Motorola, in its new incarnation, can be credited with
reshaping the lower end of the Indian smartphone market. The Moto G,
when launched earlier this year, was quite simply the best possible
value you could get in a smartphone. It set off a massive chain reaction
with companies launching competitive models and cutting prices to stay
Fortunately for consumers but unfortunately for
Motorola, the momentum hasn't stopped yet. Many of the phone models that
have launched since then have proven to be a little better, causing the
original Moto G (Review | Pictures) to drop off our list of recommended smartphones which
cost less than Rs. 15,000. Asus, Xiaomi and even local brands such as
Xolo have begun selling models which are slightly better at one thing or
And the Moto G was not perfect - it had plenty of room
for improvement, which its competition swooped in and grabbed. Most
significantly, the original Moto G was one of the only phones in its
class without a microSD card slot for storage expansion. You were
limited to 8 or 16GB, and that was that.
Motorola has been quick
to react, though. Unwilling to cede the ground it created for itself,
the company has launched a second-generation Moto G (without a differentiating model
number or suffix). The new model has a lot going for it - including the
very good reputation of its predecessor - but is sufficiently different
to be considered a whole new product.
Look and feel
isn't just a refresh of the original Moto G. The Gen 2 model is
significantly taller and wider, but is also a hair thinner and heavier.
The new dimensions accommodate a larger screen - 5 inches as opposed to
The original Moto G had a subtle, unassuming front face. The
new one is anything but understated. Two thick metallic rods appear to
be embedded in gaps above and below the screen. These are actually
speaker cutouts, though their design is unlike any we've seen before.
There's also a camera in one corner and a window for the proximity and
light sensors above between the screen and the upper speaker. There
isn't much plastic around the screen, so all these things are quite
cramped. The front face is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3.
devices which use on-screen buttons aim for minimalism, so that all
attention is on the user interface and the device itself takes a back
seat. We couldn't help but be distracted by the speaker and patches on
our white review unit. The new Moto G just looks awkward and
uncomfortable. From what we've seen, the effect is less pronounced on
the black version.
The phone gives off a more plasticky vibe than
many others in this price range do. Our phone's rear panel got
seriously scuffed and smudged even with moderate use over the course of a
few days. The white material on the front, rear and sides are also of
different shades and textures, which detracts from the device's overall
The rear panel pops off and can be swapped for others which
are available in a veritable rainbow of colours. You can get plain
plastic shells or ones with integrated flip covers. The two SIM card
slots and the microSD card slot are beneath the panel, but
unfortunately, the battery is still sealed into the Moto G. It appears
that the rear cover is only removable for cosmetic reasons.
new Moto G is easy to grip thanks to its curved rear, but isn't as
comfortable to hold as the original was. That said, a lot of people will
prefer the larger screen so the tradeoff doesn't seem too bad. The
plastic rim around the screen glass protrudes a little and felt scratchy
against our ears.
For some unfathomable reason, the new Moto G's charger has a fixed cable. You'll need to use your own Micro-USB cable to plug it into a computer.
Features and specifications
The Moto G
(Gen 2) has been launched relatively soon after the original Moto G hit
the market, so it's no surprise that there isn't a generational leap in
any of its specifications. Think of this more as a refreshed incarnation
of the same formula. The processor is still the same Qualcomm
Snapdragon 400, with four cores running at 1.2GHz and an integrated
Adreno 305 GPU. There's still 1GB RAM and 8GB or 16GB of storage space
(though only the 16GB version has been launched here as of now).
screen also retains its 720x1280-pixel resolution despite the half-inch
size increase. This results in a minor, almost imperceptible dip in
sharpness. The only really significant change, and one we're very happy
about, is the inclusion of a microSD card slot. This one little change
fixes the most significant shortcoming of the original Moto G and puts
Motorola right back in the running.
You can take advantage of new
Wi-Fi ac routers, since the latest standard is supported along with the
usual b/g/n. There's also Bluetooth 4, A-GPS and FM radio. The Moto G
(Gen 2) can act as a USB OTG host and its spec sheet is rounded out with
an accelerometer, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor, gyroscope and
Motorola's rebirth came about as a
way for Google to promote its ideal of a pure, unaltered Android user
interface. Despite new ownership now, Motorola appears to have stuck to
the same formula. The Moto G (Gen 2) has none of the bloat and ugliness
that characterise phones sold by everyone from the biggest global brands
to tiny local importers.
