15 Aug 2015 18:56 IST

Kicked off its lofty perch, Moto G lands on its feet

Motorola’s newest offering is no longer the best in its class but is still a solid option

When Motorola launched the first generation of the Moto G, it was a game changer. It brought competitive specs and a stock Android package together in a solid hardware package at a price point that was previously occupied only by devices that were seriously hamstrung in one way or another. And for all the talk about Motorola’s storied history from the pagers to the RAZRs, the Moto G quickly became the best selling phone in Motorola’s history. And India, where the budget segment towers above all else, was one of the driving forces behind that success.

Two years is a very long time in the smartphone world. The price band from ₹10,000 to ₹15,000 is now stuffed to the brim with value and the Moto G, which led the charge, is now just another competitor.

Design and build

The build quality on the new Moto G is functional to a fault and very solid. Thetextured back panel is easy to grip and doesn’t look or feel cheap, despite being made of plastic. The IPX7 certification, which Motorola has slathered all over its marketing material, means that the device is actually waterproof. While 3 feet of water for 30 minutes is the official immersion capacity, we put it through several quick dunks in a bowl to simulate the toilet mishaps that have claimed many a smartphone and the Moto G came out unaffected every time.

The Moto G has a 5-inch 720p LCD display that is nowhere near as good as the best in its class, but is adequate for everything except reading under direct sunlight or HD video. Above and below the display are the recessed speaker slots that have become trademarks of sorts for the lower end Motos. The stereo speakers introduced in the previous generation G have sadly disappeared.

Performance

The new Moto G is powered by a quad-core Snapdragon 410 with Adreno 306 graphics. If you want 2 GB of RAM to go with that, you’ll have to buy the more expensive variant with 16 GB of storage space because the 8 GB variant only comes with 1 GB of RAM.

Geek Bench 3 puts this combination of internals slightly ahead of the LG Nexus 4, which is a two-year-old phone. As for current generation devices, both Xiaomi and Yu offer the exact same specification in their Redmi 2 and Yuphoria respectively at almost half the price.

The comparison is unflattering for the Moto G, but we must admit that performance is pretty fluid and lag-free for most basic use cases such as social media, web browsing and a spot of Candy Crush or Temple Run. But if you were considering anything more demanding than that, the Moto G will quickly start to show its limits.

Camera

The 13 MP rear shooter on the Moto G is not the best smartphone camera that you’ll ever use. It is not even the best camera in this class of smartphones, but it does the job and is fairly snappy about it. We were able to get some good shots in a brightly lit environment, but the dropoff in detailing in low light is noticeable. The camera software is a slightly tweaked version of Google’s camera app, which means the interface is uncomplicated and very usable. The front camera is good enough for selfies, but image quality is hardly relevant there since filters do most of the heavy lifting.

Software and battery

The Moto G sticks to the tried and tested formula of stock Android Lollipop with a few clever touches here and there from Motorola’s boffins. Most of this functionality is available through the Moto app which allows you to set up a limited version of the active display available on the Moto X and enable a couple of useful gestures to start the camera and flashlight. The app also helps you set up location or activity based profiles that decide how to deal with notifications.

The Help app is another nice little feature, which includes a whole bunch of useful guides and support information as well as a direct line to chat or talk with Motorola’s customer support.

Motorola is claiming all-day battery life on the new Moto G despite battery capacity only receiving a small bump up to 2470 mAh. Over a week’s daily usage, we came away pleasantly surprised at the device’s ability to last. With two SIMs plugged in, IMs and email constantly flying in and out, music playback for about an hour and web browsing for two hours, the Moto G managed to consistently survive till the end of the day on a single charge and still have a bit of juice left. What’s even more impressive is that it managed that with 4G always on (which tends to be a big drain on the battery).

Bottomline

The value for money that a Moto G represented in terms of pure performance has definitely gone down with each successive generation. It is incapable of winning a specs war against its current competition. But for a large cross-section of users who do not care about gaming or high-res video playback, the rock-solid build quality, minimal software stack and all-day battery life might be enough to compensate.

The Moto G is a no-nonsense smartphone that many users will be perfectly happy with, despite no longer being the king of the segment that it helped create.

Price: ₹12,999

Love: Build quality, battery life, waterproofing

Hate: Specs, pricing

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