Moto G 3g review

The Moto G is a budget Android smartphone line from Motorola that has nurtured a very good reputation in the tech community. The latest 3rd-generation Moto G, which debuted on Tuesday, is now available in stores like Amazon and Best Buy.

We’ve made it our mission to review various Android smartphones over the year in order to provide you with a balanced look at what the so-called “competition” is offering. As most of you know, I’m a die-hard Apple fan, but I do have a soft spot in my heart from Android, even though I think that many of the decisions that Android OEMs make are borderline shameless.

That said, I’ve been extremely keen on testing out the latest and greatest version of the Moto G, because I think it’s the perfect companion Android phone for iPhone users wishing to dabble into the “other side”. At a mere $179.99 unlocked, the Moto G is an outstanding value. Yes, there are other Android phones that fall within this price range, but they’re usually horrible specs-wise, or if they’re decent, they’re inundated with bloatware (I’m looking at you Asus ZenFone 2).

The Moto G is different. Not only is it factory unlocked, but it features decent specs for a phone this cheap. But most importantly, it lacks the bloatware so popular in other phones in this class, or even so-called flagship phones. True, it’s not a Nexus device, which is 100% stock Android, but it’s very close, and arguably, improves on stock Android with some of its unique offerings.

My goal with this review isn’t to convince you to switch to an Android phone, because if you’re reading this blog, chances are you’re as big of Apple fan as I am. The point of this review is to show you that this is the perfect gateway-phone to dip your toe into the Android waters, so to speak. If you’ve ever had the desire to try Android, or even if you simply desire a backup phone to your iPhone, then this may be a device worth considering.

Initial impressions

My initial impressions were, well…this is what a $179.99 phone looks like. The presentation provided is definitely that of a budget phone. The box is cheap cardboard that feels like one of those Amazon frustration free packaging deals. Motorola really skimped on the packaging to save as much money as possible, and that’s to be expected. Honestly, who cares about the packaging on a sub-$200 phone?

As far as the actual device is concerned, it’s much more impressive than the packaging. True, it’s mostly made of plastic, but it doesn’t feel cheap and feels weighty to the hand. The nice thing about the Moto G is that it has metal accents, and if you take off the back cover, you’ll find an aluminum frame underneath. Build-wise, it’s a solid device.

I didn’t opt for any customization, although the Moto G can be fully customized by means of Motorola’s Moto Maker program on its website. Moto Maker allows you to customize the G’s front color, back color, aluminum accent, and more.

I just wanted to get my hands on the device as fast as possible, so I opted for a stock white on white configuration from Amazon. If I could do it again, I definitely would have opted for the custom color options, not to say that the white on white isn’t nice, but it looks sort of bland and inconspicuous.

Motorola includes an all-in-one charger, with an extra long charging cable. I like the all in one deal, because that means you won’t risk misplacing the power brick or the cable, as it’s just a single device. The cord for the charger is also extra long, noticeably longer than the Lightning cable that comes bundled with an iPhone.

Interestingly, my Moto G arrived with a 0% battery charge, which was kind of surprising. I’m used to devices arriving from the factory with at least enough charge to power it on, especially since these are brand new devices, but alas.

In the end, I ended up swapping out the 5v charger for a charger with higher output. The Moto G doesn’t feature the fast charging capabilities found in flagship Android phones today, but it definitely seemed to charge faster when I swapped out the stock charger.

Models & pricing

The Moto G comes in a basic 8GB flash storage configuration with 1GB of RAM, and for $40 more, you can add an additional 8GB of flash storage for a total of 16GB, along with an additional 1GB of RAM for a total of 2GB.

Moto Maker Moto G

If you can afford it, it’s always best to go with the beefier configuration, especially when it comes to RAM. You can always pop in a microSD card to increase storage space, but RAM can’t be increased after the fact. Besides, $40 is not a lot to ask to essentially double the phones capacity on both a storage and memory front.

Moto G RAM

That said, I opted for the cheapest version, because I figured that’s what more people would opt for, and I wanted to see how the Moto G performed with this minimal configuration.

