/m²).

The AMOLED panel produces a very deep black via inactive pixels. That in conjunction with the mathematically infinite contrast ratio leads to an impressive, very vivid color reproduction.

323
cd/m²
333
cd/m²
350
cd/m²
320
cd/m²
337
cd/m²
349
cd/m²
320
cd/m²
336
cd/m²
352
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
540 ppi
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 352 cd/m² Average: 335.6 cd/m² Minimum: 5.42 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 91 %
Center on Battery: 337 cd/m²
Contrast: ∞:1 (Black: 0 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 3.99 | 0.6-29.43 Ø6.1
ΔE Greyscale 1.66 | 0.64-98 Ø6.3
Gamma: 2.32
Motorola Moto X Force
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Apple iPhone 6S
A9 / PowerVR GT7600, A9, Apple AP0064K (iPhone NVMe)
LG G4
Adreno 418, 808 MSM8992, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Microsoft Lumia 950
Adreno 418, 808 MSM8992, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Samsung Galaxy S7
Mali-T880 MP12, 8890 Octa, 32 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
Sony Xperia Z5
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Screen
-3%
-41%
-1%
20%
-96%
Brightness middle
337
552
64%
566
68%
292
-13%
350
4%
669
99%
Brightness
336
549
63%
536
60%
298
-11%
351
4%
624
86%
Brightness Distribution
91
87
-4%
90
-1%
92
1%
98
8%
85
-7%
Black Level *
0.39
0.47
0.68
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
3.99
3.4
15%
6.17
-55%
2.48
38%
2.04
49%
7.96
-99%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 max. *
7.07
3.25
54%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
1.66
4.16
-151%
6.26
-277%
1.97
-19%
1.63
2%
10.95
-560%
Gamma
2.32 95%
2.21 100%
2.48 89%
2.06 107%
2.07 106%
2.61 84%
CCT
6584 99%
7288 89%
8171 80%
6640 98%
6391 102%
7402 88%
Contrast
1415
1204
984
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
62.18
65.48
86.86
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
95.93
98.63
99.35

* ... smaller is better

This subjective impression is confirmed when examining the AMOLED panel with the X-Rite i1Pro 2 X-spectrophotometer and CalMAN software. The Moto X Force displays the grayscale levels very well at a maximum DeltaE of 1.66. The gamma rate and color temperature are almost ideal. The DeltaE of 3.99 in mixed colors is a bit too high, but ultimately only the measurement tool notices that. This shift is invisible to the naked eye.

ColorChecker
ColorChecker
Colorspace
Colorspace
Grayscale
Grayscale
Saturation
Saturation

The screen's average brightness of 335.6 cd/m² allows using the Moto X Force outdoors without restrictions. Independent of the location, the AMOLED panel impresses with its high viewing-angle stability. The screen remains impeccably legible even from extreme lateral views.

Viewing angles
Viewing angles
Outdoors
Outdoors

Screen Flickering / PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation)

To dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession - a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.
Screen flickering / PWM detected 240.4 Hz

The display backlight flickers at 240.4 Hz (Likely utilizing PWM) .

The frequency of 240.4 Hz is relatively low, so sensitive users will likely notice flickering and experience eyestrain at the stated brightness setting and below.

In comparison: 51 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 9440 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 142900) Hz was measured.

 

 

Performance

High performance is a matter of course in a smartphone with flagship characteristics like the Moto X Force. The Moto X Force does not disappoint here. It provides high-end performance with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 MSM8994 high-end SoC, the fast Qualcomm Adreno 430 graphics chip, and the generous 3 GB of RAM. There is only one problem: The octa-core processor automatically throttles as soon as the casing's temperature exceeds a certain limit. The very good 89,911 points in AnTuTu 6 then quickly drops to 69,451 points when repeating the benchmark. We therefore took a longer break between every single test so that the smartphone could cool down again. Thus, these benchmarks represent the "best case" scenario - it cannot get better, only worse when the Snapdragon 810 SoC gets too warm. The octa-core processor is still extremely fast even in a throttled state despite this shortcoming.

