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Motorola Moto G review

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  • Motorola Moto G Android 4.4.2
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  • Motorola Moto G Android 4.4.2
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  • Motorola Moto G
  • Motorola Moto G
  • Motorola Moto G
  • Motorola Moto G

Verdict:

Still the best budget smartphone, the Moto G is an incredible bargain that punches well above its weight

Review Date: 21 Feb 2014

Price when reviewed: £135

Buy it now for: £150
(see more store prices)

Supplier: http://www.phones4u.co.uk

Reviewed By: Seth Barton

Our Rating 5 stars out of 5

User Rating 5 stars out of 5

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UPDATE - Its been three months since the Motorola Moto G came out and annihilated every other budget smartphone. At present it's still the smartphone to buy for everyone who isn't after a flagship model. However, will it stay this way, and will the Moto G itself be about to disappear from shelves?

Right now, based on what we know, there's nothing that is going to compete with the Moto G at this price. It will be getting some stronger competition in the mid-range market with handsets around £200 with equivalent specs and better cameras likely to launch in Barcelona. However we doubt anyone will manage a direct competitor, even three months on.

The reason for this is that the Moto G is most likely being sold at almost no profit whatsoever, as Motorola's then owner Google would have been making money after the initial sale via the Google Play store. However, now that Lenovo has bought the company this is no longer true, and we may indeed see the Moto G disappear from retail as soon as its new owner can come up with a replacement. A replacement that may well not be as brain-stunningly good value.

Our advice then is to rush out and buy yourself a Moto G today if you have any interest in buying a good, cheap smartphone (caveats about the camera noted below). It may not be around for much longer.

MOTO G REVIEW

It may not have been accompanied by the flash and razzmatazz of a flagship phone launch, but the Motorola Moto G is still a huge deal, in both senses of the phrase. It's the first handset launched by Motorola in the UK since it was taken over by Google; and it costs just £135 for an impressive specification.

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

MOTOOGLE OR GOTOROLA

Google has long had its Nexus-branded handsets, but these were made by other manufacturers and at just one high-end handset a year, mainly sold SIM free, they weren't exactly mass market. In comparison Samsung released 20 handsets worldwide in 2013 alone.

By buying Motorola (or to be precise its Mobility devices arm), Google now has its own smartphone manufacturer. It feels like a new business too, we really liked the macho-styled RAZR handsets, but all that is gone for more curvaceous, colourful, friendly designs that fit well with Google's other offerings.

MOTO G SIZE AND SHELLS

The Moto G isn't the kind of handset that jumps out at you, in fact it's very safe, very plain and a little boring. Given its price though, it's a success, it doesn't feel or look cheap just utilitarian. At 66x130x11.6mm it's not the slimmest handset but the bezels are small and its fairly compact for a handset with a 4.5in display. Though it feels a bit weighty at 143g.

Motorola Moto G
It comes in black, but you can buy white, dark blue, cyan, fluorescent yellow, pink or this red

The gloss black front is complemented by snap-on rear covers in seven colours, for £13 each. There's 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 give, and again they come in seven colours. 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, and with Motorola being owned by Google we were hopeful that the handset would ship with the latest version of Android. The handset initially shipped with 4.3, but an update to the latest version, Android 4.4.2, has now been released. You should update your phone immediately if required - go to App tray, Settings, About phone, to check the version number.

Motorola Moto G Android 4.4.2
The update is available for all now, and is well worth having

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.

The 4.4.2 update brings a few changes. The phone dialler has been changed and you can now bring up contacts quickly via the numberpad by simply entering any string of letters or numbers that appear in that contacts name or number. For example, typing 533 will bring up any contact with LEE or JED in their names, or any contact whose number contains that string of numbers. You also get intelligent caller ID, with the phone searching for unknown numbers and providing you with information based on that search, so you have some idea who it is before you answer.

Motorola Moto G Android 4.4.2
Find contacts quickly and easily in the new dialler app, it even brings up there work details if you have Outlook set up on

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 1297ms, 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.

And if you're not that keen on Google's own launcher, then you can toggle between the default version and any custom ones you might download. To do this just head to Settings – Home and then choose the launcher you want and press Home to switch to it.

Motorola Moto G Android 4.4.2
Launch your preferred launcher via the settings menu

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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