on 2 December 2013
I was surprised to see a Motorola at the top of the list of smartphones on the amazon site, I'd been looking for a new phone and was toying between the usual iPhone vs Samsung, but this is the first time I saw a phone with decent specifications being offered at such a low price.
After researching things I believed the Moto G 16GB offered the best value smartphone on the market and value is the key, at £130 (shop around e.g. tesco) this is at least a 1/3 sometimes 1/4 the price of the top of the range smartphones. What I have found after purchasing and using the phone for a week is that the Android 4.3 operating system is easy to get to grips with and offers some fantastic apps. The phone has everything you need and the motorola migrate app worked brilliantly to transfer everything from my old phone, just a couple of simple clicks. It also included (via tesco) a free 50GB for 2 years offer for Google Drive. Setting up my multiple email accounts was painless and now using the phone on a daily basis is like second nature, graphics are clean and fast, I'd definitely go for the 16GB rather than 8GB to give you a bit more longevity. Finally, by the end of January Motorola have promised a free upgrade to Android KitKat 4.4, so you'll be bang uptodate.
All in all, I can't recommend this phone enough if you want the smartphone basics - text, email, surfing, phone calls - but also would like some nice extras, like apps, maps, music and videos.
The only possible downside I can see is the camera which is a 5MB and struggles in low light but for everyday use (and my use) it is more than fine. The final problem is getting your hands on one of these phones, set-up you alerts and buy straight away as this is being seen as the must have present for parents to get their kids this Christmas!
on 14 March 2014
As a way to illustrate at least to myself how versatile this phone is, I decided to at least write the introduction to this review on the Moto G itself. This is the second day afternoon since this phone has been unplugged from the charger, and I am at 66%, and fairly sure I am going to be at no less than 50% after an hour of listening to music on the way home and another few paragraphs of this review. Yes, I am indeed hinting towards something that I myself can still not believe, namely, how good this phone is. I am becoming downright passionate about this little technological wonder launched by Google a little while before Christmas 2013.
A few hours later...
As I suspected by the time I got home, it was still going strong at 51%. I will however get into more details about this, a bit later on. For now, let's focus on the price, packaging and design. There are 2 models. The 8GB and the 16GB version (in both cases you get a 2 year free 50GB Google Drive subscription). Usually on Amazon you can find it at £129 and £159 respectively. Sim free of course. Should you prefer to go for a network-locked phone, as far as I know, Tesco sells the 8GB version at a mere £99. Now matter where you get it from, locked or unlocked, the main idea is quite obvious: it's a dirt-cheap phone.
When it comes to packaging, do not expect anything fancy. It's a very small white cardboard unsealed box, so small and slim in fact that it would fit into most pockets. But do not let that fool you. Inside the box you will find a shiny on the front, matte on the back beautiful Motorola Moto G. Underneath that, all there is left is a white USB cable, a brief user manual and a warranty booklet. That's it, nothing more, you can stop shaking the box, it won't miraculously produce a charger. Yes, that's missing. On purpose. Google together with Motorola decided that a regular micro USB charger in a home is nowadays like having a toilet in a house. There's bound to be at least one of those somewhere in the house. This helped them cutting costs, keeping the phone cheap, and keeping my environment clutter-free cause God knows, I already have too many micro USB chargers. No need for the umteenth one. That being said, if you for some very strange reason do not own any of those, you do have the USB cable supplied and you're more than welcome to charge it via your laptop or desktop computer. It will take a wee bit more time to charge, but it's still miles faster and better than not being able to charge it all.
Well, I already said it's a beautiful phone. I'm going to say it again. It's a beautiful phone and in case you did not quite get that the second time, here it is again: it's a beautiful phone! Front side is shiny, glossy, including half of its bezel. The back on the other hand is matte and has a rubbery feel to it. A bit of a fingerprint magnet to be honest, but it's not too bad. One great design choice and I must congratulate Motorola for this, is the one detail I have not yet seen on a phone. The Motorola logo on the back is printed on a concave shape, which I like to call "the index finger magnet". You might think I am giving this way too much importance, but here's the interesting part. A phone is often used for texting or calling. Both positions will require the user to hold the device in a certain position which does not allow it to be in a "grabbed" state in the palm of the hand. That little round convex shape will invite your finger to sit there and thus giving you more grip, and less chances to drop it.