The Moto X Force finishes the synthetic benchmarks faster than LG's G4 and Microsoft's Lumia 950 that are furnished with the somewhat weaker Snapdragon 808 SoC. It is tight between Motorola's smartphone and Sony's Xperia Z5 - sometimes the one handset is faster and then the other. However, the difference is not big. The Moto X Force does not stand a chance against Apple's iPhone 6s, not to mention Samsung's Galaxy S7. The Motorola only outruns all comparison devices in the PCMark for Android Work test scenario.

3DMark - 1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Score (sort by value)
Motorola Moto X Force
25751 Points ∼11%
Apple iPhone 6S
28419 Points ∼12% +10%
LG G4
18821 Points ∼8% -27%
Sony Xperia Z5
24980 Points ∼11% -3%
Samsung Galaxy S7
29015 Points ∼12% +13%
Geekbench 3
32 Bit Multi-Core Score (sort by value)
LG G4
2952 Points ∼9%
32 Bit Single-Core Score (sort by value)
LG G4
1022 Points ∼21%
GFXBench (DX / GLBenchmark) 2.7
1920x1080 T-Rex HD Offscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
Motorola Moto X Force
58 fps ∼0%
Apple iPhone 6S
79.6 fps ∼1% +37%
LG G4
33.7 fps ∼0% -42%
Microsoft Lumia 950
21.82 fps ∼0% -62%
Sony Xperia Z5
49 fps ∼0% -16%
Samsung Galaxy S7
84 fps ∼1% +45%
T-Rex HD Onscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
Motorola Moto X Force
42 fps ∼1%
Apple iPhone 6S
59.1 fps ∼2% +41%
LG G4
24.9 fps ∼1% -41%
Microsoft Lumia 950
13.73 fps ∼0% -67%
Sony Xperia Z5
49 fps ∼1% +17%
Samsung Galaxy S7
53 fps ∼2% +26%
GFXBench 3.0
off screen Manhattan Offscreen OGL (sort by value)
Motorola Moto X Force
27 fps ∼5%
Apple iPhone 6S
39.5 fps ∼7% +46%
LG G4
15 fps ∼3% -44%
Microsoft Lumia 950
12.3 fps ∼2% -54%
Sony Xperia Z5
24 fps ∼4% -11%
Samsung Galaxy S7
40 fps ∼7% +48%
on screen Manhattan Onscreen OGL (sort by value)
Motorola Moto X Force
17 fps ∼5%
Apple iPhone 6S
56 fps ∼15% +229%
LG G4
9.5 fps ∼3% -44%
Microsoft Lumia 950
6.76 fps ∼2% -60%
Sony Xperia Z5
26 fps ∼7% +53%
Samsung Galaxy S7
27 fps ∼7% +59%
AnTuTu v6 - Total Score (sort by value)
Motorola Moto X Force
89911 Points ∼32%
Samsung Galaxy S7
127902 Points ∼45% +42%
BaseMark OS II
Web (sort by value)
Motorola Moto X Force
939 Points ∼46%
Apple iPhone 6S
1207 Points ∼59% +29%
LG G4
881 Points ∼43% -6%
Microsoft Lumia 950
655 Points ∼32% -30%
Sony Xperia Z5
675 Points ∼33% -28%
Samsung Galaxy S7
957 Points ∼47% +2%
Graphics (sort by value)
Motorola Moto X Force
3376 Points ∼12%
Apple iPhone 6S
4323 Points ∼15% +28%
LG G4
1995 Points ∼7% -41%
Microsoft Lumia 950
1437 Points ∼5% -57%
Sony Xperia Z5
3095 Points ∼11% -8%
Samsung Galaxy S7
1723 Points ∼6% -49%
Memory (sort by value)
Motorola Moto X Force
1085 Points ∼14%
Apple iPhone 6S
1281 Points ∼17% +18%
LG G4
1558 Points ∼21% +44%
Microsoft Lumia 950
1640 Points ∼22% +51%
Sony Xperia Z5
865 Points ∼12% -20%
Samsung Galaxy S7
2244 Points ∼30% +107%
System (sort by value)
Motorola Moto X Force
2878 Points ∼17%
Apple iPhone 6S
3466 Points ∼21% +20%
LG G4
2368 Points ∼14% -18%
Microsoft Lumia 950
1096 Points ∼7% -62%
Sony Xperia Z5
2360 Points ∼14% -18%
Samsung Galaxy S7
4217 Points ∼26% +47%
Overall (sort by value)
Motorola Moto X Force
1774 Points ∼21%
Apple iPhone 6S
2194 Points ∼26% +24%
LG G4
1596 Points ∼19% -10%
Microsoft Lumia 950
1140 Points ∼13% -36%
Sony Xperia Z5
1437 Points ∼17% -19%
Samsung Galaxy S7
1987 Points ∼24% +12%
PCMark for Android - Work performance score (sort by value)
Motorola Moto X Force
5365 Points ∼27%
LG G4
4579 Points ∼23% -15%
Sony Xperia Z5
5184 Points ∼26% -3%
Samsung Galaxy S7
4826 Points ∼25% -10%

