Tech Review: Moto G Android smartphone, under $200 but it doesn’t feel like it

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In a world where every smartphone manufacturer is trying to be bigger, better and faster – one of the most recent smartphones from Motorola does quite the opposite.  The Moto G isn’t bigger, better or faster.  Motorola’s goal with the G seems to be simple and solid at the right price.

Hardware

On paper, the Moto G is far from the most impressive phone on the market.  It sports a decent Snapdragon quad-core processor that runs at a “good enough” 1.2 GHz.  The 4.5″ diagonal display is bright with vibrant colors and a resolution of 720×1280.  It’s covered by Corning Gorilla Glass 3 so expect it to take a beating without showing too much damage.  The camera on the back is 5 Megapixels and the “selfie” camera on the front is 1.3 Megapixels.

All of this is packed into a nice tight Motorola plastic housing.  It’s not super thin at 11.6mm (Samsung Galaxy S5, for example, is 8.1mm thick).  I will say it’s pretty light at just 5.03oz, a sliver less than the Galaxy S5.

Sure, it’s plastic and sure, it’s a bit thicker than what many of us are used to but it feels solid when holding it in your hand.  It doesn’t feel like a cheap phone by any means.  The soft rubber back adds a nice polished finish as well.

The original Moto G doesn’t support LTE but Motorola recently released a second version of the Moto G that does support LTE for an additional $40.  Worth it?  It depends on your network and your needs. I can safely say that most users won’t care of even notice the difference.  It does support HSPA+ which should give you speeds of 10-15 Mbps.  If you’re using the Moto G as a hotspot or if you consider yourself a power user, you will definitely want the LTE model.

Software

As the saying goes, keep it simple, stupid!  Motorola didn’t mess around with the Android software too much with the Moto G.  For the most part, it runs stock Android 4.4.2.  There are a few  Motorola apps pre-loaded including Assist, Motorola Migrate and the Motorola Camera app.  There is also an FM Radio app to support the included FM Radio hardware.  Other than that, you’ll feel like you’re using a Nexus phone, this is as close to pure Android as a non-Nexus phone can get.

Using the Moto G

We can talk specs and software all day but in the end, it’s all about using the phone.  In my tests, the Moto G was impressive for the price!  Sure, I could feel that it wasn’t quite as responsive or smooth when I swiped through menus and apps as higher-end, much more expensive phones.  Would it matter?  Probably not.  We’re talking fractions of a second here.  For the most part, it performed as you would expect any modern day smartphone to perform.

The base model only has 8GB of storage which may be tough for people who store a lot of pictures or music on their phone.  This phone is best used with cloud storage.  Google Play for your music (it’s free) and Google Photos for your pictures.

The screen is a highlight on the G, it looks great.  For a small, inexpensive phone, it does a great job.  Most mainstream games that I tested played great on the G and the browser seemed just as speedy as any other phone.  Sure, if I put it side by side with the Nexus 5 or Samsung Galaxy S5 you would notice that it’s slightly slower but for most average users, it’s not going to matter.

Why I couldn’t use the Moto G every day

The camera!  It does a decent job but it’s not amazing.  I carry my smartphone with me everywhere and have found myself using my smartphone camera to capture my life.  It’s always with me and these days smartphone cameras take amazing pictures!  Not the Moto G.  Outdoor pictures look good but not great.  It’s a decent camera but if you’re used to 8 Megapixel+ shooters, you will be disappointed.

Overall

For $179 with no contract, the Moto G is easily the best phone your money can buy under $200.  It’s not even fair to compare it to phones that cost 3 or 4 times the price but even so, it holds up pretty well.  If you don’t need the best camera on your smartphone, the Moto G is great option.  If you broke your phone and need something cheap to hold you over until your next contract renewal, go for the Moto G.  Motorola managed to put together a solid phone that doesn’t feel cheap but when it comes to the price, it is cheap.

The Moto G is available right now starting at $179 for the 8GB non-LTE model.

 

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2 comments

  • Eddie

    “For $179 with no contract, the Moto G is easily the best phone your money can buy under $200.”
    Not so fast! You better check out the just released Blu Studio 5.0 C HD. $150 off contract, a 5″ HD display. 8 mp camera and more…

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