More powerful than budget phones and cheaper than mid-rangers, the third-generation Motorola Moto G has been crammed with its best-ever specs while maintaining a outstandingly low price. Add a microSD for some extra storage and there's very little to criticise at all.
Well-built, good display, solid performance, Android 5.1 Lollipop, long battery life, fantastic value
Limited internal storage
From £159; £209 as tested
Screen: 5in, 1280x720 IPS at 294ppi
Processor: 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410
Operating system: Android 5.1.1 Lollipop
RAM: 1GB or 2GB
Storage: 8GB or 16GB, up to 32GB microSD
Battery: Integrated, 2470mAh
Camera: 15MP rear camera, 5MP front camera
The third-generation Motorola Moto G could have been a problem, even considering how immensely well received its predecessors were. How to improve, for the second time, on one of the best-specced budget handsets on the market without bumping up the price so much it defeats the point?
As it turns out, the Moto G is now as large-screened and as kitted-out as it's ever been. Crucially, though, Motorola has maintained its affordability, with configurations starting at £159 from Amazon UK, and stretching to £209 at most.
For the first time in the Moto G's history, the 2015 edition can be customised with Motorola's Moto Maker site, allowing buyers to deck the phone out in various colours. Our test model featured a blue backplate, with the same curved design of previous Moto Gs, along with a fairly garish green accent around the rear camera. Be warned: if such colour combinations sound appealing, buying the Moto G through Moto Maker will add to the RRP, which starts from £179 even for the basic black version.
It's not the thinnest smartphone around, measuring 142x72x11.6mm at the curve's widest point, or the lightest at 155g. Still, these are both quite reasonable for a 5in handset, and the curved design makes it feel very comfortable to hold. The ridged plastic backplate also gives a tactile, almost rubbery, grip.
This contributes to a sense of the Moto G being much more rugged than the price suggests, something confirmed by its IPX7 waterproofing certification. This means it should be able to survive 30 minutes of submersion in depths up to 1m. We didn't have 1m of water to hand, but we did run the Moto G under a tap, blasted it with a high-pressure shower and left it soaking in a sink for a few minutes. None of these did any harm; the microUSB port still worked, despite lacking a plug, as did the lock button and volume rocker.
A few specks of liquid did find their way under the removable backplate, leaving the only trace of the Moto G's trial by water. Fortunately, Motorola has added rubber covers to the internal micro SIM and microSD ports, so they stayed dry and fully functional.
Speaking of microSD, it's great to see that the 2015 Moto G continues the previous model's support for removable storage, even if it is just up to 32GB. It's a feature that's often, and disappointingly, missing on budget smartphones. The other connectivity options, Bluetooth 4.0 and 4G/LTE data, are also good for the price. There's no dual-SIM version, like on the second-generation 3G model, but it's not a glaring omission.
If we had a complaint, it's that there are still no physical home or back buttons. These, in typical Moto G fashion, are merely icons that appear on the touchscreen. It's surely a money-saving measure, and possibly space-saving as well, but those buttons do end up costing valuable screen space.
The 2015 Moto G features a 5in 720x1280 IPS touchscreen display at 294ppi - exactly the same as on the 2014 Moto G. It's neither overly pixelated nor fantastically sharp, but looks more than good enough to read long articles and watch HD videos. Viewing angles are nice and wide too.
The automatic brightness setting can leave things a bit dim, but cranking it up results in some nicely vivid colours that avoid the oversaturation of certain mobile devices. It'll still struggle under direct sunlight, admittedly, as most smartphones tend to.
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