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Moto G 3 (2015) review

Michael Sawh




  • Recommended by TR

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Our Score:



  • Vastly improved camera
  • It's now water resistant
  • Still great value for money
  • Smooth and slick performance


  • Low-light photos only average
  • Not as cheap as its predecessors

Key Features

  • 5-inch 720p HD screen
  • IPX7 certified water resistant design
  • 13-megapixel main camera with dual-LED flash
  • 8GB/16GB storage options
  • 1GB/2GB RAM
  • 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor
  • Adreno 306 GPU
  • micro SD up to 32GB
  • Manufacturer: Motorola
  • Review Price: £159.00

What is the Moto G (2015)?

The Moto G has been our Value Smartphone of the Year for three years running. The third version still aims to give you great value for money and an untarnished Android experience, but Motorola has given it a few new tricks. It's water resistant now, and you can customise it using Motorola's Moto Maker service, just like the Moto X range.

Those extras come at a price, though, as the Moto G has crept above £150 SIM-free. You can buy an 8GB model of the new Moto G for as little as as £139 locked to Three, but it's £159 SIM-free from most UK networks that are stocking it. If you buy it directly from the Motorola website, that goes up to £179. A 16GB model, which also adds an extra 1GB of RAM, goes for £209.

This made us wonder if the new Moto G wasn't the budget champion previous versions were, but we needn't have worried. It isn't as astounding a deal as the first one was – look to the Moto E (2015) for that honour now – but it's still one of the best value phones you can buy.

Related: Everything you need to know about the Moto Z

Moto G 1The 2015 Moto G (left) next to the 2014 Moto G (right)

Moto G (2015) – Design

The 2015 Moto G looks similar to last year's model from the front. It still has a 5-inch screen; it still has nicely curved corners; and the plastic trim, buttons and ports are all in the same place. It's a simple, unfussy design that won't turn heads, but that's no bad thing.

The one obvious change are the earpiece and speaker, which are narrower than before. Moreover, they don't hide stereo speakers this time – it's just one earpiece and one speaker. There's another, potentially irritating, design change here, too.

Where the speaker slots on the 2014 version has small plastic inserts that stick out, the 2015 Moto G has hollow grooves. We've already noticed a fair amount of muck and detritus getting lodged in them, which will look ugly over time if you're not careful.

Related: 6 Best Cheap Mobile Phones & Budge Smartphones

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You'll notice bigger differences when you turn the Moto G over. The rear still has gentle curve, but it also adopts the Moto X's curvier top edge. Out goes the soft touch black plastic; now there's a textured, grippy plastic back that still has that a reassuring feel.

Things get more colourful as well now that Motorola is offering the Moto Maker program on the Moto G for the first time. Moto Maker lets decide on the colour of the back shell and the metal accent running around the camera and flash. The more colourful options won't be for everyone, but it's refreshing too find a way to customise a phone without putting a case on it.

The back is still removable, too, despite the fact the Moto G is now water resistant. Beneath the cover you'll find the Micro SIM card and microSD card slots tucked up in the corner. That expandable storage is going to be valuable to both 8GB and 16GB models as that 8GB actually works out to about 5GB and 10GB respectively.

Related: 13 Best Smartphones and Mobile Phones in 2015

Moto G 172015 Moto G (left) and 2014 Moto G (right)

Clipping the case back correctly is imperative to reap the benefits of the Moto G's new-found water-resistant design. While the majority of smartphone manufacturers have moved away from water proofing, Motorola clearly feels it's something people want. And, crucially, it doesn't impact on the design. The 2015 is no thicker or heavier and there aren't any annoying flaps.

Motorola has slapped the new Moto G with a IPX7 water resistant certification. That means it can be submerged in fresh water up to 1-metre deep for a maximum of 30 minutes. We gave it the sink test for 20 minutes and it was all in working order. We also played around with it in the shower, and while it's tricky getting anything useful done on the touchscreen, it does survive.

Related: 10 Best Android Phones 2015

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Overall, we like most of the changes that Motorola has made. We weren't expecting a radical overhaul and while the extra customisation will please some, it's optional extra and one that costs more.

