The Good The new Moto G has an improved design, water resistance and an enhanced camera. The design and feel of the hands are great and the battery lasts more than a full day.
The Bad Processor speed is lagging if you are trying to do many things at once. The entry-level version (8GB of memory, 1GB of RAM) is far too underrated compared to the slightly more expensive gain model.
The Bottom Line With its extra water resistance and better camera, the LTE-enabled Moto G is one of the best unlocked smartphones available.
When I think about what I want in an everyday phone, I think about the battery life, the camera, how it feels, and how durable it is. And the way the screen looks. Here’s a great thing about Motorola’s latest upgrade to its budget mid-range smartphone – the Moto G: it’s a 5-inch Android smartphone – it’s just about everything you need for less than half your average phone premium.
The Moto G has been around for a couple of years, but last year’s version lacked faster LTE in the US (a global version with LTE available since April). This new model adds a lot more than just LTE: it has better front and rear cameras, has serious water resistance in a submerged pool, and its design is even a little weird. He is more like his high-class motto siblings than ever before: in fact, he may be a lost twin 2013 debut Moto X .
I’ve been using the Moto G for about a week now, and while it’s obviously not a super-premium phone, it is enough for what a regular person and then some need. The clean, modern version of Android 5.1.1 and the long battery life only soften the deal.
The Moto G comes in two versions: 8GB of memory and 1GB of RAM for $ 180 (£ 179 in the UK) or 16GB of memory and 2GB of RAM for $ 220 (£ 209 and $ 369). Some carriers sell the Moto G even less: in the UK, it is offered by carriers and retailers for £ 159. We have reviewed the 16GB model and we heartily recommend paying for it; 8 GB of memory is too low. If you are in Australia, it still only offers 16GB.
Adding to its design, performance, extra waterproofing, its camera and battery, it’s one of the best phones for anywhere. While this is a budget phone that I recommend for its overall look, feel and performance, there are other strong rivals. The Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 it has higher performance in all directions, but when I think of one budget Android I want to capture, this Moto G is it.
Design and feel: Plastic amenities
- 5-inch, 720p display (1,280×720 pixels)
- 5.59 by 2.85 by 0.48 inches (142.1 by 72.4 by 11.6 mm)
- 5.47 oz (155 g)
With the affordable phone, the Moto G feels nice to hold, not cheap and doesn’t stick together.
It is the lines and curves of G that make you feel special. Yes, it is a plastic construction, but how it all comes together feels fun. Of course, the frame is plastic. But from afar (and even in the hand) it feels nicer than in the old G. models. I loved my 2013 Moto X for its curved construction that fits neatly into my palm. The new Moto G has that feel, but with a slightly larger screen and body. In many ways, it also reminds me of Nexus 5 .
Even though it has a 5-inch screen, this phone feels comfortable in the hands and pockets. It’s a good mid-range phone by today’s standards of harmony. The cutting edge of Gorilla Glass also looks sharp. I did, however, play the plastic corner a bit.
The 720p display looks bright and clear – you probably won’t notice that it doesn’t have a high resolution, because at 294 pixels an inch it still feels HD (pixels much lower than the 1080p HD Alcatel Idol 3). And for a budget phone, colors and clarity look great (the only issue is: going back to landscape mode when you have sunglasses creates huge polarization). The front speakers are also quite loud, offering decent sound for movies and games.
The back of the Moto G has a removable shell. MotoMaker Motorola, a website for creating personalized handsets, has been rolled out for Moto G in certain markets (Brazil, France, Germany, Mexico, United Kingdom and the US). You can create your own custom MotoMaker design for the G or purchase new rear plates separately.
You can choose a black or white front, 10 different color variants of the back and one of 10 different color accents that change that little camera strip on the back to pink, orange, champagne or something else. Motorola also sells five multi-colored textured cases. No, it doesn’t have more fancy metal or wood backs, but G still feels like he has enough fun colors to have a certain personality.
The textured plastic backrest on my model has come in handy, but some people may prefer a smoother finish. You need to secure the backrest completely so that it is waterproof. I feel that no matter how many times I put it on, I missed a few shots.
Shower with your phone
The Moto G adds IPX7 waterproofing – a big plus for those who fear they’ll throw their phone in the toilet. The IPX7 means that the phone can survive immersion in one meter (three feet) of water for up to 30 minutes. This means that the new Moto G, like other price phones out there, is truly, truly, a weather phone. As long as the back plastic cover is locked properly, you will be fine.
