It took mere hours for the Motorola Moto G to go out of stock after being launched in India, giving us a strong reason to review the handset and find out whether it was worth all the hype. It’s also the company’s first phone to go official in India since the Google acquisition. And now, with Lenovo calling the shots for Motorola, the Moto X has also made its way into the country. Back to the smartphone in question, the American company has designed it to be a cheaper alternative to its flagship handset and they seem to have done quite a fine job. Head on below for an in-depth analysis on Motorola’s most successful smartphone till date.
Platform: Android 4.3, upgradable to 4.4 KitKat
Display: 4.5-inch 720p HD panel with Gorilla Glass 3
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, GPS, GLONAAS, Bluetooth 4.0, HSPA+
Camera: 5MP rear, 1.3MP front
Battery: 2070mAh Li-ion
Dimensions: 129.9mm x 65.9mm x 11.6mm
Weight: 143 grams
In the sub-Rs 15,000 price range, it’s quite hard to find products which have appealing designs. In India at least, most of the smartphones available have lackluster form factors or are basically rip-offs of popular handsets in the market. The Motorola Moto G, on the other hand, comes with the same design language adopted for the flagship Moto X, sans the many customization options. While both phones share the same look, the former is a bit smaller and obviously less powerful. It’s also slightly thicker at 11.6mm and weighs a tab more at 143 grams.
Nevertheless, the phone’s weight is just right for its size. Like its larger sibling, this handset also sports a curved design where the rear gets thinner towards the edges. This not only makes the smartphone more attractive, but also provides a comfortable grip. To top it off, Motorola has applied a soft-touch coating on the rear, giving it a premium feel. This panel is removable in order access to the dual SIM card slots, albeit the battery cannot be pulled out as it’s sealed away under protective covering. Motorola is also offering interchangeable cases with flip covers which come in multiple colors.
The front is entirely dominated by a protective layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 3, beneath which rests a 4.5-inch touchscreen, a notification light and a camera. On the rear, you’ll find a 5MP snapper and an LED flash as well as a loudspeaker that’s placed just to the left. The company has delivered a minimalistic appearance here as there are just two ports on the outside, a 3.5mm audio jack on the top and a microUSB slot on the bottom. The volume rockers and the unlock button can be found on the right. Accompanying the handset in the box are the usual set of booklets, a wall charger (no USB cable) and a pair of cheap looking (and sounding) earphones.
One of the strongest selling points of the handset is its display. The company has designed the smartphone with an LCD panel that offers visuals in 720p HD resolution with a 329ppi density. The screen implemented here is quite different from what’s featured in the Moto X. Nevertheless, it’s nothing short of gorgeous. Colors are every realistic and the viewing angles are pretty good, albeit you will notice a slight drop in brightness from the sides. Also, you won’t have to worry much a about getting the screen scratched as the Corning Gorilla Glass 3 layer is one of the toughest available in the market.
Performance, usability and benchmarks:
The Motorola Moto G comes with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, but the moment you power it up, you’ll be presented with a software update notification which will bump the device to version 4.4.2 KitKat. Booting the phone from cold takes a little over 30 seconds, during which you’ll be treated to one of the best boot screens we’ve seen on Android till date. The interface is basically stock and navigating through menus is as smooth as it can get. But do expect to find a couple of non-intrusive Motorola-exclusive applications such as Asist and Migrate.
A small recommendation: If you do purchase the Moto G, ditch the stock launcher and sideload the Google Now desktop. Not only is it faster and cleaner, you’ll also get quick access to Google Now and touchless voice control which is currently limited to the Nexus and GPE devices.
Storage on is one of the biggest issues you’ll face as there’s no microSD slot onboard. The 8GB model comes with just 5.5GB of user-accessible memory which is good enough for a small collection of songs and applications, while the 16GB model should provide around 11GB to 12GB of available storage. On the upside, the company has added USB OTG support which means that you can connect an external HDD or flash drive for accessing data. Also, Google is offering 50GB of free Drive space online for two years.
From the retro-style Flappy Bird to graphically demanding titles, the smartphone can handle most of it well. We put the phone put through its paces in multiple games and were nothing short of amazed at its capability to run titles such as GTA: SA, Asphalt 8, Real Racing 3 and Shadowgun: Deadzone smoothly without any lag or major spikes in frame rate. The Motorola Moto G also puts on a pretty decent show in benchmarks. On AnTuTu, the smartphone managed to garner an impressive score of 17,503, while it delivered 7,949 in Quadrant Standard.
Other benchmark suites such as 3DMark and GFX Bench have moved to intensive tests which are more focused towards high-end hardware, so we’ve skipped them for this review. Coming to the activity life, the 2070mAh Li-ion battery pulls ahead of the competition with some pretty good results. We managed to achieve around 4.5 hours of gaming in demanding titles and a little less than 8 hours of HD video playback. On our web browsing test, the device managed to score 5.5 hours on a single charge. The phone was in airplane mode during the tests with the brightness set to 50%, and Wi-Fi on.
The 5MP camera is nothing to boast about, but it does a fairly good job. The interface is pretty basic and so are the features. A swipe towards the right of the screen will bring up the settings menu, while the gallery is accessible by doing just the opposite. There are some pretty interesting features available such as 720p HD recording, HDR, slow-motion video and panorama, albeit you won’t be able to adjust the ISO and exposure settings. Even in bright conditions, we found that the images captured were pretty pixilated. The LED flash is quite powerful and really helps in low-light situations. Coming to HD recording, the video quality isn’t much to be praised about, but the audio is clearer and crisper than what we anticipated.
This is certainly one of the best-looking smartphones we’ve seen under Rs 15,000.
The display is the sweet spot on this handset. It offers clear and vivid visuals as well as good viewing angles.
For an affordable device, the battery life is more than what we expected.
Stock Android and almost no bloatware mean smooth functioning and the ability to customize the UI without any conflicts.
The non-existence of a memory card slot means you have very limited storage.
Even with the rear panel being removable, you won’t be able to pull out the battery.
The haptic feedback on the smartphone is a bit harsh, making the phone vibrate like crazy. Not only is this annoying, but unnecessarily utilizes power.
The Motorola Moto G has a heap of competition to face in the Indian market, but the company doesn’t have much to worry about for now. The smartphone is a bang for every buck, delivering better performance and battery life than other affordable handsets in the market, not to mention a gorgeous design, a beautiful display and the latest Android OS Google has to offer. This handset could’ve been the perfect budget phone only if it had a microSD card slot. If you can live with 8GB or 16GB of storage (available memory will be lesser), then look no farther than this piece of near-perfection which deserves nothing less than a 4.5 out of 5 rating. Prices start at Rs 12,499 for 8GB and Rs 13,999 for 16GB.