Moto G review (1st Gen) - Still a great budget choice for 4G

Reviews
Published 
17 Oct 2014
Our Rating 
5/5
Price when reviewed 
135
inc VAT SIM-free
Buy it now for 

Now available with 4G, the Moto G is an incredible bargain that punches well above its weight and is still the best budget smartphone around

Page 1 of 6Moto G review (1st Gen) - Still a great budget choice for 4G

Specifications

Processor: Quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400, Screen size: 4.5in, Screen resolution: 1,280x720, Rear camera: 5-megapixel, Storage: 8GB, Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Size: 130x66x11.6mm, Weight: 143g, Operating system: Android 4.4.2

Ever since the Moto G launched last November, it's continued to annihilate every other budget smartphone out there, making it a steadfast presence in our Best Mobile Phones list. It's now been succeeded by the superb new Moto G, but Motorola's strange decision to make the second generation of its unstoppable budget handset a 3G-only phone means the 4G version of the old Moto G still has plenty of life left in it - particularly since Motorola has also confirmed that it will be receiving an Android Lollipop update as soon as it becomes available.

Of course, 4G contract prices do get a lot more expensive once you start adding more data, but regardless of which network you want, the 4G Moto G is still the smartphone to buy for everyone who isn't after a flagship model. The 4G verison also comes with a microSD card slot to expand the phone's 8GB of internal storage - something that the 3G Moto G sorely lacked.

Motorola Moto G

^ The Moto G is a solid, no nonsense handset, it's not fancy but it's not ugly either

In every other aspect, the 3G and 4G versions of the old Moto G are exactly the same. It may not be the kind of handset that immediately jumps out at you, but its build quality is superb for such a cheap phone. At 130x66x11.6mm, it's not the slimmest handset either, but the bezels are small and it's fairly compact considering its 4.5in display. At 143g, though, it does feels a bit weighty in the hand.

You can easily add a bit of colour to your phone thanks to Motorola's snap-on rear covers, available in seven colours for £13 each. There are also tough shell cases with front flip covers that stay shut thanks to magnets and automatically turn on the phone when you open it. They cost £25 but look to be well worth the extra expense, given the protection they provide. There's also a Grip Shell with a rubber frame for extra grip and impact protection.

Motorola Moto G

^ The Flip Shells are tough, textured plastic on the outside ...

Motorola Moto G

^ ... with a soft finish on the inside of the screen cover

Speaking of protection, one feature that has made the transition from previous Motorola handsets is the splashproof coating. This means that it should survive anything short of a complete immersion in water, we spilt a pint over the first RAZR with no ill effects. It also has Gorilla Glass 3 to protect its screen from scratches.

MOTO G ANDROID 4.4

Of course, what you see onscreen is arguably more important than what surrounds it. The 4G Moto G comes with the latest version of Google's operating system, Android 4.4, but the 3G Moto G still ships with the slightly older Android 4.3. Fortunately, an update to Android 4.4.4, has now been released for the 3G Moto G and you should update your phone immediately if required - just go to App tray, Settings, About phone, to check the version number.

Motorola has left Google's OS, largely untouched, just adding a couple of useful features and tweaking the camera app. The Assist app makes your phone more intelligent, for example you can set the hours you usually sleep for and the phone will automatically go silent, or only allow favourite callers, or those who call twice in succession through. It will also go on vibrate if you have a meeting in your diary. Both could be useful, though they're still a little inflexible for our liking.

Motorola has also expanded what you can do with photos from within the gallery app. You can apply a wide range of filters now to photos you shoot, add frames around them, crop them in various ways, and even write (or draw) on the screen with your finger in any colour you like. You can also print photos straight out of the gallery to services such as Google's Cloud Print.

Android 4.4 also supports the new version of Hangouts which combines your instant messaging and SMS apps into one, though you still need to switch between these two streams to keep track of all your conversations via both.

The lockscreen now also show the appropriate album art for the music you're listening to and includes basic playback controls, so you don't have to unlock the phone to pause or skip tracks. You also get immersive mode, where the status bar and controls go away, allowing apps to go full screen until you swipe from the top.

Motorola Moto G Android 4.4.2

^ The new Lock Screen will delight music lovers

Slightly faster browsing is another bonus, with the SunSpider JavaScript browser benchmark recording a score 1,297ms, a small but appreciable improvement over its score of 1,410ms when we first tested it. Other benchmarks were unaffected by the change, though Google claims that memory use is improved, the handset is more responsive to touch and multi-tasking is now quicker.

MOTO G MIGRATE

Motorola has made it easy to move from another Android handset to the Moto G. You do this by first installing the Motorola Migrate app from the Google Play Store on your old handset. Once done you connect the two phones directly via Wi-Fi, which requires nothing more than pointing the camera on your old phone at the QR code displayed on the Moto G. The transfer then starts automatically.

For once, it's actually as easy as the promotional video makes it look

The app will pull across call logs, text messages, pictures, movies and music on the old phone. We got a warning that all the data may not be transferred (but then we were testing with a 16GB Samsung S3 and an 8GB Moto G). It takes a while to complete the transfer, but you can use the phone for other things at the same time. In our case it transferred the call logs, pictures and music fine, but text messages didn't come across and it ran out of space copying the videos (a sensible choice to leave).

Contacts and emails will be transferred anyway as they are part of your Google account, so this is just Motorola tidying up the things that Google hasn't dealt with. It's very neat, very clever and should relieve the worries of those who don't want a clean slate on a new handset.

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