The first phone that Motorola Mobility had launched as a Google company, the Moto X, proved that you don’t need top end specs to provide a good user experience. It didn’t have the latest processor, highest resolution screen and the features it did add, for the most part, were lauded by reviewers all over. The limited availability (it was US and Canada only for the first 6 months and only recently launched in Europe) and relatively high launch price aside, it proved that for a phone, it’s the whole, integrated package that counts. The second Motorola phone under Google ownership though, aimed for the stars, by going low. By all accounts, it’s been one of the best sellers that Motorola has ever created. We’re talking about the Moto G of course. Now, just as with the Note 3 review, this is a write-up of how the phone has been after months of usage.
- Display: 4.5” 720p IPS LCD
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 400
- Memory: 8/16 GB (No Micro SD slot), 1 GB RAM
- Imaging: 5 MP Rear Camera, 1.3 MP Front Facing Camera, 720p Video Recording + Slow motion recording
- Battery: 2070 mAh, Non Removable
- Connectivity: GSM 850/900/1800/1900, HSPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100. Single & Dual SIM Variants (available in different regions), WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, Micro USB 2.0
- OS: Android 4.4.2 (came with Android 4.3 and was updated)
Before we continue, we’re talking about the single SIM variant. There might be small differences in the dual SIM variant (especially related to Battery Life, etc)
What’s in the box:
The Box contents vary by country. For some reason, certain countries do not receive a charger in the box, some countries do not get a headphone in the box, while others get everything. The Moto G sold in France comes with a charger and a pair of headphones, which unfortunately are not the in-ear type. I have not used the provided headphones so I have no idea as to the quality, but I’m sure it is more than passable for recreational uses and most people will use another headset in any case.
How does it stack up to other devices:
The Moto G is actually a little taller and thicker than the Moto X, but it still feels perfectly sized in the hand, and the dimple at the back somehow feels just right. Here are some comparisons to the Oppo N1, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Nexus 5 and the Moto G on the far right.
The thing that everyone will say about the Moto G is that it is astonishingly good value for the price. It retails for €169 for the 8GB variant and €199 for the 16 GB variant across Europe. In India, the Dual SIM variant retails for ₹12500 for the 8 GB and ₹14000 for the 16 GB. Unlike most of the other phones in that price range though, you get solid build quality and a phone that is actually usable. In normal usage, it actually feels as smooth as most flagship phones, although switching between apps, etc, is a tad bit slower. Having said that, most of the Mediatek powered phones just aren’t in the same league.
Battery Life: This is one of the standout points of the Moto G. On standby, it’s a battery sipper. It almost flatlines over long periods if left aside. In use, while listening to podcasts, walking around shooting some photos and videos, with auto brightness on, the phone lasted about 12 hours, which is really good. Check out some of the battery life screenshots below, which were on low to moderate use.
The “Skin” (or lack thereof): The Moto G follows in the Moto X’s footsteps. It’s more or less what most people call “Stock Android”, with some minor Motorola additions. Unlike the Moto X though, you don’t get the active display for notifications (it doesn’t make sense to have that on a LCD screen anyway) or the always listening feature (which is hardware dependent). You do get Motorola Assist, which lets you do certain actions using preset rules: turn the phone to silent mode if there are meetings on your calendar, do not disturb at night, etc. You also get the Motorola Camera app, which is way better than the stock android camera app (that’s one of the areas in which stock android is really, really, really, really, really pathetic). Motorola has also dissociated sections of the OS and has made those parts available via the play store, so they can be updated without requiring a full firmware update. The Gallery, the boot sequence, Assist, the camera app has all been getting updates with improvements and added features.
The Camera App: It’s very simplistic. You tap on the screen to focus and shoot, tap on the little camcorder button to record video. Swipe from the left to access a scrollable wheel of the settings, which include tap to set focus and exposure, slow motion video, Auto HDR (which I do not recommend), Panorama, and more. Swipe from the right to access the gallery. Simple, easy and well implemented. Check some of the sample photos below, along with a slow motion recording.
If you can’t view the Flickr Gallery here, you can check this Flikr set for the photos taken with the Moto G.
After months of usage, there are really just two things that bugs me and one of them is the camera. Sure, for the price and considering all the other bits (the performance and the build, etc), there had to be some corners cut. It’s not the low resolution that’s the issue, but the actual quality of the images taken. The auto HDR mode somehow never seems to work properly, so you’re better off toggling the HDR setting manually. Colours are muted, details are so-so. The camera has gotten better with various updates, but it’s got a long way to go.
The other issue is the lack of LTE support. A very minor quibble, considering that it’s a budget phone, with majority of it’s sales in non- LTE markets (and the fact that the SOC doesn’t have LTE support currently).
So, after using the Moto G for a while, it’s really hard NOT to recommend this phone, be it as a backup device or as a phone for a person who doesn’t have really have high expectations when it comes to performance or the camera. It has brilliant battery life, solid build quality and a really good screen for the price. Would I still recommend it now? Absolutely. And I am really looking forward to what Motorola can do with the next iteration of the Moto G that might probably come out later in the year.