The ‘new’ Moto G: unboxing, first impressions and what’s changed

“With a price tag of Rs 12,999, the Moto G is back in the race to claim the throne in the budget realm”

In the extremely-crowded mobile phone industry, it’s very difficult for a brand to find a place for itself both in terms of sales and consumers’ mind share. It’s even more difficult if the company is past its best years and trying hard to make an upturn. But Motorola managed to script a brilliant comeback in India on the back of the success with the Moto G, followed by the Moto X (review | FAQs) and later with the Moto E (review | FAQs). This trio of devices combined have garnered sales of over 1.6 million units, which is notable since they are only sold online through a single retailer.

Now, the brand is giving its best-selling smartphone a refresh, with the new offering frustratingly titled the ‘Moto G‘ again. The device was showcased alongside Motorola’s latest flagship smartphone, the new Moto X and the round smartwatch, the Moto 360. We were able to get our hands on the new Moto G along with its retail packaging. Before sharing our hands-on experience with the phone, let’s begin with its unboxing.

The Moto G comes wrapped in a very compact box which is not very different from its predecessor. Opening the flap, you’ll be greeted by the smartphone itself. Below the tray holding the device lies a wall charger, a pair of earphones and a couple of manuals. Instead of a standard 1A charger, the Moto G’s adapter is rated at 850mA. We really appreciate that the manuals available inside the package are in Hindi to cater to Indian users. However, just like the original Moto G, its successor misses out on a micro-USB cable. We should also mention that the earphones aren’t of the best quality, plus they aren’t of the in-ear type.

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Now that we have seen what the box offers, let’s turn our focus to shiny new Moto G we have taken out of the box.

The device retails in white and black flavours. The first gen Moto G didn’t win any design awards, but was appreciated for its solid build. Its successor however, not only manages to offer the same sturdy build, but incorporates some interesting design elements as well. In the front, it gets two speakers, one above and one below the display, making it resemble the Moto E. However, in the case of the new Moto G, the speakers are symmetrical and thus lend a stylish flair.

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What’s interesting however, is that the new Moto G packs in a larger display of 5-inches compared to its previous iteration, which featured a 4.5-inch screen. The Moto G (2nd gen) tips the scales at 148g, just 5 grams heavier than the original. While the new offering has become larger and slightly wider, its frame is actually thinner at 11mm. Here’s a look at the current and previous Moto G’s.

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In terms of handling, the Moto G can be easily used one-handed, and we had no trouble reaching the other corner of the screen. The handling has also been improved because of the curved rear. The display is surrounded by very thin bezels on the sides, though there’s considerable space above and below. Along with the speaker above, the upper portion in the front has an earpiece, front camera and a notification LED. The bottom part only houses the speaker and not much else since the handset has on-screen navigation keys.

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The port and button placement are same as its previous avatar, with the left spine vacant, and the right housing the volume rocker followed by the power button. On the topmost part lies the standard 3.5mm headphone jack, whereas the bottom is home to the micro-USB port. The back features a matte texture and thus isn’t prone to smudges. It holds the main camera unit along with LED flash.

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Similar to the first gen Moto G, the rear panel can be pried open, providing access to a pair of micro-SIM slots and a microSD card slot, although the battery isn’t removable. Unlike its predecessor which offered only fixed storage, the new Moto G supports expansion by an additional 32GB.

For customisation, there are back covers available in different colours and they’ll set you back by Rs 800. There are also flip covers available in multiple hues costing Rs 1,700.

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The 5-inch display bears a resolution of 1,280 x 720 pixels, which is the same as the previous Moto G, and even though it offers a lower pixel density of 294ppi, we found the screen to be very vibrant. It reproduced good colours, displayed sharp text and viewing angles were also great. Protecting the display against dust and scratches is a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 3.

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The internals of the Moto G unveiled today are exactly same as the previous gen Moto G, with a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad-core chipset handling processing, and an Adreno 305 GPU taking care of graphics. The RAM of the device also remains the same at 1GB. The combination might not sound impressive considering the era of octa-core processors and Qualcomm’s high-end SoC’s available in this price curve. But during our usage, we found the interface very fluid while jumping between various apps and navigating to different screens. We also played Asphalt 8: Airborne, a game known for its heavy graphics and came away satisfied with the performance. Of course, things can change during day-to-day usage with a lot more apps running in the background, so we’ll reserve our judgement for when we review the device.

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One reason for smooth performance could also be because of the undiluted version of Android the phone runs. Motorola is continuing with its promise of providing the latest build of Android, and leaving it untouched, except for the addition of a few software apps. These apps include Motorola Alert, Assist, Connect and Migrate.

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Storage-wise, the device is available in two versions – 8GB and 16GB, but it looks like only the latter will be available in India. 

Coming to the camera department, that’s another aspect where the new Moto G marks quite a difference from the older Moto G. If there was one qualm with the original model, it was the 5-megapixel camera sensor at the back. While the camera wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t able to produce good detail. That changes with the Moto G (2nd gen) since it offers an 8-megapixel primary camera. We took a few test shots and were impressed with the results. The minimal camera interface makes it easy to see the subject and there is hardly any lag in shutter speed. The front camera has also got bump in the form of a 2MP camera instead of 1.3MP shooter in the first gen Moto G.

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The remaining specs of the device are the same as its predecessor which include dual-SIM, 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS. The device gets a 2,070mAh battery, promising 24-hour battery life.

When we reviewed the Moto G, we said that it had the potential to change the game. Well, if our time spent with its successor is any indication, then this smartphone too comes across as a compelling offering, especially since it addresses the few quibbles we had with the original model. At Rs 12,999, it’s also priced a tad cheaper than the first gen Moto G. However, as much as we liked the device, we can’t ignore the ever-changing competitive landscape in this price band. The ASUS Zenfone 5 (review) is the first smartphone that comes to our mind. It offers similar specs but double the RAM, with an advantage on its price since it costs Rs 9,999 for 8GB variant.

Comparing the Moto G to the Xiaomi Mi 3 (review | cheatsheet) would be wrong, since the Chinese brand has a knack of deviating from the price vs performance balance, plus its sales have been suspended temporarily. But then, it has created a benchmark with its full HD display, Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor, 13-megapixel camera and a solid battery life – all at just Rs 13,999, making us expect more from Motorola. That said, none of these devices can match up to Motorola’s reliability and promise of regular Android updates for upcoming versions.

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