After the several devices with the company’s own UI implementations, ROM changes, we are back to a smartphone that has the stock ROM with nothing special and different from what Google provides in the standard Android OS. Motorola announced the Moto G and Moto X, with no special names but the same ones, so we call the mid-range device in them as Moto G 2014 to stay away from the confusion, and we have been trying it out for some time. From one side, it is not a clear winner over the competition, thanks to the fierce competition in the current market, but, on the other hand, this is Motorola and not some brand whom one would write off very easily.
The Motorola Moto G 2014 comes with a display bumped from 4.5-inch to 5-inch, and the phone has got improvements only in a few areas such as camera. Let us see whether the new Moto G is appealing enough for the users.
Design wise, Motorola has decided not to do much of changes in the Moto G. The successor looks no different from the original one, except for the speakers. This time, two stereo speakers are placed on the Moto G 2014, both on the front side (above and below the display). The white variant that we tested, has a smooth finish over the plastic material, and this is easily prone to getting discolored and thus, we would not suggest white in this case.
Check out: Motorola Moto G Photo Gallery
Everything else in the Moto G’s design is quite decent and nothing really bad, especially for the reason that nothing much is changed from the design of the phone launched last year. Motorola just made it better because speakers located on the front give a good surround sound, and these are stereo speakers. As we have pointed out in the design overview, “Motorola has made the screen larger, but the new Moto G is still comfortable to hold.”
Just to note, the back cover of the Moto G phone can be removed, but one cannot remove the battery because opening up the back door exposes only the slots for two SIM cards and a MicroSD card. The screen is made larger, but the Moto G is still comfortable to hold, thanks to the curves on the side.
Motorola has placed the same resolution display on the new Moto G, and this is the IPS LCD display that has got Gorilla Glass 3 protection, thus scratches and dents are not easily possible. But, the screen is not that bright, compared to the Xiaomi Redmi 1s and the brightness is not actually different from what we saw in the previous Moto G. The large screen is obviously is a big plus for many, who were looking for a cheaper alternative to the flagships, which are the ones coming with a decent large screen in most of the cases. The display covers most of the front side of the phone as the bezels are thin.
The colors are still rich on the display and IPS panel although is not brighter than the competition, they are not to the levels that could disappoint the users on normal use.
Software, Apps & User Experience
The software isn’t different from the other Motorola phones, or in that case, any phone that comes with the stock ROM, except that the Moto G comes with a few dedicated apps from Motorola, such as Motorola Migrate, Moto Assist and Motorola Alert, and these are some actually helpful apps for the first-time Motorola users. The most interesting part in this, is the Motorola Assist feature that personalizes the phone as per your need. For example, if you have setup a calendar entry and scheduled a meet for a particular time, the device is put into silent mode at that particular time, by the Assist app.
Apart from these apps, there are just the Google Play Services apps, which are again frequently used, and at the same time, they are unavoidable, because you are able to install apps from Play Store only if you have added a Google account. This is the Android 4.4.4 KitKat OS, and software side, Motorola users will always be enjoying the latest OS updates, as Motorola is one of the first companies to send the newer OS updates. The “Trusted Devices” feature is added to this new Moto G, where the user can bypass the lock screen with bluetooth accessories.
The Moto G 2014 being a Dual SIM device, you get to see the Dual SIM settings with all the call, messaging and data settings for the individual SIM cards. The storage that we get is around 13GB out of the 16GB ROM, and that is actually better than the Samsung, HTC and other devices where around 11GB is available out-of-the-box, thanks to the interface tweaks and the heavy bloatware. Still, I would always appreciate the option of adding a MicroSD card for the extra storage, and this device has that as well.