Legend

 
Motorola Moto X Force Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 MSM8994, Qualcomm Adreno 430, 32 GB eMMC Flash
 
Apple iPhone 6S Apple A9, Apple A9 / PowerVR GT7600, Apple AP0064K (iPhone NVMe)
 
LG G4 Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 MSM8992, Qualcomm Adreno 418, 32 GB eMMC Flash
 
Microsoft Lumia 950 Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 MSM8992, Qualcomm Adreno 418, 32 GB eMMC Flash
 
Sony Xperia Z5 Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 MSM8994, Qualcomm Adreno 430, 32 GB eMMC Flash
 
Samsung Galaxy S7 Samsung Exynos 8890 Octa, ARM Mali-T880 MP12, 32 GB UFS 2.0 Flash

Almost the same is seen in the browser benchmarks: The Moto X Force passes the finishing line before LG's G4, Microsoft's Lumia 950, and this time also Sony's Xperia Z5. Apple's iPhone 6s and Samsung's Galaxy S7 play in their own league.

Octane V2 - Total Score (sort by value)
Motorola Moto X Force
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
8699 Points ∼17%
Apple iPhone 6S
A9 / PowerVR GT7600, A9, Apple AP0064K (iPhone NVMe)
16200 Points ∼31% +86%
LG G4
Adreno 418, 808 MSM8992, 32 GB eMMC Flash
7832 (min: 6791) Points ∼15% -10%
Microsoft Lumia 950
Adreno 418, 808 MSM8992, 32 GB eMMC Flash
6990 Points ∼13% -20%
Sony Xperia Z5
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
8627 Points ∼16% -1%
Samsung Galaxy S7
Mali-T880 MP12, 8890 Octa, 32 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
13161 Points ∼25% +51%
Mozilla Kraken 1.1 - Total Score (sort by value)
Motorola Moto X Force
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
4080.1 ms * ∼7%
Apple iPhone 6S
A9 / PowerVR GT7600, A9, Apple AP0064K (iPhone NVMe)
1715 ms * ∼3% +58%
LG G4
Adreno 418, 808 MSM8992, 32 GB eMMC Flash
4770.8 ms * ∼8% -17%
Microsoft Lumia 950
Adreno 418, 808 MSM8992, 32 GB eMMC Flash
6913.5 ms * ∼12% -69%
Sony Xperia Z5
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
5693.1 ms * ∼10% -40%
Samsung Galaxy S7
Mali-T880 MP12, 8890 Octa, 32 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
2561.5 ms * ∼4% +37%
WebXPRT 2015 - Overall Score (sort by value)
Motorola Moto X Force
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
103 Points ∼13%
Apple iPhone 6S
A9 / PowerVR GT7600, A9, Apple AP0064K (iPhone NVMe)
187 Points ∼23% +82%
LG G4
Adreno 418, 808 MSM8992, 32 GB eMMC Flash
82 Points ∼10% -20%
Microsoft Lumia 950
Adreno 418, 808 MSM8992, 32 GB eMMC Flash
64 Points ∼8% -38%
Sony Xperia Z5
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
73 Points ∼9% -29%
Samsung Galaxy S7
Mali-T880 MP12, 8890 Octa, 32 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
166 Points ∼21% +61%
JetStream 1.1 - Total Score (sort by value)
Motorola Moto X Force
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
49.373 Points ∼14%
Apple iPhone 6S
A9 / PowerVR GT7600, A9, Apple AP0064K (iPhone NVMe)
118.6 Points ∼34% +140%
LG G4
Adreno 418, 808 MSM8992, 32 GB eMMC Flash
43.118 Points ∼12% -13%
Microsoft Lumia 950
Adreno 418, 808 MSM8992, 32 GB eMMC Flash
24.525 Points ∼7% -50%
Sony Xperia Z5
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
37 Points ∼11% -25%
Samsung Galaxy S7
Mali-T880 MP12, 8890 Octa, 32 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
74 Points ∼21% +50%

