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Moto G 3 tips and tricks

Andrew Williams by

Moto G tips
Moto G tips

Bought the 3rd generation Moto G? Here's some handy tips and tricks to get the most out of this budget Android phone great

The third-generation Moto G is here and continues the legacy of the best series of budget mobile phones we’ve seen to date.

Whether you’ve already bought one or are thinking about doing so, you need to check out our round-up of essentials Moto G tips and tricks.

From which version to buy to tweaking both the hardware and software to get the most out of the phone, these are the tips you need to supercharge your Moto G experience.

Before buying a Moto G

The white version has a more plasticky finish

The third Moto offers loads of customisation. You can get it decked out with all sorts of colours. This boils down to picking black or white for the body colour, a bunch of colours for the rear plate and another load of shades for the metal ‘accent’ by the camera lens.

We’ve used a few different styles now, and have noticed that the white backplate feels a bit cheaper than most of the other colours. Where the other colours we've tried have a soft-touch finish, the white one is more clearly plain old plastic. We’ve seen this effect before, particularly in some of the Samsung Galaxy phones. It seems to be very hard to get a soft touch finish on white plastic for some reason.

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The 16GB/2GB edition offers significantly better performance

Colour is one thing, but a much more important decision is whether to get the 8GB or 16GB version. However, it’s not actually the storage that really matters. Both phone have a microSD slot, after all.

What is more important is the amount of RAM these phones have. The 8GB Moto G has 1GB RAM and the 16GB one has 2GB RAM. If you want perfect performance day-to-day, you’ll want to spend the extra £40/$40-ish on the higher-end one. We’ve used both side-by-side and found that while both offer good performance, the 2GB version is quite a bit smoother.

Beware of the waterproofing clips around the camera lens

One of the neatest new features of the third-generation Moto G is water resistance. It gets you IPX7 weatherproofing, meaning you can submerge the phone in water at 1m depth for 30 minutes.

However, it relies on all the clips on the rear being in place. It’s quite easy to miss the ones around the camera lens area, so make sure you don’t miss them out.

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After buying a Moto G

Getting the most out of the speaker

Looking at the Moto G, you’d probably assume it has stereo front-facing speakers. But it doesn’t.

The one at the top is a call-only speaker, while the one on the bottom is the standard speaker for music, videos and so on. You can give it a bit more power by placing the phone in a pint glass or large plastic cup, using the thing as a sort-of speaker cabinet. Ceramic works better than glass.

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Use the Moto app to stop the phone from annoying you at night

The Moto G has a neat feature that let you silence the phone automatically at certain times, meaning you don’t need to flick down the volume when you get into bed.

In the Assist section of the Moto app, you’ll see a Sleeping section that lets you choose the hours you want to keep the phone silent. As standard it’s set to 11pm to 6am, but you can choose whatever you like.

Use Assist for auto Cinema silence

Assist goes a step further, though. You can set locations too by flicking around a Google Maps interface and then flick on silence/no notifications rules for these. Press the 'plus' sign button in the Assist app to set these locations.

We’ve used it to Keep the Moto G quiet and backlight-free in the cinema, but you can use it for whatever purpose you like. Another ace up Assist’s sleeve is being able to silence the phone during meetings, which it does by checking in with your calendar.

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Launch the camera with an ultra-quick gesture

One of the little hidden extra bits of the Moto G is a gesture that lets you fire-up the camera very quickly. Just hold the phone in your hand and twist your wrist quickly, twice, back and forth.

This works whether the phone is on standby or in use: as long as it’s not fully switched off. If you want to get shooting as quick as possible, you might also want to switch off the touch focusing, meaning you just need to tap the screen and the Moto G does the rest. Perform the gesture while in the camera app and it'll switch between front and rear cameras.

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How to secure your phone

The Moto G pack in a bunch of ways to keep the data on your phone safe. On the very familiar front, you can add some security to your lock screen.

Go to the Security menu in Settings and right up at the top you’ll see a Screen Lock option to let you pick between codes, passwords and swipe patterns to keep eyes away from your phone, should you set it down for a moment.

However, if there’s going to be really sensitive data on your device, you’ll want to encrypt it too. This means your data is stored as virtual gobbledegook until the phone decrypts it, once you’re through whatever other security you apply. We’d advise avoiding this unless you need it, though. You'll find this in the Settings > Security menu.

