Moto G (2014) Review

by: Lanh NguyenOctober 5, 2014




The Bottom Line

The best budget smartphone you can buy

  • Price
  • Front-facing speakers
  • Bright display
  • Compact size
  • Lacks LTE connectivity
  • Questionable build quality
The Moto G (2014) offers everything that we loved about the original, this time packing a larger display and an updated camera package, while keeping the same unbeatable price tag. If you’re in the market for a good, budget-friendly smartphone, the Moto G (2014) is one of the best mid-range smartphones you can buy.

As good as the original Moto X was when it released last year, Motorola really shook up the smartphone market with its mid-range offering, the Moto G. Proving that a budget-friendly price point didn’t have to mean a compromise in quality and user experience, the original Moto G went on to become the company’s best selling smartphone. Motorola has now followed that up with a device that may be largely similar under the hood, but with a larger footprint and some new design elements. Here’s our comprehensive review of the Moto G (2014)!

Moto G 2014-14

The design aesthetics of the new Moto G remain similar to its predecessor, at least from the back, featuring the same curve and the now signature dimpled Motorola logo. The build material is entirely plastic, and while the build quality is decent, there are some factors that remind you of the fact that this is in fact a sub-$200 smartphone.

Moto G 2014-5

While these may just be the case with this particular review unit, I found the tactile feedback from the volume rocker and power button to be very disappointing, and the buttons also rattled when the phone was shaken. I also found the lines to be uneven where the screen meets the frame of the phone. It certainly feels like the build quality of the original Moto G was superior to this latest version.

new moto g first look aa (28 of 46)

With the bump in the screen size, the new Moto G is also much bigger than its predecessor, but is still compact enough to allow for a comfortable handling experience. The curve on the back lets the phone sit snugly in the hand, and one-handed use is still quite easy. The back cover is also removable, not only allowing for access to the microSD card slot, but also to add your own stylish take by swapping the back cover with various other colourful options. It’s not the customization options you get with Moto Maker, but it’s still nice to have some customizable elements available.

Related: Best Moto G (2014) cases & shells.

Moto G 2014-12

Up front is the biggest change in terms of design and features, with the Moto G now sporting front-facing speakers. Unfortunately, the only good thing about these speakers are the direction in which they are facing, as they don’t get very loud, and the sound quality lacks some depth.

new moto g first look aa (27 of 46)

The Moto G received an upgrade to the display, at least in terms of size, with the latest iteration featuring a 5-inch IPS LCD display, but retaining the 720p resolution from the original, resulting in a reduced pixel density of 294 ppi. It may not be the sharpest display around, but is still a very capable performer. Brightness isn’t an issue, colours look surprisingly good, and viewing angles are as you would expect from an IPS display. Overall, you get a really good display when you consider the price point of this device.

Moto G 2014-9

One aspect that hasn’t seen an upgrade between iterations is the hardware. The processing package remains the same, with the new Moto G rocking a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, clocked at 1.2 GHz, backed by the Adreno 305 GPU and 1 GB of RAM. This is the current go-to processing package for mid-range smartphones, and as expected, the performance on the Moto G is smooth as well, helped in part due to its stock-like software experience.

Moto G 2014-17

The Moto G handles tasks like swiping and scrolling, opening and closing applications, browsing the web, and even some graphically-intensive games without a hitch. That said, it doesn’t take much to slow this device down if you’re trying to do a lot of things at once. That’s just something to keep in mind if you decide to pick up this phone, but the overall performance is more than satisfactory.

Moto G 2014-23

In other hardware, you get a slew of connectivity options, but unfortunately, 4G LTE isn’t available, which could be a turn off for some. The new Moto G is available is 8 GB and 16 GB flavours, with the option to expand the storage up to 32 GB.

Moto G 2014-19

Powering the Moto G is a relatively small 2,070 mAh non-removable battery, and considering the size, the battery performance is just about average. Power users are going to have a difficult time getting a full day of use out of this device, but this mid-ranger isn’t meant for such users anyway. With moderate use, I was able to make it through a full day with around 4 hours of screen-on time, so most users shouldn’t have too many complaints with regards to the battery.

