Motorola Moto G Review: A budget smartphone that punches above its weight

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In 2013, four out of every 10 smartphones sold in the world were priced  below $200 (approximately Rs 12,500), according to IDC. Shocking as it may sound, there is not a single Android smartphone in this price segment that stands out. Most smartphone vendors manage to hit that price point by cutting corners and using inferior quality components. This is more the case with tier one vendors, who struggle to let go of overhead costs and margin pressures. The result is that users are expected to make compromises and they have been forced to adhere to the notion that you can only get so much at this price.

Motorola seeks to change that with the Moto G. Priced at Rs 12,499 for the 8GB variant and Rs 13,999 for the 16GB version, Motorola claims that the Moto G can provide the same experience as a flagship smartphone at a third of the price. Does it? Let’s find out.

At a glance, the Moto G is a nondescript smartphone devoid of any special design touches. The front, like every other smartphone, is dominated by the display but comes without any dedicated menu buttons – those are now on-screen. By default it comes in all black color, though users can buy shells and flap covers in myriad colors and add some life to the otherwise boring design.

But hold the phone and everything changes. The back is slightly curved that makes the phone comfortable to hold. Even though it is made of plastic, the Moto G feels extremely sturdy. Everything snaps into place perfectly and the phone does not creak when held tightly. The back panel doesn’t flex either. The Moto G’s overall build quality is much better than what we get from other products priced much higher than it.

motorola-moto-g-review-13On the specifications front, the Motorola Moto G is not exactly game changing. So we are looking at a 4.5-inch 720p display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad-core processor humming at 1.2GHz with 1GB of RAM and an Adreno 305 GPU. Other features include dual-SIM support with both SIM card slots being 3G-enabled, a 5-megapixel rear camera and a 1.3-megapixel front facing camera. There is a 2,070mAh non-removable battery and it comes in 8GB and 16GB variants. It lacks a microSD card slot.

But specs on paper tell just half the story. The Moto G’s specs might sound similar to those available from local Indian smartphone brands but what differentiates the two is the quality and performance. Let’s start with the display. There are many brands that come with a 720p display at this price point but we are yet to come across any that can provide the same color reproduction, viewing angles and sunlight visibility as the Moto G’s display. The display is protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3 protective layer, which means coins or keys in the pocket won’t scratch the display. I have been using the Moto G for a week now and I’m not the most careful user, often ending up with two phones or a phone along with coins or keys in the same pocket. There’s not a single scratch on the display.

motorola-moto-g-review-4Rather than using an older generation processor, which is what many smartphone vendors do at this price point, Motorola has gone for the latest Qualcomm chipset aimed at this price segment. With an almost stock Android UI, using the Moto G does not feel very different from using a high-end smartphone for most daily tasks. Of course, there is a noticeable performance dip if one is multitasking with processor intensive tasks. However, in my usage, I didn’t encounter that very often.

Apart from the specifications and build quality, Motorola has added a very unique feature at this price point – it has added a water repellant nano coating both inside and outside the device. It does not mean that you can submerge it in a bowl of water (though there are videos online demonstrating that), but having this feature gives a sense of security that nothing will happen to the phone in case you accidentally spill anything on it or get caught in the rain.

motorola-moto-g-review-6Motorola has been able to take all these hardware components and mesh them together into a pleasing experience. While other vendors try to differentiate themselves with various skins and launchers on top of Android, it is the Moto G with its almost pure stock Android that stands out from the crowded smartphone market. It provides the most fluid user experience at this price point and in certain situations can even compete with some of the flagship smartphones. The Moto G currently runs on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean but Motorola has already started rolling out Android 4.4.2 KitKat update in some countries and has promised to release the update in India in coming days.

The one area where the Moto G disappoints is its camera. While the photos usually come out with decent sharpness and color reproduction, those are good enough just to post on social networks. You would rarely every get a shot that would make your jaw hit the floor. Yes, its camera quality would be similar if not slightly better than competing smartphones in this price segment but that is the standard the Moto G has set for itself – a low priced smartphone does not have to mean the user should compromise on the experience and be constantly reminded that they are using a budget smartphone.

motorola-moto-g-review-7Using the Moto G as a primary smartphone for a week has been nothing short of a revelation. For doing most of the regular tasks, the Moto G does not feel as if you are using a budget smartphone. Watching videos on its 329ppi display, browsing the web with its HSPA+ connectivity (most phones in this price range top out at HSPA) or just the build quality of the phone makes it feel more premium than phones priced much higher.

Then there is the battery, which consistently lasted me about 15 hours of heavy usage that included about 4 hours of browsing, an hour of calls, two email accounts configured for push, two Twitter accounts and one Facebook account. I had 3G switched on at all times with occasional Wi-Fi usage. Another thing I noticed was, plugging in the phone to charge even for 15 minutes would add an hour or so of overall battery life.

But that does not mean there is nothing amiss in the Moto G. I believe Motorola should have given a microSD card slot in the Moto G. It would have been perfectly alright with even 4GB of internal memory and a microSD card slot instead of having 8GB and 16GB variants. I wonder if Motorola could have priced the Moto G even lower had it done that? The back cover gets dirty easily and seems to pick up skin grease while the gap between the raised edges and the display is a perfect spot for dust and pocket lint to accumulate. The camera could have been better too.