There are still a few preloaded in-house
apps, but the rest of the interface is pure, stock Android. It's also
the very latest version - 4.4.4. While third-party skins had a lot to
offer in the past, Google's aesthetics and user interface design skills
have improved drastically in recent times. The new Moto G's software is
easy enough to use and honestly looks better than a lot of the
"improvements" thrust upon us by assorted companies trying to
The only shortcuts available from the
lockscreen are for the camera and Google Now. There are only two
homescreens at the outset though you can create more. There is a
glorious lack of unnecessary apps, widgets, and other branded spam. The
app drawer is a simple grid of icons broken into pages, and there are no
other gimmicks. Admittedly, Samsung, Sony and LG have made genuine
improvements to some parts of the Android UI - quick toggle icons in the
notifications shade and improved sorting in the Settings app come to
mind - which we miss, to some extent. On the whole, we have to say the
pros of Motorola's approach outweigh the cons.
in-house apps are called Alert, Assist, Help and Migrate. Alert can be
set up to send your GPS coordinates to predefined contacts so they can
check up on you. It can be used as an emergency tool, sending out
continuous updates of your location, or as a geofencing tool to let
people know when you arrive at a place or leave it. Motorola Assist
helps you avoid interruptions while sleeping or busy at work, by
changing your phone's notification behaviour and filtering out calls and
messages from people not specifically in your inner circle. Help is
just a guide to the Moto G's features, and Migrate helps you copy data
over from an Android device or iPhone if you're upgrading.
course there are plenty of Google apps too - Maps, Play Games, Play
Music, Play Newsstand, Quickoffice, Voice Search, YouTube, Drive and
Hangouts, amongst others. The default browser is Chrome.
additions are all minor and potentially useful - we have no complaints.
Things you're likely to miss, such as better keyboards, can be added via
the Google Play store. Even the on-screen buttons are not intrusive,
thanks to improvements made with Android 4.4. We hope that
post-post-acquisition Motorola won't be adopting Lenovo's custom UI
anytime soon. The company has also guaranteed an upgrade to Android L
when it is released, which will only amplify the benefits of using stock
The Moto G (Gen 2)'s cameras get a bump up
from a 5-megapixel sensor to an 8-megapixel one on the rear and from 1.3
to 2 megapixels on the front. Video recording resolution is still
capped at 720p and all the software features are the same.
quite pleasantly surprised with the photos we were able to capture with
the new Moto G. While not incredibly sharp or high quality, the photos
had a warm, pleasant tone. HDR is enabled by default, contributed to
this. Details are pretty impressive in close-ups, but don't expect to be
taking very good landscapes. Low-light results were adequate, but the
device takes a lot longer to lock focus. We had no complaints with the
quality of video, though 1080p should have been possible.
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camera app is not the easiest to use - all options are hidden until you
swipe in from the left edge, and there's no hint to tell you that you
can do that. Options are also very limited - you have a panorama mode
and can toggle video slow-mo, geotagging, HDR and the flash. Photos are
taken at 6-megapixel resolution in order to crop them to 16:9, but you
can increase this to 8-megapixels in a 4:3 frame which makes a lot of
sense. You can focus by dragging the reticle and then take photos by
tapping anywhere on screen (or holding your finger down to take a burst
You can tap anywhere, but for some reason the Android
navigation bar stays visible on screen and the Home button is right
where we're used to having a shutter release button - so much for
interface minimalism. We wound up exiting to the homescreen far too
often when trying to take photos.
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We were quite
happy with the Moto G (Gen 2) overall. There were minor lags now and
then, but nothing severe. In some cases such as when opening and closing
the app drawer, unnecessary animations make the device feel more
sluggish than it actually is.
The new Moto G's hardware is not
spectacular, and its test results were consistent with other current
phones with the same specs. Scores were pretty much identical, for all
practical purposes, to those of the original Moto G. However, they
couldn't match the scores of the Asus Zenfone 5 (Review | Pictures). The Moto G (Gen 2) was
able to achieve 5657 points and 10.8fps in 3D Mark Ice Storm and
GFXbench respectively while the Zenfone 5 scored 7638 points and 17.3fps
respectively. CPU scores weren't too far apart, with 8932 and 9,000
points in Quadrant respectively.
We were quite pleased with the
new Moto G's battery life - it lasted 7 hours, 3 minutes in our video
loop test. The screen was a little hard to read in direct sunlight, but
clarity and viewing angles were otherwise good. We were eager to test
the new speakers, but came away sorely disappointed. The sound is
definitely more engaging when watching movies, but it just isn't very
loud and tends to tear at anything above the 50 percent volume mark.
Movie dialog was crisp, but music was horribly tinny and compressed.
video files played flawlessly, including our most heavily encoded
sample. Casual 3D games such as Temple Run 2 were also pretty smooth.
Overall, we're quite happy with the performance of the Moto G (Gen 2).
not quite matching the raw performance of the Asus Zenfone 5,
Motorola's latest effort is still a contender thanks to its features and
software. The 16GB versions of both phones are priced at Rs. 12,999,
but there's an 8GB Zenfone 5 option if you need to save a little money.
For us, the choice ultimately comes down to whether you prefer Asus' Zen
UI over stock Android KitKat (and soon, Android L). Xiaomi's Mi 3 (Review | Pictures) would
have been a much bigger threat, but it isn't a true contender at the
moment because it simply isn't available anymore.
The Moto G (Gen
2) isn't going to win any beauty contests but it's a solid, utilitarian
phone that doesn't present too many confusing options and is free of
Motorola Moto G (Gen 2) in pictures