Review: Motorola Moto G (2014)

Last November, Motorola's Punit Soni (the former VP of Product Management at Motorola) took the stage in Brazil and announced the Moto G. Which blew everyone's mind. They announced a great mid-range device that cost just $179 off contract. We couldn't believe it, and thought there had to be some type of catch. And after reviewing last year's Moto G, we found there wasn't. It featured great battery life, great build quality for the price, and amazing specs again for the price. It also got quick updates, directly behind the Moto X.

Here we are in 2014, with the successor to what was Motorola's best selling smartphone ever. That's some big shoes to fill. So how well does the Motorola Moto G 2nd Gen. fill those shoes? Well let's find out in our full review.

Specs

  • Display: 5-inch 1280x720 IPS; 294PPI
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad-core clocked at 1.2GHz
  • GPU: Adreno 305 clocked at 450MHz
  • RAM: 1GB
  • Storage: 8GB or 16GB
  • Expansion: MicroSD card slot up to 32GB
  • Camera: 8MP (4:3) rear facing camera with 4X Digital Zoom, Slow motion video, Burst mode, Auto HDR, Panorama and Touch to focus. 2MP front-facing camera capable of 720p Video
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0 LE, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, GPS, GLONASS, Digital DTV (Brazil only)
  • Battery: 2070mAh
  • Software: Android 4.4.4 KitKat (at launch, will get OTA to Android L once it's available)
  • Dimensions: 141.5mm x 70.7mm x 6.0-11mm
  • Weight: 149g
  • Bands
    • US GSM Model: GSM/GPRS/EDGE - 850/900/1800/1900. UMTS/HSPA+ - 850/1700, 1900.
    • Global GSM Model: GSM/GPRS/EDGE - 850/900/1800/1900. UMTS/HSPA+ - 850/900/1900/2100.

Hardware

Comparing the Moto G (2014) to the 2013 model, there's not a whole lot different when it comes to hardware. It feels like a quality mid-ranger. One that you'd probably pay around $300-400 for. It is made of polycarbonate plastic. But it's not the glossy plastic type material, which I really like. it is a bit thicker than the Moto X (2014), which some may actually like. I know I do. Like I said not a lot has changed on the software front, other than the size. We do still have swappable backs - more on that a bit later - and there is the original Motorola dimple, instead of the one the Moto X (2014) has. On the back we've got the 8MP camera with flash below it, and the dimple below the flash. Which I kind of miss, and it feels weird after using the Moto X for a while and vice versa.

As far as where everything is, it's almost exactly the same as the Moto X. We're looking at the volume rocker and power button on the right-hand side. The headphone jack up top and the micro USB port down at the bottom. Now the SIM card slot is not at the top. Instead it's under the removable back. Yes the back is removable, but the battery is not. Once you remove the back, you can see the micro SD card slot, and the SIM card slot. You can also see where the second SIM card slot would be for the dual SIM model. On the front we have dual speakers as well as your 5-inch 720p display. Which actually isn't bad at all. I know we complained about it on the DROID lineup last year, especially the DROID Ultra and DROID Maxx.

As far as holding the Moto G in one hand, it does work. We do have thin bezels on the Moto G, but not as thin as the Moto X. It feels great in the hand as well. I have the white model here, and I'd say that unless you like seeing all the sensors on the front, to go and pick up the black model. Remember you can swap out the back. Like I have the yellow back on the white Moto G here.

Display

We talked briefly about the display already. But I think it's pretty good. You have to remember that this is a $179 device, so it wouldn't be doing the Moto G justice to compare it side-by-side with the LG G3. And considering most smartphones in the competition field of the Moto G has a qHD display or even lower, it's definitely a good thing Motorola stuck a 720p display on here. Now it's not perfect, and I have noticed that I can see some pixels - most notably with a white background - but find me another smartphone that costs $179 off contract that you can't see a pixel in the display. Just saying.

