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The new Moto G might be a modest improvement, but it's a great budget phone

It’s the third version of Motorola’s low-price smartphone range, but does it still stand out in a sea of cheap devices?

Rating: 8/10

Verdict: Despite growing competition, Motorola has developed one of the best budget devices you can get.

WHEN IT COMES to low price Android devices, Motorola is seen as top dog but the competition is heating up.

Within a year, the likes of OnePlus, Xiaomi, Huawei and many others are making a serious dent in the market, forcing others to both up their game and reduce costs to stay competitive.

Last month, Motorola announced three new phones, the Moto G (3rd Gen), the Moto X, and the Moto X Play. It’s the Moto G that arrived first, but is there enough for it to stand out in a crowded field?

Look and feel

Going for a mostly plastic design and removable rubber cover as standard, the Moto G is a little bland but comfortable. The curved back, plastic rim, and 155g weight is enough to make it feel comfortable in your hand, and while plastic can make a phone feel cheap, it not as apparent here.

The screen size and quality – 5-inches and 720 x 1280 resolution respectively – is the exact same as the 2nd gen Moto G which might disappoint some.

It just means that everything on screen is blown up slightly, but most people won’t care.

While it has a removable back cover, this is only for inserting your SIM card and Micro SD card as there’s no removable battery.

Moto G physical

There are a large range of covers, using different colours and materials, to use, allowing owners to customise it if they so wish, although there’s nothing particularly eye-catching about the standard cover, save the Motorola logo at the back.

One change from the 2nd Gen version is it’s now water-resistant, surviving up to a metre of water or being submerged for 30 seconds. That means it will survive a clumsy drop in water but you’ll still have to act fast

The Software

Considering Motorola was owned by Google until 2013, it’s no surprise that it the one manufacturer that closely followed Android true form.

With the exception of some minor additions, this is Android Lollipop as it was designed. That brings both its good and bad parts but the minor additions from Motorola smooth things over.

Those small additions include ‘Sleep Mode’ which makes up for Lollipop’s ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode while the other is motion gestures.

There are only two to activate: karate chopping twice activates the torch while twisting your wrist twice activates the camera.

Moto G torch gif

The issue is it isn’t exactly consistent. There are times where you’d spend time trying to turn on the camera in vain, yet a random flick will turn the camera on. You will get it right more times (there were only two instances where the torch didn’t activate) and provided you do it quickly, it will activate.

The final Motorola-exclusive addition is the lock screen. Acting on top of the standard Lollipop lock screen, moving your phone while on standby brings up a quick glance screen.

It’s a minimalist black screen allowing you to swipe to unlock or open up specific notifications, a simple inclusion that just works.

Moto g actions

Hardware

Using a Snapdragon 410 chipset and a Quad-core 1.4GHz CPU, the Moto G isn’t exactly a high powered device, but it packs enough speed and efficiency that makes it more than the sum of its parts. It zips through Google Now and web browsing and unless you really push it, it can feel like you’re using a mid-range device.

It manages to play most games well without much trouble. When playing Lara Croft Go, for example, we did notice a tiny bit of slowdown at times, but it would barely register with you.

The Moto G comes in two versions, the standard is an 8GB device with 1GB RAM while an upgraded version has 16GB with 2GB of RAM. The 8GB is the standard and it fills up very quickly, meaning you will have to be more considerate of the type of apps you download.

As you realistically have 4.5GB to work with, close to half of that will likely be taken up by Google and Motorola apps. Since that is the only one available here (unless you order outside of the country) there isn’t much you can do except shell out for a Micro-SD card or rely on Google Drive/Photos.

Battery life is pretty decent, the 2470 mAh battery is a 400 mAh increase compared to its predecessor. There’s nothing standout about it, it’s still enough to squeeze a day out of it, and that is all you’ll really want it to do.

Camera

As far as budget phones go, the Moto G is pretty good, if a little basic. It foregoes convention to bring its own twists to the camera, and some work better than others.

The interface is simple to understand. Two buttons to change camera or video, swipe left to right to bring up quick options, tapping the screen takes a photo and holding down takes burst shots.

Habit alone will see you taking photos accidentally instead of focusing the camera – you have to hold down on the crosshair to do that – but it ties into the theme of simplicity and doesn’t take long to get used to.

Moto Camera gif 1

The only two areas that aren’t exactly up to par is the flash, an issue with nearly all smartphones, and the brightness adjuster. The latter is done on screen, but the resulting photo usually ends up looking washed out or too dark.

The 13MP camera is the exact same as the Nexus 6 and to be honest, there is very little difference between the two. It’s great for the price you pay for it and the front-facing 5MP camera offers similar quality.

The new Moto G might be a modest improvement, but it's a great budget phone
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  • Moto G (3rd Gen)

  • Moto G (3rd Gen)

  • Moto G (3rd Gen)

  • Moto G (3rd Gen)

  • Moto G (3rd Gen)

  • Moto G (3rd Gen)

Should you buy it?

This is not a phone that will wow you with clever ideas or great hardware. In fact, the improvements made here compared to previous versions are quite modest so you can’t expect a major jump in quality.

Yet despite that and the growing competition in the market, it’s still one of the best budget smartphones on the market at a very competitive price, one that is better than it has any right to be.

The competition is only going to heat up further and there will be a day that another company will steal the crown from Motorola. But for now, it’s still very much ‘Hello Moto’ when looking for a great budget phone.

Moto G front

Pros

- Great hardware and software for the price.
- Moto-specific additions help make it easy to use.
- Camera quality is high.
- General use is quick and efficient.

Cons

- Display isn’t the best.
- Camera interface can be a little basic.
- 8GB will fill up really quickly.

The Moto G (3rd Gen) costs €179 on PAYG (free on Bill Pay) and is available in Three, Meteor and Tesco Mobile.

Read: Internet ads bothering you? Then Google’s latest change will make you happy >

Read: This is what happens when you ask Siri about the next iPhones >

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About the author:

Quinton O'Reilly

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