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Review: The new Moto G/G Plus phones add size, features and cost

Barbara Krasnoff | July 22, 2016
Motorola's latest Android smartphones are still less expensive than flagship devices, but are no longer in the 'budget' category.

I've never been quick to switch from a technology that worked for me. Until last January, when I somewhat nervously upgraded to the large-sized Nexus 6P, I was quite satisfied to stick with my aging, 4.7-in. Moto X (yes, the original version).

So I can very well see why somebody would want to go for the more modestly equipped (and priced) Moto G phones. And they are definitely worth considering. As expected, the latest two models -- the Moto G and the Moto G Plus -- add speed and features to the previous iterations. What wasn't as expected is that the 2016 versions of the Moto G phones sport larger 5.5-in. displays -- in fact, displays that are the same size as the manufacturer's new flagship Moto Z phones.

Both Moto G devices are 6.0 x 3.0 x 0.28 in. and weigh about 5.5 oz. Both offer a Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor, a 1080 Full HD display, a 3000mAh battery and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera. The Moto G has a 13-megapixel back-facing camera while the G Plus sports a 16-megapixel camera and somewhat better software; the G Plus also offers a fingerprint sensor.

The Moto G, which is available in eight different colors via the company's MotoMaker site, starts at $200 (Amazon price) for 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage; you can also get it with 32GB of storage for an additional $30. The Moto G Plus starts at $250 (Amazon price) for 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage; for another $100, you can get it with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. (I reviewed the higher-end version of the G Plus.)

Both devices come with a 5.5-in. 1080p Full HD display. While the screen doesn't have the deep blacks provided by an AMOLED display, the colors are brighter and richer than I originally expected -- quite impressive, in fact -- and I didn't notice any hesitations during action scenes.

A lot has been made recently of the metal backing of higher-end phones. I appreciate the more luxurious feel it can supply -- but metal is also more slippery, to the point that when I acquired my Nexus 6P, one of the first things I did was to get a plastic case so that I would feel more secure in carrying it. As a result, I rather like the soft feel of the Moto G's plastic backing; in addition, the back removes easily so that you can install a SIM and an SD-card (but you can't replace the battery).

The power button and volume rocker are on the right side of the phone; I like the rough feel of the former, which makes it easier to identify. The audio-out port is on top, while the micro-USB power port is on the bottom. The Plus also has a fingerprint sensor on the front below the display, a useful addition.


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