Devices Moto G Motorola Mobility News, Android, gadgets, Google, Mobile phones, News, Reviews, smartphones — November 14, 2013 20:31 — 0 Comments
Motorola Moto G review – the best budget smartphone is just £135
First UK phone from Motorola, following Google acquisition, lives up to the ‘game-changing’ hype at a bargain price
The Moto G is Motorola’s first UK smartphone since becoming a Google-owned company, and it is probably the best budget phone going.
Motorola set out to “disrupt” the smartphone market with the Moto G. It wanted to make a phone that was feature packed, behaved like a premium phone, but at a price point that was about one-third of most premium smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5S.
Starting at just £135 SIM-free and without a mobile phone contract, the Moto G is certainly exceptional value for money.
Designed to fit the hand
The Moto G is very solidly built, which is a refreshing change from most budget smartphones – there is absolutely no flex in the body when trying to twist it between two hands, which bodes very well for durability.
That build quality does come at a bit of a cost regarding size and weight. The Moto G weighs 143g, which is 13g heavier than the larger Google Nexus 5 for instance, or 31g heavier than the smaller iPhone 5S. It is also heavier than its direct competitors, smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini, which weighs just 107g.
At its thickest point, the curved back of the Moto G stretches to 11.6mm, which is also thicker than its competitor the Galaxy S4 Mini, which squeezes in at 8.94mm thick.
The curved back of the Moto G, however, is ergonomic and fits nicely within curvature of your hand, while the smooth plastic back provides enough friction to give you a reassuring grip on the phone.
The back of the phone is removable, and Motorola has produced the back shell in six bold alternative colours – white, blue, red, yellow, turquoise and purple – that can optionally be swapped for the default black.
The front of the device is dominated by a 4.5in high-definition screen, which at 1280 x 720 resolution is the “sharpest screen in its class” with a 329ppi screen density. For comparison, the iPhone 5S retina display has a screen density of 326ppi. It is also significantly bigger than the majority of the Moto G’s competition, which have screens around the 4in size.
The display is certainly crisp and clear, making text on websites and in emails easily legible, while photographs look detailed and sharp. The viewing angles are very good too, meaning sharing videos with others is easy.
Gorilla Glass also covers the screen, making it scratch resistant, while a nano waterproof coating on the inside and out of the Moto G makes it water repellant and splash proof.
- Screen: 4.5in 720p HD display
- Processor: 1.2 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400
- RAM: 1GB of RAM
- Storage: 8/16GB
- Operating system: Android 4.3 “Jelly Bean”
- Camera: 5-megapixel rear and 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi (n), Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS
- Dimensions: 65.9 x 129.9 x 11.6mm
- Weight: 143g
Powerful and lasts all day
The Moto G is unashamedly a budget phone, but has relatively powerful hardware compared to most other budget phones.
Running at its heart is Qualcomm’s latest low-power processor, the 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400, which compared to the majority of the competition, which are saddled with significantly less powerful dual-core processors, makes the Moto G a fast and responsive phone.
Motorola has only given the Moto G 1GB of RAM, however, which could hamper multitasking, as the gold standard for Android phones is currently 2GB of RAM. In practice, the Moto G is fast and lag-free, handling most things without any issues whatsoever, something that can’t be said for most Android smartphones in the budget sector.
Applications load almost instantly, and swapping between running applications is about as fast as any current premium smartphone currently available. In fact, Motorola reckons that the web browser and phone application load faster on the Moto G than a Samsung Galaxy S4, which is well over twice the price of the Moto G. In my experience, I’d say that was about right, completely blowing away the budget phone competition.
In terms of storage, the Moto G only has 8 or 16GB, depending on the model, and lacks support for external expansion via microSD, although the Moto G does come with an extra 50GB of Google Drive cloud storage for two years. That means space is certainly at a premium on the Moto G, although 16GB is plenty of space for the majority of apps and services, without storing a large music library on the device.
One of the corners cut by Motorola is the lack of 4G, as the Moto G is missing LTE support. While that means that it can’t take advantage of the new, fast 4G networks currently being rolled out across the UK, not many budget phones are likely to be sold on comparatively expensive 4G mobile phone contracts.