* ... smaller is better

The Moto X Force shows its strength in data transfer and places itself in front of LG's G4 and Sony's Xperia Z5 in random read and write with one exception. Motorola's handset presents its biggest weakness in sequential write. With 48 MB/s, it lags far behind the rivals that are two or three times faster. This outcome does not change after multiple runs and reboots. The Samsung Galaxy S7's tremendous data rate is impressive in all benchmarks.

Using our 32 GB Toshiba Exceria Pro M401 (model: THN-M401S0640E2; read max.: 95 MB/s; write max.: 80 MB/s), we see that the micro-SD performance of the Moto X Force is also only average. The smartphone clearly remains behind the maximum rates with 79 MB/s in sequential read and 47 MB/s in sequential write.

AndroBench 3-5
Random Write 4KB (sort by value)
Motorola Moto X Force
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
19.78 MB/s ∼8%
LG G4
Adreno 418, 808 MSM8992, 32 GB eMMC Flash
15 MB/s ∼6% -24%
Sony Xperia Z5
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
11.46 MB/s ∼5% -42%
Samsung Galaxy S7
Mali-T880 MP12, 8890 Octa, 32 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
16.01 MB/s ∼6% -19%
Random Read 4KB (sort by value)
Motorola Moto X Force
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
22.55 MB/s ∼13%
LG G4
Adreno 418, 808 MSM8992, 32 GB eMMC Flash
31.5 MB/s ∼18% +40%
Sony Xperia Z5
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
3.59 MB/s ∼2% -84%
Samsung Galaxy S7
Mali-T880 MP12, 8890 Octa, 32 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
85.9 MB/s ∼49% +281%
Sequential Write 256KB (sort by value)
Motorola Moto X Force
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
47.99 MB/s ∼10%
LG G4
Adreno 418, 808 MSM8992, 32 GB eMMC Flash
153 MB/s ∼30% +219%
Sony Xperia Z5
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
115.48 MB/s ∼23% +141%
Samsung Galaxy S7
Mali-T880 MP12, 8890 Octa, 32 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
145.72 MB/s ∼29% +204%
Sequential Read 256KB (sort by value)
Motorola Moto X Force
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
252.03 MB/s ∼17%
LG G4
Adreno 418, 808 MSM8992, 32 GB eMMC Flash
251 MB/s ∼17% 0%
Sony Xperia Z5
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
219.84 MB/s ∼15% -13%
Samsung Galaxy S7
Mali-T880 MP12, 8890 Octa, 32 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
483.82 MB/s ∼33% +92%

Games

The hardware requirements of current Android games are absolutely no challenge for the Moto X Force. All games we installed for testing, such as Asphalt 8: Airborne and Angry Birds 2, ran in full details and absolutely lag-free. The accurate touchscreen and good gyro sensor also contribute to gaming fun.

