AH Awards: Best Battery Life Smartphone 2016

Lenovo's Moto Z Play became a favorite for users looking for outstanding battery life, due to its large battery and power efficient processor.

When it comes to smartphones, one of the most important features that users look at before buying a new phone is the battery. How good is the battery, and how fast does it charge, are the two features most people usually look at with the battery. Before smartphones, phones would last days and days before needing to be recharged. This was because most people weren't on their phones the entire day like they are now. Smartphone battery life has gotten better over the years, but it could still use some help. In 2016, there were a few smartphones that had incredible battery life, like the Galaxy Note 7, Galaxy S7 Edge, Huawei Mate 9 and the Moto Z Play. But they all still have a long way to go.

Winner - Lenovo Moto Z Play

The Moto Z Play from Lenovo is not a traditional flagship (meaning that it's not a high-end device) but it did have the best battery life. Lenovo debuted the Moto Z series this year with the Moto Z, Moto Z Force and a few months later the Moto Z Play came along. The Moto Z Play dropped some of the more high-end specs, but kept a large battery inside. What we are looking at with the Moto Z Play is a 5.5-inch 1080p display, the Snapdragon 625 processor inside with 3GB of RAM powering the device. And there was a 3,510 mAh battery that was non-removable and kept users going for days on a single charge. That is just a hair larger than the Moto Z Force's battery, but it lasted far longed due to the lower-resolution display and less power-hungry display.

Battery life is important. Users don't want to spend parts of their day connected to an outlet so their smartphone can charge, and the Moto Z Play allowed users to be able to stay away from an outlet. On top of that, since it was part of the Moto Z lineup, it also had the Moto Mod battery packs that Incipio had made, and could increase the battery life even more. Remember that battery life is more than just your screen on-time, even though that is the metric that most people go by. Another big part of this is standby. If your smartphone is using a ton of power when it's not in use, then your battery won't last as long. The Moto Z Play knew how to utilize Doze (new in Android 6.0 Marshmallow) and get pretty incredible standby times. In our review of the Moto Z Play, we found the battery life to be the number one selling point of this smartphone. And that was because the price wasn't much lower than the other Moto Z smartphones that Lenovo already announced, and the are loads of competitors in the space right now that are offering far more (spec and feature-wise) than the Moto Z Play at the same price or lower.

Lenovo began debuting a "Play" version of Moto smartphones last year with the Moto X Play, but the Moto Z Play brought it to a whole new level this year. It was a smartphone that really flew under the radar, and part of that was due to the fact that it was only available at Verizon (as the "Moto Z Play Droid Edition") or available unlocked through Motorola.com and other various retailers. Meaning that users from AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile couldn't walk into their local carrier store and pick one up, or even see that it is actually available. Luckily the device was compatible with both GSM and CDMA carriers, so the unlocked model did work great with any of the four US carriers.

Runner Up - Google Pixel XL

Google's Pixel XL has pretty impressive battery life as well. Like the Moto Z Play, a big part of the Pixel XL's amazing battery life is due to the software optimization that Google has done in Android 7.1. Optimizing software can go a long way in making a device even better, when it comes to battery life. Of course, the changes that Google made to Doze in Android 7.x Nougat definitely helped out, allowing the device to go into deep sleep sooner and use less power while inactive, therefore extending the battery life on the device. The Pixel XL has a somewhat small (when you compare its specs to the Moto Z Play's specs) battery, rated at 3,450 mAh - that's actually the exact same size battery as the Nexus 6P that Google made last year with Huawei. Remember that it does also have a 5.5-inch Quad HD AMOLED display, powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 and 4GB of RAM. Obviously the Pixel XL did not give out the same type of battery life time as the Moto Z Play (hence why it's a runner up and not the winner), but it did offer the best battery life among "flagship" smartphones, with the highest specs. That's pretty impressive for Google's first crack at building their own smartphone. Not to mention the other aspects of the Pixel XL are pretty impressive in their own right.

Honorable Mention - Samsung Galaxy Note 7

The Galaxy Note 7 had better battery life than the Pixel XL, no doubt. But since the Galaxy Note 7 was short lived, it's hard to give it either the "winner" or "runner up" spots here. Which is pretty unfortunate, given how great of a smartphone it was. Those that did own it, and those that reviewed it, stated that the battery was pretty impressive on the Galaxy Note 7, giving most people a full day to a day and a half on a charge before needing to find an outlet. The Galaxy Note 7 had a battery that was similar in size to the Pixel XL and Moto Z Play, coming in at 3500mAh. That was powering a 5.7-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED display. Inside, there was also Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820 processor with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. If only the Galaxy Note 7 didn't have the flaw that required Samsung to recall the device twice, it could have easily beaten the Moto Z Play.

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About the Author
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Alexander Maxham

Section Editor
Alex has written for Androidheadlines since 2012 as Editor of the site and traveled the World to many of the biggest Smartphone and Technology events. Alex has a background in Technology and IT and Deep Passion for Everything Android and Google. His specialties lay in Smartphones of all budgets, Accessories, Home Automation and more. Contact him at [email protected]
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