Moto G 2014-6

The new Moto G received an upgrade in the camera department, boasting an 8 MP rear shooter with a LED flash. The camera software remains the same across all Motorola devices, and is clean and simplistic. Basic settings are available, including HDR, panorama, and video recording, but nothing much else that offers more extensive control.

In good lighting, photos came out looking sharp, with minimal noise, and colour reproduction that was better than I expected. Contrast wasn’t great though, and exposure seemed very hit and miss at times, but when the exposure is just right, you can get an impressive shot. This isn’t a high-end camera sensor, and as expected, it struggles in situations where the lighting isn’t optimal. In low light, images are very noise, and it detail isn’t captures very well. All said and done, the camera performance was still a lot better than I anticipated.

Moto G 2014-15

One of the best things about owning a Motorola device these days is that you essentially get a stock Android experience. In the case of the Moto G, you get Android 4.4 Kitkat out of the box, with it also being one of the first few devices that will receive an update to the upcoming Android L release.

new moto g first look aa (1 of 46)

The software experience on the Moto G is even closer to stock than on the Moto X, as a lot of the additional Moto X features, such as Moto Voice and Moto Display, don’t make their way here. This does have to do with the limitations of the hardware, but would have still been great features to have on the Moto G. The launcher is similar to the Google Now Launcher, without a dedicated screen for Google Now, and as expected, the software experience contributes to the overall smooth performance of the device.

One of the biggest selling points of the Moto G last year was its unbeatable price tag of $179, and that remains the same with the current iteration as well, which is a huge plus. It does lack LTE connectivity which is a bit of a let down, but its price point more than makes up for any shortcomings it may have.

And so there you have it – a closer look at the Moto G (2014)! It’s obviously not the fastest or most powerful phone around, but what the Moto G offers is a great software experience, mid-range specifications that do extremely well, and a larger display that is more than capable, all for a price tag that is sometimes difficult to comprehend. If you’re in the market for a good smartphone on a budget, the Moto G (2014) should be at the top of your list.

  • I have this phone and love it.

  • AbbyZFresh

    Is Motorola paying you guys for these constant praise articles?

    • JayMars84

      Did you not read where he criticizes the speakers, build quality, and camera? It’s a balanced review for a midrange device.

      • AbbyZFresh

        It’s not even a mid range device with those specs. More like low range.

        • ed

          Did they ever say mid range? I don’t think they did. In fact they said several times “budget smartphone”

          • [S]unjay

            They called it a Mid-Range phone many times.

          • ed

            Ok, so they said it twice. I wouldn’t call that “many times”. Also, I’m not sure that it is not “mid-range”. Maybe not in terms of the specs. But handling and performance often play a larger role in the quality of the device. Last year, Motorola proved this with their Moto lines.

          • [S]unjay

            I used “command+f” (maybe ctrl+f on PC) and searched for “mid”, it was used 5 times. The Moto G beat that the Nexus 4 in benchmarks and many people were praising it’s price-performance ratio though I must admit that i’ve never held the Moto G so I don’t know about it’s handling/ergonomics.

        • [S]unjay

          The Snapdragon 400 is mid-range, the Snapdragon 200 in the Moto E is entry level/”low-range”.

        • Rooney-

          so what should be the mid range specs for you?? SD 800??

        • JayMars84

          That’s an opinion irrelevant to the fact that you spoke without reading.

        • BT7474

          Interesting point:

          What is half of 100?

          Count all the phones on the website, and divide the number by 2.

          NB! Intelligent people don’t gamble, and base decisions on objective facts, and not misleading subjective personal facts wherever possible to avoid looking like an idiot!

          There are more phones than what is on the Gsmarena’s website, which probably would be cheaper than Motorola Moto G 2nd Gen phones, which means that they are at least middle range.

          Half of 100 = 50 but with is just a single number and not a range of numbers:
          For example a 1/3 of 100 = about 1/3 *100 = 1 to 33 % (1/3)
          Middle 1/3 would be about = 34 to 66 % (2/3)
          Top end would be about = 67 to 100 % (3/3)
          Do you think that the Moto G 2nd Gen falls into the bottom 1/3 of all phones created etc?

          You must know how much faster or slower Moto G 2nd Gen. 2014 phone is compared to what you think are the best performance phones in the world are before opening your mouth so type them down in a Word document for example create a table in Word 2007 for example before continuing.

