Moto G (2014): The same, but different [Review]

Moto G

What's in a name? A smartphone by any other name would still make calls and texts, right? Not according to Motorola it won't. The Moto G was Motorola's best-selling phone to date, despite its budget status. So in a not-so-subtle attempt to recreate that handsets' success, what has Motorola called its successor? The Moto G of course.

No "Moto G 2" or "Moto G+" or "Moto G 2nd generation" moniker here, the 2014 edition of the Moto G has swanned in as an out-and-out replacement of its older brother that boasts some seriously upgraded specs.

Despite being one of Motorola's cheapest mobile offerings, the Moto G claims to offer a premium experience at a third of the price of a premium smartphone. It runs Android 4.4 KitKat with a guaranteed upgrade to the "L" version of the OS as soon as it launches (that partnership with Google really paid off.) It also houses an 8-megapixel camera, and a not-too-shabby 2070 mAh battery.

But can it truly live up to the expectations of its Moto G name?


The original 4.5in screen has been upgraded to a 5in IPS display, a figure which is coincidentally the current size sweet spot among flagship devices.

It's a shame then that the resolution has been kept the same at 1280 x 720, meaning a drop in pixel density to 294ppi (pixels per inch) from 329ppi. It's not going to completely offend your corneas -- the new Moto G still combines great viewing angles with vivid colors -- but meanwhile you will notice problems with brightness. Unless you crank up the brightness to the max, the whole screen will feel dim and less sharp than it could be.


The Moto G is, quite simply, an ergonomic delight. Sure, there's no brushed metal finish attempting to disguise the plastic build, but there doesn't need to be. The handset's backing is deliciously matte and subtly textured, with the familiar dent in the back where the logo lives and calls on you to run your index finger over at regular intervals.

Available in black and white, the Moto G won't dazzle color connoisseurs but it maintains a certain elegance. Despite being wider and longer than its predecessor, this new edition maintains the same 11mm width and 149g weight. Like a fine wine poured into a cheap plonk bottle, the 2014 Moto G is unexpectedly well-balanced.


Upon removing the back, the dual SIM slot function is revealed. This is a big tick in the box for the Moto G among frequent travelers, who can put a UK and foreign SIM card in the same handset. Interestingly, Motorola claims that the phone will learn about your calling habits over time, and eventually work out which SIM it should use to call each contact in your list. It's a premium touch that certainly elevates a budget offering.

Hardware and performance

Strangely enough, the processor hasn't received a face lift. Under the hood you'll find the same Snapdragon 400 quad-core chip that clocks in at 1.2GHz that runs the show alongside Adreno 305 graphics.

Performance is still virtually the same as the first Moto G though, which is to say, it's very good for the low price. Apps load swiftly and web browsing is smooth and uninterrupted, despite the fact that the handset does not support 4G.

The handset will be available in 8GB and 16GB variants when it launches on 15 September, and those who opt for the former will be pleased to know a Micro-SD slot is hidden under the removable back to boost storage.



A big niggle with the first Moto G was over its underpowered 5-megapixel camera. This has been completely overhauled in the new model, so now photographers can snap away with an 8-megapixel front-facer supported by LED flash.

Budding James Camerons, meanwhile, may be disappointed by the fact that video can only be shot in 720p. This is actually pretty surprising, especially considering that 8-megapixels are more than capable of pushing 1080p quality.

Still, cameras are often the deciding factor when comparing smartphones and Motorola has clearly realized that. The new version is a big step up, and while you won't be winning Wildlife Photographer of the year with it, for general use it more than holds its own.


At just over 2,000 mAh, the Moto G boasts a decent-sized battery, and you can really tell. Sending regular texts, a few phone calls a day, about an hour of Internet browsing and an hour of gameplay meant the battery stretched to just about two days in a single charge

A big part of this is the lack of bloatware. The Moto G runs bare bones Android 4.4.2, which in itself has been optimized for better battery life. By stripping the OS of non-essential apps, Motorola has ensured that not only can you customize your handset completely, it also won't be drained by useless apps running in the background.


Topping the original Moto G is a big ask -- this was the handset that disrupted a notoriously competitive market and catapulted Motorola back under the global spotlight.

However, the 2014 edition isn't so much a "topper" but a rather delicious "topping". The lack of 4G combined with the lack of processor nor screen resolution boost prevents it from reaching perfection, but the improved camera and screen size means it's a worthy upgrade on top of the success the first Moto G created.

It is proof that Motorola is not a one trick pony when it comes to manufacturing great smartphones. Sleek, clever and compact, the Moto G 2014 won't make as many waves as it did in 2013 but its ripples will be felt throughout the budget handset market.

So out of the five sugar lumps in my pocket, this pony can have four.

Good Points

  • Excellent camera
  • Value for money
  • Clean Android 4.4.2 OS

Bad Points

  • Low resolution for screen size
  • Same processor as old model

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