Battery life is something Motorola has historically been known for, and the Moto G makes no exception to that rule. Motorola rates the Moto G as having around 24 hours of usable battery life, juggling web browsing, emailing and listening to music.
In my testing I found the Moto G to more or less live up to Motorola’s claims, far exceeding the battery life of smartphones more than three times its price, lasting just about two days of general usage. Bearing in mind the flood of emails that pass through my devices, and the constant connection to servers across 3G, the Moto G is likely to last much longer than that in most consumers’ hands.
Optimised naked Android experience
One of the reasons the Moto G is quite so fast and fluid at loading applications and swapping between programs is the fact that Motorola hasn’t added much to the standard Android experience.
Most of its software development efforts have been spent on optimisation, speeding aspects of the phone up and reducing the Moto G’s overall power consumption, which has paid dividends in the responsive feel of the phone and extended battery life.
The Moto G has full access to the Google Play store and its 850,000 standard Android apps, as you might expect from a Google-owned company, but only runs Android 4.3 “Jelly Bean” for now – the previous generation of Android which most phones available at the moment run, apart from the Google Nexus 5.
Motorola has promised a software upgrade for the Moto G to bring it up to date with Android 4.4 “Kitkat” in January 2014.
Motorola has made a few small additions to the basic, perfectly usable Android experience. One of the first software tweaks you notice is Motorola Migrate, which helps you transition to the Moto G from other Android smartphones, pulling contacts, call history and text messages, photos and videos wirelessly to your new phone.
Motorola Assist is another small but handy addition made to stock Android. Assist plugs into your calendar, automatically silencing your phone when in meetings, and will even automatically respond to calls with a text message.
Assist will also mute the phone at night, allowing you to set night hours, and set up favourites lists that allows a phone call through if the caller calls twice in quick succession.
Finally, Motorola’s built in a smart “trusted devices” feature into its Bluetooth settings, which allows you to keep your Moto G unlocked if its in the presence of certain Bluetooth devices, for instance a pair of headphones or your car’s stereo.
The camera application has also been tweaked, hiding the user interface and making photo capture as easy as a tap anywhere on the screen. Menus for accessing advanced features such as high dynamic range photography, the flash settings, panorama mode and slow-motion video as well as auto-focus settings are hidden under a pull-out menu on the left hand side, while previously captured images are hidden on the right.
The camera is capable of capturing decent still photos at 5-megapixels. While they aren’t stellar, lacking detail when zoomed in, they do the job as quick snaps for the most part. The Moto G will also capture smooth high-definition video at 720p resolution.
Priced to sell
Motorola has priced the Moto G to sell. Its mantra for the new budget phone is a “premium experience, with today’s technology, at less than 1/3 of the price of the premium competition”, which means the the Moto G costs just £135 for the 8GB version and £159 for the 16GB version, SIM-free without a contract.
Motorola described the Moto G as disruptive and game changing, and for once, I almost agree with the hyperbole. The Moto G is a far better smartphone experience than it ought to be, and the first budget smartphone I haven’t found frustrating to use.
It is fast, fluid, with a sharp 4.5in screen and a long battery life that’s more than enough to get you through even the most arduous of work days – something most premium phones costing three times as much as the Moto G struggle with.
Compared to competing smartphones priced under £250 from Samsung, Nokia, HTC and a variety of Chinese phone manufacturers, the Motorola completely blows them away with the Moto G. It is a better all round phone than most smartphones costing twice as much, let alone priced at £135.
That’s not to say some corners haven’t been cut to get to the sub-£200 price point, 4G being one and an average 5-megapixel camera being another, but for the money, the Moto G is the best budget smartphone available at the moment. Samsung, HTC and even the likes of ZTE and Huawei take note – this is how you do a budget smartphone right.
Star rating: 4/5
Pros: Big screen, long battery life, fast processor, solid build, Bluetooth 4.0
Cons: Heavy, quite thick, average camera, no expandable storage, only 1GB of RAM, no NFC, no 4G
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