Saturday, 19 September 2015 17:11

Moto G – for great (review)

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Motorola (a Lenovo company) has released the 3rd Generation Moto G – a ready to rumble, dual sim, mass-market phone that at A$369 is great value.

Motorola has had some good times and some equally poor ones. At one time a great American brand only to be snapped up by Google, and then ignominiously on-sold to Lenovo for a few beans.

However, Moto may have its mojo back under Lenovo with the release of the Moto X Play and Style and the Moto G.

The G is a little bit of a riddle wrapped in an enigma. It has some good specifications for a mass-market device – like IPX7 water resistance and durable construction; a competent 13MP f/2.0 camera; five Australian LTE bands; different colour back covers; and runs pure Android meaning it can be updated by Google directly.

Yet the compromises are evident in order to sell for $369 - 2GB RAM, 16GB storage, microSD; SnapDragon 410 quad core; 5” 1280x720p, 294 ppi display; Wi-Fi N single band; a non-removable battery; and no NFC.

To put this in perspective you pay for what you get – a competent, solidly built, dual sim phone that performs as promised and will take the rough and tumble of everyday life – especially if used by kids.

I will use the smartphone review paradigm developed by iTWire to ensure that it is compared with smartphones in the same category and price bracket. Where it exceeds typical specifications it will get a + and vice versa.

  • Flagship phones – Apple iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy S6, LG’s G, Sony Xperia Z3/4, HTC One M9, Lenovo Moto X, and Microsoft 930 series (superseded). Huawei, OPPO, Xiaomi, ZTE and others have entrants in this category.
  • Mid to high range – Huawei P8/Max, OPPO R7/Plus, Xiaomi, ZTE, Samsung A, LG L&F series, Moto E/G, Lumia 6XX. This may include Note/Phablets with Pen support
  • Mass market – Huawei Ascend Y/G series, OPPO N, ZTE
  • El-cheapo <A$100

Note the following specifications are indicators only of what comprises the majority of offerings in their respective categories. The greyed out column represents typical specifications for this category.

Mass-market

 Moto G – 3rd generation Model XT1550

Rating out of 5

Screen

4-5”

5”

5

Screen type and quality

LCD

IPS LCD

Pixel per Inch

300+

294

5

Glass (equiv)

Hardened

Gorilla 3

5

Res

720p

1280 x 720p

5

CPU

32-bit, dual core+

 

Any ARM foundry

Qualcomm 410 (MS8916), 64-bit, 1.4GHz quad core

Adreno 306 with 400 MHz GPU

5

Memory RAM

1GB

2GB

5

Storage

8GB

16GB

5

MicroSD

Up to 16GB

Up to 32GB microSD in its own slot

Host USB – plug in a Flash Drive

5

LTE

Local market only

Local market only

LTE (1, 3, 7, 8, 28, 40)

5

Dual SIMM

N/A

Yes – two micro sims (not Nano as per iPhone)

5

Telstra Blue tick rural

No

N/A

N/A

Wi-Fi

G/N single antenna

N single band

5

NFC

Option

No

N/A

GPS

A-GPS

A-GPS, GPS and GLONASS

5

Mapping software and maps

At least one free mapping system – Google or HERE

Google Maps

(Being pure Android, you are tied to the Google Play Store).

5

Bluetooth

Optional

4.0 LE

5

Sensors
G-shock
Gyroscope
Ambient light
Compass
Proximity
Accelerator

Most

Accelerometer (2)
Ambient Light Sensor
Proximity
Sensor Hub

5

Battery
(Assumes Micro USB or Lightning)

<2000mAh

At least a day Removable

2470 mAh non-removable
Claimed at least one day – 24 hours
Micro USB charger 5V 850mAh

5

Fast charge and/or Qi

N/A

N/A

N/A

Camera Rear

8MP+ f2.4

Single flash

13MP+ f/2.0
Field of view (FOV) 76 degrees
CCT dual-LED flash
Auto focus
Quick Capture (twist wrist to launch camera)
Tap anywhere to capture
4X digital zoom (drag to zoom in/out)
Slow motion video
Burst mode
Auto HDR
Panorama
Video iHDR
Manual focus and exposure controls
Timer
Active viewfinder (recognizes QR codes and barcodes)
Video: HD at 30fps – MPEG4 and H.264

5+

Camera Front

2MP 720p

5MP
f/2.2
Field of view (FOV) 72 degrees
Display flash
Fixed focus
Tap anywhere to capture
4X digital zoom
Slow motion video
Burst mode
Auto HDR
Tap to focus
Quick Capture

5+

Screen to body ratio (higher better as it affects dimensions) or keyboard

60%+

67%

142.1 x 72.4

5

Thinness

9-10mm

Curved back from 61. To 11.6mm

5

Looks – highly subjective

Consumer quality

Consumer quality but rugged build and IPX7 rating

5

Weight

>200g

155g

5

Operating system

Previous or latest version.

