Moto G 2015 Review – Budget Doesn’t Have To Mean Bad

Motorola has made a lot of great phones, but their best seller for the past few years has been the Moto G. Combining a low price with a great experience turned this phone into a wonder of the budget space. However in 2015, that market is more competitive than ever. So does the Moto G 2015 hit a home run, or fall a bit short? Well here’s the story cut short, you’ll struggle to find a better phone than this for under $200.

Specs *

  • 5″ inch 1280×720 LCD Display
  • Snapdragon 410 64 Bit Processor
  • 8GB Storage (microSD up to 32GB)
  • 1GB RAM
  • 13MP Rear Camera/5MP Front Camera
  • 2,470 mAh Battery (Non-Removable)

*as reviewed

Hardware

Over the course of the past 3 years, Motorola has been slowly been evolving the design of their smartphones. While they all look very similar, the design has gotten better over time. On the Moto G 2015, it gets better then ever before. Previous Moto G’s were made of matte plastic and, while they did feel good, felt lacking somehow. In the 2015 model however, Motorola has added a textured back panel and improved the aesthetics. While it’s all still plastic, the 2015 Moto G does not feel cheap at all. Thanks to that new textured back, the new Moto G feels great in the hand and provides tons of grip. The phone is a bit thick, but not too much. If anything, I consider that a good thing. It makes the Moto G feel substantial in the hand.

The grippy rear panel on the 2015 Moto G is awesome.

The grippy rear panel on the 2015 Moto G is awesome.

One of the great thing about the 2015 Moto G is the fact that everything is completely customizable. This time around you can choose all your options in MotoMaker. You can change the color of the front panel, the back cover, and even the accent color around the camera and dimple (and yes, the dimple is still here and still awesome). That back panel is also removable which means that if you want to swap back and forth between colors for the Moto G, you can do so with ease with a separate “Moto Shell”. I picked up one of these to try out and I can honestly say that I love that you can do this. There are some great colors to pick from and at $14.99 a piece, these are priced very well.



The Moto G 2015 is also water resistant with an IPX7 rating. What does that mean? Basically, don’t take this phone swimming, but you won’t have to worry about an accidental drop in a puddle or a splash. Just be sure that you fully seal the back cover. Some of the “clicks” tend to go undone so always double check if you’re going to replace that back cover.

Other colors options are available for the 2015 Moto G.

Other colors options are available for the 2015 Moto G.

Speaking of which, under that back cover you’ll find, not a removable battery, but your SIM slot and a microSD card slot. On a budget device that slot is more than welcome, especially on the 8GB variant I’ve been testing. Over the couple weeks I tested the Moto G, I didn’t run into memory issues until I tried to download a couple playlists off of Spotify. That was when I knew I was going to need to pop in a microSD card. While this phone only supports up to 32GB of extra storage, it should be more than enough based on who this phone is for.

Software

Out of the box the Moto G 2015 runs Android 5.1.1 Lollipop. As usual, Motorola’s skin is non-existent with only a few included apps which improve on Google’s offering more than anything else. What’s great is that on the 2015 Moto G, Motorola included almost their entire suite of Moto apps including Moto Display, Moto Assist, and Moto Actions. These are the same options we’ve seen on many of Motorola’s other phones like the Moto X, DROID Turbo, and more and I’m ecstatic to see them on the Moto G this time as previous versions did not include them. Moto Assist is the same great app it’s always been allowing your phone to perform automated functions like adjusting the ringer and reading out texts when appropriate. Moto Actions brings the classic twist to open gesture we’ve come to love with Motorola’s camera as well as the new chop gesture to activate and deactivate the flashlight. What’s most surprising this time however is the addition of Moto Display. This feature has always been restricted to devices with AMOLED displays, but it’s here on the Moto G 2015 and it doesn’t seem to have any effect on battery life. While I’m not a fan of the fact that it requires the entire display to turn on, it is still a great feature to have.

The software on the Moto G 2015 is near stock Android Lollipop.

The software on the Moto G 2015 is near stock Android Lollipop.

