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Motorola Moto G 3rd Gen

Moto G 3rd Gen review (2015): The best compact budget smartphone now with Android 6.0

Katharine Byrne
12 Jul 2016
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New Moto G 2015 main
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
159
inc VAT SIM-free

Not as good value as its predecessor, but the new Moto G is still a fantastic phone with its great camera, long battery life and useful apps

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Specifications

Processor: Quad-core 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 410, Screen Size: 5in, Screen resolution: 1,280x720, Rear camera: 13 megapixels, Storage (free): 8GB (4GB) / 16GB (12GB), Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Size: 142x72x6.1mm, Weight: 155g, Operating system: Android 5.1.1

Performance

Inside the new Moto G is a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 chipset. This chipset regularly appears in budget smartphones, but here it’s running at 1.4GHz rather than the usual 1.2GHz. This gives the phone a significant speed boost compared to the competition, and both the 1GB and 2GB of RAM models of the Moto G proved significantly faster in our benchmarks compared to the competition. 

Both models scored around 530 in Geekbench 3's single core test and 1,600 in the multicore test, whereas the 1.2GHz Snapdragon 410-powered 2nd Gen Moto E, for example, only managed 470 and 1,397 respectively. Both models were equally fast at web browsing, too, and the 1GB model's impressive score of 781 in Futuremark’s Peacekeeper web browsing test is one of the faster scores I've seen from this chipset. Web pages loaded quickly and there were only a few signs of visible stutter on multimedia-heavy sites.

Motorola Moto G 3rd Gen watermelon

However, the real difference between the 1GB and 2GB Moto G is its ability to multitask, as apps and games loaded much faster on the 2GB version than the 1GB version. There's often only a second between them, but the extra RAM does make a surprising difference. 

A faster clock speed doesn't necessarily equal smoother graphics performance, though, as its score of 105 frames in the offscreen Manhattan test in GFX Bench GL 3.1 can attest. This only equates to an average of about 1.7fps, but this test is extremely demanding and I found that simpler 2D games such as Threes! and Alphabear still ran perfectly smoothly. Likewise, while other Snapdragon 410 phones have warned that it didn't meet the recommended specs for playing Blizzard's Hearthstone, I saw no such notice on the Moto G, so it should be able to handle almost any game currently available from the Google Play Store.

Moto G 3rd Gen grip cover

^ As with previous Moto G phones, the 3rd Gen model also has several flip cases available, which have a comfy rubbery finish

Battery

Motorola's managed to squeeze an extra 80mAh into the 3rd Gen Moto G's 2,470mAh battery this time round, but what a difference it makes. With the screen brightness set to 170cd/m2, it managed an impressive 11h 12m of continuous video playback in our battery life test, which is 90 minutes more than what the 2nd Gen Moto G managed under the same conditions. It also beats every other phone in its price bracket save the Samsung Galaxy A3, whose energy-efficient AMOLED panel helped it last just over 14 and a half hours.

Camera

One of the biggest new additions to the 3rd Gen Moto G is its 13-megapixel rear camera. This is a big step up from the 2nd Gen's 8-megapixel snapper, and according to Motorola, it’s the same sensor found in Google's Motorola-made Nexus 6 handset, which is pretty impressive considering the Nexus 6 is more than twice as expensive. It also has a dual LED colour-balancing flash, which is meant to adjust colour temperature so flash-lit shots look more natural, and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera.

Admittedly, I was a little disappointed by the flash's performance in our indoor photo tests, as I actually thought it made our still life arrangement look rather green. This was particularly noticeable on the fur of our teddy bear, and the blocks of watercolour paint were also less vivid than our non-flash shots. It did eliminate a lot of the noise present when I didn't have our external lamp turned on, but colour quality definitely suffered.

Motorola Moto G 3rd Gen camera test indoors with flash

^ With the flash turned on, our indoor test images looked rather green around the gills

Motorola Moto G 3rd Gen camera test indoors no lamp

^ Turning the flash off, however, produced a much more natural looking image, despite the increase in noise

Still, there was plenty of detail present, regardless of whether I was indoors or outdoors, and outdoor shots in particular looked superb. Colours were rich and vibrant and shadow areas were well illuminated. It's quick to shoot, too, and its simple interface is easy to get to grips with. There's no onscreen shutter button, so all you need to do is tap the screen. Camera settings are revealed with a quick swipe in from the left, while a swipe from the right will take you straight to the Gallery.

There aren't a huge number of settings to choose from, but HDR, Panorama and Motorola's new Night mode should be more than enough for most. HDR was a little strong at times, but it does help bring out the details and clouds looked particularly dramatic. Motorola's also included a new focus and exposure control on the 3rd Gen Moto G, which places a moveable focus bracket onscreen to help with those all important macro shots, as well as an exposure slider to help let in more light. These were very easy to use when I tried it out, and although increasing the exposure in poor lighting conditions will naturally subject you to more noise than usual. 

Motorola Moto G 3rd Gen camera test

^ Outdoors, colours were rich, accurate and there was plenty of detail on show

Motorola Moto G 3rd Gen camera test HDR mode

^ Switching on HDR mode lightened the image even further, and made the clouds really stand out 

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