I took a shower with Moto X and everything went well. Shower splashes set the capacitive nuts of the display, and droplets of water also affect the loudspeaker volume, but I could listen to music while I was washing shampoo and also checking emails. All smartphones should have this level of water resistance. I even dropped her into a glass of water and let her sit at her desk for a while. Still worked.
I still don’t recommend swimming with him, and definitely don’t take him in salt water (fear of corrosion), but at least it means G is ready for a nice, humid day outdoors, without the annoying port cover. to worry about. Use it in the rain, send an email to the bath, take a picture in the hot tub. Breathe easy: You don’t have to worry about dropping this phone into a puddle – if the puddle is not water, filled with sharp rocks, or both.
Pure Android as well as several moto apps
- Android OS 5.1.1 (Lollipop)
- Moto Assist and Moto Display applications: context dependent and one-touch notification on a lock screen
- FM radio app
The big advantage of the latest Motorola phones is how clean they are on Android OS. If you like the “clean” version of Android from Google without having a lot of pre-installed junk or custom layers, this is the closest you can get to your Nexus phone.
The Moto G comes together Android 5.1.1 (lollipop) installed, and for the most part it works fine. Instead of imposing some extra experience on top of Android, it feels just like regular Android Lollipop, as Google intended. Apps appear quickly and the Google Apps folder is ready for you on the home screen, among other things, with minimal and clean experience.
Motorola has some proprietary applications that you can taste while waiting in the application network. You’ll find it all in the Moto app. You can’t start a conversation with your phone like you can on Moto X, but you can set your phone to automatically adjust notifications and other settings based on a contextual action or placement (“sleeping” or “meeting”) using a feature called Moto Assist .
You can also use some physical gestures, such as shaking your phone to turn on a flashlight (which works only part of the time) or flipping your phone with your wrists to turn on your camera (zoom). The best is a Moto lock screen for notification called Moto Display: Tap to view important information, or open the app to open the app.
There is even a genuine FM radio that uses connected headphones as an antenna. Laugh if you like, but I like to use actual FM radio to listen to radio broadcasts of local NFL games (local sports games are usually obscured by national streams).
Cameras and video
- 13MP rear camera
- Dual CCT LED Flash (Rear Camera)
- 1080p video recording, 30 frames per second
- 5 megapixel front camera
The camera is one of the key areas in which the new Moto G. is thrust. Now it has the 13-megapixel sensor, not the 8-megapixels we saw earlier. While this is a very large sum for a budget phone, Motorola is not alone. Other phones in this range, such as the Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3, also use a 13-megapixel sensor.
Each phone manufacturer throws more megapixels at their phone specifications, but there are some additional enhancements to the photo hardware; most importantly, a new dual-LED flash on the back of the camera that matches the colors for night shots. The front camera has also been increased to 5 megapixels over the previous 2, which is the evolution we want to see from this Moto G. family.
An add-on to a Motorola camera that is turned on quickly but not always clearly. The interface is extremely minimal, and you need to swipe left and right to get to the photo gallery or adjust camera settings. You can add automatic HDR or manually adjust the white balance and exposure, and record 1080p or slow-mo at 720p.
Megapixels do not necessarily lead to better photos, so we tried to try them in several hands. Apart from me, CNET editor Andrew Hoyle did a thorough survey of the cameras in London, and New York lab technician Joseph Kaminsky even came in.
The Moto G shots came out pretty well overall, especially those outdoors shots. Exposure and natural colors were strong, and there were plenty of details when viewed full screen.
This shot of a milk thistle taken on the street is a good example of what a Moto Moto camera can do. The sharp leaves are crispy, and the little ladybug (the ladybug) is clearly visible. The 13-megapixel resolution even gives you some space to crop without losing much detail.
Unfortunately, the autofocus of the phone is not easy to use. The focus mode is set by default (tapping on the screen just takes a picture), so you will need to manually enable this in the camera settings. Although the default setting makes shooting very fast, it means that focus on close-up subjects suffers, and you will shoot several out-of-focus images like this until it is properly locked. It gets annoying.
Outdoor shooting in everyday light usually worked very well, though with clear, colorful results. But in indoor situations and in low light, things didn’t turn out so well.
