It only seems like yesterday that we were at the Motorola press event in London as they revealed their new batch of phones for this year and we walked away amazed at the quality and clutching a brand new Moto G 3rd Gen review tester phone. Unbelievably, that was two and half weeks ago now, and we’ve had a chance to thoroughly test the device.
Motorola Moto G 3rd Gen review:
When the original Moto G was launched two years ago, it set a new standard for other manufacturers to strive for. A phone that was mid range in specifications and built quality, yet low-end in price (aiming at just over the £100 mark). Other manufacturers have tried to emulate this approach to give users a choice of device, but none have ever captured the essence of the Moto G line. The major attraction of the Moto line was that they were direct from Google and would receive all the updates ASAP (like a Nexus phone) and had the ability to be customised at the factory to be ready out of the box. We were a little concerned that when ownership of Motorola was transferred to Lenovo, that this appeal would be lost. We were delighted, however, to hear at the press event that none of this would change, keeping the appeal of the Moto line of phones.
Design & Display:
The essential design of the Moto G 3rd Gen hasn’t changed since when it was first launched. The curved back and plastic cover give the device an aesthetic look as well as a functional aspect. The plastic rear cover can be removed to access the Micro SIM card and Micro SD card bays, as well as being able to swap the rear cover for one of a range of other colours as well as a flip cover shell which also protects the display of the phone. All of these can be taken at the time of purchase from Moto Maker, or from Motorola website .
The rest of the device is made of plastic, which can be a little susceptible to dents if dropped, and holds the power and volume rocker on the right hand edge, the 3.5mm audio jack on the top, and the Micro USB port on the bottom edge.
The front is completely glass and, when the screen is off, looks completely black (or white, depending on which front colour you choose). The only alterations to the front glass is the speaker at the bottom of the screen, and the earpiece at the top with its forward facing camera in the top right corner.
The display is a 5 inch IPS LCD Capacitive with a resolution of 720 x1280 made of Corning Gorilla glass 3. The screen is 67% screen to body ratio, which isn’t huge, but remember that this is the lower end of the Moto line. Some of the Moto G 3rd Gen’s bigger brothers have much more impressive ratios. That being said, the screen of the Moto G is sufficient for such a phone.
Hardware-wise, the Moto G 3rd Gen doesn’t come out of the gates at a gallop. More of a fast jog. That being said, it’s very well proportioned for the size and price range of the device. With a Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 1.4 Ghz Quad-Core processor, a Ardreno 306 GPU and with either 1 GB or 2 GB or RAM (depending on which storage option you co for 8GB or 16GB respectively), the Moto G isn’t going to be a power horse. But it isn’t designed to be. It will happily run the majority of games on the Google Play store as well as most social media apps. Running Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, this will be able to make the best of the meagre hardware available and make it feel like you’re running a much better device.
One notable omission from the device is the lack of NFC chip. For as long as Android has been going, their phones have all had NFC. With the dawn of Google Pay, which we assume will use NFC like many credit and debit cards as well as Apple Pay, the lack of NFC in the Moto G 3rd Gen seems odd. We assume it’s to do with cost.
The rest of the hardware specs are as expected; Bluetooth 4, GPS, WiFi b/g/n hotspot, radio and 4G/LTE for the data connection.
The main attraction of the Moto G is the IPX7 rating, meaning that it’s waterproof up to 1 metre for no more than 30 minutes. This means that the phone could be used in and out of the pool, and not be bothered about being used in the shower, which Motorola informed us is reported as happening to 17% as users.
As always we sent the Moto G 3rd Gen through a series of benchmarks with AnTuTu. Here are the results:
On the general AnTuTu test, the Moto G scored a reasonable 23853, which is bellow some phones that were out several years ago such as the HTC One M7 and the Nexus 5. That being said, these are only performance tools, not usability ones. On the HTML5 test, it managed a reasonable 151833.
On the 3D Graphics test, the Moto G scored 1786 on the OpenGL ES 3.0 test.
The Stability test also scored well.
As with all Motorola products over the last couple of years, the Moto G 3rd Gen comes with stock Android 5.1.1. This means that there is no bloatware preloaded and no custom UI from Motorola. The only apps that are loaded by Motorola are the Migrate and Moto apps. The Moto App will make your Moto G perform certain actions automatically, such as be quiet at meetings, send messages when you’re driving and stay unlocked at home.
The Moto G 3rd Gen comes with a 13mp camera on the back which is powered by Google’s Camera App and has Auto focus, face detection and Auto HDR. The forward facing camera is a 5MP camera which takes some very good selfies for those who like that. It must be said that with the IPX7 rating, you can take photo’s underwater (as long as it’s under one metre and not longer than 30 minutes). We tried it in the pool and the pictures were clear and easy to take using the volume button as the shutter button.
The camera is capable of taking video at 1080p at 30fps, as well as a slow mo feature which takes video at only 720p. Samples of both can be found bellow.
The Moto G 3rd Gen comes with a non replaceable 2470mAh battery. We’ve been very impressed with this battery, lasting up to two full days on standby with little usage, or easily a full day on one charge with moderate usage. These are the results of a fresh battery, of course, but the fact that it can charge fairly quickly and not use too much power in standby is a great plus. Sadly, the Moto G isn’t included in the Fast charge cycle we saw at the Motorola Press conference.
I made a bold claim in the title of this review, and that’s that I had swapped my HTC One M8 for the Moto G 3rd Gen. It may sound like an odd thing to do, especially given the benchmark results, but the reasoning is simple when you’ve lived with the device for several weeks. The Moto G is small, light, functional and clean. The camera is excellent and the added bonus of being waterproof is great. It may not look as stylish as the HTC, but it runs faster, takes better pictures and isn’t as bloated. The only thing that will make me swap from a Moto G, is the Moto X Play or the Moto X Style, which are due out in the next month, so watch this space.