Moto G (3rd Gen) hands-on and first impressions

by: Lanh NguyenJuly 28, 2015
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If you’ve looked for a budget-friendly Android smartphone over the past two years or so, odds are you’ve stumbled across Motorola’s Moto G. Offering perfectly capable specifications, solid build quality and a great software experience at an affordable price point, the Moto G quickly became a force to be reckoned with.

Today, alongside the new Moto X Style and Moto X Play, Motorola unveiled the brand new Moto G (3rd Gen). We were lucky enough to score some hands-on time with the new handset, so let’s take a quick look at just what Motorola has to off to the low-cost crowd.

Design

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At first glance, the new Moto G has a lot in common with the design of its predecessors. The shape is virtually unchanged and the handset still features the two speaker grills on the front. There’s a familiar 3.5mm headphone jack on the top of the smartphone, and the volume rocker and power/standby keys remain on the right-hand side of the display.

However, the back of the smartphone features a slightly different design, with a strip of plastic coming down from the camera lens to a dimple in the phone’s back. Motorola has also upped its game when it comes to build quality and it feels steadier in the hand as a result. The Moto G is now IPX7 rated for water resistance, which means that it can withstand immersion in water up to 1 meter deep for 30 minutes.

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Motorola has also brought Moto Maker support to the G line this time around, which means, along with swappable back plates, users can now bring customization to the next level. Through Motorola’s website, you’ll be able to choose your front, back and accent colors, as well as personal engravings on the phone’s backside. This is a feature many users have been suggesting the company add for some time, and thankfully, it’s finally here.

Display

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The Moto G (3rd gen) retains the same form factor from last year’s model and it has also kept its 5-inch display size. The display resolution remains unchanged at 720p (1280×720), but this is an acceptable compromise given the handset’s low price point. The display might not compete with Full HD and Quad HD smartphone of this size, but 720p still provide a reasonably sharp experience.

Hardware

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Powering the Moto G (3rd Gen.) is a Snapdragon 410 processor, which is a bigger upgrade to the Snapdragon 400 that powered the last generation Moto G than the name might suggest. The low power quad-core Cortex-A7 design has been replaced with four 64-bit Cortex-A53 CPU cores and the clock speed has been bumped up from 1.2GHz to 1.4GHz. The GPU has also been switched out for an Adreno 306, which should provide a minor boost to gaming performance.

Other hardware components include an ever so slightly larger non-removable 2,470mAh battery and there’s still dual-SIM compatibility with support for 4G download speeds up to 150Mbps (Category 4 LTE). In terms of storage, the Moto G will be available with either 8GB or 16GB of flash memory, which also determines the amount of RAM that comes with the phone. The Moto G still features a single GB of RAM in the 8GB model, but this is bumped up to 2GB if you opt for 16GB of internal storage. While 2GB across the board may have been preferable, the choice should allow Motorola to keep the price of its handset low.

Camera

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Camera technology has seen an improvement this time around. The smartphone now boasts a 13 megapixel rear with an f/2.0 aperture and dual LED flash, alongside a 5 megapixel front-facing camera, which provides a significant resolution improvement for main and selfie shots compared with the 8MP and 2MP sensors from the last generation. The sensor is the same one that Motorola used in the Nexus 6 and it features an HDR mode and is capable of shooting 1080p video.

Related: Moto G (3rd gen/2015) best cases

We really liked the camera that came with the Nexus 6, so we’re excited to see just how this camera performs in our full review.

Software

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The Moto G (3rd Gen.) doesn’t stray to far from other Motorola handsets when it comes to software. Featuring a near-stock Android experience with a handful of excellent Motorola features thrown in, the device’s software remains light and speedy, which should make many users happy. Fortunately, in our quick hands-on time, we didn’t notice any stuttering through the mostly stock Android 5.1.1 based user interface and the Moto G (2015) should prove to be a suitable performer for all of your day to day tasks.

Specs

  
Display5-inch 720p display
Processor1.4GHz quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor
Adreno 306 GPU
RAM1GB / 2GB RAM
Storage8GB / 16GB storage
Expandable via microSD
Camera13MP rear camera with dual LED flash
5MP front facing camera
Connectivity4G LTE
Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth 4.1
SoftwareAndroid 5.1.1 Lollipop
Battery2,470mAh battery
WaterproofingIPX7 rating
ColorsMoto Maker
Replaceable Color shells
Replaceable Flip shells

Gallery

Pricing and availability

The new Moto G is already available for purchase from Motorola’s website starting at just $179 for the 8GB option and $219 for the 16GB model. You can customize the device through Moto Maker, giving you the ability to choose from a multitude of different back plates, accent colors and more. Amazon and Best Buy are also selling the new model, though you can only choose between White and Black color options if you purchase from these retailers. If you’re interested in picking one up for yourself, head to any of the links below to start shopping.

All in all, this is shaping up to be one heck of a budget-friendly device. Sure, we need to put it through the full review treatment, but there’s no doubt that this will be one attractive option for the low-cost market. What are your thoughts so far? Did Motorola offer enough upgrades this time around, or did the company leave out a few important features? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!