Summary

Our Score

10/10

User Score

Pros

  • Jaw-dropping value
  • Great screen
  • Great performance

Cons

  • Camera just OK
  • No microSD slot

Review Price £135.00

Key Features: 4.5-inch 720p IPS screen; Android 4.3; 8/16GB internal memory

Manufacturer: Motorola

Moto G review

The Moto G was the only phone we gave a perfect score to in 2013. It also won our budget phone of the year award. But is it still a budget king six months on?

Watch our video review

Motorola Moto G: Six Month Update

Andrew WilliamsUpdate on 17/04/2014
Long-term test by Andrew Williams


It has now been almost six months since the Moto G was released. Is it still a great phone and our top budget buy?

Absolutely, in that time no phone that obviously trumps it for value has been released. There are plenty of similar-spec rivals like the Sony Xperia M2 and HTC Desire 601 that have popped up, but no-one else has managed to get remotely near the price of the Moto G. You can expect to pay around £180-190 for what you get for £100 in the Moto G.

Where is the best place to buy the Moto G? There are a few different places that sell the phone for under £100.

O2 offers the phone on its Pay & Go non-contract plan for £99.99, Vodafone for £100. Alternatively, Phones4U sells the Moto G on the T-Mobile, Orange, Virgin and Vodafone networks for £100 – with a bit of top-up needed.

The normal SIM-free price for the phone is £114. If you’re willing to pay that bit extra you can even buy it direct from Amazon. This is for the 8GB version of the phone – if you’re into your games or want to use the phone to play music or video, you should seriously consider spending a bit extra on the 16GB version. 8GB doesn’t go far and there's no SD card slot.

Now that we’ve tried all the top new phones of 2014, the Galaxy S5, the HTC One M8 and Xperia Z2, we thought we’d take a closer look at what you really lose out on here. It really has no serious competition at its own price, but what can you get if you pay a lot more?

The answer is not all that much, for many people. The Moto G’s screen is sharp enough not to seem ‘pixelly’ compared with those phones. However, the display does seem a whole lot smaller.
 
This impacts watching films on the phone. And pricier, bigger phones will tend to last longer when playing video. For example, in our video test we got just under eight hours out of the six-month-old Moto G while the Xperia Z2 lasts for around 13 hours. For a transatlantic flight, you’d rather have a Z2.

However, in normal use stamina is pretty similar thanks to the Moto G’s pretty cool-running CPU. Here's the battery graph showing the phone draining down when playing video:


Moto G

What about games? The surprise is that performance in high-end 3D games is pretty good. There are minor frame rate drops in titles like Dead Trigger 2 and Real Racing 3, but they’re totally playable.

The bigger difference is in visuals. You miss out on the fancy water, lighting and shadow effects with  Moto G. So while top-end games look near Xbox 360-style on a Galaxy S5, they’re pretty PS2-style on the Moto G. Still, they’re not bad-looking:

Moto G 1

Moto G 2
The camera is nowhere near as good as that of the top Androids, either. But these feel like relatively small concessions when you make a saving of up to £450 as a result. Check out the Moto G camera review page for more.

For much more detail on the phone, continue reading our original review below.


Original review, published 17/11/2013

What is the Motorola Moto G?

The Motorola Moto G is an important phone. It's the first phone released by Motorola in the UK in a long time, and it's also one of the best-specced phones we've ever seen for under £200.

It's not a case of being 'too good to be true' either. This is the sub-£150 to buy, and our best gadget of 2013.  

ROUNDUP: 10 best cheap phones you can buy

Motorola Motom 8

Motorola Moto G – Design & Features

The Moto G is a plastic phone, with a curved back that cares more about feeling good in the hand than being terribly thin or light. At 143g and 11.6mm thick, it’s significantly thicker and heavier than most phones with similar specs. However, for the average buyer this won’t be much of a sacrifice.

The back is smooth and comfy, and as the 4.5-inch screen is smaller than many high-spec Androids (if quite large at the pice), the Motorola Moto G is easy to use one-handed. It might lack the recognisable design of the Razr-series phones, but it offers a level of customisation thanks to an array of available body shells.

