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

Moto G 1st Gen 3G
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £135
inc VAT SIM-free

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


Processor: Quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400, Screen size: 4.5in, Screen resolution: 1,280×720, Rear camera: 5-megapixel, Storage: 8GB, Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Size: 130x66x11.6mm, Weight: 143g, Operating system: Android 4.4.2



The camera is one area where the Moto G shows its more budget leanings. It’s a got a five-megapixel sensor and it only shoots video at up to 720p. The front camera is 1.3 megapixels and again can shoot 720p video.

Quality from the main camera is acceptable, colours are accurate but there’s a distinct lack of detail compared to the top-end devices. The automatic mode really struggles when there’s varying light levels across the frame, and there’s a lack of dynamic range even once you’ve tweaked the exposure. In low light it really falls apart with lots of noise.

In comparison to other handsets, even around its own price, the Moto G isn’t particularly impressive. In the one-to-one pixel crops below you can see that there’s a definite lack of detail, with shots looking a bit blurry and murky.

Motorola Moto G^ Motorola’s camera app is one the biggest changes to stock android, it has hardly any onscreen controls, you just tap to take a photo or hold down to shoot in burst mode at roughly 2-3fps

Motorola Moto G^ Here we’re moving the focus/exposure point around, and it’s struggling to capture anything in the brighter areas of the image

Motorola Moto G Nokia Lumia 620 Samsung galaxy S3^ From top to bottom you can see how the Moto G’s murky rendition is outdone by the Nokia Lumia 620 with a cleaner brighter take, these two shots were taken almost simultaneously. Below that you have our trusty old Samsung Galaxy S3, which shows that although budget phones have come a long way in terms of processor speed and screens, their cameras still can’t compete even with older flagship models – click samples to enlarge

Motorola Moto G HTC Desire 500^ Indoors we put the Moto G up against the slightly more expensive HTC Desire 500. This handset isn’t as quick as the Moto G and has a lower-resolution display, but you can see that its 8-megapixel camera is obviously superior with far more detail in the fur of our model under typical indoor lighting – click samples to enlarge

It’s hard to expect a budget phone to have a great camera, but with the Moto G being so strong in other areas it’s hard not to feel a little disappointed. For quick snaps to upload to the net it does its job, but this is one area where the Moto G really isn’t a perfectly good, that-will-do replacement for a top-end smartphone.


As we mentioned above, the back panel may come off, but the battery itself isn’t removable. Thankfully, it’s a sizeable 2,070mAh battery, not quite as big as the 2,300mAh battery in the Nexus 5, and well short of the 2,600mAh pack in the Samsung Galaxy S4, but then both those handsets have much bigger screens.

In our continuous video playback test the Moto G lasted for an impressive nine hours and 12 minutes. That’s almost two hours better than the high-end Nexus 5 (which we criticised on that point) and with few handsets scoring more than 10 hours in this test, it’s a strong result.


The screen isn’t huge, there isn’t much storage on the basic model and the camera is nothing to get excited about, but in every other respect the Moto G is the best value for money smartphone we’ve ever seen. With its excellent build quality, high-quality display, great performance and good battery life, it single-handedly says goodbye to compromised, sluggish budget smartphones and potentially kills off the mid-range competition, too.

However, now that the new Moto G is out, the old 3G Moto G pales in comparison to its newer big brother, but we’d still recommend the 4G version if you’re after the best 4G handset currently available. Available for around £128 SIM-free or as little as £13.50-per-month on Tesco Mobile, the 4G version is a great alternative to the new Moto G, if only for the future-proofing 4G support provides. With an upgrade to Android Lollipop due imminently, the 4G Moto G is our go-to 4G phone of choice.

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ProcessorQuad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400
Screen size4.5in
Screen resolution1,280×720
Screen typeIPS
Front camera1.3-megapixel
Rear camera5-megapixel
Memory card slot (supplied)microSD (4G model only)
BluetoothBluetooth 4.0
Wireless data3G, 4G
Operating systemAndroid 4.4.2
Battery size2,070mAh
Buying information
WarrantyOne-year RTB
Price SIM-free (inc VAT)£128 (4G)
Price on contract (inc VAT)Free on £13.50-per-month contract (4G)
Prepay price (inc VAT)£130 (4G)
Contract/prepay /
Part codeXT1032 (3G) / XT1039 (4G)

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