With the bombshell announcement that Google (GOOG) is selling its Motorola Mobility division to Lenovo (LNVGY), it seems the short-lived era of Google making its own smartphones instead of slapping the Nexus logo on a third-party device is drawing to a close. Which is too bad, because as our Moto G review shows, Motorola seems to have pulled off the impossible in releasing a premium experience in a budget smartphone.
A quick look at Moto G specs shows hardware that just doesn’t show up in a typical cheap smartphone. It’s customizable, offers a guaranteed upgrade to Android 4.4 (KitKat) and is well built, yet costs only $179 –unlocked!
That’s a bargain, and the price alone is a big reason why the Moto G is the best budget smartphone on the market. But it’s also a surprisingly capable performer.
Read the details in our Moto G review.
Moto G Review: Best Budget Smartphone for the Money
Motorola did the seemingly impossible in offering a device with the specs of the Moto G at such a bargain price. When you look at the competition, the closest thing Apple (AAPL) offers to a cheap smartphone is the iPhone 4s, a 2011-era device that sells for $450. To get that discount compared to an iPhone 5c or iPhone 5s, the buyer accepts a smaller display and a processor that’s several generations behind.
In contrast, the $179 Moto G has a 4.5-inch HD display, and a quad-core Qualcomm (QCOM) Snapdragon 400 CPU found in many more expensive Android smartphones.
While a power user will be better served by a flagship smartphone like the iPhone 5s, Samsung (SSNLF) Galaxy 4, Google’s Nexus 5 or Motorola’s own Moto X, for most users the Moto G specs are more than up to snuff. And it’s well built too, not feeling like a cheap phone. In its Moto G review AnandTech notes even the buttons have a solid feel, while a user Moto G review on Engadget says that this smartphone “holds very well in 90% of the operations the Nexus 5 can.”
In other words, for average users, the Moto G is all the smartphone they need. A big (but not too big) bright HD display, a speedy CPU, a camera, a recent version of Android, good build quality and the ability to play games, stream video and surf the web without compromise.
Moto G Review: What Do You Have to Give Up to Make Such an Inexpensive Smartphone?
Even with Google’s strategy of forgoing profit on hardware in order to boost Android market share, there’s no such thing as a free ride — even with the best budget smartphone money can buy. To get the Moto G price tag all the way down to $179, Motorola had to make some compromises. Fortunately, they’re in areas where most people won’t notice, but there are some areas where this cheap smartphone cuts corners that could impact power users. Among them:
- The Snapdragon 400 CPU is not as powerful as alternatives such as the Snapdragon 800.
- There is no LTE.
- The primary camera is a 5MP model (8 to 12MP is more common on flagship devices).
- Storage is just 8GB and there’s no SD card expansion.
- The HD display is 720p resolution (instead of 1080p).
Moto G Review: Moto G Specs
As a cheap smartphone, the Moto G specs are impressive. It’s not uncommon to see in a Moto G review that this device performed at the level of smartphones costing twice as much.
- Qualcomm quad-core Snapdragon 400 CPU at 1.2 GHz
- 4.5-inch HD display (720p) at 329 ppi with Corning (GLW) Gorilla Glass
- 8 GB storage (while the 8GB model was the subject of this Moto G review, Motorola does off a 16GB model at extra cost)
- 5MP rear camera with LED flash, 1.3MP (720p) front camera
- Bluetooth 4.0
- Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n
- 2070 mAh lithium-ion battery rated at 24 hours mixed use
- Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean) with guaranteed Android 4.4 (KitKat) upgrade
- Back shell is interchangeable with various color options offered
- Free 50GB Storage on Google Drive for two years
- 5.0 ounces
- MSRP (unlocked) $179 for 8GB, $199 for 16GB
Moto G Review: Conclusion
Based on the Moto G specs and the results of this and virtually any other Moto G review that’s been published to date, this is the best budget smartphone available. In fact, it’s competitive with many devices that are marketed — and priced — as premium smartphones.
As another example, consider this Fonearena Moto G review where the Motorola’s flagship Moto X smartphone beat its cheap smartphone by only 10% on the Quadrant benchmark test.
If you demand the highest possible processing power, tons of storage, a full HD (or better) display, a high-resolution camera or the ability to download data with the speed of LTE, then stick to the flagship smartphones. No matter how good it is, a cheap smartphone like the Moto G cuts a few too many corners for the power user.
But for everyone else — probably 80% of potential smartphone buyers — Motorola’s Moto G should be more than capable of covering their needs. When it comes to the best budget smartphone currently on the market, the Moto G is it. And that guaranteed KitKat upgrade will leave this cheap smartphone able to do things that many recent flagship Android devices (which won’t necessarily be getting the upgrade) can’t.
As of this writing, Robert Martin did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.