Despite these shortcomings, the Moto G provides a far better experience than most smartphones – even those priced at Rs 20,000. I find the 4.5-inch display size to be perfect for one-handed usage. If you are in the market looking for the greatest smartphone priced below Rs 20,000, look no further. Even if you have a budget higher than Rs 20,000 and are not much into gaming or photography, even then the Moto G is a great buy!

Photographs: Paranjay Dutt



  • uashwinp

    “On the specifications front, the Motorola Moto G is not exactly game changing”

    What game do you want the phone to change? Seriously? Cut the crap. I’m fed up with this so-called critics around the globe who claim Samsung S5 and iPhone 5S are the only smartest phones in the world.

    We want a phone to work with and play. That’s it!

    Moto G does a lot better than that at 14k and is one of the best buy. Stop looking down upon the specs as if it’s so inferior. If it can do every day tasks, chatting, e-mail, music and some games good, then it’s the best phone hands down. Combine with best build quality, Moto G hardly has any competition in the Indian market for awhile. It’s the best buy phone for months to come!

  • Vivek

    Does it support Pendrive through OTG cable?

    • Mohan Ganguly

      absolutely yes

  • parth

    How much Battery backup..???

    • Deepanshu

      on 3G Data around 14-15 Hours & On Mixed Used it will last Whole Day

  • gaurav maheshwari

    4gb with micro sd is a complete no no….moto did very well with 8 and 16gb cos now a days apps are getting larger larger and phone memory is what they need. games like fieldrunners or apps like sygic they each take 300 mb atleast.

  • Biswadeep Sen

    I had purchased the product on the launch day itself (06-Feb-14) and
    received a faulty device on 10-Feb-14. The SIM 1 slot did not recognize
    any SIM card. Had not updated to Kitkat at that point of time but was
    facing the issue

    1. Overall this entire launch campaign has been very poorly handled by
    Flipkart & Motorola. They have been sucessfull in their objective of
    creating a hype for the device but paying no heed to customer’s woes
    and troubles.

    2. The 16 GB version of the handset has been on the “BookNow/Reserve
    Now” mode ever since it was launched on 06-Feb-2014. This looks very
    unrealistic. Come on man, this was a Product Lauch for India,you expect
    people to beleive that the Flipkart & Motorola think tanks
    thoughtthat a mere 5000 handsets would be enough good?. I seriosly feel
    that this is nothing just a publicity gimmick…just creating and
    retaining the hype for a considerable period of time while they do have
    items in stocks.

    3. Numerous customers have received faulty devices and
    Flipkart/Motorola has done little to provide them replacement on
    priority. Instead they are taking new orders/booking for potential new
    customers

    4. Very few customers have received replacement of faulty devices,
    there are also instances where the new devices received in lieu of the
    defective device were also faulty

    5.There are also multiple instances where Customer’s orders were
    Cancelled without their consent and now they are waiting for the refund
    process which takes around 10 working days with their investment blocked
    for that period of time.

    6. Lastly, Customers who have purchased their devices are still
    waiting for updates regarding the delivery of the product. Why would
    someone wait for 10-20 days after having paid for the product? What does
    this”Book Now/Reserve Now” feature provide.

    I strongly urge fellow shoppers to kindly refrain from
    Booking/Reserving the product when there is no guarantee on the delivery
    date.This should in theory help to negate the superficial hype created
    around the product. Once they realise that there are very little
    bookings/reservations for the product, they will come out of their
    shells.

    Kindly refer to link below to see the list of issues that the Customers are facing-
    http://www.flipkart.com/moto-g

    • Saheel

      16 GB fiasco might be an attempt to sell more 8gb variants

  • Devika Kapoor

    Best phone in this rate. now cash on delivery availble at Flipkart http://www.flipkart.com/moto-g/p/itmdsmbxcrm9wy8r?pid=MOBDSGU2QFWMHGRR&affid=WISHVAMITR

  • Harsh

    Hi Guys, Planning to buy this phone but little bit confused about the service provided by motorola. Are der enough service centers in Mumbai ? which is better MOTOG or Samsung Quatro ( As samsung service centers are easily available). Plz help thanks in advance.

    • Manjunath Premchand

      plz go for samsung quatro

  • steve

    Moto G 16 gb is getting heated up while using and poor battery back up…..
    also shows network problems………:(

  • Arjun

    Moto G is a great phone.
    I have been using it as my primary phone for some time now.
    I Only feel its a bit on the heavier side ..
    Verdict : A great phone that definitely packs a punch! …
    and it now finally available at flipkart : http://goo.gl/lhEx3d

  • Nikunj Sanghavi

    Beware Fellow friends before buying this product. Sales Service is too bad as it is no one there to hear even ur genuin copmlain with customer care’s accpectence about faulty product.

  • Guest

    The 16GB version is available again on Flipkart. Buy it here.

  • hash esh

    this phone is worth buying
    what MOTOROLA is offering you is a cheap and best smart-phone ,
    what else you may desire , buy this from http://amzn.to/1hwtwT9 with great price of 12,499 only

  • Guest

    Am loving this phone. Brilliant device for the price. Definitely the best value for money device I have ever owned. Buy it here at an unbeatable price !!

  • Ravi

    Moto g mobile Glass has broken while slipping down from 3 feet height. then what the use of gorilla glass. and service center charging 5000 rs for change the glass.think b4 buy