It's won't wow anyone like the Samsung Galaxy S6 or iPhone 6 do, but it's better-looking than before and feels sturdier and better-made than most phones at this price.

Moto G (2015) – Screen

Before the first Moto G turned up, it was rare to find a phone for under £150 with a 720p HD screen. Now you can buy the Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 with a Full HD 1080p for £125 – it's amazing how things have moved on. Sadly, Motorola hasn't responded – the Moto G has a 5-inch, 720p screen just like last year. That said, it's still a decent screen that'll satisfy all but the fussiest pixel peepers.

At 294 ppi (pixels per inch), it's sharp enough to enjoy reading, videos and photos. It also has Gorilla Glass 3 to protect it from drops and scratches. Moreover, the 2015 Moto G is brighter than last year's model – up to 449 nits from 390 nits last year. This addresses one of our few criticisms of last year's model, and makes the 3rd-gen easier to use in bright, outdoor light.

Related: Best Mobile Deals: Top Smartphone offers this month

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App icons still some of the high definition gloss you get on sharper screens, but colours are accurate enough for our liking and contrast is good for a screen at this price. It's only when you really get up close to the screen that you can recognise some of the imperfections.

Maybe we'll get a Full HD 1080p screen next year, but there's no cause to complain too much. The EE Harrier (£199) and a host of similarly priced Huawei phones prove that it is now possible to offer a higher resolution screen at this price, but perhaps the Moto G offers something they don't? We'll see.

Dead Words

July 28, 2015, 5:26 pm

Is the Moto X duo not waterproof? Bizarre.


July 28, 2015, 5:46 pm

Looks great, and love the waterproofness. Price?

Abhinav Bharmoria

July 29, 2015, 5:47 am

It's water proof, that's amazing. Launched at same price as moto G1 in india :)


July 29, 2015, 7:20 am

This specs must have been in Moto G 2nd generation...they r already one year late....already market is flooded with cheaper and better specs......however two good in this phone is the water resistant and gorilla glass...however in India we buy gorilla glass expensive mobile and put scratch guard on it...what is the use of gorilla glass...however water resistant of true to its spec will help in the parts of India where we observe heavy rainfall and we loose our expensive mobiles.....

lenovo K3 note specs outmatch Moto G3 in many aspects and is comparatively cheaper....asus zenphone 2 is one of teh amazing phone in that range with various spec variants....expecting better from Moto G3...however Moto G made a strong brand which may help Moto G 3.....


July 30, 2015, 1:07 pm

They reference £159 from O2, Three and Vodafone, so initially locked (except Three).
Blood boil noises off stage.

It would be reasonable to expect to be able to buy it directly from Google one might think.

Dead Words

August 6, 2015, 6:54 pm

Ah...how does the 8GB have 5GB of free space while the 16GB has only 10? That makes no sense. That would mean the 16GB has twice the amount of space taken up. It's the same operating system, and Motorola is notorious for no bloatware...so how??

Dead Words

August 6, 2015, 7:07 pm

This phone did not get the score it deserved. Although there is no doubt that it's a great phone, when you take into consideration its price point several phones offer clearly better value. Especially when you take into consideration the price of the 16GB/2GB RAM version, which is the model you praised the most by far.


August 9, 2015, 3:42 pm

And yet you can't seem to mention any of those better value phones...


August 12, 2015, 11:07 pm

It's pretty dishonest to list the price of the version with less memory, but review the version with double the amount of memory.

Motorola must be doing this on purpose - telling reviewers to mislead their readers. All reviewers seem to be doing it, and it's pathetic.


September 29, 2015, 7:04 pm

This phone has a major design flaw - it won't allow you to disable the Google now launcher or any Google app so if the apps are unstable you are basically screwed. For me it kept launching and simply disabling the app would have fixed this but I didn't have the option - you can't uninstall it. It also doesn't come with a decent music player so you have to download an app (ad-supported or you pay), it doesn't allow you to put it into silent mode, only vibrate or volume unless you want to turn off all sounds including your alarm, it doesn't come with a pre-installed texting app, disabling Moto Actions still does not allow you to turn off the "shake to activate camera" option it only works in turning off the instant flashlight, you can't save pics directly to sim card you have to manually drag and drop them there, and the list goes on. Highly uncustomizable phone and the longer you have it the more of a pain in to a$$ it becomes. The people at Motorola are clearly lacking in common sense to make a phone like this. DO NOT BUY!


