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Moto G Review: Setting the Standard for Cheap Smartphones

Motorola Mobility, now under the ownership of Lenovo (LNVGY) has released the third generation of its low-cost Moto G smartphone.

Moto G review, new Moto G
Source: Motorola

The new Moto G is a smartphone that does everything a typical consumer would want, plus it offers a big 5-inch display, a 13MP camera, it runs the latest version of Android, its case is completely customizable, and it’s even waterproof.

All this starts at just $179.99, making the Moto G the poster child for the “good enough” smartphone that threatens to rain on the parade of those high-margin, high-price flagship devices from Apple (AAPL) and Samsung (SSNLF).

Should you consider this new Moto G as your next smartphone?

Read our Moto G review to find out.

Moto G Review: The Epitome of “Good Enough”

No one is going to mistake the 2015 edition Moto G for a flagship smartphone.

Moto G review, good enough
Source: Motorola

It’s made of plastic, it makes no attempt to be ultra thin (or even flat), the display is only HD resolution, and its Qualcomm (QCOM) 410 CPU is far from the powerhouse chips inside the likes of the Galaxy S6.


The average user is unlikely to find much to complain about with the new Moto G.

Motorola may not be competing with the iPhone 6 for thinnest smartphone, and it’s not even trying when it comes to the pixel density race — the Galaxy 6S has a whopping 576 PPI display, while the Moto G’s is 294 PPI. But that display is big and looks pretty good, even if it lacks the razor sharpness of the flagships.

The Moto G has LTE, all day battery life and excellent voice call quality. Its camera isn’t great in low light, but outdoors it takes good photos at a decent resolution. The CPU isn’t a barnburner, but by keeping the UI add-ons to a minimum and sticking close to stock Android Lollipop, the phone is far from pokey when it comes to performance.

In short, the Moto G has no flagship pretences, but it’s also far from looking or feeling like a bargain-basement device. For most people, this smartphone is good enough for everyday use.

Moto G Review: Features Many Flagship Smartphones Lack

Moto G review, waterproof
Source: Motorola

As smartphone makers moved to the new sleek glass and metal look, they gave up some features that had made them user favorites.

For example, among the casualties of the new premium design Samsung Galaxy S6 were previous generations’ water resistance and ability to inexpensively expand built-in storage using microSD cards.

Guess what? The Moto G is IPX7-rated water resistant (it will survive a 30 minute dunking in water), and if you pop off the back shell, there’s a microSD card slot.

It’s also running what is virtually stock Android in the latest version released (Lollipop 5.1.1), and Motorola is promising a quick upgrade to Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) once it’s released.

Then there’s the customization: two front color choices, 10 back shell color choices, 10 different accent colors, five optional flip case colors and $5 engraving. That’s a whole lot more opportunity to look different than the usual three or four flagship color choices.

Moto G Review: Specs

Moto G review, specs
Source: Motorola
  • 5.0-inch HD display (294 PPI) with Gorilla Glass 3
  • Quad-core Snapdragon 410 CPU @ 1.4 GHz
  • 1GB RAM + 8GB storage, or 2GB RAM + 16GB storage
  • microSD card slot
  • Micro USB, Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • 13 MP f/2.0 primary camera with dual LED flash, auto focus, Burst Mode, Panorama, Slow Motion and 1080p video
  • 5MP front camera
  • 2470 mAh battery rated at 24 hours mixed use
  • IPX7 water resistant
  • 0.24 to 0.48-inches thick, weighs 5.47 ounces
  • Runs Android 5.1.1 (Lollipop)
  • MSRP $179.99 and up, unlocked

Moto G Review: Conclusion

Moto G review, customizable
Source: Motorola

Does the average user even need a $650 smartphone?

A few years ago, there was a huge difference between flagship smartphones and entry-level models. Performance between the two was night and day, the budget devices tended to look ugly, and buying one simply felt like making a series of compromises.

The Moto G has bucked that trend, and the new Moto G makes an even stronger case for spending $180 and pocketing the more than $350 difference — especially for Android fans.

Yes, you are giving up some niceties like an ultra-high-resolution display, a CPU that runs the most demanding apps without blinking, Gigabit Wi-Fi, NFC and low-light camera performance.

But in return, you get a competent smartphone with excellent build quality and bonus features like water resistance, cheap storage upgrades and customizability. Plus that $350+ in your pocket. That’s the Moto G’s value proposition, and for anyone who wants a smartphone on a budget, it’s a tough one to pass up.

As of this writing, Robert Martin did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

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