Prior to penning this Moto G7 review we'd spent a full week living with the Moto G7 Plus. And having switched between one phone and the next, well, we've been struggling to tell the difference between the two.
After all, the Moto G7 is the same size as the Plus, it has the same screen, same battery capacity, a very similar processor (it's marginally less powerful, at 1.8GHz rather than 2.2GHz). So what's the point in both phones? The 'normal' G7 ditches the optical image stabilisation system, goes for lower-resolution cameras and saves you £30 in the process.
There's more to consider too, as the 2019 G series line-up has four phone options, with the cheaper and greater battery capacity of the G7 Power arguably being the one to go for. In this four-piece line-up does the classic G7 feel too squeezed from all sides to make sense, or is it the perfect balance of features to price?
Moto G7: Design and features
- 3.5mm headphones jack
- microSD support up to 512GB
- Rear-positioned fingerprint scanner
- Finishes: Ceramic Black, Clear White
- Water-repellent coating (not IP rated)
- Measures: 157 x 75.3 x 8.3mm / Weighs: 172g
The G7's form is no different to the G7 Plus, with only the colour options available differing. That means you get the same easy-to-hold device and finish, complete with 3.5mm headphones jack, fingerprint scanner and water-repellent coating to help avoid accidents.
The SIM try of our G7 does offer dual SIM plus microSD, whereas our G7 Plus was single SIM and microSD. Either way, there's the option to expand the on-board storage if you want to load the device with lots of media.
Looking at the G7 under a 2019 lens is wildly different to the way in which this series started. It was only a number of years ago that this range was small, plasticky and really cheap. Today it's double the price of the first-gen device, but it's come a long way, baby, and the current design puts it in contention with other, pricier phones.
Even the progression from 2018 to 2019 devices is considerable: the G6 was good, sure, but the G7 trims the bezel around the screen, elongates the screen form factor and moves the fingerprint scanner to the rear compared to before. It fixes most of the minor quibbles we had with last year's device. Can't say better than that.
Moto G7: Display and notch
- 6.2-inch, 19:9 aspect ratio, IPS LCD
- 2270 x 1080 pixels (403ppi)
- Dewdrop notch
As we said up top, the G7 has the same screen as the G7 Plus. And while the 6.2-inch screen size might sound massive, its elongated aspect ratio ensures that it's not unwieldy in the hand. Gone are the days of hard-to-handle iPhone 8 Plus-style thicknesses, which makes the G7 feel perfectly at home in the hand - and smaller than last year's G6 by a couple of millimetres.
Moving with the times and trimming the screen bezels compared to its predecessor means the G7 introduces a notch. But it's not a massive one, rather a 'dewdrop' or 'teardrop', which, as its name suggests, looks like a droplet. We prefer the former name, as the latter makes it sound as though we want to cry about this notch - when, actually, its presence isn't that much of a bother. It opens the door for full-screen apps, some of which will block out that part of the screen to keep things neater.
Resolution-wise, the G7 is Full HD (1080p) in terms of vertical lines. Think of it like the telly in your living room compressed into 6.2in form with some extra height thanks to the long form factor (unless you're lucky enough to have a 4K TV, of course, in which case you probably won't be buying a budget phone like this!). It's not as sharp as some flagships, but it's perfectly fine, including in terms of colour and brightness.
But there's one problem: by default auto-brightness is active and it's hypersensitive to say the least. Move into a slightly dimmer area and the screen reduces brightness to save battery - but a little bit too much. Far too often this screen dips to being excessively dim, which needs a swipe down to manually boost it to acceptable levels. It's a bit annoying and one of the phone's biggest shortcomings (which goes to show how good the rest of it is).
Moto G7: Performance, battery and software
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 632, 4GB RAM, 64GB storage
- 3000mAh battery, 15W charger
- Android Pie operating system
- Moto app for Display, Voice, Actions
The Qualcomm SD632 chipset at the G7's heart is only marginally different to the SD636 in the G7 Plus. So does that feel like a massive downgrade?
No, is the short answer. We've been using the G7 just as we did the G7 Plus and haven't noticed anything really different in terms of operation. Our games have fared the same, as have day-to-day app uses.
There are some differences though. As we found with the G7 Power, the G7 seems slow to connect to 4G after being on Wi-Fi - and we've found more signal outage with this device than we did with the G7 Plus (this latter model posing no such issues at all).
