- Jaw-dropping value
- Great screen
- Great performance
- Camera just OK
- No microSD slot
Review Price £135.00
Moto G review
Below is an update of our Moto G review based on our first three months with the phone. Scroll down a little further to read our full, original review published on 17 November, 2013.
Motorola Moto G - Video review
Want to see the phone in action? Check out our video review below, which looks at some of its best - and worst - bits.
Motorola Moto G: Three Months On UpdateUpdate on 13/02/2014
Long-term test by Andrew Williams
It has been three months since we reviewed the Motorola Moto G. In that time, Nelson Mandela died, large parts of Britain were flooded, Google sold Motorola to Lenovo and we’ve learned on the sly about many of the top upcoming phones of 2014.
However, there’s no sign of the Moto G being beaten. We’re yet to hear of a phone that costs less than £200 that gets close to matching it, and now both Vodafone and Tesco offer the phone for £100 on pre-pay deals.
I’ve been using the phone since November, and like it to the extent that I have recommended it to several friends. They’ve actually gone on to buy it too. That’s pretty rare, even though this is my job.
Just a few little niggles have surfaced in my time with the phone. The first is a basic hardware one.
There’s a plastic ‘lip’ surround that rises above the screen by a fraction of a millimetre. It helps to protect the screen’s glass top layer, but does tend to get dented in your pocket. Functionally it’s no big deal, but does start to age your phone quicker than you might expect. It’s the one reason why we recommend thinking about buying one of Motorol’a neat flip cases.
We’ve made a round-up of the best Moto G cases to give you a few more suggestions too.
The other Moto G problem that continues to niggle away is the storage issue. We use an 8GB Moto G, and the 5GB or so you actually have to use soon gets eaten away. That the phone’s screen is so good only makes the problem worse – it makes you want to download the ‘high res’ version of game X and watch an HD version of movie Y rather than the much smaller standard def version.
If you can afford the extra £30 or so, we strongly recommend going for the 16GB edition of the phone. There’s no memory card slot on the Moto G, so that version offers a lot more scope for apps, games and media.
Since November 2013 there’s also been a major change to the Motorola Moto G. It has been given the update to Android 4.4. It launched with Android 4.3.
This doesn’t radically change how the phone feels to use, but does add a few new features. You get wireless printing throughout the interface (which also lets you make PDFs to save later), and can use the new Hangouts app as your main SMS interface rather than the old Messaging app. I don’t think it’s anything most of you need to get too excited about. I didn’t notice much of a difference, beside it fixing some really annoying bugs.
What I have learned are some other ways to spruce-up the phone. With a few minutes to spare you can get the Nexus 5’s Google Experience interface up and running on the phone. It works great, and feels like more of an upgrade than Android 4.4. We won’t go into exactly how to do it here – to find out how check out our Moto G tips and tricks article. Here’s what it looks like in person –
Obviously this is a phone we’re still very happy to recommend. But the camera remains, as ever, a bit rubbish. Check out the Moto G camera page of this review to see quite how bad it is.
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 Moto G – Design & FeaturesThe 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.
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
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 Moto G – ScreenThe 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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