Low light pictures are also decent, though there are a few issues. Motorola has clearly slowed the shutter speed so that the camera takes more light in low light, which turns normal hand shaking into a blurry image. Low-light images with no flash appear bright, but the colors are muted, and the images here are many.
The Moto G is capable of capturing some really great shots, and it is definitely one of the best cameras you can find at the end of the budget. Where it shines, like on all smartphone cameras, there are outdoor scenes with ample natural light. Even with the flash turned on, the Moto G’s bad lighting skills aren’t flair-proof, so it’s not a camera phone that you can admire if you like to take pictures of your food in dimly lit restaurants.
Fortunately, updating the front camera was well worth the effort. Like the main camera, this selfie camera took pretty good shots outside, but struggled more with internal self portraits. It seemed to muffle the skin tones inside, while other times made the skin textures a bit grainy. Together, we cut some decent self-portraits where everything came out sharp and detailed with magnification, even individual mustaches. Wide-angle images were not as wide as expected.
Although the Moto G has made a big leap over the previous Moto G and is great for the low-cost phone, keep in mind that it’s not as good as the cameras on the premium flagship smartphones.
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 Quad-Core 1.4 GHz
- 1GB or 2GB of RAM
- 8GB or 16GB of internal storage
- MicroSD card slot expansion up to 32GB
- 2,470mAh non-removable battery
The Moto G works well for most everyday needs, as long as you don’t push it to do much at once. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor, although called “quad-core”, is not so fast. The tests put it firmly in the middle of the smartphone spectrum. But for everyday use Android 5.1.1 feels nice and light and optimized for this phone. But running multiple apps or playing some games is slow. Even my favorite everyday Hearthstone game (which uses moderate graphics effects) has slowed down at times.
However, the streaming video looked great, but the camera app was loading fast enough. I tested the 16GB version with 2GB of RAM compared to the 8GB model with 1GB of RAM. For the extra 8GB of internal storage and increased RAM, I would definitely pay the extra cost.
By the way, Moto G. doesn’t have NFC. Not everyone needs NFC, but it is getting more and more useful with the future of Android’s non-contact Android payment service. Just one thing to remember.
The 2GB of Moto G RAM had a Geekbench average of 3 out of 528 (single) and 1,609 (multi) over three runs. On the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited Graphic Test, it was rated 4,473. This is much lower than the premium smartphones with better processors, but it’s not uncommon in the budget landscape.
Call quality and data rate
- 4G LTE-ready
- Wi-Fi: 802.11 b / g / n (2.4 GHz)
In my experience, Motorola phones always seem good for phone calls. I made a few test calls, and everything was nice and clear, except when the problem with the Moto G microphone suddenly didn’t work except for the speakerphone calls. The problem was solved by itself, but I’m watching to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
I tested call and data speeds in Manhattan, New York City. Results vary based on network strength in your location, and it’s sometimes hard to get a good signal in midtown New York. In my Manhattan office (always a dicey place for network connectivity), my AT&T-enabled Moto G had download speeds of 10.01 Mbps, and upload speeds of 0.41 Mbps. I’ve used LTE phones such as the iPhone 6 that managed faster speeds for both downloads and uploads.
The Moto G gets a surprisingly good battery life for its 5-inch screen; our cycling video battery test lasted about 12 and a half hours, and the full charge lasted me one and a half days from casual to moderate. On board is an unchanged 2,470mAh battery, just over the 2,390mAh that has accumulated the latest Moto G. But no turbocharging, however; with the charger on, it took almost four hours to fully charge from scratch.
Available unlocked phones are starting to multiply and Motorola has been managing the charge for a long time. Microsoft, Alcatel, OnePlus, ZTE, Asus and even Samsung are moving the most popular parts of previous years to mid-range phones and launchers next year, as well as lowering prices.
Now, it is rare enough to buy an unlocked LTE smartphone with a clean version of the latest Android software for less than a third-generation Moto G. Moto G raises LTE, improves camera and water resistance Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime and similar phones in the area.
Compared to similar prices, “low level premium” Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 ($ 250, about £ 270, about $ 520), this Moto G lacks hardware omphi in almost every category except the camera, but I still think it’s fast enough for most of what you need, and there is something about how its design fits together that draws me to it more than any other phone in its class.
Andrew Hoyle and Joseph Kaminsky contributed to this review.