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Motorola Moto G review: When good phones go cheap

Florence Ion | Jan. 2, 2014
The Moto G has all the essentials of a smartphone—a stylish chassis, near-stock Android, and a sizable form-factor—and it only costs $179.


Good news, everyone! Worthy smartphones don't have to cost an arm and a leg. Motorola already proved this with the relatively affordable Moto X, and now it's continuing the tradition with the release of a midrange handset meant for emerging markets: the Moto G. 

The Moto G has all the workings of its premium counterpart: a high pixel density screen, a customizable chassis, near-stock version of Android 4.3, and a sizable form-factor.  For $179, the unlocked Moto G is a steal, but its low price point also means that it's quite literally the poor man's Moto X. 

Cheap, but not flimsy
The Moto G is essentially the Moto X in a cheaper-to-manufacture package. It feels durable, though it doesn't have that same premium look as its predecessor. The Moto G is also a bit bulkier and it feels more dense, but it's still easy to hold and use one handed.

Almost every button and component on the Moto G is in the same place as on the Moto X. There's a camera lens and flash on the back; a microUSB port on the bottom; and a volume rocker and power button on the right. Though it's not as customizable as its bigger sibling, you can swap out the Moto G's plastic back for one of six colors. Removing that back panel lets you access the micro-SIM slot, but you can't swap out the battery.

The Moto G and Moto X are only slightly disparate in appearance. The real difference between the two is what's on the inside.

Performance that's a little behind the times
The Moto G isn't the leader of any pack, but it shares the same specifications as some other midrange hardware, like the HTC One mini and Samsung Galaxy Mega. It has a 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor and 1GB of RAM, and while that gets the job done, you will see longer load times for games and a slight lag when you're scrolling through some applications. Low memory will likely become a problem over time, too, as some apps become more reliant on those particular resources. If you're mainly in the market for a midrange phone for the bare necessities, however, the Moto G will certainly fit that need.

The Moto G doesn't support 4G or LTE, which is unfortunate for those on major carriers who are interested in the device. It doesn't offer dual-band Wi-Fi, either, so the device will only latch on to 2.4GHz Wi-Fi connections. At least it's sold unlocked, so you'll be able to take it with you almost anywhere around the world. 


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