Thought removable phone fascias were dead? The Motorola Moto G is trying to bring them back. 19 different backs are available for the phone, coming in all sorts of different colours, and three main types.

There’s the normal one, bundled as standard, flip-style cases like those you can get for the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, and a back that gives a bit more protection, with chunkier sides and a slight protrusion of around a millimetre in front of the screen. This ensures the glass front of the screen doesn't take the brunt of any drop impact. 

Motorola Motom 9
The idea is that the Moto G is not a phone you need a separate case for. We used the phone with the standard black plastic back, and there’s thankfully no hint that the back is meant to be switched.

There’s an inoffensive ordinariness to the Moto G that we think is the right move to make at this price. It’s what rivals like the Samsung Galaxy Ace phones go for, too. There's just one issue: the black case is a magnet for greasy finger marks.

One of the most notable things about the design is something that has no function at all. The Motorola logo sits on the back of the phone sits in a concave indent that just wills you to stroke the thing’s back as if it’s a miaow’ing pet. Completely pointless as it may be, but like the Moto G’s alternative to a comfort blanket it’s an oddly reassuring presence.

ROUNDUP: 10 best Android phones you can buy

Motorola Motom 3
Although the Moto G doesn’t quite have the aesthetic purity of the Nexus 5, with both matt and gloss finishes on show and non-colour-matched buttons, it still looks more expensive than it is. This looks like a £250 phone, not a £130 one.

Motorola has employed a water-resistant ‘nano’ layer inside the phone, designed to protect it from light splashes. The design also keeps any power connections away from water, by sealing in the battery. It’s non-removable, which some of you may not like, but finishing touches like mild water resistance are the last things we expect at this price.

There are features missing you’ll often find in more expensive phones, though.  There’s no microSD memory card slot (Motorola says this is not a price issue, though), no NFC, no 4G and no integrated support for wireless screen mirroring.

These are the sacrifices the Moto G has had to make in order to offer such a high-spec screen at such a low price. But they're the right ones. They're features that are relatively little-used by the vast majority of people.

With the entry-level £135 model you get 8GB of internal memory, around 5GB of which is accessible, and there’s a 16GB version that costs £160. While some may complain about not having expandable memory, we’re nevertheless impressed by what Motorola has managed to cram in. Some phones at the price only offer 4GB of internal memory.

The Motorola Moto G is a phone that proves how cheaply a high-quality phone can be made with a bit of aggressiveness and the right decisions. It stands out among its peers as the new 'phone to beat'.

ROUNDUP: 10 best phones you can buy

Motorola Motom 13

Motorola Moto G – Screen

The Motorola Moto G’s most impressive feature is its screen. This is the first time we’ve seen a 720p screen on a phone that costs less than £140.

This gives the phone the sort of ultra-sharp text and images that we’ve only seen in much more expensive phones to date. 720p resolution stretched across a 4.5-inch display gives a pixel density rating of 329 pixels per inch (ppi). Higher-end Androids may offer 1080p screens these days, but that’s still higher than the ppi rating of the iPhone 5S (326ppi).

Such a sharp screen makes small text easily readable in the browser. It makes 3D games look a lot less ‘jaggy’ than they would on most rivals, too, which tend to have 800 x 480 pixel screens at this price.

Resolution is not everything, but general image quality is good too. The Motorola Moto G uses an IPS display, the same type used in both the HTC One and iPhone 5S, and it's a good one.

Performance is stellar for the price. Colours are well-saturated and vivid, contrast is strong and the evenness of the backlight is on-par with phones costing several times the price. It doesn’t look quite as natural as a top £500 phone’s screen, especially at top brightness, but this is undoubtedly the best phone screen we’ve seen at the price from a major manufacturer.

What’s also seriously impressive is that Motorola has used Gorilla Glass 3 as the screen covering. This toughened glass layer means the phone is less prone to flexing under pressure and scratching than most low-cost phones. Gorilla Glass is not unheard of in the sub-£200 market, though – the LG L7 II and Huawei Ascend G510 have it, although others tend to use ‘unbranded’ toughened glass.

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