          Phones costing 4 times as much as Moto G 2nd Gen. 2014 should be 4 times as fast to open and close apps or voice recognition etcetera based on your logic.

          My attitude is that only an idiot would stand in an hole that they are digging, and is so stupid that they don’t realize that they are digging their own graves until it is too late.

          What score did you get in Mathematics?

          Better still what phone do you own?

        • BT7474

          I forgot to include the webpage for some of the best phones spedd tested against the Moto G 2nd Gen. phones in my thread below:

        • BT7474

          Don’t know what happened below the video got pasted instead of the web’s address:

        • BT7474

          Before I forget do you consider 1GB RAM is top phone specification?

          Than how do you think that iPhone 6 arguably has one of the best photographic camera in a smartphone with only 1GB RAM?

          It is because its software (is highly efficiently written) has an, ‘High Hit Rate’.

    • Rooney-

      Have you used this phone before talking non sense??

  • Joe

    abbyzfresh is abbyztroll

  • Rooney-

    I m using this phone for a month now and its awesome. Though there are some drawbacks which are negligible considering the price for what they are offering.

    Some cons are:
    Less available of ram
    Camera is bad for low light
    The metal strips on loudspeakers heats up much after intense gaming and watching FHD videos.which makes it not able to take call
    Battery life is good for moderate use but not for intense use.

  • Kasi Viswanathan

    really i enjoy it and to have , much worthy in watching and having it

  • crystal

    try reviewing sony c3…

  • Ethan Beck

    how about comparison reviews against HTC mid-range offerings.

  • Eniyan Anbazhagan

    I have a doubt,one of my friend is having a service center and he is telling that if a problem arise in motorola mobile,it is not easily rectifiable,due to availability of spares and all.Also,they have to change the entire board.And it will take around one month even to rectify a simple problem.Is it true?

  • AfrodanJ

    The back of this looks so much better than the back of the moto X. really hope the nexus 6 doesnt have that moto X back

  • aaa

    I have the moto g and I find the build quality to be decent. Must be your review unit since the volume buttons on my moto g don’t move or rattle.

  • Pierre Massat

    Isn’t this new version of the Moto G supposed to have LTE connectivity?

    • Marco Biasin

      This is the third version of the moto g, the first had 4.5″ screen no sd and no lte, the second had same screen, lte and sd, this one has 5″ screen, sd and no lte

      • BT7474

        UK 13th July 2015:

        Moto G and Moto G 4G are treated as different versions.

        UK: Moto G 1st Gen. created in 2013 – Moto G 4G LTE 1st Gen. created in 2014 – Moto G 2nd Gen. created in 2014, Moto G 4G LTE 2nd Gen. created 2015, Moto G and X 3rd Gen. should be marketed soon (don’t ask me, which country and when, but probably July/August 2013).

        Enter, ‘Moto G 3rd Gen. 2015’ in for example Google to listen to the rumors:

        I don’t think that the USA have received the UK’s Moto G 4G 2nd Gen 2015, XT1072 yet, but USA or India got Lollipop 5.0 probably in 2014 when we in the UK got it in February or probably March 2015 – Motorola playing games.

        Lollipop M should be available within the next 3 months:
        Better security, better battery supply, probably better Finger Printing Technology than Apple’s that is a security risk, hopefully less bugs (software faults than Lollipop 5+ and faster software maybe etcetera.

        Since, this is an official Android Website I think why is it so difficult to find excellent;
        Mohs 9 hardness screen protectors and excellent shockproof cases for;
        Moto G 2nd Gen. XT1068, and Moto G 4G 2nd Gen. phones XT1072?

        If I was buying an Apple iPhone there would be no problems, obtaining excellent hardware, why?

    • BT7474

      See my reply below that UK’s LTE version is the Moto G 4G 2nd Gen 2015, XT1072. received in February/March 2015 (15th March 2015 launched in the UK) – Motorola is probably playing games.

  • Gabriel Belmonte

    a 2GB RAM and a little more battery life could have made the MOTO G perfect , even if costs $200 then it would have been great ….

    • Yeah, the 1GB RAM is a bit of a let-downer.