Motorola Moto G review: The smartphone that could change the budget landscape

Price

13,999

Tech2 Rating

9

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Setting a new benchmark
52
By Roydon Cerejo /  04 Mar 2014 , 15:30:23

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard everything there is to about the Moto G. After Motorola’s highly popular Defy, and the RAZR, the company just dropped off the radar once the Google acquisition took effect.  The Moto X was the first fruit of that union and today, we have the Moto G – a phone designed especially for emerging markets. This budget ‘Droid promises high-end specifications like most Chinese offerings in this price range, but with superior build and support that only seasoned OEMs are capable of delivering.

Design and Build
The Moto G isn’t a very striking phone. In fact, one could easily mistake it for a Micromax or XOLO when viewed upfront. However, it’s completely different feeling when you hold it. The Moto G sits snugly in your hand and the curved back makes for a very reassuring fit. At 4.5 inches, the phone is very manageable and comfortable in the pocket as well.

The rubberised back adds to the premium feel
The rubberised back adds to the premium feel

The rubberised back is interchangeable and you can even opt for a flip cover. The ‘Droid is a bit fat and slightly heavy but it’s nowhere near uncomfortable. We do feel there’s a lot of wasted space at the bottom though, since there aren’t any capacitive buttons.

Buttons have good tactile feedback
Buttons have good tactile feedback

The ports and buttons take their usual spot around the device. The buttons have good tactile feedback and are ergonomically placed. The back cover is removable, which lets you access the two SIM card slots. There is no expandable memory and the 2070mAh battery is non-removable.

The curvacious might not be slender bit feels great against your skin
The curvacious profile might not be slender but feels great in your hand

The Moto G comes bundled with a charger and a headset. Oddly, the charger is not modular so you’ll have to buy a separate microUSB cable for transferring data. It’s a task to get the headset to stay in your ear and the audio quality is quite poor. Then again, this is a budget phone so we weren’t expecting much.

Features
The 4.5 IPS HD display is just what the doctor ordered. Colours are vivid and punchy and text is sharp thanks to the 326ppi density. There’s also Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3 for added protection. The Moto G has very good sensitivity and Android runs very smoothly on the phone. It’s mostly stock 4.3 Jelly Bean with a planned 4.4 KitKat update on the way.

A familiar Jelly Bean UI
A familiar Jelly Bean UI

Powering the Moto G is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 SoC. This quad-core CPU runs at 1.2GHz and there’s 1GB of RAM accompanying it. The RAM might seem a bit less nowadays but since there’s no skin, there’s nothing to slow it down. Apps open and close swiftly and even switching between them is quite seamless. The phone also fares well in the benchmarks.

Not too bad in the benchmarks either
Not too bad in the benchmarks either

Motorola has added a couple of their own apps and tweaks to enhance the user experience. ‘Assist’ lets you automate your ringing profile based on a predefined activity. For instance, you can set the phone to stop all notifications when you sleep and automatically turn them on when you wake up. The gallery app has also been tweaked a bit. The usual suite of Google apps is also bundled into the package.

Media
For media playback, we have the stock audio and video player. Instead, Motorola has added a ‘Audio Effects’ option in the settings menu which affects the earphones and the speaker as well. You have separate settings for the earphones and speaker, which is a thoughtful addition.

Audio quality is really good through good IEMs
Audio quality is really good through good IEMs

Since the Moto G doesn’t have a microSD card slot, you’re stuck with the 8GB or 16GB of onboard storage. The phone does support 1080p video playback however, even though it doesn’t record in it. There’s also FM radio on board.

We found the audio quality to be quite excellent when paired with good IEMs. The loud speaker doesn’t have the best quality but suffices for alerts.

Connectivity
The Moto G supports 3G as well as quad-band 2G. In addition, you also get Wi-Fi ‘n’, Bluetooth v4.0, USB host and GLONASS. We didn’t have any issue with the signal quality but the earpiece sounds a bit muddy and isn’t very clear. It never really caused an issue while on a call but the clarity could have been better.

Plenty of productivity apps built-in
Plenty of productivity apps built-in

Camera
The phone features a rear-facing 5MP camera and 1.3MP front-facing shooter. The primary shooter might see a bit low on resolution but the sensor is actually pretty good so pictures do turn out quite OK. In good lighting condition, you can get some pretty good macros too.

The new camera UI
The new camera UI
Captures very good colours and detail in portraits
Captures very good colours and detail in portraits
Good depth of field effect
Good depth of field effect
HDR pictures look good on the phone but not so much when zoomed in
HDR pictures look good on the phone but not so much when zoomed in

The UI is slightly re-designed and you have a pop-out carousel with all the options on it. Strangely, you don’t have the options for scene modes or the ability to change the resolution. The basics are all there though and the rest can be added in post.

The back cover is removable
The back cover is removable

Battery Life
The 2070mAh battery easily sailed through our 8-hour loop test with 25 percent to spare. During real world usage, we easily managed to get more than a day’s worth of usage.

Hello Moto!
Hello Moto!

Verdict and Price in India
The Moto G retails at Rs 12,499 for the 8GB and Rs 13,999 for the 16GB. This makes it the best, value-for-money offering under Rs 15,000 and quite possibly under Rs 20,000 as well. Sure, there are better spec’d handsets at this price but if given a choice, would you really pick an untested local brand over a seasoned OEM? Impressive specifications are no good if you don’t have regular software and firmware updates to add new features and iron out bugs.

The Moto G does many things right but it’s not without its shortcomings. Expandable memory and 1GB of RAM are possibly the only major drawbacks of this phone. When it comes to premium budget smartphones, the Moto G joins the ranks of the Lava Iris Pro 30 and Nokia Lumia 720. We highly recommend the Moto G to anyone looking for a very good smartphone under Rs 15,000.

Photography: Mexy Xavier


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