Specifications

Moto G Specs

Real world usage

As I previously stated, I think that the Moto G is a great second phone candidate. For those of you who are heavily into phones, and want the latest and greatest, then the Moto G is obviously not in contention. It does, however, excel is as a second phone. It’s also good enough if you’re someone who doesn’t desire the latest and greatest, and can get by with just a decent phone from a performance perspective.

This is especially true since that Moto G comes with amenities like 4G LTE for faster download speeds, a 13 megapixel rear-facing shooter, and expandable storage via microSD.

It should be mentioned that the rear-facing camera uses the same sensor as the Nexus 6, which is a significant improvement over the last generation Moto G.

Moto G 3rd-generation Review ipx-7

One of the great features about the Moto G is its durability and the fact that it’s IPX7-rated for protection against splashes and shallow water immersion. This makes the Moto G a good candidate for people working in precarious situations, and as a portable gaming device for the kids.

Benchmarks

As you’ll see from the benchmarks below, the Snapdragon 410 processor clocked at 1.4 Ghz, doesn’t do the phone any favors with regard to performance.

Moto G Benchmarks

In fact, the iPod touch 6th generation absolutely mopped the floor with the Moto G as far as single-core performance and multi-core performance is concerned.

Vs. iPod touch

The benchmarks were so abysmal when compared to the iPod touch 6th-gen, that I didn’t even bother comparing it to an iPhone 6, 6 Plus, or even an iPhone 5s. I think it’s safe to say that this device is clearly in the iPhone 4S/iPhone 5 spectrum as far as performance is concerned.

If you’re not used to high frame-rates in games, then it may be something that isn’t as noticeable to the average person. Compared side-by-side, it’s obvious that the frame-rates on the iPod touch 6th-gen—a device that’s only $20 more than the Moto G 3rd-gen—are much silkier and consistent.

Moto G vs iPod touch 6th gen

Interestingly though, I found that loading times for games didn’t differ much between the two devices, and in some games—Minecraft for instance—the Moto G actually loads faster.

Shortcomings

The Moto G has several notable shortcomings. For starters, it just doesn’t have the power of a flagship device, but that’s to be expected at its price point.

To save costs, Motorola left out other key features like NFC, faster charging, wireless charging, and a higher resolution screen. Motorola pretty much skimped on everything it could skimp on while still coming away with a compelling budget device.

Moto G YouTube 3rd gen review

The camera, while using the same sensor in the Nexus 6, and thus much improved over the Moto G 2nd-gen, lacks OIS, which results in shaky footage. I found that the camera also doesn’t perform nearly as well in low-light situations as the iPhone 5s or even the iPod touch 6th-gen.

Should you buy it?

Specs-wise, the Moto G is a bit anemic when compared to even some mid-range devices. Despite this, though, Motorola was able to create a device that works great as a second phone, or as an Android test phone. It’s even okay as a primary device for someone who isn’t a big time gamer, multitasker, or general phone enthusiast.

Despite its technical shortcomings, the Moto G runs pretty well. This can be partly attributed to Motorola’s stance on bloatware. This is as close as you can get to a pure Android device without actually buying a Nexus phone. The few improvements that Motorola does put into play, like Moto Display for intelligent Lock screen notifications, actually make sense and work well.

Moto G review 3rd gen

The Moto G even works well as a gaming device or a general Internet device, though, as you saw from the benchmarks, you may be better off opting for an iPod touch if gaming is at the top of your list.

The bottom line is that at $179.99, the Moto G is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to experience Android Lollipop the way it was meant to be experienced. It’s in no way a competitor to the iPhone, but it makes a good complimentary device for those willing to step out of their comfort zone.

See my takes on: 

  • plusCubed

    “The Moto G rocks a 720p screen with 294 PPI. The iPod touch has a 1136-by-640 screen with 326 PPI due to its smaller physical size. More pixels = more effort on the part of the iPod touch hardware.”

    720p is 1280-by-720, so the Moto G has a higher resolution, and therefore more pixels. That means the iPod should naturally be faster (by a bit). I don’t think actual PPI has an effect on the graphics processing, just the pixels (right?).

    • You’re right. I’m just ignorant. I learned something today. Thank you.

