Dec 03 AT 7:33 PM Dustin Earley 23 Comments

Motorola Moto G first impressions

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How good can an unlocked, $180, completely contract-free smartphone really be? In the past, paying that little for a phone meant you’d be getting junk. And that was all there was to it. But Motorola is challenging that stigma with the Moto G. A quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor, 4.5-inch HD display and stock Android sound great on paper. So how do they translate to the real world experience?

The general consensus on the Moto G seems to be that it is lightyears ahead of other devices in this price bracket. I’m going to go one step further and say, even after using it for just a short time, it can easily take on phones that, price wise, seem out of its league. I am very impressed with the Moto G.

Let’s start with the good. When you first open the box, you’re greeted with a smaller handset that certainly doesn’t feel its price. It’s solid and has inherited the good looks of the Moto X. Save for a little rattle of the power and volume buttons when you shake the phone, it feels fantastic. Compared to phones like the iPhone 5c and Galaxy S4, I much prefer the way the Moto G feels in your hand. You won’t be disappointed here.

Another area you won’t be disappointed in is the display. I don’t have the equipment to do in-depth display analyses between the Moto G and other phones; all I have are my own two eyes. But to my eyes, this is one of the best parts of the phone. Viewing angles are pretty good, colors are rich and density is more than sufficient. It doesn’t have the density of the Nexus 5, but it just might have better colors. And next to the iPhone 5c, it more than holds its own.

The last good thing I want to touch on, before this post gets uncontrollably long, is performance. I need more time for an accurate picture, but so far, this thing is fast. While web browsing could be better, everything else is more than fast enough. Games like Jelly Splash, which performs terribly on an old Galaxy Nexus, are fast with little load time and smooth animations. Switching between apps is a breeze. Google Now loads in an instant. Again, all I can say right now is that I am impressed.

As for where Motorola made price cuts, that’s easy. The camera is bad. It’s good enough to snap a grainy picture to send to your mom or maybe even post a filter-slathered Instagram picture, but it won’t be winning any awards. For the price, it’s alright. I’ve seen much worse. But it’s not good by any means.

And then there’s the lack of LTE. There’s no getting around this one. If you want ultra-fast data on your phone, you can pass on the Moto G. If you feel like you can live with HSPA+ and WiFi, don’t let it deter you. I was easily achieving 30 Mbps down on my home Wifi, right around where my MacBook tests at.

That’s all for now. I’ve probably already said too much, but there’s much more to come in the full review. If there’s anything in particular you’d like to know, let me know in the comments or @reply to me on Twitter. You can buy the US GSM Moto G now starting at $179 from Motorola or Amazon.

Dustin Earley: Tech enthusiast; avid gamer; all around jolly guy.

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