Angry Birds 2
Angry Birds 2
Asphalt 8
Asphalt 8

Emissions

GFXBench Battery Test
GFXBench Battery Test

Temperature

The Moto X Force barely heats up in idle mode with a maximum of 31.3 °C. The smartphone is also within a good range during load with a peak rate of 40.4 °C. A typical problem of the Snapdragon 810 SoC is seen in the stress test using GFXBench: Throttling at too high temperatures. The initially high performance soon caves in and stays at a clearly lower level over the entire test. However, the performance of Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 MSM8994 and the Adreno 430 GPU is still easily enough for gaming and all common applications despite this throttling.

Max. Load
 38.1 °C
101 F
37.8 °C
100 F
38.1 °C
101 F
 
 38.5 °C
101 F
39.3 °C
103 F
38.6 °C
101 F
 
 39.8 °C
104 F
39.4 °C
103 F
38.8 °C
102 F
 
Maximum: 39.8 °C = 104 F
Average: 38.7 °C = 102 F
38.3 °C
101 F
38.1 °C
101 F
37.8 °C
100 F
38.6 °C
101 F
39.9 °C
104 F
36.4 °C
98 F
38.4 °C
101 F
40.4 °C
105 F
38.3 °C
101 F
Maximum: 40.4 °C = 105 F
Average: 38.5 °C = 101 F
Power Supply (max.)  29.2 °C = 85 F | Room Temperature 21.9 °C = 71 F | Voltcraft IR-260
(-) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 38.7 °C / 102 F, compared to the average of 33.1 °C / 92 F for the devices in the class Smartphone.
(+) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 39.8 °C / 104 F, compared to the average of 35.5 °C / 96 F, ranging from 22.4 to 51.7 °C for the class Smartphone.
(±) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 40.4 °C / 105 F, compared to the average of 34 °C / 93 F
(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 30.8 °C / 87 F, compared to the device average of 33.1 °C / 92 F.

Speaker

Speaker evaluation: Pink Noise
Speaker evaluation: Pink Noise

The speaker in the Moto X Force is situated on the smartphone's lower edge over the micro-USB port. Although it looks like two speakers are installed, the microphone is under the left opening. That is noticed at latest when a finger covers the right opening and hardly anything or nothing is heard. The mono speaker does not distort at its maximum volume of 89.2 dB. It, however, produces a relatively thin sound with inaudible mids and low tones. The sound measurements also confirm that. The Moto X Force only manages low dB rates in the low tone range (left frequency range in the graph). Thus, these frequencies are completely covered by the much louder high tones. Unfortunately, an equalizer app is just as absent as a headset, which Motorola only offers for a surcharge in its online shop.

Energy Management

Power Consumption

The Moto X Force has the best preconditions for a long battery life with its 3760 mAh battery, although its power consumption is slightly above the average in some cases. The smartphone consumes an average of 1.35 watts in idle mode, and it can climb up to 9.4 watts during full load. Only Samsung's Galaxy S7 has a slightly stronger battery among the comparison devices (3600 mAh). LG's G4 and Microsoft's Lumia 950 both have a 3000 mAh battery.

