Saturday, February 22, 2014

Review: Motorola Moto G - The Poor Man's Nexus!

For: Specifications, Value for money factor, build quality, Latest Android OS & Screen
Against: Limited storage capacity, Availability issues.

The Motorola Moto G has been launched in India in February 2014 with price tag of Rs. 12,500 for 8 GB model and Rs. 14,000 for 16GB model. It is powered by Qualcomm MSM8226 Snapdragon 400 based Chipset, Quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7 CPU, 1 GB RAM, Adreno 305 GPU, 8 & 16 GB internal storage capacity, 5 MP Primary camera + 1.3 MP secondary camera, 4.5 inches IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection and Android 4.3 JellyBean Operating system (out of the box) upgradable to Android 4.4.2 KitKat OS.

There was a time when things turned so bleak for Motorola that it had to exit its operations from India. Motorola once was a key player in Indian mobile market but as the Android era dawned upon, it slowly begun to lose its glitter. Limited models, poor marketing and clumsy after sales support resulted in Motorola’s exit from the ever growing mobile market in India. But as they say nothing is permanent in this world be it success or the failure. Motorola is back with a brilliant low budget yet powerful Android smartphone in India. Best part is that Motorola is now backed by Google which only has one smartphone in its product portfolio i.e. the Nexus. Google was eyeing the mid-range smartphone segment for a while now and Motorola was already an underdog especially for Indian market. Both joined forces to develop a value for money smartphone for masses with no compromise on quality and performance. The result is – The Motorola Moto G! Let’s pay closer attention to it.

Screen & Build Quality

While there’s no doubt that the Motorola Moto G is for the masses yet quality factor is not compromised. Moto G’s brilliant 4.5 inches IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen with resolution of 720 x 1280 pixels & screen pixel density of ~326 ppi is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. Build quality is nice. The phone is priced cheap but it doesn’t look or feel cheap in any manner. There are simply no signs of cost cutting at least in terms of build quality. The touch response is very nice. Colors & contrast ratios are also upto mark. Image & video quality is crisp. Day time visibility is also good.

Moto G supports interchangeable colourful back panels which can be purchased as separate accessory. The plastic panel is made of fine grade quality. At the front, there are on-screen buttons for home, back and menu function. The ear piece and front camera is placed just above the screen along with couple of sensors. On the back panel, there is a 5 MP camera with LED flash. The familiar Motorola logo is also imprinted nicely just below the camera unit. The loudspeaker has been oddly positioned besides the camera instead of lower back in most smartphones. Moto G has compact dimensions of 129.9 x 65.9 x 11.6 mm, though it is tad heavier weighing at 143 grams. Handling wise Moto G is easy to hold and operate with one hand.

Camera, Buttons & Call/Audio Quality

Motorola has provided a 5.0 megapixels primary camera along with 1.3 mega pixels secondary camera on Moto G. The primary camera captures images at resolution of 2592х1944 pixels. It is also equipped with features like autofocus, LED flash, Geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, HDR, panorama. Video recording is possible at 720p@30fps with stereo sound quality. The camera quality is nice for outdoor shots especially portraits were very impressive with accurate color saturation levels. Indoor photos with low light conditions do have little grain, but at acceptable levels. The 1.3 MP front camera delivers brilliant image and video quality. The camera app has nice user friendly interface with handy access to all controls and features. Moto G does not have a dedicated shutter button.

There are only two physical buttons on Moto G; both power and volume control buttons are placed on right side of the phone. Buttons are chrome plated and are very nice to use & feel. On the top there is a 3.5 mm audio jack along with noise cancellation microphone. USB cum charging port is located at the bottom. Speaker is pretty loud with good audio quality, though at maximum volume the sound tends to become a bit harsher. Call quality is nice with clear vocals at both ends. The standard earphones that came with Moto G has decent acoustic quality.

OS/Performance and Battery

Moto G boasts impressive combination of hardware & software. It is powered by Qualcomm MSM8226 Snapdragon 400 based Chipset, Quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7 CPU, 1 GB RAM, Adreno 305 GPU, 8 & 16 GB internal storage capacity and Android 4.3 JellyBean Operating system (out of the box) upgradable to Android 4.4 KitKat OS. Moto G doesn’t disappoint with its performance. It handles the latest Android KitKat 4.4 and most games & applications without a fuss. Games like Real Racing 3 runs perfectly fine. Moto G does not have external SD card support and user available storage space for 8 GB model is 5.5 GB and for 16 GB model, it is around 12 GB. Moto G scores well on benchmark apps like Quadrant standard & Antunu Benchmark.  Quadrant & Antunu overall score is 8426 and 17311 respectively. It outperforms Nexus 4 in most areas and you can call it poor man’s Nexus; kind of exaggeration but still!

When was the last time when you bought a sub 15k smartphone and it got updated to official latest Android version as soon as you switched it on! Even the flagship models like Samsung Galaxy S3 and HTC one are on Android 4.3 JellyBean. Though Moto G is shipped with Android 4.3 jellybean but as soon as you switch on the phone and connects to a Wi-Fi or mobile network, the 4.4 update notification pops-up. The Android 4.4.2 KitKat OTA update is roughly around 240 MB and Update process is easy and quick.

While Moto G has clean Android OS, it still comes with few Motorola proprietary apps like Motorola Migrate for example. The dialler app has nice easy to use interface. KitKat’s Camera app has rotating wheel interface for controls and settings. Google Chrome comes as a stock browser in Android 4.4.2.
Gallery app allows customisation of albums and photos arrangement. Moto G also supports FM radio. Standard FM app scans for local radio stations and stores them. KitKat provides ‘Play Music’ as stock music player which has all basic necessary features required like customisable equalizer. There will be no need to upgrade to third party music player apps. Quickoffice app allows you to view and create office documents.

Moto G has Non-removable Li-Ion 2070 mAh battery which Motorola claims to last full day of use. Moto G does not support external SD card support and this can be a deal breaker for power users who likes to store large amount of data on their phones. Though Google provides 50 GB of free cloud storage space but that can’t match the convenience of on board physical storage. Currently it is available only from flipkart with waiting period of 8-10 days especially for 16 GB variant.


The mid-range android smartphone segment is overcrowded and to be honest most of the phones available in this segment are crap! Motorola Moto G is a ray of hope for mid-range android smartphone segment as this may promote other manufacturers as well to take cue from Moto G’s excellent combination of specifications and pricing and launch some nice phones in the market. Ultimately it will be a win-win situation for consumers. Motorola Moto G, no doubt is the best and most recommended mid-range smartphone with mouth-watering price and specifications. Think Digital highly recommends Motorola Moto G. 

Ratings (out of 5 stars)
Build Quality *****
Screen *****
Performance *****
Value for Money *****

Overall *****

Specs at a glance

4.5 inches IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen with resolution of 720 x 1280 pixels, 4.7 inches (~326 ppi pixel density) protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3.

Qualcomm MSM8226 Snapdragon 400
Quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7 CPU
Adreno 305 GPU
8GB/16GB Internal memory
5 MP Primary camera + 1.3 MP secondary camera
Network Type
Dual SIM, Wi-Fi Hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0 GPS, GPRS/EDGE
Non-removable Li-Ion 2070 mAh battery
Android 4.3 (JellyBean) upgradable to 4.4 Kitkat
129.9 x 65.9 x 11.6 mm
143  grams