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Bill Bennett


Motorola Moto G: best option low-cost smartphone by miles

Motorola’s Moto G smartphone may have a low, low price, but there’s nothing cheap or nasty about this device.

You won’t find a better phone at anything like its $300 asking price. It’s nicer than devices selling for twice as much.

My work means I spend a lot of time with flagship smartphones. Usually reviewing cheaper models is a jarring experience, I never felt that with the Motorola Moto G.

Motorola Moto G delivers essentials

Moto G scores partly because it delivers the essential smartphone features and software. But the icing on the cake is that, given the low price, it’s nicely built.

The case is made of a soft-touch polycarbonate with a water repellant coating. That doesn’t protect the phone if you drop it in the river, but it helps cope with outdoor calling in rain-prone New Zealand.

I’m going to upset people here, but in my hands it feels as good as Samsung’s plasticky Galaxy S4 which at NZ$1150n is almost four times the price.

Good display for the price

Low-price smartphones usually skimp on the display. That’s not the case here. The Motorola Moto G has a 4.5 inch screen with 720p resolution – that’s around 330 pixels per inch. That’s comparable in both screen size and pixel density with the Apple iPhone 5S – arguably the best smartphone you can buy at the moment.

That’s about where the direct comparisons with the iPhone 5S end. The Moto G has nothing like as much computing power, memory, storage or features. But you wouldn’t expect it to.

In practice the processor makes for a smooth experience, helped along by the minimalist version of Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. Motorola hasn’t screwed around loading software on top of the OS and frankly, that’s a good thing. I also like the way Motorola gives phone owners 50GB of Google Drive storage.

What’s the catch?

So what don’t you get with the Moto G that you get with more expensive smartphones? For a start the camera is average. Not bad, just nothing like as good as you’ll find on a more expensive phone.  It suffers under poor light conditions.

And there’s less fancy photo-oriented software included with the phone. You many need to download some apps to get more from the camera. Even so, the 5 megapixel camera is good enough for day-to-day snaps.

Another downside is the Moto G is strictly a 3G smartphone. You can’t use it on the fast 4G network currently being rolled out around New Zealand.


You can easily find a better phone than the Moto G, but you’ll need much deeper pockets.

I’ve been critical of low-cost Android phones in the past. Some are so awful and deliver such a poor experience they put people off smartphones altogether. The Moto G is quite the reverse, it’s a wonderful first smartphone and an excellent choice for anyone who can’t justify shelling out a grand or more.

It’s also a good choice if you want to buy a phone for a family member or an employee. What a pity it wasn’t on sale in New Zealand before Christmas.



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