Dec 03 AT 7:33 PM Dustin Earley 22 Comments

Motorola Moto G first impressions


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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  • SGB101

    I’ve had one for over two weeks now, and it’s a great device.

    I’ve mention on here before that chrome seems broken on this device. Dolphin works fine, and the speed is back.

    Put the Google non launcher on this and it make a very credible nexus mini.

    The party piece for this device is the little 2100mah battery, I’m sure it thinks it is a 4000mha unit. I got 1day 8hours, with 6hours screen time, a few hours of that was real racing 3,and video streaming.

    The cpu has been drinking whatever the battery is on, the 1.2ghz quad runs RR3 with zero lag, something my nexus 4, one x and note2 can’t do. I don’t know either!

    This phone isn’t good for the money, it’s just a good phone. Motorola has concentrated on what is needed and dropped what isn’t, and pulled it off.

    In regards to the camera, it’s not great, however, this is aimed at older first timer smart phones adoptees and teens, now teens have been happy taking shots with old BlackBerry, desire 400 and galaxy y devices, so they will he happy with the camera.

    In decent light it preforms adequately.

    Sorry for long comment. :o)

    • Adrien C.

      No, thank you for a good review! I hope that this move by Motorola change the game. I’m sick of seeing people buying their smartphones by marketing and ending up with crappy devices after a few apps installed.

    • BrianK

      Your going to elaborate on how you have had a phone for two weeks but everyone else in the world, including androidandme staff are required to wait until its released on Dec 2nd. I call B S on your claims!

      • stupid brianK

        dont be stupid. its been in the UK for a long time before it released to the US

      • SGB101

        Hay Bri, a quick Google, on your part, would of shown thousands of reviews from a few weeks back.

        Just ‘Google’ Google, you’ll find it. ;o)

  • Hengus

    Bought one for my wife a week ago from a major UK retail store. The phone was locked to their network but this was quickly resolved with an unlock code. First impressions are that this is a value-for-money product. The screen is impressive and the battery life for a moderate online user is good. The only problems that we have had relate to getting the back off – it is a real nail breaker, and problems loading more e-mail messages from a POP3 e-mail account. From time-to-time, pressing LOAD MORE MESSAGES results in a continuous Andriod loading icon. This can be resolved by switching the phone off and then on again. I am not an Android user so if there is another way to resolve this then any help would be appreciated.

    So why did I choose the Moto G. Firstly, because my wife bought herself her first tablet – a Nexus 7. For years she has resisted paying for a smartphone. The Moto G at £120 (16GB version) is a cheap way of getting a basic smartphone and with a Nexus 7 like screen the move to a smartphone has been an easy transition. My guess is that Google has a winner on its hands.

  • Oscar OTT

    I would be keen to try one out – and agree for the money there probably isn’t anything better!!!! However, for a tiny stretch further, you can get the Moto X on Cyber Monday / Cyber Wednesday / the week after Cyber Monday offer for just $349 unlocked! It has all the wonderfulness of the Moto G and then some, in comparison there are a big long list of reasons to take its big bro ….
    I know its nearly double the price but it’s still a bargain!

    • Worth

      I bought the Moto X from Republic Wireless for $299 just a few days ago and already love it. As stated above for the Moto G, Motorola has vastly improved the battery life. The Moto X also has a nice camera, better screen, 2 GB of memory, 802.11 ac WiFi, 4G cellular, and includes an AC charger (unlike the Moto G).

      Republic has no contract, monthly plans from $5 to $40 a month, and keeps costs down by using WiFi instead of cellular whenever possible.

  • redraider133

    These are the types of phones those users stuck on crappy androids that say they hate the experience because it is so awful and switch to IOS need. Moto is showing you do not have to spend a ton of money to get a device that performs well. This is a great combination by moto and google.

  • ihatefanboys

    The old saying never changes “You get what you pay for” and its always accurate. Cheap is cheap. Ill keep saying it because its true. If Google did not own Motorolla this would be viewed as a cheap POS phone, another failure from a long line of Motorolla failures, another boring Droid entry. The true Google phones will always be the Nexus, not these wannabe phones.

    • gagan

      Then go but Samsung or apple bcs somethings are over prized and you are some rich brat

  • Anna

    Can you post some camera samples.

  • Kks

    Moto has a history with phone heating issues what about this one can anyone clarify
    i am thinking of getting this on xmas

    • darkeingel

      Had mine for 2 days by now. I’ve stressed out a bit and it seems to me that it’s pretty cool. I really like the back cover of it.

      • Kks

        By pretty cool u mean looks ?

    • SGB101

      I’ve played long runs, 2+ hours, of RR3 with no heat issues.

  • Girish Arora

    Hi .. I am planning to buy this phone.. can some 1 let me know about the camera reviews.. i am expecting a good camera out of it….

    • MOTTO G

      Girish, the pics are grainy. Its only a 3meg camera. What I do with my pics is edit them in the Gallery and switch them to black and white.
      Also, there is NO camera icon to press when u take a pic. Just place your thumb anywhere on the screen and it takes A pic. Leave your thumb on the screen and the camera starts clicking away.

      • SGB101

        5mpx it is, it’s not great, ok in good light, kids will like it, first timbers will like it, ie the target market, it’s not really going to cut it if your after high quality smart phone shots.

    • Creighton

      The camera is actually one of the better 5mp ones compared especially to Lg’s & its better & faster after the Kit Kat update. I like too how the flash can illuminate a dark room. Apps of course help too.

  • jose romo guman

    es casi completo me gusto

  • donger

    G unit!