Motorola Moto G review: With a serious spec list and bargain price tag of just £135, has this Android smartphone got what it takes to succeed?
The Moto G may have all the hallmarks of being a smartphone made by Motorola but from the start it's clear that underneath this is a phone that has been almost entirely influenced by the company that owns it, Google.
Materialising in the form of a simple question that will no doubt be haunting Samsung, Sony and its competitors for some time, the Motor G asks just how far can you push the boundaries of what is classed as a 'budget' phone.
Motorola Moto G: Size and build
From the outset it's clear that the Moto G is all about perfectly executed compromises and the dimensions are where it's most apparent. A curved back sidesteps the issue of bulk measuring in at an impressive 6mm at its thinnest point and 11.6mm at its thickest. What this means is that combined with the matt back cover it's an incredibly easy phone to hold, despite its 143g weight.
It's a reminder of just how convenient it is to have a phone you can hold and use with just one hand, something that's increasingly forgotten as smartphones get larger and larger.
Despite being mostly plastic, the build quality is such that it feels like a phone that's incredibly well put together while still being able to take the odd tumble. It certainly trumps the Galaxy S4 Mini and even gives the HTC One Mini a run for its money. The back cover is interchangeable offering some small taster of the treatment Moto X customers get in the US. The colours range from the subtle to the eye-wincingly trendy and all are reassuringly impossible to get off once attached.
Motorola Moto G: Features
When first turned on you'll be met with the uncensored view of Google's Android 4.3 and if we're honest it's a welcome sight. Google's collection of services is now wide-ranging enough that it can run the risk of feeling crowded when a separate UI is added. Another rather handy advantage is speed, without an additional UI, the Moto G flies through the operating system with not even a hint of lag. Of course you're not totally left off the hook as Motorola does include two apps, Motorola
Migrate - which helps you swap your content from one phone to another, and Assist a subtle contextual app which changes notifications and alerts depending on time of day, appointments in your calendar and more. Outside of the phone, Motorola's added another subtle feature which is that the outside has been covered in a water-repellent coating. It sounds small but if you get caught in the reliable British weather it could be life-saving to the phone.
Motorola Moto G: Screen
All of this is shown through the Moto G's 4.5-inch 1280x720 display that boasts a class-leading 329ppi. Immediately it's clear that if any compromises were made, it wasn't in the screen department. Not only is it the best screen in its class it's arguably one of the best displays of its size. Colours are bright and vibrant while blacks are deep.
Motorola Moto G: Camera
As we mentioned earlier Motorola has built the Moto G based around some very intentional compromises and the camera has got the short straw. With a 5MP rear-facing snapper it's certainly not going to go toe-to-toe with the likes of the HTC One Mini or the Galaxy S4. All things considered though it's actually not that bad, images in good light are surprisingly colourful and while it's not going to be winning any awards Motorola has clearly thought of this with the view that many of the images are going to be heading straight to low-res-friendly Facebook.
Motorola Moto G: Performance
The not-especially-bad-news ends here though as Motorola has again shoved two fingers up at the competition when it comes to power. The Moto G sports an impressive Qualcomm A7 1.2GHz quad-core processor along with 1GB RAM, that means hassle-free mutlitasking and a phone that won't panic at the sight of HD video.
Storage is available in either 8GB or 16GB: not enough? 50GB of Google Drive should help while Google Music is now incredibly well polished and with the option to sync Google Music with your iTunes library you can pick and choose tracks to download saving on precious space.
Motorola Moto G: Battery
The battery life pleasant surprise. No, you won't get over a day with the Moto G but you will get one day. One whole day providing you don't spend most of it playing Angry Birds and recording HD video. This anticlimactic victory is achieved thanks to a 2070mAh battery so while you'll need to plug it in the moment you get home, it should survive the commute.
Motorola Moto G: Verdict
We can only assume LG and Motorola were in the same room when they thought up the Moto G and the Nexus 5, and almost certainly someone from Google was in that room. Both are outstanding examples of what happens when instead of trying to cram everything in without thinking of the consequences, you sit down and list all the features people actually need from a modern smartphone and then make sure they do those proficiently and relative to the amount they'll be used.
A perfect example being the camera, by sacrificing Megapixels the Moto G excels in other areas, but does the camera feel like such a big compromise? Actually no, considering all we really use our cameras for is uploading heavily filtered iterations to social media, the idea that we're then going to blow them up and hang them on our walls is, we would say, pretty niche.
In return for this 'compromise' you get probably the best HD screen on a smartphone that isn't a flagship device. If there was one clear issue we have with the Moto G it's the lack of LTE, yes its competition definitely won't either but we're increasingly heading towards a market where 4G is standard, regardless of spec sheet.
Ultimately though it's a small point, one that becomes even more muted when you consider that you'll be holding a phone that has a stunning display, a quad-core processor and the latest version of Android KitKat guaranteed and how much did it cost you? Under £150.
Motorola Moto G release date: Out now
Motorola Moto G price: £135 (8GB), £159 (16GB)