Motorola heads back to the UK market with the Moto G, an incredibly low cost handset with specs that are well above its price range. Does the Google-owned firm manage to do this without compromise or have corners been cut along the way?
- 4.5-inch display
- 143g weight
- 1.2GHz quad-core processor
- 8GB and 16GB versions
- 5MP camera
- Android Jelly Bean
Design and Build
There’s a brilliantly minimalist form factor to the Moto G, centred on a curved shape that is almost featureless. The plastic shell may not feel as premium as recent devices like the HTC One mini but it does give the impression of being sturdier than some far more expensive handsets.
With a removable backplate, the Moto G is customisable, and these can be swapped between a range of colours to suit your tastes. At 143g the handset isn’t heavy and we found that its overall size and shape is excellent, being really comfortable for regular, everyday use.
Motorola’s crowning glory is the Moto G’s display, which far outperforms anything else we’ve seen on a handset that shares this device’s price range. As with the overall form factor, the 4.5-inch screen is an excellent size – big without being too big – and it’s comfortable for either one- or two-handed use.
An impressive ppi of 326 sees images and text rendered on the screen being clear and crisp, without any noticeable distortion. It’s bright too, really bright, adding to the fantastic impression that it makes.
Under the Hood
There’s a quad-core processor built into the Moto G, an incredible spec for a handset that is amongst the lowest-priced Android smartphones available. While only running at 1.2GHz, this chip still has outstanding performance and is up to what we’ve seen from the very best high-enders.
There are no hang-ups when rendering fast-paced graphics in games and browsing around the UI is absolutely seamless. While the Moto G may not score quite as highly as some far more expensive devices in benchmark tests, there is no discernible difference in everyday use between this and the smartphones at the top end of the market.
Motorola has been making big claims about the battery life of the Moto G, claiming that the handset has been designed to run for longer than many other devices and to give you a true all day charge.
We certainly haven’t spotted anything in the handset’s performance that contradicts this, with several hours of browsing, playing music and taking photos doing little to diminish the handset’s charge. Streaming video from YouTube also didn’t put much strain on the power cell, and we have high hopes for the battery life of the Moto G overall.
Operating System and User Interface
Aside from the display that we mentioned earlier, the Moto G’s other stand out feature is the almost stock Android software that it runs. Seeing a powerful handset with what is very close to the pure version of Google’s software is a breath of fresh air, especially in a world that is full of the likes of Samsung’s UI additions to its Galaxy range.
Motorola has added a few of its own features though, one of which is Assist. This appears to be an evolution of the Smart Actions feature seen on the earlier RAZR range of handsets, allowing you to automate certain functions. For instance, you can set the device to silence the ringer when your calendar shows that you’re in a meeting, meaning you don’t have to worry about it going off.
With the Moto G running Android Jelly Bean, the handset also has the regular Google Now functions, accessed by swiping upwards from the bottom of the display. Google Now’s capabilities are expanding and it is now an excellent way of searching on the web and activating your device’s functions. Voice search is now becoming intrinsic to the feature, and its voice recognition capabilities are excellent.
Camera and Video
Motorola has created a very simple app to go with the five megapixel featured on the Moto G, housing most of the controls in a wheel-like menu that slides out from the left of the display. HDR, flash and so on can all be selected from here, whereas focus and exposure can be changed by sliding your finger around the screen to get the best image.
Images captured with the device are bold and clear, with only a little noise appearing on some of the finer details. Low light performance is also impressive, although maybe not up to the standards of high-end handsets such as the Nokia Lumia 925 and Lumia 1020. Nevertheless, the Moto G is more than capable of producing good quality shots that can then be uploaded and shared around on the multitude of social networks that now exist.
Performance and Verdict
Motorola and Google have teamed up to create an outstanding handset which really is the ideal option for anyone who doesn’t want to fork out for an expensive device. Many of its specs, such as the quad-core processor and excellent display, belie the fact that this device is so cheap – we would have expected the Moto G to cost far more than it actually does.
Judged against any smartphone, Motorola’s device can hold its own, and when compared to its low-cost competitors there is nothing that can touch the Moto G at all. This an outstanding handset, made even better by the fact that it costs so little, and if you are looking at anything other than the very highest end of the smartphone market then this is the device to choose.