Performance

Generally when I review devices I tend to combine software and performance in the same category, but on the Moto G 2015 I felt it deserved a bit more attention. There are actually two versions of the Moto G this year. One with 8GB of storage and a single GB of RAM, and one with 16GB of storage and 2GB of RAM. Both are still powered by the same Snapdragon 410 processor, but how does the performance differ with the lack of/extra RAM? While I didn’t test the 2GB version, I can attest to how well the 1GB version performs. It’s nothing short of phenomenal. Considering this phone only has 1GB of RAM and a not-so-high-end processor, I am impressed. While I never felt like it was as good as let’s say my Nexus 6, I never felt like I was missing out on anything. I used the Moto G as my daily driver which involved constantly checking Google+ notifications and reading up on the latest news while I was away from my computer. It’s not exactly light work and as an avid Link Bubble user, it’s not very RAM friendly either. However the Moto G powered through. Sure, there are times where you’ll have to wait a few extra seconds or where your apps or homescreen will have to reload, but all things considered, general performance on this phone is great.

As for gaming, the Moto G is pretty good. I’m not a heavy gamer, but most of the casual games I tried like Pac-Man 256 ran without any issues at all.

Display

The 5″ display on the new Moto G is pretty good. It’s not the best, but it’s far from the worst. It’s a 720p panel, but honestly you wouldn’t know that unless someone told you. The panel is very good for watching content and general usage. My sole complaint is that the viewing angles aren’t quite as good as I’d hoped. However that’s just nitpicking, there’s really not much to complain about here.

Overall the display on the 2015 Moto G is solid.

Overall the display on the 2015 Moto G is solid.

Battery Life

On almost every phone there’s one stand out feature, however on the Moto G 2015 I had a really tough time figuring out what that feature would be. Water resistance and front facing speakers are both up there, but honestly I think it really comes down to the battery life. With the sealed in 2,470 mAh battery in the Moto G, you’re looking at a capacity just shy of phones triple the price (I’m looking at you Galaxy S6…) Here’s the thing though, thanks to the toned down specs and low resolution screen, the Moto G is an absolute monster in terms of battery life. There’s absolutely no way you’re going to kill this thing in a day. Granted, your use will be different from mine, but in a general 7am to 11pm day, I can’t possibly see anyone killing this phone under normal circumstances. Most days I finish with over 50% remaining and that’s with well over 1.5 hours of screen on time. It’s great when on and let’s not even get started with standby time. That’s nothing short of other-worldly.

Camera

So budget phones and cameras. That’s a sentence that just made you cringe a bit right? Well on the Moto G 2015, it really shouldn’t. On the back of this phone is a 13MP camera that is pretty awesome….  for the price. For a sub-$200 phone, the camera on the Moto G is outstanding. On some priced at let’s stay $600, eh, not so much. Motorola claims that the camera on the Moto G 2015 is the same one found in the Nexus 6, only slightly improved. While that may be true, I found this camera not quite on the same level, but it’s very close. I feel as though the main difference there however comes down to software.

Overall however the camera can take very good shots. Outdoors shots are great, take away the light however and the situation isn’t quite as good. That’s really where this camera suffers, low light. However for the price, I can’t imagine anyone would be dissapointed with this camera sensor.

See the full size images here.

Final Thoughts

So what’s the verdict? Is the Moto G 2015 the budget phone to buy? The short answer, yes, but with a single condition. For $179, the base model of the Moto G is awesome. There’s no other word for it. You get a lot for your money and it’s an awesome phone. I will definitely be recommending it to others looking for a budget device. However if you’re looking to get the $229 16GB/2GB model, then my answer is a bit mixed. Here you begin entering the territory dominated by the Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 and Huawei P8 Lite, both of which have better processors and in the case of the former, a better screen. The $20 difference to get either of those is worth it in my opinion, so it’s tough to say get the Moto G instead. Regardless of the model you get however, the Moto G 2015 is without a doubt a budget smartphone that should be at the top of your list for a budget smartphone.

– The Moto G 2015 was purchased by us for the purposes of this review.

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