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Using Motorola Migrate to keep your old files

Aside from the Moto app and Help, Migrate is the last ‘extra’ app on the Moto G. What it lets you do is to move over all the photos, music, messages and so on from your old phone to your new one.

The app largely guides you through it, but the key is that you need Migrate installed on both phones. Then fire it up on both mobiles and you’ll choose whether it’s the migrate-er or migrate-ee. You’ll need to connect to Wi-Fi to get Migrate to work, as it assumes there’s a good amount of data involved.

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How to switch developer mode on

The Moto G keeps its interface as simple as possible. But if you’re a bit of a tinkerer you might enjoy a delve in the Developer Options menu. It gives you access to tools that developers can use, funnily enough, but some are fun to play with for plain old gadget fans too.

To enable the developer options menu, go to Settings and scroll all the way down to the bottom, and select About Phone. Right at the very bottom of this menu is Build Number. Tap this 10 times and the Developer Options menu in Settings will be unlocked.

We suggest leaving the vast majority of what’s in there well alone. However, you might want to try fiddling with the ‘animation scale’ and ‘background process limit’ bits. Animation scale alters the speed of transition animations. Speeding them up will make the Moto G seem snappier. Slowing them down should make it appear smoother, more fluid.

Limiting background processes can also have a positive effect on battery life.

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How to improve battery life

There’s no golden trick to make your Moto G last three days off a charge. However, it is good to know about a few basics.

The obvious one is to acknowledge Battery Saver. This is now a standard feature of Android, and it’s a stamina-increasing mode that cuts out things like background use of mobile data to ensure as little drain as possible while you’re not actively using the Moto G. It also reduces the screen brightness.

To switch this on, go to Settings > Battery and tap the three-pip icon at the top-right of the screen. This opens up the Battery Saver sub-menu, where you can turn it on and off. It’s no good if you hold conversations over WhatsApp, of course, as the messages just won’t appear while the screen is off.

Another good tip is to make sure your phone is using auto brightness, which turns the display backlight down when higher screen intensity isn’t needed. You’ll find it in Settings > Display, called Adaptive brightness.

Moto G

How to get the very most out of the camera

The Moto G has an impressive camera for an affordable phone. If you own the third-gen model and have experience with the older versions, that should be pretty obvious as soon as you start snapping.

To get the very most out of the new sensor, you’ll want to alter the image aspect ratio to 4:3. While the Moto G has a 13-megapixel sensor, it’ll only shoots 13-megapixel photos if you use this aspect. Otherwise it’s limited to 9.7-megapixel photos, forced to cut into the sensor. To do this, go to the camera app and open up the menu by flicking inward from the left of the screen.

Wheel the rotary menu around a little and you’ll see an icon with what looks like an ‘L’ on it. This lets you change photo shape/quality. Of course, if you prefer the look of widescreen shots, there's no harm in staying with those. You just miss out on some extra picture space to the top and bottom.

You should also be sure to switch on the night mode if you’re shooting in very poor lighting. It optimises the noise reduction engine and white balance, and generally gets you better results in low light. This is found in the rotary menu, and has a moon icon on it.

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Use a karate chop to find what fell down the back of the sofa

If you’ve used the Moto G for a while already, this may be something you’ve stumbled on accidentally. Karate chop with the phone in your hand twice and the LED flashes on the back will switch on, acting as a little torch.

We tried using a bunch of different similar-but-slightly-different motions, and they didn’t work. A couple of quick sharp wrist flicks really are needed.

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Check out the Lollipop easter egg

Each version of Android comes with its own easter egg, a little secret animation or interactive widget to play with. Android Lollipop, the version currently used in Moto Gs, has the meatiest easter egg yet. It’s a little game, one inspired by Flappy Bird, an infamously hard mobile game.

The Lollipop version is possibly even harder, though. You have to help a little Android guy flap over/under obstacles by tapping the screen. WARNING: it’s so infuriating it may raise your blood pressure and shorten your life.

Still up for it? Go to Settings, scroll all the way down to the bottom and select About Phone. Now tap the Android Version Number entry repeatedly until a lollipop appears on-screen. Tap this a few times and it’ll fill the screen. Now tap it a few more times and long-press it to load the game.

Have a favourite tip of your own? Let us know in the comments section below

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