Motorola has updated its budget smartphone range - the Moto G - just three months after the last addition to the line.
The Moto G originally launched in November 2013, shaking up the sub £150 smartphone market entirely. This little number was an amazing device. It didn't have flagship specs on board, but that didn't matter because it was more than capable of anything you asked it to do. The original was a marvel and when 4G was added to its specs a few months later - there was little to complain about.
That was the first generation. Then came the second generation, which we didn't love as much. It was bigger and bulkier and we felt it lost its charm. There were also two G's within this generation too - the first with 4G and the second, which only arrived in April this year, offering LTE support.
That brings us to third generation of Moto G, but the fifth one of its kind (yes, we know it's a little confusing). So what has Motorola changed in three months? Does the gem that is the G have its character back and despite the price increase on the 2013 model, is this budget smartphone ready to shake it all up, all over again? We got our hands on it during the launch event in London to find out.
The new Motorola Moto G, or third generation Moto G is a beauty. The silver bars have finally vanished from the front, which instantly makes it more appealing to us. We were never a fan of those bars when they were introduced on generation two. The size remains similar to April's model, but the Moto G has had a makeover and overall, everything feels more refined and far more streamlined. It also feels much lighter and slimmer, with a slight change in design to make it not just feel, but look thinner too. Interestingly, it is actually thicker than its predecessor and the same weight.
As we have come to expect from the Moto devices, the G is still a pleasure to hold. Its curved back means it fits into your hand nicely and we've always appreciated that. Motorola hasn't varied the design of the G much since the original, except for making it a little larger (and adding those bars) but then again why would they? The design has always worked well for the G and the third generation is no exception to that rule.
There have been a couple of tweaks to the new Moto G, and we aren't just talking about the bars, despite having mentioned them several times now. The rear of the third generation of Moto G has had a redesign and it's a good one. There is a now a distinctive feature on the back of the G that encapsulates the signature "M" dimple and the camera and flash. The same distance between the two points still exists as April's model, but the gap between them is filled with a bar. It results in a far more premium looking device and it also matches the Moto X Play and Moto X Style, tying them in as a Moto family.
Motorola has changed the Moto G's rear from smooth to textured and although we loved the matte, warm-to-touch finish of the first and second generation G, the addition of texture is nice and it offers good grip in comparison. That said, if you aren't into the textured, it doesn't matter as the Moto G has been given all the flavour of Moto Maker. This means the charming device can now become even more charming. If you'd rather not go down the Moto Maker route, then there are still plenty of options with the Moto Shells and Flip Shells so colour will never be lacking where it is wanted with this device.
The third generation Moto G was described by Motorola as "a Moto G killer" and we can completely understand why. Third time's a charm as the saying goes and this time, it feels as though Motorola has nailed it. This might be a budget smartphone, but it certainly doesn't look it. Instead, this is a smartphone that looks nearly as good as its £600 peers. It might not have an all-metal body, or the latest specs, but it does have a great design with metallic accents, IPX7 water resistance and most importantly, a great price, which is something Motorola should once again be commended for.
The 5-inch display sticks to a HD resolution at 1280 x 720, which delivers a pixel density of 293ppi. It isn't the sharpest display on the market and we would loved to have seen a bump to Full HD with the G, but equally, we appreciate this then pushes the price up and the display as it stands does ok. Compare it to a flagship device and you'll notice the difference but on its own, the viewing angles aren't bad and it is nice and bright with good colours.
Under the hood of the new Moto G is the 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor, supported by 1GB or 2GB of RAM, depending on the storage model you choose. There are 8GB and 16GB options and microSD support up to 32GB is also onboard. In terms of performance, we played with the new Moto G for a while and everything ran as smoothly as we expected it to. We didn't have an issues with the first gen Moto G so we didn't forsee any for the third. In fact, the new Moto G reacted quickly without any lag when we played a racing game on it.
The camera is one of the elements Motorola is raving about the most with the new Moto G. It claims to have taken the camera found on the Nexus 6 and improved it for the Moto G. Apart from adding a few more megapixels over its predecessor to bring the rear shooter to 13-megapixels and the front to 5-megaixels, Motorola has also improved the lens system to allow in more light, as well as add an IR filter. The camera on the Moto G has been adequate in the past but never exceptional and while we didn't get a chance to test it during our small amount of time with the new device, we are looking forward to finding out if it really is now the "best in its class".
The battery capacity has also creeped up over its predecessor to 2470mAh. Motorola claims this will offer up to 24 hours of mixed use, which has always been the claim for the G. We didn't get a chance to try it in the real world yet but we will put it through its paces when we come to review it.
In terms of software, the Moto G launches with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop and as usual, Motorola has made this as close to raw Android as possible. There are a few Motorola-specific apps, such as the camera and Moto Migrate for example, carrying over from the previous G devices, but the new G also brings Moto Assist to the next level with voice commands. The Motorola apps are all neatly contained in one folder, as Google's apps are on Android, and the Assist app is within this folder. It is almost like a Motorola Siri, although not quite as advanced.
We saw Assist demoed during the event and we liked the idea of it so we will be sure to check this out in more detail when we are able to spend more time with the G.
First impressions of the third generation Moto G? It's a winner and once again, Motorola has succeeded in shaking up the budget smartphone market. Like really shaken it up.
The new Motorola Moto G is available today, starting at £159. The Moto Maker version will start at £179.