    • I don’t think difference between 1280×720 and 1136 x 640 is big enough to make a difference

      • plusCubed

        Right, it’s an almost negligible difference.

      • @sexyhamthing

        You’d be surprised. When you render pixel for pixel 720p, it’s going to look much better on a native resolution display, there’s no fancy guesswork in downscaling to a really weird resolution

        But of course, places like youtube are compressed as all hell so what you gonna do?

    • @sexyhamthing

      That means the iPod should naturally be faster (by a bit). I don’t think actual PPI has an effect on the graphics processing, just the pixels (right?).

      And the GPU, The CPU. PPI doesnt mean anything, 1080p is the same on my phone, monitor and tv.

      Naturally faster is completely irrelevant in the context of the display because these devices are very different GPUs

      • plusCubed

        Yes, sorry, I meant a lower load on the GPU, not “naturally be faster”.

  • leart

    totally out of topic, anyone has any idea what the hell is that sign on my status bar?!

    • Ankit H Jain

      It has to do with your data connection. You’re probably not getting a proper 2G/3G connection. Turn off Cellular data and the symbol should go away.

      • leart

        yeah, my operator is changing to tmobile, and is acting strangely … you’re correct that sign is present only when I activate 2g or edge, but I have Internet even with that sign.. bo
        can’t find nothing about that on the web

      • That is the symbol of GPRS (around 8KB/s while EDGE is around 30KB/s). After iOS 7, it is changed to just ‘GPRS’.

      • leart

        thats mean that my basic internet is totaly crap 😀
        the 3g works fine, maybe the two thinks are not related

      • Dante Arellano

        I even use my iphone in 3g speed how some one can still using that dont mentioned that ugry ios i know that still operate but almost non app can run on that

      • Lucus Bendzsa

        My advice is get a new phone.

      • leart

        some day I will, this 4s is shiny bright new, very very little used so I’m loving it again on ios 6

    • Whoa still rockin IOS 6 there ?

      • leart

        yeah, im addicted to iOS 6, i have 4 devices on that firmware 🙂

      • Whoa its rare to find people like you these days that run IOS 6 🙂

      • Abhinav Chaudhary

        I’m running iOS 4 on my iPod 4g and iOS 5 on my iPhone 4. Gonna keep them classic.

      • Whooaaaaaaaa post a screenshot ?

    • Erick Reyes

      You should upgrade

      • RarestName

        Maybe he downgraded for the speed.

      • leart

        my iphone is finally back, smooth, fast, no lag, jailbroken, zephyr, ncsettings and battery life is back to the what it was before iOS 7-8.

      • RarestName

        😀

        I guess that the redesign really did cause a huge decrease in performance.

      • leart

        definitely, the battery life is back, who had any doubt that was new ios draining the battery, now should not. it can easily reach 6-7-8 hours of heavy usage, on ios 7.1.1 the last i was, barely it was possible to reach 5 hours with everything off

      • leart

        just downgraded … finally my 4s

  • Ankit H Jain

    The motorola line up is amazing. Bag all you want on it, but use it once and you’ll keep coming back for more. My current daily drivers are an iPhone 6 and a Moto E. The Moto E is amazing, to think that you could get a fully functional no non sense phone for 120 bucks, unlocked running pure android, without any hiccups. Light multitasking never gives me a problem and I can always trust the Moto E to last me more than 2 days without needing a recharge.

    This coming from a die hard Apple fanboy. I’ve used every iPhone since the 3G and I’ve never really given any other phone too much thought.

    In general I love tech, so I’ve used the Samsung S Line, Xperia’s Z line, and Nokia Lumia’s as well. All of them lacked something and could never replace my iPhone. Then the Moto E/G/X came out and I immediately fell in love with the concept of cheap but high quality phones. I don’t take too many photo’s anyways so the camera never mattered to me. Everything else about the Moto’s was perfect. Design, UI, Pricing.

    So even though the Moto G may not have everything one hopes for I think it’s important to remember that this phone despite its shortfalls is extremely usable and could easily “substitute” your daily driver flagship phone if needed.

