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Pros

-Customizable via Moto Maker
-Curved design
-IPx7 water resistance
-Snappy performance
-Lean, simple interface
-Excellent value for money
-Camera is great in good light
-Solid battery life

Cons

-Average 720p display with poor viewing angles
-Camera is rubbish in low light
-Non-removable battery
-Rear cover uses snap-on design, possible water damage if not careful

Rating
Our Rating
Battery
8.5
Display
7.5
Camera
7.3
Software
9.0
Design
8.2
Bottom Line

Motorola’s Moto G range was arguably the first premium entry-level smartphone, but other handsets are vying for its crown. The Moto G 2015 bumps up the specs and keeps an affordable price tag and while it’s not perfect, it’s definitely impressive.

8.1
Our Rating
You have rated this
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Motorola calls it the Moto G (3rd Generation), but we know it as the Moto G 2015. Whatever you call it, Motorola’s latest entry-level smartphone bumps up the features but keeps the affordable price tag. From additional durability to a more premium design, this year’s Moto G continues where the 2014 model left off. But can this budget device reign supreme as the best bang for your buck budget smartphone, or will it fall short this time around?

We find that out, and much more, in our full review of the Motorola Moto G 2015!

Editor’s note: Before we get into the full review, know that we reviewed the higher end model with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of on-board storage. Motorola also offers a less expensive model with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage. 

The latest from Motorola

Design

Moto G 2015 -54

The design of the Moto G 2015 is almost identical to previous generations, but this year’s model does have a couple of tweaked elements. The addition of mid-plate detail delivers a more premium design, while the metallic accent around the camera (which can be customized) adds a bit of contrast. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Moto device without the all-too familiar dimple beneath the camera.

Moto G 2015 -9See also: Best Moto G (3rd Gen , 2015) Cases23

While the Moto G’s design is meant to resemble the company’s higher-end offerings like the Moto X Style, don’t be fooled. The metallic accent that surrounds the device feels cheap and plasticky, which makes the device feel more affordable than premium.

Moto G 2015 -44

Moving around the sides, the power/standby button sits above the volume rocker on the right side of the device, while the top features a center-mounted 3.5mm headphone jack – a design element we’ve come to expect from Motorola devices. The left side of the device doesn’t sport any buttons whatsoever, and the bottom houses the Micro-USB port. Both the power and volume hardware buttons provide particularly poor tactile feedback; this is where the “budget” aspect of this device really shines through.

Up front, we have a 5.0-inch LCD display with a single loudspeaker beneath it. Last year’s model featured two front facing speakers so the switch to a single speaker is a disappointment and while it’s not amazing, it certainly gets the job done.

Moto G 2015 -16

The other nice addition to the handset is a textured finish on the device’s back plate, which is great as it provides more grip when using the Moto G in your hand. The curved design of the rear helps ergonomically, but the rear cover causes an issue with a key feature on the handset: IPX7 certification. One of the biggest additions to the handset, IPX7 certification means it is somewhat resistant to water but the snap-on back cover design has the same issue faced by other waterproof handsets with removable covers (here’s looking at you, Samsung Galaxy S5). If you don’t secure the back cover on properly, you’ll find that water can get in underneath the device, and if it does cause water damage, you may find that this isn’t covered under your warranty.

Moto G 2015 -3

Motorola also decided to introduce the Moto G line to the Moto Maker program this time around, allowing users to fully customize their handsets online. You can customize the device’s front, back, accent color, storage/RAM configuration, and even add an engraving if you choose.

Moto G 2015 -50

Overall, the design and build aren’t as premium as we’ve seen on other low-cost handsets, but after all, it’s not all about design. To make up for it, Motorola has provided a way for consumers to make their handsets truly unique, and given that these customization features come at no extra cost, it’s definitely something we’d recommend doing.

Display

Moto G 2015 -1

Motorola chose to include the same 5.0-inch IPS LCD display on this year’s handset that it did with last year’s, and unfortunately, it shows. While the bump up to a 5.0-inch display size will satisfy some, the decision to go with a 720p resolution is a disappointment. Obviously Motorola had to do this to keep the cost down, so just keep that in mind if you’re looking for a device with a Full HD resolution or higher.

Moto G 2015 -25

With 294 pixels per inch, the relatively low pixel density is very noticeable when viewing basically any type of media, and we question whether Motorola would have been better served offering a Full HD panel (while keeping the price tag affordable). The display also sports Gorilla Glass 3, which can protect the handset from scratches and fingerprints. The display seems solid enough to withstand a knock or two, as well. With that said, sunlight legibility and viewing angles are decidedly average.

Given that other handsets like the Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 offer a Full HD panel (and are cheaper), the 720p resolution is certainly a disappointment. However, if Full HD is a must, be sure to check out the Moto X Play which is a more premium handset at a slightly higher price.

Hardware

Moto G 2015 -62

What the new Moto G lacks in the display, it more than makes up for in its hardware and optimization. Under the hood, the biggest changes include a newer, better chipset and additional RAM (at least on the upper version).

That’s right – Motorola has followed in the footsteps of other companies and offers different specs for different versions of the handset. The lower 8GB version comes with just 1GB RAM but the more premium edition offers double the storage and RAM at a slightly higher cost. Given you get around 11GB storage available on the 16GB version out of the box, we definitely recommend the extra storage and if you need, you can expand the storage on both versions using a microSD card.