Front-Facing Speakers

This is something that Motorola brought to the Moto E earlier this year. And that's front-facing speakers. We have it here on the Moto G while the Moto X only has one, at the bottom. These speakers don't look as great as HTC's do, but they do work pretty well. Now they are no Boomsound, but compared to a phone with a rear-facing speaker, they are pretty damn good. And it's about time another manufacturer started doing front-facing speakers. I absolutely love them!

Performance

The Moto G isn't the first device I've used with the Snapdragon 400 inside. I've actually used quite a few. Including the likes of the HTC One Mini (M7), HTC One Remix, Moto G (2013) and many others. And I've always been impressed with the Snapdragon 400. I expected no different with the Moto G, and that's what I got. A beast of a processor, basically, in the Moto G. Now it is coupled with 1GB of RAM, so again, we can't really compare it to the likes of the Moto X or even the LG G3, which both have a Snapdragon 801 and double or triple the RAM, respectively. However, for me I found that just doing normal things I'd do on my phone like checking Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and checking the news, etc., I had no real issues performance wise and never needed to clear recents. Although playing intensive games like Dead Trigger are another story. But I was able to play smaller games like Subway Surfers, without a hiccup.

Swappable Back Covers & Other Accessories

Similar to the original Moto G, this year's model does have a removable back. And in fact, Motorola sent us home with an extra one to use in the review process. Which is why I have the yellow one here. To take off the back cover, you'll need to use your fingernail through the micro USB port on the bottom of the device. They come in all kinds of colors. If you take a look at the image below, those are all the colors that were on display when we were in Chicago  a few weeks ago.

 

But Motorola isn't stopping at just back covers. They also have some flip covers, which we weren't fortunate enough to get one to take home with us. But we did get some hands on with them while in Chicago. They are pretty nice. Still not my style, but for those that like flip covers, they are available.

Battery Life

It's phenomenal. I hate to say this, but the battery life on the Moto G is even better than on the Moto X. Yes you read that right, the cheaper Moto G has better battery life than the more expensive Moto X. Now I'd attribute this to the fact that we don't have all the extra Motorola features on the Moto G, aside from Moto Assist and Motorola Connect. But still, it's refreshing to see this kind of battery life on a sub-$200 smartphone.

Software

When it comes to software, Motorola kept it simple. They went with a Stock Android build here. The only real difference is, well nothing. Well I can't really say that. The Launcher is basically the Google Now Launcher, but Google Now doesn't appear on the left home screen, unfortunately. Which was a bit surprising since the Moto X does have Google Now there.

It's also good that Motorola kept it simple as we do only have 8GB of storage on our review unit. I've downloaded a few apps, not the amount I have on the Moto X right now, but a good 5-10 I use on most review units. And we are sitting at just over 3GB of space left. Which isn't a lot to work with, but remember this is a micro SD card slot on board.

Motorola did bring Assist over to the Moto G. So now you can have your Moto G stay silent automatically when you're asleep. You can also have it talk to you while you're driving, silence while you're in meetings and such as well. It's actually really helpful and glad to see it make it's way to the Moto G. As it was a huge feature on the Moto X.

Camera

The camera on the Moto G isn't bad. The 2013 version was horrible, but it looks like Motorola made some big steps on both the new Moto X and Moto G this year in the camera department. Which is great to see. The pictures below were taken on the Moto G. Have a look.

Final Thoughts

The Moto G is amazing. When you think about everything you're getting here and the price you're paying, it's really amazing. If you are looking for a smartphone that can do all the essentials, and last all day long, and not cost an arm and a leg, this is the one I'd recommend. And that's if you can live without LTE, as yes this is a HSPA+ phone only right now.

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About the Author
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Alexander Maxham

Section Editor
Alex has written for Androidheadlines since 2012 as Editor of the site and traveled the World to many of the biggest Smartphone and Technology events. Alex has a background in Technology and IT and Deep Passion for Everything Android and Google. His specialties lay in Smartphones of all budgets, Accessories, Home Automation and more. Contact him at [email protected]
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