Some over-the-air downloads have seemed rather slow too - when side-by-siding a game update of around 300MB, the G7 was about three times slower than a Huawei Mate 20 Pro connected to the same Wi-Fi network. It's these little blips that you have to expect when buying into a non-flagship device. Especially when some affordable flagships, like the Honor Play, are available for roughly the same asking price.
Sure, top-spec games aren't going to run at best possible graphics and frame-rates might have to be held back, but from our playing of South Park: Phone Destroyer on a daily basis we've not found that to be an issue. No latency problems, no stuttering due to excess characters/sprites showing on screen, with decent sound output thanks to stereo speakers and Dolby Audio. Just because the Snapdragon chip here isn't the fastest going doesn't mean the G7 performs badly. It handles daily tasks well and hasn't felt like a chore in use - whereas some budget phone from years gone by were barely usable. That's a sign of the times.
Longevity is fairly good too, on par with the G7 Plus. The use of a 3000mAh battery is the same as the G6 from last year, doing a decent job overall. We've been using the phone daily as our own for a long weekend, where even 90 minutes of gaming thrown in among a full day's tasks sees the battery drop to around 30 per cent remaining after 14 hours of use. It's no G7 Power, so won't do two days, but it won't have you worried that battery power will be on its last legs by dinner time.
In the box the G7 has a 15W charger. It's not as quick with fast-charging as the G7 Plus (which has a 27W charger included), which is another down-step in the G7's spec. And another reason why we'd buy the Plus for that extra 30 smackers.
It's also worth putting in a word about software. Moto uses Google's Android Pie (9.0) operating system, making for a clean and clutter-free experience. The only additional app you'll find is the Moto one, a hub where Moto Voice, Moto Display and Moto Actions can be accessed - used to control the Google Assistant-based voice app, the 'peek notifications', and physical actions, respectively. It's clean, neat, tidy and easy to use - unlike many of its Chinese competitors - which goes a long way in usability.
Moto G7: Cameras
- Dual cameras to the rear: 12MP (f/1.8, 1.25µm pixels) & 5MP
- Lacks Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS)
- Single front-facing camera: 8MP
On the cameras front the G7 is ample, but lacks the extra polish of the G7 Plus. Having used both side-by-side, we much prefer the optical image stabilisation (OIS) available in the Plus, which lacks in this 'standard' G7.
It's more than just that though: while the G7 offers the same shooting modes from its dual lens offering - including Portrait mode with blurred background (that's what the second 5MP camera is for on the back) - we've found the real-time live view in the camera app is less smooth. Perhaps that's the lower-powered chipset rearing its head.
The lower-resolution of the G7 compared to the Plus model isn't a major impact to quality though. The 12-megapixel sensor is paired with an f/1.8 aperture lens, so shooting in dim conditions is possible - but the lack of OIS is felt here.
In good light there's a lot of detail in images, which is where the G7 is happiest. Don't expect miracles in low-light situations, as details begin to lack, as we found in a dim lit bar one evening.
Overall, while the G7 is capable enough, but the Plus really sells itself a step ahead with more detail and better quality overall. In that regard, seeing as it's about the only major difference between the two handsets, we're surprised that both exist - the Plus model should simply be the G7 and make no need for this model on review.
The Moto G7 represents just how far this affordable series has come. If you're looking for something that won't break the bank, but which looks great and functions well, it's a great phone with few compromises.
But there's a problem: the Plus model is the better phone at £30 more, while the longer-lasting Power is far cheaper and leaves a question mark hanging over the 'standard' model. That's the thing about the standard G7 - it's hard to criticise, but as one of four handsets in the line-up it struggles to assert its place quite convincingly. And with the Honor Play available with a lot more power for around the same price, there's obvious competition hot on its heels too.
If you're looking for an affordable phone that doesn't cost the earth then the Moto G7 is well worthy of your consideration. In the same breath, we can't quite recommend it in the shadow of the G7 Plus.
This review was first published as a preview on 7 February 2019 and has been updated with relevant information as a full review.
Moto G7 Plus
For an extra thirty quid you get the same size phone, with a marginally faster processor. The big extra is the optical image stabilisation setup and better cameras, plus faster charging. Really the 'Plus' should just be the standard G7 model - having both available is just confusing and unnecessary.
Ok, so it's officially £40 more than the G7 - but that price has come down since release - but the Honor Play is a lot, lot more powerful, to the point you'll feel it in everyday use.