Originally reviewed on 15 September 2014
The original Moto G was Motorola's best-selling phone ever, and remains the only phone we've given 10/10. That's a tough act to follow. The Moto G 2 aims to improve on that success and has since been succeeded by the Moto G 3rd generation. The 2014 edition though can still be bought for under £150 unlike the latest budget Motorola, so it's still one of the best value for money phones you can buy.
The basic formula remains with the Moto G 2 remains the same, but the changes are clear to see. It has a bigger 5-inch screen, improved cameras and front-mounted stereo speakers.
All that means the Moto G 2 to take the mantle of best budget phone on the market, but is it really enough to make owners of the original 4.5-inch Moto G want to upgrade? That's less clear.
The imminent step up to Android 5.0 Lollipop should make it even slicker, though.
Watch our Moto G 2 video review
The Moto G 2 doesn't look dramatically different from the original. There’s no One M8-style aluminium body or glass back like the Xperia Z3, but then we never expected that. It’s all plastic with a glossy finish on the front and soft-touch matte on the back.
It's a pretty standard approach to design for cheap Android phones, but like the Nexus 5 it manages to avoid making the plastic design look or feel cheap. There’s no troubling signs of poor build quality and it feels like it can withstand a few bumps scrapes.
The back still has the same soft touch finish and slightly curvy body, which makes it nice to hold. It's not as comfortable as the original, though, mainly due to it being wider. At 11mm thick and 149g it's slightly thicker and heavier, though it's no chunkier than most 5-inch phones.
Motorola offers the new Moto G in black and white, but it supports a number of colourful replaceable back shells. It's a nice option if you find the standard ones a bit drab. The only problem is the rear-cover isn't the easiest to remove, so you need be careful when removing the cover. It's something we'd like to see Motorola fix in future versions.
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Behind the cover you'll find the same 2,070mAh non-removable battery and the micro SD card slot, which was missing from the 3G-only model of the original Moto G but added for the 4G versions.
You'll also find the surprising new inclusion of Dual SIM card slots. There's room to keep two micro SIM cards, which can be useful if you are one holiday and want to use a local SIM to make cheaper calls or if you have a business and personal number. Motorola also sets aside settings dedicated to the Dual SIM where you can manually switch between the two. Additionally, you can use intelligent calling where the phone learns which SIM to use depending on the call.
The most surprising element of SIM card support, though, is the lack of 4G LTE support. No 4G made sense last year when networks were new and limited, but Motorola corrected that with the Moto G 4G edition. Why it's gone backwards now is puzzling in the extreme.
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One final change is the addition of front-facing speakers, which sit above and below the display. It’s a welcome move away from the rear speaker on the original, ensuring sound is projected towards you instead of being buried behind in the back. One issue, however, is that the gap around the speaker is just wide enough to trap fluff and muck phones generally have a habit of attracting.
Motorola says it listened to feedback on the first Moto G and one of the things users wanted was a bigger screen. So that’s what we’ve got. Moving to a 5-inch screen will be disappointing for some as there’s no doubt still an appetite for smaller phones, but as Apple has shown, even the iPhone is getting bigger.
The new Moto G 2 doesn’t budge from a 720p HD resolution screen, however, which means it has slightly fewer pixels per inch, 295ppi vs the 326ppi of the original. It still uses Corning Gorilla Glass 3 to protect against scratches, which is always a bonus to have on any phone.
This is still a great quality phone for a sub-£150 phone. It’s not as impressively sharp as the original, but there’s not a great deal to complain about here. Compare it to similarly priced mid-range phones like the Sony Xperia M2, which only offers a 480 x 800 resolution screen, and you can get an idea of how much Motorola is giving us here.
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Moto G (top), Samsung Galaxy Alpha (bottom left) and Acer Liquid E3 (bottom right) displays compared
Samsung Galaxy Alpha (left) offers a brighter, more vibrant screen than the Moto G (right)
The only area where it disappoints slightly is brightness, it's just not as bright as similar price phones. While it's more accurate than the 720p screens on the slightly more expensive Acer Liquid E3 and £500 Samsung Galaxy Alpha, it's not as bright as either. It still easier to view outdoors than most cheap phones, but it's a small sour note in otherwise excellent performance.