There was a bit of doubt about the performance of the new Moto G, because the company stuck to the same processor that was in the last year’s device. But surprisingly, the performance of this new smartphone says there’s no real need for an upgrade to everything. The swift performance, excellent fast response to functions and playing games with ease, is what I could get from more than a week’s usage of the Moto G, which is powered by the Snapdragon 400 chipset along with Adreno 305 GPU. If I was to expect and play some high-end 3D games on this, I am probably expecting too much because there would be some lag noticeable, but we are here talking about the navigation in the interface, playing of videos on Youtube, browsing light to heavy websites on the Chrome browser and using the camera app.
The big reason on why Motorola has decided to retain the same power, and still the phone gives a great performance, is that they have ensured there is no actual load needed as the display is not asking more power, and of course, the latest OS is very well optimized to run well. No clutter in the interface with any unnecessary options and apps, is also helping in this case.
The 1GB RAM still asks some questions, because about half of that is already being used by the background processes and the system, and the remaining 450MB-odd allows a limited multitasking, though that is not very bad.
The cameras, both of them, are upgraded and that is what brings out a difference between the two generations. But for me, the 8-megapixel camera doesn’t do the best justice to the megapixel count, and the exposure control is a deal breaker because there is unnecessary brightening of the objects noticed in the captures. The ability to use the volume rocker to activate the shutter is a good addition, as the touch to capture sometimes can shake the device enough to distort the picture. The front-facing camera is now a good 2-megapixel one capable of taking better pictures than the 1.2-megapixel camera in the previous Moto G.
The actual change to notice in the rear camera, is the sensor that is now a f2.0 from the f2.4 earlier, and this helps in capturing better pictures on a single light source, but the camera doesn’t pick the object well when there are different light sources around, and although there are additional options such as HDR mode, the camera doesn’t do much justice to them. For a quick comparison, we tested the 8-megapixel camera of Xiaomi Redmi 1s alongside the camera of Moto G 2014, and it was the Xiaomi’s shooter that did a comparatively better job, in at least limiting the whitening and reproducing the object colors.
Check the Motorola Moto G 2014 Camera Review.
All said and done, the option for focusing by tapping anywhere on the screen is not given in the default camera app from Motorola, so one could download the Google Camera app, or any alternative and tap to focus, which is very handy for those who wanted to control the focus manually.
Battery, Speakers & Connectivity
The biggest plus for us with the Moto G 2014, is the battery. This is yet another aspect where Motorola has chosen not to bring any changes, but is there any such upgrade that would drain this battery faster? the display resolution is kept the same, the internal specs are the same and frankly, the battery life has been better than the three smartphones that we tried using together – Moto G 2013, Xiaomi Redmi 1s and the Asus Zenfone 5, and the 2070 mAh does a brilliant job in giving more than a days’ usage where you aren’t compromising with any connectivity options during the entire day.
The lesser battery drain could again be because of the absence of those sensors which keep the phone always active to listen to the user’s commands, and there are no heavy resources that eat up the battery.
The speakers have been put on the front. Can it get better than this? Last time, the speaker grill was located just beside the rear camera, but now Motorola has given it a look and placement just like it was in the Moto E, and this for sure is after the good feedback it got for the latter. The stereo speakers are now located above and below the display, and they put out a good output volume, but they are not the best on top volume, as the distortion is quite noticeable.
The call quality, signal reception for both network signals and Wi-Fi reception are all something we cannot complain about, as the new Moto G did have a good reception, and the automatic signal searching after the network being lost is quite fast, as the phone tries to connect the device to the network.
For someone looking for a very decent Dual SIM smartphone in the mid-range category, there’s nothing better than the Moto G 2014. Of course you cannot rule out the competitors such as the Xiaomi Redmi 1s, Asus Zenfone 5 and Sony Xperia M2 but the users who are obsessed about OS versions, updates and the brand value, Motorola does justice in all the three aspects. The build quality of the phone is great, so is the interface. The camera did come as a big upgrade from the previous version, but this is not the best camera in that price range. Still, there are reasons why one should go for the Moto G 2014 over the other smartphones.