Motorola Moto G 2013 review
A high-quality budget Android handset with an excellent screen and long battery life
Now that Motorola has announced an updated version of the Moto G (with 4G and a microSD slot) the price of the 2013's popular 3G model has dropped to £99, which is unbelievably good value. Take a look at our Moto G 2013 review to find out why this smartphone is such a bargain at this price. See also: the 11 best smartphones of 2014.
Moto G 2013 review: overview
The popularity of the Nexus range and Nokia's low-cost Lumia handsets has proved there's a voracious appetite for affordable yet high-quality smartphones, and Motorola is hoping to share the spoils with its new Android-based Moto G.
The 8GB version of the Moto G costs a dirt-cheap £99 SIM-free. That isn't quite as cheap as the Nokia Lumia 520, which goes for as little as £60 on pay-as-you-go these days, but the specification goes far beyond what Nokia's budget baby can offer.
Moto G 2013 review: screen
The headline is the IPS screen, which at 4.5in and 720 x 1,280, is both larger and sharper than the Nokia's 4in, 480 x 800 unit. It has an impressive pixel density of 329ppi – which is slightly higher than the iPhone 5s – and isn't lacking in quality at all. It's bright – we measured it at a maximum 436cd/m[sup]2[/sup] – it has an excellent contrast ratio of 991:1 and it boasts colours that leap from the screen with more verve than you've any right to expect on a phone this cheap.
It's a good start – and it isn't the end of the Moto G's talents. Topping that display, for instance, is a layer of tough, scratch- and shatter-resistant Gorilla Glass. In addition, all the components sport a water-resistant nano-coating – as has become customary with Motorola smartphones in the past year or so – and so should resist a drenching without the phone going pop.
Moto G 2013 review: design
As far as the design is concerned, this is clearly a smartphone that's been built to a budget, but it's far from ugly. The rear panel is built from slightly hollow-sounding plastic, but it's gently curved and sports a smart-looking, grippy matte finish that sits comfortably in the hand.
As with the Lumia 520, it's possible to pop off the rear panel and replace it with a selection of coloured alternatives; there are rugged and integrated cover shells in the range. On the downside, the battery isn't user-replaceable, there's no microSD slot for expanding the storage and there's no 4G compatibility.
Moto G 2013: performance
Performance is a bit of a mixed bag. Motorola says it's worked hard at tweaking the Moto G so basic tasks take less time and the battery lasts longer, and while we've no problem with the phone's general responsiveness – it's nippy in and around the Android OS –it's less impressive elsewhere.
The processor is a quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400, which outstrips the Lumia 520's dual-core Snapdragon S4 – or so it would appear. However, this processor is a long way behind the fastest on the market. When scrolling and zooming in complex web pages, the Moto G felt a little laggy, and this was backed up in benchmarks: it scored a mere 1,442ms in SunSpider, 11fps in the demanding GFXBench T-Rex HD test and 1,157 in the multicore Geekbench 3.
Battery life is much more impressive, however, with the Moto G retaining 70% of its capacity after our 24-hour rundown test – above average in today's smartphone market, and on a par with the excellent Samsung Galaxy Note 3.
Moto G 2013: software
Another plus is the software, which is pleasingly clean: Motorola has added few of its own tweaks to the base Android 4.3 OS. The most extensive alterations are to the camera app: the shutter button has been removed, leaving a minimalist, gesture-based front end. It's a shame the quality of the 5-megapixel camera isn't great: our test shots frequently came out blurry and out of focus, even in good light, and the JPEGs it produces are heavily compressed.
That's no different from our experience with any number of other budget smartphones, though, and it doesn't dent the Moto G's appeal, especially as it comes with the bonus of two years’ free 50GB Google Drive storage. It has a fantastic display, the design is fine and the water resistance is a bonus no other cheap handset can boast. We've no hesitation in recommending it for those on a tight budget – it's our new favourite low-cost handset.
|Price ex VAT||£113|
|Price inc VAT||£135|
|Cheapest price on contract||Free|
|Contract monthly charge||£16.00|
|Contract period||24 months|
|Contract provider||Three (via buymobiles.net)|
|Features & Design||5|
|Value for Money||6|
|Dimensions||66 x 11.5 x 130mm (WDH)|
|Camera megapixel rating||5.0mp|
|Resolution||720 x 1280|
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