I usually do not review smartphones here on Ghacks. mostly because I do not have access to samples that I can review, but also because it is not really something that I like to do a lot.
I purchased the Motorola Moto G recently as a secondary smartphone next to my Galaxy Note 2 for $179.99 on Amazon. A 16 gigabyte version is available as well for $199.99 but since I had no plans to capture lots of photos or video content, or put lots of data on the device, I decided to go with the 8 Gigabyte variant.
The Note 2, as good as it is, lacks in certain areas such as support for newer versions of the Android operating system. Plus, it is not ideal when you take your phone with you for a jog.
My first impression of the Moto G was that it was relatively heavy especially when compared to the larger Galaxy Note 2. This is partly the case because of the fixed battery of the phone that is not user removable which means that it is heavier on first touch than other phones that come with a replaceable battery. Still, when compared to the Note 2, it feels quite heavy for its size.
You still need to remove the back cover of the phone to insert your SIM card. There you will also notice that the phone does not offer an extra memory slot to add more Gigabytes of storage to it. You are stuck with the 8 Gigabyte or 16 Gigabyte that the phone ships with which should be sufficient for the majority of users.
As far as accessories are concerned, the phone ships with an USB cable and a power outlet connector that is also making use of the USB cable.
There is no headset in the box, nor any other accessory besides that.
The phone reviewed
As far as controls are concerned, the Motorola Moto G has three buttons on the right side of the phone when it is facing towards you. The power button at the top, and below that the two volume buttons. Every other button, yes that includes menu for example, is software-based.
I had to get used to some of the new combinations that you have to press. If you want to take a screenshot of the screen for instance, you press Power and Volume Down at the same time. To enter the bootloader, you simply press the volume down button during boot.
It is kinda awkward to create a screenshot when you are holding the phone, as both buttons to do so are on the right side of the phone.
Setup itself is quite easy. You have to insert your micro SIM card first on the back by removing the cover. Once done, you can power the phone with a tap on the power button on the top right.
The configuration screens that are displayed now ask for little information. You do need to add a Google account though, but that is about it.
You can also use the Motorola Migrate application to migrate data such as text messages, music, photos or videos, SIM contacts, call history or volume and screen brightness settings. To do so, you need to install the app on both devices and use the software to pair them. Since both mobiles need to be running for that, you do need two SIM cards to migrate the data this way.
The screen itself offers great value using a 1280x720 TFT LCD display. The quality of the display may surprise you, as you would not expect it from a non-flagship phone model. While it is not as good as the screens used in many high-end phones, it delivers impressive value.
Performance too is great, which can partially be attributed to the use of a stock Android ROM. Compared to my Galaxy Note 2 which is full of custom Samsung apps, it is refreshingly basic when it comes to that.
This is probably one main contributor to the phone's performance. You can switch between screens fluently most of the time -- there are situations where you notice small hiccups but those are rare.
Most apps load fast so that you won't notice any delays, while high-end games may take a second to load. It is fast enough though that it should not really be an issue for most users of the Moto G. Navigating through menus, swiping, or loading apps is fast and fluent, and you should not experience lag here at all.
The software buttons at the bottom of the screen are back, home and app switcher which respond very well to input.
The camera of the Moto G is not the best. While it works well in good lighting conditions, it fails miserably at night or when lighting is less than optimal. So, if you are looking for a phone that creates great photos regardless of lighting conditions, you may not want to get this one.
If taking photos is not a top priority, it should not really bother you that much.
The battery is quite good as well. While I did not come into situations where the phone ran out of juice after a day of use, it is not comparable to the battery of flagship phones. Those on the other hand cost hundreds of additional Dollars.
If you use the phone for web browsing, running apps, and communication, you will come to the conclusion that the battery is excellent for that. Even if you play videos or games, you should not run into that many issues in this regard.
A lot speaks for the Moto G. The budget price, its excellent display and performance for a device of its price category, that it runs on the latest Android version, its battery life, and overall feel.
One could say it is a budget phone done right, and there is little to argue with that. The only downsides are the fixed battery that you cannot remove, the missing microSD card slot to increase the memory of the device, and the camera that does not work well in low lighting situations.
The phone does not support 4G or NFC, which may play a role in your buying decision as well.
All in all, the Moto G is one of the best -- if not the best -- Android smartphone in its price category.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.