Still on design, the back side features a very loud speaker, a 5Mpx camera and a LED flash. On the right side, you will find two metallic grey buttons (unlike the phone's case, these seem to be of metal) one for power, while the other one for volume. Nothing is featured on the left side. Top and bottom bezel are fairly simple as well, top side featuring the stereo jack socket and a noise cancelling microphone, while the bottom houses the micro USB port for charging and data transfer, plus the active microphone. The front is pretty much like most phones out there, featuring a 1.3Mpx camera, the speaker, light sensor and notification led, the last two being fairly well hidden under the screen's glass which by the way is Corning Gorilla Glass 3, in other words, it is still not meant to be smashed against the wall or the tiled floor, but it will survive most other situations. Size wise it's 129.9 x 65.9 x 11.6 mm (5.11 x 2.59 x 0.46 in) weighing 143 g (5.04 oz). In my humble opinion it's just the right amount of everything. Not a big brick phone, not a small phone. Not light enough for the Belfast wind to blow it out of your palm, neither heavy enough to drop your pants on the way to work.
Given its design, it takes a micro-sim. Also, there is no micro SD card expansion possibility. The back of the case unmountable, which allows for the sim insertion, and additional, different coloured back-side cases to be mounted, which can even act as a flip cover.
...because let's face it, no matter how good it looks, no matter how premium build it feels, we don't just want it for its looks, but also for its brains. Buying a phone is a bit like getting married. It's not all about the looks, is it? ;) It's also about the brains but luckily enough the Moto G is like a super-hot nerd. Like Dr. Temperance (Bones) Brennan. It's a beautiful phone, and it's a smart phone. Literally! I have played around with many smartphones during the last few years. Rarely did I find one that made me feel it would be a truly good choice for being my next uber-phone. Until now. The Moto G makes the nerd inside me very very very happy. I am going to purposely avoid geeky, nerdy tech specs, because what you need to know really is that it runs extremely smoothly, and it runs pretty much every app out there, including graphic-intensive games. In real life situations, especially taking into account the very low price, I believe there's probably less than 5% of users who need anything more than the Moto G offers. I have not once felt this phone letting me down in any way and trust me, I am hard to please when it comes to technology (and many other things unfortunately). All my apps, including Facebook, online banking, browsing, skype, music and video players, absolutely everything runs without one hiccup. I did not try games, but according the all the reviews out there this little powerhouse can take pretty much all the games out there without too much sweating.
Another important thing you need to know is related to the screen. It's truly impressive. People who have the latest iPhones like to boast with their "retina" displays to somehow justify the £500 they spent on it. Guess what? The Moto G has the exact same pixel density (326ppi) as the iPhone 5S! Speechless. All in a 4.5" screen, which if you ask me is the perfect size for anything you may want to use a phone for. Anything bigger is a brick, anything smaller will turn out to be difficult to use. It has an IPS screen which does not only mean it has brilliant color-reproduction but also very good viewing angles.
As I previously mentioned the sound is very loud on the back-side speaker and loud enough even for very noisy environments on the call-speaker. I never felt the need of any extra volume, and I am around 35% deaf on one ear. The sound is also very good via the headphones and the new KitKat Android even provides an equalizer for more personalised sound effects and settings. The microphones are also very good, and the noise cancelling must work quite well, because nobody has yet complained of not hearing me well enough. Since it's related to calls, I'll mention the GSM signal here, which is good. Can't say I had issues. There have been in the past, but that has been sorted with a quick update from Motorola which you will get minutes after powering the phone on.
But what about the cameras? Cameras seem to be important for most folks, no matter how much I keep saying that photos are meant to be taken with real cameras, not phones. But for those out there, who feel otherwise, I have to say this. Both cameras are good and both front and back cameras will excel in good lighting, especially natural one. When it comes to low-light and night photography in my personal opinion and experience there are only a handful of high-end DSLRs out there that are truly up to the task, everything else, but especially phones will fail to perform, so stop expecting the Moto G or any other phone for that matter to produce great shots in such scenarios. However, there are a few things worth mentioning. The camera and implicitly its software knows HDR which means it will handle light and exposure better than many other phones out there. Also, a detail that few people underline, is the slow-motion video capture which to be honest is fun and impressive at the same time. There's only a small number of actual consumer level cameras out there that record slow-motion, and to see that in a dirt-cheap phone, well, that's equal to a Christmas miracle. You can find some interesting sample videos on YouTube, all in HD by the way.
Last but not least, I'll mention power-consumption. You will find varied reports on this all around the internet, but here's the real-life story. This phone's battery, depending on how heavy of a user you are, will last anywhere from one to three days. I have drained a little over 50% of the battery in 2 days with the following: non-stop 3G powered on, screen brightness set to auto, 5 hours of listening to mp3s, around 3 hours of Facebook, about 1 hour of browsing, an hour of other tasks like online banking, amazon shopping and installing apps, and sms-ing. Did not get any calls, but from last Sunday's experience I can say that a 1 hour call would probably make an up to 5% difference.
All in all, this is a real jewel for the price of a knock-off. Worth every penny!