Each year, phone manufacturers release their newer versions of existing models. Apple had only the iPhone to worry about, till they decided to go big and launched a ‘Plus’ sized phone as well. Other brands like Samsung have so many models, sometimes they may forget the magic number themselves. Motorola has 3 main models, the Moto X which is their flagship, the Moto G which is the mid-range model and the budget-oriented Moto E.
So, what’s so different in the 2015 variant of the Moto G? I’ve already stated the reasons why one would want to buy it, but the question is – should you? In a market which is filled with choices for the asking price, it’s tough to make a decision. So, let’s see what aces the Moto G holds.
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Build and Design
Sticking to what it does best, Motorola has retained the same design philosophy from last years model in this years Moto G too. The only difference is a textured back, which is replaceable and customizable via Moto Maker if you are living in the US of A. Although the curved back adds nothing to the overall look, it does make the phone comfortable to hold and operate on an everyday basis.
The thickness might bother some people, though. It’s not a sleek device by any stretch of imagination, but that curve does help it out to an extent.
The right side panel houses the power/lock key along with the volume rocker, but to help users distinguish the two easily, the lock key has striations on it. The top panel has the 3.5mm audio jack as well as a noise-canceling microphone, whereas the bottom panel has only a micro USB port. The lower microphone unit also doubles up as a front-firing speaker, but there is no stereo effect here. Only the lower one pushes out the audio, the top one acts only as an earpiece.
The 3rd Gen Moto G disappointingly sticks to the same 5-inch 720p display like last years model. Though this model has an LCD screen, it doesn’t affect battery life. More on that later, but it should suffice to say there are minor increments in the hardware department of the Moto G 2015. Motorola’s own website lists the following under specs, but doesn’t highlight a few things.
The first thing it omits here is the slightly upgrade Qualcomm Snapdragon 401 SoC, which is a step up from the previous gen which sported Snapdragon 400 SoC. The other thing is that there are two models of this years Moto G – a model with 8 GB of internal storage and 1 GB of RAM and another with 16 GB storage and 2 GB of RAM. The latter is the unit that I’m testing and going to be speaking of.
While benchmarks don’t really give a true sense of the potential of the phone, the few that I did run showed that the Moto G 3 is a more than capable device. Playing casual games and multitasking was a sheer pleasure, but some higher end games like Modern Combat 5 and NOVA 3 certainly struggled to play nice. Which means that Motorola has done a good job optimizing the modest Snapdragon 401 SoC, but the additional RAM has also helped.
The display, however, is quite warm. So much so, that it looks yellow when compared to a slightly ‘cooler’ display, like the one found on the YU Yureka phone. Here’s a quick comparison photo with both phones on full brightness and auto brightness turned off.
This in no way means that the display on the Moto G is bad. It’s simply warmer than most displays and perhaps not as bright either. But the adaptive brightness control helps for most lighting scenarios and even though the colors feel slightly muted, there are no major complains to write about.
Software, UI and Everything Connected
Running on almost a stock Android experience, this years Moto G feels quite similar to last years model. Naturally, all the improvements in UI are because of the Android OS improvements. The only Moto apps here are Migrate, Assist and Help- but Motorola have also added their own Gallery and FM Radio apps. These aren’t bloatware at all, in fact I found the Assist app to be quite useful and enjoyed using it.
The animation effects on Android 5.1.1 (Lollipop) feel buttery smooth on the Moto G, even when I added my micro SD card and had the capacity pushing to max, there was little to complain. Yes, the phone does get a tad slower once you keep adding media and apps to it, but not as much as its peers in this price range. The Moto G can stand its ground proudly and Motorola can take a bow with how well the phone can perform.
Be it multimedia, casual browsing or fun games. There is minimal (if any) heating, no jitters in frame rates and the experience of a stock Android device with adequate hardware is sheer bliss. Moto’s own tweaks to the UI make the whole experience richer, with the interactive display proving to be most useful when you want to take action on notifications right from the lock screen. This can be activated or deactivated from Settings –> Display –> Screen Notifications.
But, since the battery life doesn’t drain even when this is turned on, why not keep it? It certainly is helpful as with one swipe up you can directly go into the app, or with a swipe down you can unlock the phone normally. The thing to note here is the lack of a front facing LED notification light, so it’s a good idea to keep this on, as it will keep reminding you of notifications you may have missed while supping your cappuccino.
On the connectivity front, the Moto G is dual-SIM (region-specific, micro SIM for both) and also supports all major LTE bands. 4G is supported on both SIM slots and there is also a slot for micro SD card, as I’ve stated before. The call quality was clear and sharp and even though 4G is still choppy in my area, there was still no major worries as far as signal strength and download speeds were concerned.
Battery life, however, is something that needs to be highlighted. I was pleasantly surprised to see the 2470 mAh battery pulling out more than a day’s performance easily, with consistently more than 4 hours of screen on time, while I played music, browsed the web and did pretty much everything on social media on it. After long last, I was happy with a mid-range phone’s battery life and that’s saying something.
Even when I kept adding more apps and media, the battery life held up. It consistently kept up the show in all departments, with battery clearly standing out without any major complains.
This was a sticking point for both previous versions of the Moto G, but this time Motorola implemented the same 13 MP sensor which they had used in the Nexus 6. The UI is Motorola’s tried and tested minimal style variant we’ve seen in previous Moto phones as well, but it does get manual exposure this time around. Swipe in from the left to get more options and swipe in from the right to get to the gallery.
Even though it may be the same sensor, it certainly doesn’t have the same image processing capabilities, nor the same chipset running the show. So, you’re limited to 1080p videos and images which look great otherwise, but zoom in a little and they tend to lose detail.
That’s not to say that the camera on this Moto G is bad, in fact, it is quite a lot better than the previous generation model. But, when you compare it with the likes of the Xiaomi Mi4i, it might not be able to keep up. Is a better camera than last years model, but best in class? No. Can it still take good images which are usable? Yes.
Here are a few sample images that I’ve taken so far, so you can see for yourself. The 2nd image below is with HDR on and the 3rd one is using Night mode. The first one is in Auto.
Full Size Images Here: Of course, these are scaled down images, but if you want to see the full-scale versions of these, you can do so by checking out this Google Drive folder where I’ll keep adding more images from time to time.
Yes, Waterproofing Is Also On Board
Another feature that I’ve briefly spoken about in my preview of the Moto G 2015, but yes, it works and works great. To test, I took a shower with the Moto G 3, dunked it in a bucket of water and even took it out in pouring Mumbai rains to see if it can hold up. It sure did, but the biggest complain I had was with the way the back panel clips on to the phone. If you don’t do it correctly, there might be an exposed gap and no matter how tiny it is, water sure will find its way to trickle in.
Even though reviewers like me make doubly sure that this never happens, it is easy to see how someone not used to this (or someone always in a hurry) might not be very careful with it and inadvertently expose their phone to liquid damage.
So, for $179.99 (or Rs. 11,999, if you’re in India) you can get the base 8 GB model or shell out $219.99 (or Rs. 12,999) for the higher 16 GB model. I’ve only tested the higher end model and I can wholeheartedly recommend it, if you’re not nitpicky about a warmer display and a slightly sub-par camera. Everything else about the Moto G is good, especially the multitasking performance and the battery life.
For that itself, it will probably end up being one of the better mid-range phones of 2015. It may be too early to make a prediction, but I have no qualms in doing so. Especially given Motorola’s brand value, trust and faith in their products over a long period of time.