FutureFive NZ - Review: Motorola Moto G (Second Generation)

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Review: Motorola Moto G (Second Generation)

The original Moto G forced many people to re-think what they thought about budget smartphones. Now almost a year later Motorola are back with a 2nd generation mid-range smartphone. Confusing things just a little, they've also chosen to call it the Moto G.

There are many upsides to the next generation Moto G. Its biggest is likely to be a guaranteed upgrade to Android Lollipop in November.

Look and Feel
The original Moto G impressed with a solid, well thought out design. Motorola have continued this with the Moto G remake, which is also built like a brick dunny.

Although it is constructed out of plastic, it feels solid. A grippy curved back makes it less likely to be dropped. Given the amount of finger gymnastics needed to reach across the entirety of its 5” screen, this is a sensible move.

The front fascia also sports two small metallic strips that are stereo speaker grills. These have are also slightly raised, which provides a small measure of protection to the G’s front.

It’s subtle, simple yet clever touches such as these that separate the Moto G from a lot of other budget smartphones.

Good design combines with weight of 149g (a mere 6g heavier than the original Moto G) which makes for a pleasant in-hand experience too.

Under the Hood
Under the hood of the 2nd gen Moto G, things are pretty much like the original. Both smartphones make use of a quad-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 CPU. While I’d have liked to have seen some newer silicon, the 2nd gen Moto G still felt pretty smooth in use.

Graphics performance was also comparable with the original Moto G. The 2nd gen Moto G's Adreno 305 GPU was more than ample for playing most games. I found Lags and stutters were not noticeable - even when using resource intensive apps such as real racing 3.

That the 2nd gen Moto G only comes in 8GB or 16GB flavours (with 1GB of RAM) and is likely to disappoint those with large media collections. The good news is that it does have a built-in microSD card slot which can take up an additional 32GB of storage.


In Use
For media consumption and the odd web page, the G's 1,280 x 720 screen was clear - even if I sometimes had to pinch/zoom to read smaller text. The screen has a pixel density of 293 PPI compared to the original Moto G’s 326. This said, it is slightly larger and in use it looked crispy, sharp. I had to look pretty hard to make out any pixels.

The camera on the original Moto G was bit a weak point. It has undergone several improvements in the 2nd generation Moto G. The new camera packs an 8MP sensor. The camera app also has Panorama modes available.

Photos taken indoors and out had plenty of detail. Colours also looked natural. Some noise was noticeable in photos shot under low light. All told, the rear camera in the 2nd Gen Moto G is a definite step up from the original as well as those found in other mid-range phones.

Battery life was also good. The 2nd gen Moto G packs a generous 2,070mAh battery which with typical use lasted just over 9 hours. This isn’t too shabby considering that the 2nd gen Moto G packs a larger screen than its predecessor.

As with the previous generation Moto G, the new Moto G comes with a bunch of Motorola apps were pretty handy.

I particularly liked Motorola Migrate. It pulled contacts, call history and messages from my other phone, and moved them to the Moto G.

The Moto app I used most often was Motorola Assist which like Apples "Do not Disturb" mode puts the Moto G into silent mode at night. It can also read text messages, tell me who's calling, or even play music over Bluetooth when it detects I’m driving. It is also smart enough to (depending on my calendar) switch to silent mode if I'm in a meeting.

I didn’t get to test Moto Alert (thank goodness) which can alert parents, friends or family in an emergency by sending a text message alert. It’ll also sound an audible alarm or auto-dial a chosen emergency contact number.

Moto Alert can also track of when you leave and arrive at places you often visit, alerting chosen contacts when you do so.

Meet Me, is similar (but a little less creepy) and sends a text message to a specific set of contacts telling them where to meet you.

Motorola had to walk bit of a tightrope when designing the 2nd generation Moto G.

By and large they've managed to do a decent job. They've incorporated some useful refinements to keep the Moto G up-to-date while avoiding bloat-ware.

Although the 2nd gen Moto G performed similarly to the original Moto G, the addition of a micro SD slot and a larger screen at a wallet pleasing $299 makes the Moto G a good budget smartphone  pick.

Tech Specs
OS: Android 4.4.4 KitKat®
Storage: 8GB (up to 32GB via MicroSD Card Slot)
Memory: 1GB
Dimensions: H 70.7mm x W 141.5mm x D 6.0-11.0mm
Weight: 149g
Camera: (Rear) 8MP AF, (Front) 2 MP
Audio: 2 front-facing Speakers
2 Mics
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad-core processor (1.2 GHz)
Display: 5" Active TFT LCD 1280 x 720p (293 PPI)
Wireless Networking: 802.11 b/g/n, BT 4.0LE
Networks: GSM/GPRS/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz), UMTS/HSPA+ (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz)
Battery: 2070 mAh

RRP: $299

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