October 11, 2015, 1:06 pm

Lisa, when you say saving pic's to the sim card, can you clarify? Do you actually mean the SD card?
Also, I think the 'silent mode' complaint is an Android 5 thing, not Motorola, or the handset.
As far as the lack of a decent music player goes, again...You can't work out a solution, if that's the case? You blame the handset, or the manufacturer for it lacking the software you want?
All things that can be solved (ironically) by customizing, another aspect you say is lacking...I'm baffled.
You seem to hate this phone which is fair enough, your prerogative. But the reasoning behind not recommending it is bizarre.
It's like telling people not to buy a really good laptop because YOU don't like the browser it came with.


October 11, 2015, 6:45 pm

The silent mode thing is NOT an Android issue, just like not being able to save pictures directly to the SD card is not an Android issue and not being able to disable Google Now Launcher or the Google app itself is not an Android-specific issue (by the way, writing this took three tries due to the Google search bar launching when I hit the space bar). I actually spoke directly to Motorola and they tried to claim that it was an Android issue, but a quick look at the latest Samsung phone which carries Lollipop 5.1 shows that they are being deliberately misleading because other Android providers allow you to customize your phone in all ways. This is normal phone functionality. This phone does not have that. My friends whom I have shared these issues with were all shocked about the lack of normalcy and customizeability of this phone. All ten of them whom I have shared the phone's many issues with would not recommend it either.


October 11, 2015, 8:32 pm

Hey Lisa. Thanks for the reply.

Well, the silent mode thing is an Android issue given that they omitted it from lollipop, or at least changed the functionality to a priority mode. If that was not what you were alluding to, you didn't explain. I still don't understand your point.

Saving pictures, well...Thanks for clarifying. Your original post complained about being unable to save photo's to the SIM card, so I'm sure you could understand that didn't seem like a legitimate or reasonable irritation/criticism.

As far as the SD card goes, okay, odd that you can't work out to just move the pictures belatedly, even if you can't find the option on the camera wheel that saves the pic's directly to the SD (not SIM) card...Not a phone flaw then, or even a problem, sorry.

Incidentally, the phone is hardware. The O/S, launcher, Google and apps are software..but I won't belabour the obvious, not wishing to offend.

I'm sure you and your ten agreeable friends will find a phone you do like, and can work out how to use more easily :-)


October 11, 2015, 11:18 pm

The phone is hardware. You can remedy the issue by jailbreaking your phone, but that voids the warranty. Motorola also makes it more difficult to do this than other companies because you are required to log into their website and obtain a code. Motorola made a phone that requires you to void your warranty in order to disable a feature that should be optional. This is a fundamental design flaw. As soon as I have an extra $250 floating around, I will be sure to upgrade to a more user-friendly phone (for instance, one that doesn't require you to manually drag-and-drop from a desktop where other phones just give you options). Hope this clarifies.

Randomly Hiccuping Ballads

November 5, 2015, 5:09 pm

The fact that they didn't mention any better valued phones in their comment doesn't mean they "cant."

The question is, in the event they were to ever list these better valued phones in the future, are you going to take offense to that list? You seem slightly offended by their slam of the Moto G 3, lol.

Rikard Jerner

December 16, 2015, 10:33 am

the only part right here is you cant uninstall some system apps. silent mode is bs.. save to sd card is somewhat bs since you can do it with another camera app. moto actions part is bs... texting app is bs... did you buy some weird branded phone or what?


December 31, 2015, 2:59 pm

Let's see... low res screen, only 1 GB ram so not a lot of mulititasking, a whopping 8 GB storage... for two hundred bucks? Don't think so.

Besides, here in Canada they don't even have the 3rd generation model six months after its release, and in the 2nd generation they only offer the basic 1GB/8GB model. I guess I'll have to buy a ZenFone instead because different from Motorola, ASUS seems to actually care about getting my business - by putting their good phones into stores in Canada at good prices.

Jason Menezes

May 23, 2016, 7:54 pm

Moto phones are now available for a huge discount only at AndroidSmartphoneDeals;com

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