In today’s world there seem to be only two unavoidable truths: You will die, and your gadgets will eventually be outdated.
This last statement is even more striking when it comes to mobile devices, smartphones in particular. Every couple of months, there is a new phone that outperforms the previous “next big thing.”
Considering this, I asked myself: What is it really like using a budget Android phone? I did not need to wonder much since I own one.
For this review, I will take the Moto X Pure Edition (2015) as the sample phone to give some insight on my experience as a user. The Pure makes the cut to be considered a budget phone today since it sells for approximately $200 with base specs in 2017.
Moto X Pure Edition: Specs and price
The Moto X Pure Edition was once hailed as one of the best phones in 2015. Its unique customization options and nearly stock Android interface made it well-known upon release.
The Pure has a 5.7-inch IPS LCD with a 1440 x 2560 resolution. It comes in 16, 32, and 64 GB storage configurations, expandable up to 128 GB with a microSD card.
Motorola’s 2015 flagship packed its latest Mobile Computing System, including a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 hexacore processor and 3 GB of RAM.
Other distinctive features of the Moto X Pure include its signature front-facing speakers and a 21 MP rear camera capable of recording 4K video and slow motion video in HD.
It starts at $289.99 from Motorola itself, but Amazon sells the handset for as little as $199.
The Moto X Pure Edition I am using is running Android 6.0 Marshmallow while I wait for the (very unlikely) Nougat update.
All in all, the Pure presents little performance issues perceivable by the average user. The Android version in the phone is quite clean compared to the one in a Samsung device, for example, and it comes with only a few Moto apps.
That said, the phone is now nearly one year and a half old, so it does have the occasional hiccup running multiple apps or opening a new one, and it also struggles with some animations.
Apps and Games
Most apps and games run just fine on the Moto X Pure, although it is starting to suffer a little bit playing back media and video, as well as streaming content from apps.
The device has some issues dealing with GIFs and video inside social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Reddit, as sometimes the influx of content can be overwhelming browsing these apps.
Highly graphic-demanding games don’t pose much of a challenge to the phone’s GPU as they do to the battery, which heats up a bit after long sessions of gaming.
The same thing as before happens with online browsing at times. I use Google Chrome’s mobile version, but other browsers like Opera Mini seem to handle multimedia a little bit better.
Other than that, the experience is very responsive and loading times aren’t unreasonable. The Google app is seamlessly integrated, and it works great with voice searches (while I wait for Google Assistant).
Pictures and Video
One of the few caveats of the Moto X Pure: With great MP count comes great file size. Pictures and video from the 21 MP camera on the Pure can get pretty big and eat up your storage capacity in no time.
Taking pictures with the phone, though, is quite good. The camera app comes integrated with Moto Actions, and it allows users to open it up with two twists of the wrist at any time.
“A battery that’s always ready when you are,” is how Motorola describes the battery life on the Moto X Pure on its official site. After over a year of usage, I must say the phone has mostly stood the test of time.
While most smartphones suffer from quickly decaying battery life and performance, the Pure holds faithful to the all-day standard. Most days of average use finish up with the phone at 15% capacity or less, just enough to get home and recharge calmly.
However, it does present some issues when crossing that 15% threshold, as it drains a little faster and turns off unexpectedly when it is close to 1% but not quite there. Not to mention there is system performance drop.
The Battery Saver option does not change things a lot, but it manages to save some juice in the long run.
Overall Daily Experience
Older or cheaper phones are expected to present some challenges nowadays, especially running the latest versions of apps (which they may not support due to their Android versions) and providing continuous heavy usage without having the battery drain in just a few hours.
If you are not a power user, a device like the Moto X Pure or one similar to it will get you through the day with no major trouble, even in 2017. So, do not dismiss budget phones