Motorola Moto G 2nd Generation Smartphone Review

Rating:

Two generations in, the Motorola Moto G is Motorola’s take on the “affordable” smartphone experience. Right off that bat, the first thing you’ll notice isn’t the features that you’d find in flagship models, it’s the aggressive price, performance and features along with some trade-offs it packs along with it for the (affordable) ride. Off contract, you can purchase it outright to the tune of $249, something that might raise a few eyebrows for those who are of the contract averse variety. It’s likely for those who don’t mind signing on for 2 years; you’ll be getting this phone free if you sign up with your favourite Canadian carrier.

motoroloa g 2nd generation box - photo 1

Diving in

motoroloa g 2nd generation inside box - photo 2

motoroloa g 2nd generation inside box - photo 3

Going in, I really had no idea of what to expect.  Upon opening the G’s diminutive box, you’ll find the bare essentials to get your phone up and running: The phone itself (obviously), a charging cable, and an instruction booklet – that’s it.

motoroloa g 2nd generation headphone jack - photo 4

 

motoroloa g 2nd generation side view - photo 5

motoroloa g 2nd generation charging port - photo 6

On the phone, you’ll find a headphone jack at the top, a microUSB port to charge your phone, the on/off button, volume rocker on the side, camera and flash on the back, and front facing camera on the front.  You’ll also notice the absence of a USB cable, as well as earbuds.  While, a bit disappointing at first, these omissions were very deliberate and understandable in keeping the costs of the phone as low as possible for the end consumer.  I’d prefer no earbuds versus earbuds of mediocre quality.  With cloud connectivity via Google Drive, accessibility to wifi, you don’t really need a USB cable.
Compared to the iPhone 5 you can describe it as a bit heftier.  It is quite bigger in screen size with its 5 inch screen and bulkier as you can see in comparison photo.

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motoroloa g 2nd generation compared to iphone 5 side by side - photo 8

Features

  • For HSPA / 3G
  • 5” 720 Display
  • Quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400
  • 8 GB onboard storage (expandable to 40 GB)

Trade-offs

Some noticeable trade-offs outside of opening the box and not finding headphones or a separate USB charging cable are is the memory it ships outside of the box.  At 8 GB, it’s paltry for the power user, but for the average user, you’ll get just enough for a handful of your favourite apps and storage for photos and videos. You can, however expand it to 40 GB via its MicroSD port underneath its case.
The other most noticeable trade off that except for those who are looking for the most bleeding edge connectivity, is the absence of the latest radio technology – LTE.  As it is 4th generation radio technology (4G), LTE affords the fastest upstream and downstream connectivity on the market today. If you were to stack up the HSPA radio technology that the G has on board, it would probably be considered “3.75G” radio technology and just a touch slower compared to its next generation brethren.

The Screen

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motoroloa g 2nd generation welcome screen - 10

 

The screen is 720p and can be seen as almost as sharp as Apple’s Retina display to the average smartphone user.  Its AMOLED display stands up to the sunniest of days and gives deep blacks as well as giving the entire spectrum of colour the respect it deserves by gorgeously recreating its vivid colours on its screen. Simply put, at this aggressive price you’re getting an exceptional viewing experience whether for videos, pictures or just browsing your apps.  It’s protected by Gorilla glass which should be able to take a tumble or two without cracking as well.

Camera

The camera that comes with the G weighs in at 8 megapixels, while the front facing camera weighs in at 2 Megapixels, giving those who can’t help but take great selfie shots something to work with.  While not the best camera on the market, it certainly isn’t the worst other.  What you’ll find is a middle of the pack 8 MP camera that does just that take average looking photos and videos that will cater to the mainstream all except the most demanding camera users.

Battery life

In terms of regular usage, with brightness levels set to automatic, you should expect a solid day’s worth of battery life without having to worry that it will drain midday. What that entails is that, use of email, messaging apps, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and any other favourite app you use, the Motorola G should hold up well into the evening.

Design

A lot of the design cues are taken from its flagship brother, the Motorola X. As a G owner, you’ll get the benefits of some of the design decisions trickling down, with its minimalist design, curved back and dimpled logo in its case, all the way to the headphone jack being placed in the middle at the top of the G.  On the software side, you can expect an almost Pure Android Kitkat 4.4.4 experience.  With it you’ll find a few Motorola apps pre-installed such as Assist, FM Radio and Alert, which are designed to look and feel almost native to the Android experience.  The Android experience feels fluid and snappy thanks to its quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.

The back feels rubbery, providing just enough grip so that it doesn’t easily slip through your fingers, along with the trademark Motorola dimple on the back.  For those who want some customization with their phones, you can also remove the backplate, with an easy snap off back.  Just be sure to have some nails to be able to do so, because it might be difficult to get underneath the crevices  that separate the backplate from the phone unit itself.

With the presence of an almost untouched Android install, it comes with the benefits of a handy Google Now experience that unobtrusively assists you in reminding you what you should be paying attention to.

The Bottom Line

At $249, you can expect a lot of bang for your buck at such an affordable price.  The Motorola G affords fantastic balance between performance and price, while giving an almost untouched Pure Android experience. While you would expect a fair amount of compromises and tradeoffs to make the smartphone this cheap, I think Motorola has a winner on their hands for the long haul if they continue this trend of giving seemingly so much in one of their entry level phones.

Motorola G is Perfect for:

Budget minded people who care about performance and price and don’t need the most cutting edge phones that won’t be the most cutting edge in a year’s time. This includes those who are contract averse and want to buy a smartphone off contract as well as students.

Key Things to be Aware of:

  • Slower HSPA connectivity vs latest and fastest LTE Technology
  • 8 GB onboard storage (might be a good idea to upgrade to 32 GB via MicroSD, for about $20)
Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Motorola Moto G 2nd Gen.
Author Rating
4
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Will obsesses over the latest and greatest in gadgets, startups, does CrossFit and writes about technology, growth marketing, programming and personal development. He curates the Startup Digest in Toronto and is a coffee enthusiast.

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