    • Itzkhaoz

      Ok.

  • Hydro Mac

    Apple has to give it’s enduser a way of getting rid of Apple bloatware on the iPhone. 1.iBooks 2.Health 3.Passbook 4.Game Center 5.Newsstand 6.Stocks 7.Apple Watch 8.Podcasts 9.Videos

    • Alberto Espinal

      I agree but the only wrong one you got was Passbook, because that’s where you store your credit cards for Pay

      • Hydro Mac

        Don’t use credit cards and will never buy a Apple Watch. Don’t need either of them.

        If you store your credit card information on a iPhone your leaving yourself open to eventually getting hacked.

      • Alberto Espinal

        I can see you don’t know what you talking about! Have a great day!

      • Lucus Bendzsa

        I know Apple Pay is way more secure than a credit card. My credit card got hacked twice last year and now Apple Pay saved me. Haven’t got hacked since.

        I agree with you Alberto. I think Hydro is an ignorant troll.

      • George

        Yeah that Apple watch app annoys the shit out of me, there is no reason for it to be there.

  • brian.

    This is a great phone for someone who doesn’t want to pay much, or someone younger who is stepping into the smartphone game for the first time. Great phone to do that.

    If someone wants to stay in iOS, it would be a hand-me-down iPhone or a previous version sold for a lower price.

    I’m not surprised by the performance of the device. It’s about half the price of an iPod touch.

    However, I love the new Motorola line-up this year. They did a great job.

    • Lucus Bendzsa

      I am getting my first phone soon. I am getting the iPhone 6. Motorola was cool 8 years ago with the Razr but no more‼️‼️

      • brian.

        That’s great. Enjoy the iPhone. It’s a good phone. I’m not going to knock on your choices. Choose the phone that best suits you and your needs

  • anustart

    Hmm… I’m finally deciding to switch to Android. I’m getting a Galaxy S6. I know it has Touchwiz, which I hate aesthetically, so I’m going to install ACDisplay and Nova Launcher for a somewhat stock Android look and feel, which allows me to keep some Touchwiz features I enjoy using.

    As much as I like Apple and want to wait for the iPhone 6S, iOS is now boring to me. I’ve used it for 6 years and even though I’m jailbroken, it lacks the personalization and flexibility of Android. I’m tired of staring at the same settings menus, same control center, same page animations even with a Cylinder, etc. Material Design is also really attractive.

    Hopefully I’ll get my S6 this Saturday.

    Jeff, are you planning on reviewing the S6 from an iPhone user’s perspective?

  • ravinigga

    Actually this phone does the same as the high end androids. Work, Internet, apps.
    Only specs like camera, speed, and some features but is good phone for low price

  • Ishaan Malhotra

    Lol.. You can’t compare this to an a8 chip device. A totally different segment.

    • Why not? Only $20 separates the two. A very apt comparison if you ask me.

      • Lucus Bendzsa

        Yeah the comparison is nearly perfect. I could either compare the new iPod or the 4S. The new iPod is a perfect entry level device to compare to the Moto G. My cousin wanted a phone but she got an iPod and hardly knows the differences.

      • brian.

        Agreed. I think the processing power is an apt comparison. And yes, there are only $20 that separate the two. But the iPod Touch doesn’t compare to the Moto G in the fact that the Moto G does have LTE and works as a phone.

      • Josh Tatro

        Thank you.

        If Motorola didn’t include things like LTE modems, expandable storage, better cameras, and water resistance don’t you think that they’d be able to include a snappier CPU/GPU combo for a similar price?

        Would this comparison favor the Touch if the G were stripped of all of its other niceties (like, you know, being an actual smartphone…) and instead was just a vessel for a Snapdragon 808/Adreno 418 and 2GB of RAM?

        (That was a rhetorical question for the Apple fans, just in case you missed it.)

      • Ishaan Malhotra

        I meant in terms of performance! Not even to A7.

