- Motorola’s software offering, even if it is a little handicapped
- Great battery life
- Extremely affordable
- Chunky build
- Not all of Motorola’s fancier software features available
- Middling camera
Sure, you might have to make some minor concessions for the lower price tag, but the 3rd generation Moto G still provides some of the best bang for your buck in the smartphone game.
This site is no stranger to testing some of the more affordable handsets out on the market. While many of them receive favorable reviews, it’s usually with the caveat that it really isn’t that great of a phone, but it’s just hard to knock something so cheap.
With the third generation Moto G from Motorola, this is no longer the case. Don’t get us wrong, there will still be a few concessions made here and there, just not nearly as many as usual. Put simply: starting at $180 unlocked, the Moto G is the epitome of “bang for your buck.”
Build & Design
The very first thing I noticed about the Moto G upon taking it out of the box is that it’s a little chunky. The lean, svelte design of your typical flagship phone got tossed out the door along with the dollars off the price tag; affordability, somewhat paradoxically, comes at a price. It’s nearly half an inch thick, with its full dimensions measuring 5.59 x 2.85 x 0.46 inches, and the device’s heft is equally noticeable at 5.47 ounces. That said, its weight doesn’t leave it feeling unwieldy. If anything, it gives the handset a quality feel that reminds the user that it’s solidly built.
True to Motorola’s Burger King-esque approach of allowing you to “have it your way” when it comes to your devices, the Moto G has a plastic back cover that can be easily swapped out, giving you the option to switch up the color scheme of your device should you feel so compelled. Many of Motorola’s customization options are available here too, like picking the color of the “accent piece” (the strip along the back), engraving, and a choice between white or black for the face color.
But the fancier options of the Moto X line like leather or wood won’t be found here, so the swappable shells only offer color customization — though there are flip shells that also give your phone a screen cover that go for $40 a pop. The plastic shell is textured though, giving it its own appeal and offering the user a little more grip than you might find elsewhere (as an owner of a Moto X with an especially slippery wooden back panel, I can speak to the benefits of this).
Sadly, the removable back shell doesn’t offer as much access as one would hope. Once you’re able to wrench the thing off (when I said “easily” earlier, I was using the term loosely), you’ll find that you have access to the device’s micro SD card and SIM card slots, both of which are welcome features, but not to its battery. It looks like we’ve moved on from the removable battery design in smartphones, and that’s a shame.
The rest of the design is as simple as it gets: power/standby switch and volume rocker on the right edge, microUSB charging port on the bottom, and 3.5mm headphone jack on the top. The phone’s rear-facing camera is centered toward the top of the back of the phone, and the front-facing camera is in the upper right corner of the front of the device, right next to the ambient light sensor.
The only other element of the Moto G’s design that’s worth mentioning is that the bezel is a bit thick, especially above and below the display. It doesn’t feel like the most efficient use of the phone’s real estate; its relatively small (by today’s standards, at least) 5-inch display belies its larger footprint.
Speaking of which, the display of the Moto G doesn’t exactly dazzle, but it gets the job done. I’ve often lamented the trend of ever-growing display sizes on smartphones, so I’m comfortable with the fact that it’s “only” 5 inches. Of course smaller screens sadly go hand in hand with lower specs, but at least the device is a manageable size that doesn’t look absurd in my pocket.
No, the disappointing part here is how washed-out it looks. Pictures and webpages looked flat, even if its modest 1280 x 720 resolution did manage to offer a reasonable amount of sharpness (make no mistake: with a pixel density of 294, it’s still a little fuzzy and isn’t about to rival the beautiful displays of top-tier handsets). On a better note, the display had excellent brightness, especially when it was cranked up to the max. I never had any issues when attempting to view it outdoors.