The Moto X Force supports the Qi standard and can be recharged via a corresponding charging station without a cable. Fast Charge is also supported and truly earns its name here. The smartphone's battery is recharged by 25% after only roughly 15 minutes at the outlet. A completely depleted battery was fully recharged in approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes in the test.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.11 / 0.37 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 0.96 / 1.35 / 1.4 Watt
Load midlight 6.11 / 9.43 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Gossen Metrahit Energy

Battery Runtime

The Moto X Force is throughout convincing in battery life - it should even be enough for a whole day of intense gaming without need for recharging. Although Apple's iPhone 6s and Sony's Xperia Z5 marginally defeat the smartphone in the real-world Wi-Fi test, its time of 7 hours and 6 minutes is very good. The Moto X Force lasts the longest in the video test with adapted brightness and disabled Wi-Fi module, and it even surpasses the long-running Apple with 11:50 hours.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
26h 50min
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3
7h 06min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
11h 50min
Load (maximum brightness)
5h 30min
Motorola Moto X Force
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Apple iPhone 6S
A9 / PowerVR GT7600, A9, Apple AP0064K (iPhone NVMe)
LG G4
Adreno 418, 808 MSM8992, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Microsoft Lumia 950
Adreno 418, 808 MSM8992, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Samsung Galaxy S7
Mali-T880 MP12, 8890 Octa, 32 GB UFS 2.0 Flash
Sony Xperia Z5
Adreno 430, 810 MSM8994, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Battery Runtime
-13%
-29%
-28%
5%
-11%
Reader / Idle
1610
1510
-6%
1654
3%
1500
-7%
1810
12%
1669
4%
H.264
710
699
-2%
501
-29%
570
-20%
892
26%
600
-15%
WiFi v1.3
426
492
15%
326
-23%
250
-41%
456
7%
438
3%
Load
330
137
-58%
114
-65%
187
-43%
242
-27%
213
-35%

Pros

+ Android 6.0
+ very fast SoC
+ dual-SIM sot
+ unbreakable glass
+ extremely robust
+ high-quality build
+ 4-year warranty on screen
+ 2560 x 1440 pixel resolution
+ very good 21 MP camera
+ long battery life
+ short charging times

Cons

- One mono speaker only
- hybrid slot involves compromises
- not waterproof
- SoC throttles under high temperatures
- headset not included

Verdict

In review Motorola Moto X Force. Review sample courtesy of Lenovo Germany.
In review Motorola Moto X Force. Review sample courtesy of Lenovo Germany.

Motorola has hit a home run with its Moto X Force. That can even be taken literally on the one hand because the 5.4-inch Android is furnished with an unbreakable screen. On the other, the Moto X Force should not be reduced to its toughness. The premium-range smartphone brings along a whole range of further advantages. The bright and viewing-angle stable AMOLED screen, which reproduces razor-sharp content thanks to its high resolution of 2560x1440 pixels and the tremendous pixel density of 540 PPI, definitely counts to that. Other highlights are found in the powerful Snapdragon 810 MSM8994 octa-core SoC, the well-equipped communication module that does not leave anything to be desired with Wi-Fi 802.11 ac over LTE, NFC and two SIM slots. More plus points: The elegant metal chassis, the latest Android 6.0, an excellent 21-megapixel camera, long battery runtimes and the Fast Charge feature.

The Moto X Force features an actually long overdue feature: An unbreakable screen that withstands drops on a stone floor without damage.

Although Motorola demands almost 700 Euros (~$782) for its smartphone, a headset is not included and has to be purchased separately. The sound could also be better since only a mono speaker is installed in the Moto X Force. Finally, Motorola also has to accept criticism for the choice of the SoC. The processor throttles as soon as it reaches a certain temperature. However, its performance is easily enough for all current Android applications and games even in a throttled state.

Motorola Moto X Force - 04/21/2016 v5.1(old)
Manuel Masiero

Chassis
92%
Keyboard
68 / 75 → 91%
Pointing Device
94%
Connectivity
47 / 60 → 78%
Weight
91%
Battery
91%
Display
86%
Games Performance
57 / 63 → 90%
Application Performance
49 / 70 → 71%
Temperature
88%
Noise
100%
Audio
64 / 91 → 70%
Camera
83%
Average
78%
88%
Smartphone - Weighted Average

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Motorola Moto X Force Smartphone Review
Manuel Masiero, 2016-03-23 (Update: 2018-05-15)