Motorola Moto G (2014) review: Baby steps

As a successor to the most successful smartphone in Motorola’s history, the second generation Moto G surely has hefty expectations to meet. A year after the XT1032 redefined the budget smartphone category by combining high-res screen, quality hardware, and up to date Android build, the newcomer aims to build on its success.

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Moto G (2014) official photos

In line with the trends in the smartphone world, the new Moto G boasts a significantly larger display than the model it replaces, as well as beefed up camera. We also get a microSD card slot for cheap memory expansion and front-facing stereo speakers – their presence is hardly believable considering the unchanged starting price tag of the device.

New features aside, the 2014 Moto G offers similar hardware to the model it replaces. Take a look at it in our traditional list of key features below.

Key features

  • Quad-band GSM/EDGE/HSDPA
  • Available in dual-SIM variant
  • 5″ IPS 720p capacitive touchscreen of 294ppi, Gorilla Glass 3
  • Android 4.4.4 KitKat and a fast track update program
  • 1.2GHz quad-core Cortex-A7 CPU; 1GB of RAM; Adreno 305 GPU; Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chipset
  • 8MP camera, LED flash, 720p video capture, 2MP front-facing camera
  • 8GB or 16GB of built-in memory, expandable via microSD card slot
  • Active noise cancellation with a dedicated microphone
  • FM radio
  • 2,070mAh battery
  • Optional battery covers in various colors

Main disadvantages

  • No LTE connectivity at launch
  • Hardware could have used a bump, especially in terms of available RAM
  • Battery size has remained unchanged despite the larger display
  • Camera doesn’t record 1080p video

The presence or a larger display in the new Moto G is surely going to be a welcome sight for many users who can’t stretch their budget towards a 5″ flagship. Coupled with the stereo speakers and the microSD card slot, the quality IPS screen truly transforms the new model into a wallet-friendly multimedia powerhouse.

With stock Android 4.4.4 dressed in Google Now launcher, the 2014 Moto G delivers a true Nexus experience with a few nice extras on top. Timely update to Android L is promised as well.

The chipset surely could have used a refresh in the second generation, though Motorola has decided to focus on improving other areas and it obviously ran out of budget for a beefier SoC. Also, to be fair, despite being a year old, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 silicon is still a popular option in its segment – so maybe Motorola can get away with it for another cycle.

Our main concern about the new Moto G has to do with its battery. The non-removable 2,070mAh unit has been carried over from the first generation, yet it has a larger display to power up now, which may turn an average performance into a disappointing one.

Increased competition is another factor the 2014 Moto G has to face. A year after its predecessor caught the industry by surprise, entry-level and lower mid-range smartphone segments have emerged as the next major battlefield.

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Moto G (2014) live photos

Does the new Moto G have what it takes to stay on top of its class? Read on to find out! As always, we will kick off our review with an unboxing, followed by a design and hardware inspection.

Editorial: You may notice that this review is shorter than usual and doesn’t include some of our proprietary tests. The reason is it has been prepared and written away from our test labs. Still, we think we’ve captured the essence of the device in the same precise, informative and detailed way that’s become our trademark. Enjoy the good read!

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