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The best budget Android phone? Moto G by Motorola

Moto G Announcement

What is it?
A budget smartphone running pure Android from a company who knows a thing or two about mobile phones.

What’s great?
The processing power for a phone at this price point is incredible and the HD display is far from shoddy as well.

What’s not?
The camera isn’t all that brilliant, there’s no microSD option and it’s not a 4G handset.

The bottom line:
The Moto G has made this reviewer’s life so much simpler. Every time someone asks what cheap phone they should buy, from now on there’s only one answer.

5 star review

Motorola

Motorola Moto G: review

Motorola recently unleashed its latest assault on the smartphone market although, this time around, the Google-owned company wasn’t looking at the top end of the Android tree. With the Moto G, the mobile giant only had eyes for the bottom tier of the ever-growing smartphone hierarchy.

But while this lower end of the spectrum is usually reserved for second-rate handsets featuring ageing technologies and with designs and builds that cut more corners than Dick Dastardly in Wacky Races, the Moto G packs in a wealth of impressive hardware, inside a suitably slick design.

But let’s start with the price because that’s the most impressive part of the Moto G’s existence. At £135 SIM-free (for the 8GB version), you’re looking at a phone that lands in the same sphere as the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Fame and the LG Optimus L5 II. However, it’s actually cheaper than both of those Korean contenders and has a hell of a lot more going for it.

Motorola Moto G: build and design

The Moto G carries with it the same design principles as the company used for its high-end Moto X device (which is still only available in the US).

Measuring 129.9 x 65.9 x 11.6mm (at its thickest point – it’s just 6mm at the thinnest point) and weighing 143g, the Moto G is a lovely little handset that is comfortable to hold thanks to its curved design. The back is a soft matte texture that aids grip – and it’s a back that you can change to fit your own taste. In total, there are 19 customisation options, including interchangeable Motorola Shells, Flip Shells and Grip Shells in seven colours.

Motorola Moto G review

Motorola

Motorola Moto G: processing power

The engine room is far beyond what we’ve come to expect from a sub-£150 handset. Heck, it’s far beyond what we’d expect from a sub-£250 handset. Packing a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor (clocked at 1.2GHz) and boasting a healthy 1GB of RAM, the Moto G blows its Android bottom-table competition out of the water.

Of course, this isn’t Qualcomm’s most powerful processor, far from it, but it is one from the latest generation and it easily exceeds what we’ve come to expect from a budget blower. For comparison’s sake, both the Galaxy Fame and the LG L5 II have a 1GHz single core CPU and half of the RAM. It’s even on a par with the likes of the HTC One mini and the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini (both £350+) in the processor stakes. These two mid-level handsets pack dual-core versions of the Snapdragon 400 – albeit clocked at a faster 1.7GHz.

What this means is a pretty seamless experience whatever you’re doing on the Moto G, whether that be HD movie watching, web browsing or even gaming. Even the higher-end Android games (think Dead Trigger and the like) play ok on the Moto G with only the occasional stutter and lag.

Motorola Moto G: vanilla Android

The Moto G runs Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, and Motorola announced at the launch event that it will be guaranteed an update to Android 4.4 KitKat by January 2014. And it’s a vanilla Android experience. No skins, no modifications – just plain old Android as Google intended. No surprises really given that the search giant owns the mobile arm of Motorola now.

Motorola has added a couple of features such as Motorola Assist, which deals with alerts and reminders, and Moto Care, which is essentially a tips and tricks app – but unless you seek these out, it’s native Android all the way. That means easy access to the likes of Gmail, YouTube, Google Maps, Chrome and Hangouts. One sign-in with your Google account is all you need.

Motorola Moto G: decent display

The display is another strong point of the Moto G. No, it’s not Full HD 1080p like the top-end Android hitters, but at 1280 x 720 (and with a pixel density of 329ppi), you’re looking at a 4.5-inch display that, this time last year, would have been considered bleeding edge for a mobile phone. In fact, it’s a higher ppi count than on the latest Apple flagship smartphone: the iPhone 5S.

And it’s hardly worth comparing with LG and Samsung’s lower-end handsets as their 233ppi and 165ppi displays simply don’t even come close.

It’s not the best display we’ve ever seen in terms of colour reproduction or viewing angles, but it’s far better than it has any right to be at £135.

Motorola Moto G

Motorola

Motorola Moto G: camera flashes

You’ll get a 5-megapixel rear camera along with a 1.9-megapixel front camera that comes with a number of features such as tap anywhere to take the picture, and hold for burst mode.

Nothing to write home about, sure, but still on a par with its rivals – if not slightly better as it records 720p HD video.

Motorola Moto G: hardware and connectivity

There’s no microSD expansion on the Moto G, which is a shame – so you’re stuck with the 8GB or 16GB of in-built storage, depending on what model you go for. You do get 65GB of free Google Drive cloud storage for a couple of years though.

There’s no 4G action either but we’d suggest that isn’t exactly a deal breaker for the people that Motorola is aiming the Moto G at.

Connectivity options include 3G, GPS (and GLONASS), Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11 b/g/n wi-fi. It’s also got an FM radio.

The battery life from the 2,070mAh battery is described by its maker as ‘all-day’ and we can’t argue with that. After an all-night charge and unplugging before we headed out for the day we were never in a position where we needed to charge again that day – even with some pretty intense usage.

Motorola Moto G: verdict

There’s no doubt about it, the Moto G is the best budget smartphone available today. In fact, the only thing budget about this phone is the price.

Sure, put side by side with a flagship smartphone like the HTC One or the Samsung Galaxy S4, it wouldn’t look as sharp, the design might look a little basic and the performance would not be as lightning fast. But as a standalone product it more than stands up. It looks nice enough, the screen would have been considered cutting-edge just 18 months ago and the processor is simply astonishing for the money – at no point will you get that frustration encountered on rival budget handsets where things just don’t work.

The Moto G is the shot in the arm for which the lower end of the Android smartphone market has been waiting for years.

Culled: MSN Tech

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