Motorola Moto G

A fantastic budget smartphone without the cutbacks.

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Motorola Moto G
  • Motorola Moto G
  • Motorola Moto G
  • Motorola Moto G

Pros

  • Large 5in, HD screen
  • Stereo speakers
  • Dual-SIM (HSPA)
  • 8MP rear camera
  • Inexpensive at $269

Cons

  • Screen isn't as bright as predecessor
  • No 4G

Bottom Line

Motorola's Moto G (2nd Gen.) is, in few words, the cheapest smartphone flagship on the market. It is rich in features, beautiful in its simplicity and a bargain at $269.

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Under Google's watch, Motorola has managed to deliver one of the best value-for-money smartphones on the market today. It is wonderfully styled, has powerful innards and offers the money-saving advantages of a dual-SIM smartphone.

The Motorola Moto G doesn’t have any of the trinkets that leading smartphones tend to tout. Rather than focusing on gimmicks, Motorola has concentrated on refining the basics; the things we make use of in our smartphones everyday.

The only unusual additive is the Moto G’s dual-sim capability. The ability to handle two SIM cards allows for the conscientious user to juggle two plans. While we were testing the Moto G, we used SIM1 for voice calls and SIM2 for data usage.

There are only two telltale signs that the Moto G is a bargain smartphone, and that’s the omission of 4G Internet and NFC. Instead, you will have to make do with HSDPA connectivity and Bluetooth 4.0, which by our measure isn’t much of a concession at all.

The rest of the Moto G realises Motorola’s ambition of delivering a powerful smartphone without a discriminatory price tag. Its recommended retail price of $249 makes it a whole $150 cheaper than its step-sibling, the Google- and LG-made Nexus 5.

The Moto G offers detailed dual-SIM configurations.
The Moto G offers detailed dual-SIM configurations.

Simply beautiful

Resting on a table, the Moto G looks as if it is carved from a single block of deep black marble. There are no buttons on its front; only an earpiece and camera interrupt its face. Otherwise, the screen and its bezel share a shade of black so close it’s hard telling where one ends and the other starts. It is beautiful in its simplicity.

A power and volume rocker are the only buttons found on the G.
A power and volume rocker are the only buttons found on the G.

It is beautiful in its simplicity

By today’s standards it’s not a big phone. Its 4.5in screen has a resolution of 720x1280 for a very healthy density of 326 pixels-per-inch. iPhone users will be quick to point out that it’s the same as Apple’s touted Retina display, and being able to deliver such a screen at a low price is a noteworthy feat.

Software keys are used to navigate the Android OS.
Software keys are used to navigate the Android OS.

The proficient screen also makes using the Android operating system pleasurable. The Moto G was the second smartphone Motorola developed under Google’s supervision and its lack of a custom skin is an indication of this. Apart from a couple of useful proprietary applications and tweaks to the camera, it delivers a vanilla Android experience. Furthermore, Motorola has guaranteed an upgrade to Android 4.4 KitKat in early 2014.

The Motorola Assist app (right) alternates sound profiles automatically based on events in your calendar.
The Motorola Assist app (right) alternates sound profiles automatically based on events in your calendar.

Features that count

Inside the smartphone is a 1.2GHz quad-core CPU, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. To compensate for a lack of expandable storage the Moto G comes with 50GB of free Google Drive storage for two years, and that’s in addition to the standard 15GB on offer.

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Combining a quad-core processor with a vanilla Android experience is a recipe for a smooth interface. There are no signs of software stutter or lag. In fact, during our testing we found that it handled intensive apps with a welcomed sense of immediacy.

Camera quality

Typically smartphone companies save money by sacrificing camera quality. Fortunately that hasn’t been the case with the Moto G. It features a front-facing 1.3MP camera and a rear 5MP camera, of which the latter can record video at 720p resolution. This means the captured videos are played faithfully on the compatible 720p screen.

No other smartphone delivers so much bang-for-buck

Photos captured with the rear camera keep noise to a minimum — even in low-light situations. A vast palette of colours are impressively rendered, with the camera proving particularly adept at snapping photos outdoors. Videos also share these sensibilities along with a quick shift in focus.

Taken with the Motorola Moto G
Taken with the Motorola Moto G

Taken with the Motorola Moto G
Taken with the Motorola Moto G

Taken with the Motorola Moto G
Taken with the Motorola Moto G

The camera interface has been subtly revised to recognise a range of enhancing gestures. Holding your finger down now triggers the zoom function, with a forwards/backwards gesture zooming inwards/outwards respectively. Swiping from the left bezel towards the right generates a range of settings displayed in a rotating wheel. These subtle tweaks add another level of intuition to the camera’s user interface.

Dimming the screen makes the controls more visible.
Dimming the screen makes the controls more visible.

Lasting life

Powering the Moto G is a 2070 milliamp-hour battery. In our real-world tests, where we make voice calls, send texts, surf the Web, watch videos, take photos, and play games and music, we found a full charge of the Moto G’s battery will last for a day. This is pretty good considering we were using two active sim-cards, in addition to intermittently jumping onto Wi-Fi networks.

Final word

As we conclude our review of the Moto G, news of Motorola’s sale to Lenovo breaks, and we’re somewhat saddened by it. The Moto G was only the second Motorola smartphone to be released under Google’s watch and, considering its low $249 price, no other smartphone currently delivers so much bang-for-buck. It is a shame the Google-Motorola dream team will split up, but as far as swan songs go, the Motorola G is pretty special.

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Read more on these topics: Motorola, Google, Motorola Moto G, Android, Moto G

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