No upgrades promised

Pure Android Lollipop 5.x
Upgrade to Marshmallow 6.x

5+

User Interface (UI) Bloatware

Are the UI and apps adware heavy

Pure Android – as it comes out of Google.

5

Video, Audio codecs

Limited

Basic popular audio and video codecs
Mono speaker is above average for hands free

5

Options

Buds

Buds and mic
FM radio requires use of buds

5

Innovations

N/A

Motorola Shells (sold separately)
Black, Navy, Cabernet, Golden Yellow, Lime, Cherry, Blue, Turquoise, Raspberry, Chalk
Motorola Flip Shells (sold separately)
Turquoise with Dark Teal, Blue with Navy, Raspberry with Cabernet, Crimson with Cherry, Liquorice with Charcoal

5

IP or ruggedized

N/A

IPX7 water resistant. Designed to withstand immersion in up to 3 feet of fresh water for up to 30 minutes provided the back cover is properly sealed. Not designed to work while submerged underwater. Do not use while swimming, or subject it to pressurised streams of water. Not dust-proof.

5

Warranty

1 year

1 Year

5

Service in Australia

Yes

Yes

Price

$250-499

$369 outright, unlocked at major retailers

Note please make sure you buy the model XT1550 – not the grey market import.

5

Unboxing

It comes in a small retail box – nothing prestige so you will need to gift-wrap it. The phone feels solid, if slightly larger than normal courtesy of the curved back. It is fine for one hand use – just.

The phones screen to body ratio means thicker black bezels on all sides – it mport.y marekt ot re you buy the are pretty impressive devices.nd 3GB RAMb and say that compared to the OPPO R7 at $449 - 50 is not svelte. Fire it up, put in your Google Gmail account and you are ready to go.

Screen

It is an IPS, RGB, LCD. It gives reasonably vibrant colour and viewing angles. Blacks are more dark grey evidenced by the .7 cd/m2 rating (0 is perfect). Sunlight legibility is average.

It has a glance lock screen – when you move it the time and missed notifications appear. You can also twist your wrist to activate the camera and use a chopping motion to activate the dual flash LED as a flashlight – the later was flaky.

Battery

The endurance test is 74 hours. In real terms about 9 hours’ video playback or web browsing. If you use it minimally, it will give 3-4 days before needing a recharge. It does not have quick charge – allow a few hours to recharge.

Performance

It is not a powerhouse. It is marginally up on the 2nd generation Moto G. I noticed no lag and it performed as I expected.

However to put this in perspective Sony has an M4 Aqua at $399 with a Qualcomm 615 chipset – its about 30% faster (but that is not the measure of performance) and like the Moto G water resistant. To be fair the Moto exceeds some of the other Sony specs especially dual sim and 16GB storage.

Camera – the real strong point in this class

The rear camera takes good shots in auto mode. It has an f/2.0 lens for low light. Colours are natural and exposure is good. HDR mode is especially good. HD, 30fps video is also competent.

Conclusion

The mass-market is becoming very crowded with smartphones costing around $400-500 – all punching above their weight in various areas. This has IPX7 so the only near competition is $399 Sony Xperia M4 Aqua.

The good things are its robustness, good battery life, good camera, and pure Android.

Would I buy it?

Yes I would probably buy if I wanted to spend under $400. I would probably buy it over the reasonably comparable, but $40 more Sony – but as the latter is only available from Optus on a plan that puts it out of consideration for me at least.

It is a dammed decent phone for the price and you cannot go wrong. I like Pure Android too. It is one of the top choices in its class.

Here is the conundrum - and I realise its a little cheeky to compare it to the dual sim OPPO R7 at $449 – eighty bucks more - you get a Qualcomm 615, superb HD AMOLED screen, VOOC fast charge, Wi-Fi dual band, a comparable rear camera, and 3GB RAM. Very tempting if you have the money.

I am keen to review the Moto X Play and Style – they also punch above weight and are impressive devices.

 

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw [email protected]  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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