Some days, I love my job.
I've spent more than a few hours playing games on the new Moto G 2015. Not just any games, mind you, but games that are known to be pretty rough on the hardware inside an Android, and take it to its breaking point. 3D intensive games that turn your phone into a space heater. The fun games.
The good news is that I didn't melt anything or have to call any type of emergency services (this time). The little Moto G 2015 actually did better than I thought it would, though it isn't on par with the newest and thrice as pricey gear from Samsung or LG.
Here's how I spent my day.
Angry Birds 2
The Moto G plays Angry Birds 2 as well as any other phone I have on my desk. It starts up quickly, there is no lag in the user interface, and moving from scene to scene is fluid and responsive.
I played for 30 minutes, and the Moto G got a little hot. During that time, I used 8 percent of my battery.
The one real issue here, and this will be common with most everything I tried today, is playing a game like Angry Birds 2 on a small screen. The 720p resolution didn't bother me, but playing on the Moto G is a far cry from playing on my tablet or something gigantic like the Nexus 6. A 5-inch display isn't tiny by any means, but it surely isnt optimized for playing games that aren't casual, slower-paced offerings.
Here's something that's not easy to explain: Asphalt 8 plays better on the Moto G 2015 than it does on the LG G4.
Actually, it's not that hard to explain. The GPU inside the Moto G 2015 has enough "oompf" to run Asphalt 8 at 720p. Asphalt 8 has had enough "optimization" updates to make it pretty smooth when running on Android. Running it natively at 720p, using 720p optimized textures and graphic assets is something the Snapdragon 410 inside the G can handle with relative ease. Chances are the game isn't nearly as optimized for the 2K display on the G4, and it shows every now and then with slower framerates. Blame the game, not the player (or the phone).
A 30-minute gaming session with Asphalt 8 got the Moto G a little hot, and chewed up 11 percent of my battery. That's about the same as playing on the G4.
In any case, Asphalt 8 runs really well here, though the smallish screen comes into play again. I'll keep this one installed and spend too much money on in-app purchases. Again.
The Chrome browser isn't a game, but it seems to be as resource-intensive as anything else out there and I wanted to test it along with the rest.
The verdict? Meh. Not that it's that much slower to load, or that the scrolling is more janky than it is on most other phones. Chrome kinda runs like crap on most all Android phones or tablets. It (maybe) runs a little more crappy on the Moto G 2015.
Really, it was hard to see any difference. Chrome runs about the same on the Moto G as it does on the Nexus 6. We don't use Chrome because it's so smooth or peppy, we use it because of the sync and features. Those work as well on the Moto G as they do anywhere else.
If you use Chrome now, you'll be fine with using it on the Moto G 2015.
GTA San Andreas
Don't do this to yourself.
I had high hopes for GTA San Andreas at first. The Moto G checked the big-ass download and started up fairly quickly, and the opening cutscene was nice and fluid. Then the game loaded.
In the beginning, trying to get Carl to his bike, I realized that this was an exercise in futility. The poor framerate made GTA San Andreas unplayable on the Moto G. Signing in and out of Rockstar Social Club (the online "companion" for GTA games) made no difference.
I made it my mission to get Carl on his bike, then I shut it down. Then I uninstalled it. Sorry, Carl.
Again, don't do this to yourself. It will make you hate GTA San Andreas, and your new phone.
This one was a little weird.
First off, it's hard to play Vainglory on a 5-inch screen. Maybe I can get some iSandpaper and whittle down my fingertips. It's made even harder when the "chrome" — the buttons, dialogs and assorted things going on outside of the actual gameplay — is laggy and slow.
That's what happens when you play Vainglory on the Moto G 2015. Buttons take forever to register that they were tapped, tips and dialogs are slow to open and dismiss, and the game itself takes quite a while to get loaded up and running.
Once you get past all that, the gameplay itself is smooth. Moving and shooting (and retreating so you don't get wasted) is fine. Pressing the button to open the store and upgrade your weapons, or to upgrade a skill, is not.
Hopefully, one of those magic updates that optimize "stuff" will happen and make things work. I'm not going to hold my breath. In the meantime, Vainglory is another one you don't want to play on your Moto G.
Gaming — and other processor intensive apps — on the Moto G 2015 is another case of knowing what you want, and setting the correct expectations.
Apps like Twitter, or Gmail or any other "normal" app will likely run just fine. We haven't seen any issues using the same apps we use on every phone in most cases. When it comes to the apps that need a little bit of horsepower, things get a little different.
As we see above, some do well while others do not. We can't assume that updates will make the apps that don't run well get any better, because sometimes it really is a matter of having enough hardware. The bigger, heavier games that do run well on the Moto G don't make things extremely hot or use any extra amount of battery. It's just that some of those style of games just don't run well.
If you stick to casual games, like my favorite Knights of Pen and Paper, you'll see no difference between the Moto G 2015 and something more powerful, like the Galaxy S6. Beyond that, you might have issues.
In the end, the Moto G 2015 did better than I expected, which was a complete dumpster fire when trying to play heavy 3D games. I still don't want to play these heavy, processor-intensive games on my phone but I know plenty of us want to do just that. If this sounds like you, maybe the Moto G 2015 isn't for you.