  • n0ahcruz3

    Best budget and back up phone hands down the battery life is stellar, call quality is very good and very sturdy! My first android was a Moto G(1st gen)

  • Dante Arellano

    One thing just one thing is some one so stupidddd to swich front iphone 6 plus to that’ its like try to selling a 93 ford foucus to some one has a tesla 2016

  • Dante Arellano

    Androide is totally inrelevant to us as windows phone i havent hear any small shite of the that thing in moths

    • George

      So is your spelling.

  • Dante Arellano

    I prefer this and only and my favorite blog for years review a microwave or a toile than that shite of androide

  • Soto

    I work for cell company and why not try an android flagship. Now am ruined for life, i can’t leave Android and its freedom. If Apple ever change their restrictions i would go back. Highly doubt it tho.

  • George

    Apple would take over the world if they created a low end phone. Too bad they seem to think they’re better than that.

    • Josh Tatro

      They did. It was called the iPhone 5c. It packed in year-old hardware into a (supposedly) less expensive body and was sold alongside their current flagship (the 5s).

      The problem was it still cost well over $400 and therefore hardly appealed to those looking for a budget option.

      Apple isn’t “too good” for budget hardware, they just don’t push the volume of smartphones that a company like Lenovo or Samsung does to make a compelling, well-made, “low-end” device. Which is a fancy of saying they can’t, because I doubt Apple execs really care how they tap into new audiences and would love to see more iPhones in more hands regardless of the apparent “high-end-ness” of the devices.

  • Rich Morgan

    Jeff, thank you for taking the time to post a fair review. I typically don’t comment on articles like these, but I was impressed by an Apple “fanboy” that could actually post an unbiased review. Granted, comparing an actual phone to an iPod Touch probably isn’t the best comparison since a phone actually needs to function as a phone where the iPod Touch does not, I still enjoyed your post. I recently ordered the Moto G for my wife who does not want to pay the price for a “flagship” phone and will be transitioning from her iPhone4. Your post along with other reviews I have read helps me feel more confident about the decision. Best, Rich

  • Josh Tatro

    I’m not really sure where the comparison to the new iPod is coming from… It’s not all that complicated to make a device that lacks LTE connectivity, isn’t water resistant, isn’t customizable, doesn’t have expandable storage, and has worse cameras cost less than/be comparable in price to a mid-range handset.

    I get that the A8 chip is good and the OS is well optimized, but at the end of the day it costs more and does less and lacks some of the niceties the Moto G does have.

    In terms of everyday usability, the 1GB version of the G will probably suit most people’s needs. If you want a more pleasant gaming and multitasking experience, cough up the extra $40 for the 2GB Moto G. Even with the extra investment it’s still very comparable in price to the Touch.

    And, in any case, isn’t the iPhone 5c still Apple’s “budget” hardware choice? I realize it’s older now, but there hasn’t been anything to come along and take its place, and the comparison between two devices (i.e. the G 3rd Gen and the Touch 6th Gen) in markedly different price tiers given their components hardly seems fair (which is to say biased towards Apple).

    Anyway, just for reference, here are the basic 5c vs. Moto G 3rd Gen benchmarks:
    Geekbench 3 multi-core:
    Moto G – 1640
    iPhone 5c – 1180

    And here are the going rates for both phones:
    Moto G (1GB/2GB RAM, 8GB/16GB storage) – $179/$219
    iPhone 5c (8GB storage) – $305
    [iPod Touch 6th Gen (16GB storage) – $199]

    For the price of a 5c you could get the new Moto X Play, which compares much more favorably to the Touch or the 5c (or likely even the 5s).

    Value for money specs-wise (at least on paper) isn’t a game Apple typically does well in. The benefits are usually in build quality, user experience, industrial design, expedient OS updates, and perhaps a bit of delusional love by end users.

    The issue here is that Motorola has ostensibly built a device that delivers a very pleasing user experience in a well-designed phone that actually ticks a lot the boxes casual smartphone users are interested (including people who already own/use iPhones).

    Not that it will matter, because iPhone users are unlikely to switch to Android regardless of the allure of more practical and economical phone choices; a well wrought sense of pragmatism is simply not how people buy status/comfort items like phones.

  • Fardeen Beharry

    great review jeff, please review the moto X style when it comes out

  • Kefo Crawfs

    What is name of car game on the review?