Moto G 2015 -61

Although Motorola has included a removable back cover, the 2470mAh battery is non-removable. In case you’re worried about running out of juice, you’ll be happy to know that the Moto G 2015 delivers impressive battery life. The battery is a 400mAh upgrade over last year’s model and this definitely shows, with battery life around 16 to 18 hours with 5 hours of screen on time and two to three days of standby time. If you do run out of charge, however, the lack of quick charging means it takes over two hours to charge from full, so you’ll want to plan your charging accordingly.

Overall, the hardware is what you might expect from a mid-range device. In actual use, though, the performance is definitely a surprise given the price tag. From mid-range hardware, you’d probably expect average performance, but the Moto G delivers so much more than this.

Performance

Moto G 2015 -7

The Moto G’s software is essentially a few additions away from a pure Android experience, and this shows when it comes to performance. From general multitasking to heavy gaming, this handset is more than capable of handling whatever you ask of it, despite the mid-range processor. Unlike other Android Lollipop-powered devices, we’ve not experienced any RAM management issues with the handset, and during the past week, we’ve noticed that even adding several apps and filling the storage doesn’t impact the responsiveness very much at all.

Overall performance on the Moto G is certainly impressive, especially when considering the mid to low-end specs. For those lamenting over the lack of a cheap Nexus, the Moto G definitely delivers in this part.

Camera

Moto G 2015 -10

Despite the entry-level price tag, Motorola has included a large camera on the back of the device, and it’s the same Sony IMX214 sensor found in Google’s flagship Nexus 6. That gives you 13MP resolution, f/2.0 aperture and a dual-tone LED flash while an IR filter helps to reduce glare. There’s no optical image stabilization, however, meaning photos and videos can come out shaky if you don’t hold perfectly still.

Just like on other Moto devices, the viewfinder is extremely simplistic here, which means you’ll need to download a third party application if you’d like to shoot with any extra filters or camera modes. Given the price tag, the camera is very impressive on paper and it delivers, as long as you have enough light in the scene.

In daylight, the camera produces colors that are vibrant and captures an impressive amount of detail. In particular, HDR mode makes a big difference to images and while some other phones do very little in HDR mode, the Moto G does a really good job in lighting up shadows. The addition of a manual exposure slider is also really useful when capturing scenes with hot zones and lets you view the changes in the viewfinder as you change the setting. Daylight performance is definitely impressive, but sadly, as the sun drops so does the camera performance. Daylight images have very little noise but a lack of light results in focal problems and digital noise. And this camera captures SO. MUCH. NOISE.

Given the price tag, the Moto G camera is definitely very impressive in daylight, but in low light conditions, this camera needs a lot of work.

Software

Moto G 2015 Feature

Unsurprisingly, the new Moto G features a near-pure Android experience, meaning you’ll have access to the Google Now launcher, with just a couple Motorola-specific apps thrown into the mix. The first of those, by the way, is Moto Display, which shows you waiting notifications or the time automatically when you pick the handset up or pull it out of your pocket. Moto Display is very useful when you consider how many people don’t carry a watch and check the time on their phone and it definitely helps improve the battery if you are one of them.

Motorola’s suite of apps also includes Moto Assist, which lets you set custom behaviors for specific locations. As an example, if the phone detects you’re at the movies, it can automatically silence the ringer. Or if it detects you’re driving, it can automatically speak your messages to you and let you reply using your voice. These little tweaks are definitely useful as they help make the smartphone experience be what it should be – your phone, doing simple tasks automatically, so you don’t have to.

By far my favorite feature is the number of different Quick Gestures, which let you accomplish simple things easily. A double flick of the wrist turns the flashlight on or off, while a double twist of the wrist launches the camera. This latter feature is a little too responsive for our liking, and often we’ve activated the camera just by picking up the phone from a table.

The Moto G’s software experience, overall, is great. It’s responsive, easy to pick up for the first time, and allows the phone to runs as fast as ever. While none of the Moto-specific features are actually new this year, we’re very happy with the additions Motorola brought to the G line.

Specifications

Display5.0-inch IPS LCD display
720 x 1280 resolution
Gorilla Glass 3
Processor1.4GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410
GPUAdreno 306
Storage8/16GB
expandable up to 32GB
RAM1/2GB
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0
GPS
GSM/CDMA/HSPA/LTE
SoftwareAndroid 5.1.1 Lollipop
Camera13MP rear-facing camera
5MP front-facing camera
Batterynon-removable 2470mAh
ColorsBlack, White
customizable via Moto Maker
Dimensions142.1 x 72.4 x 11.6mm, 155g
IPX7 certificationYes

Gallery

Pricing and final thoughts

Moto G 2015 -21

Motorola calls this a $180 smartphone, but that’s not the version we reviewed. As noted above, we got the chance to review the higher end version with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, which costs $219 from Motorola’s website. There’s also an entry-level handset that comes with 8GB of storage and 1GB of RAM, which is only being offered for $179. It should be noted that if you choose to engrave the handset, the price tag rises even higher than that.

So, should you buy the Moto G? Well, it’s complicated.

When the first Moto G launched, it introduced the concept of premium entry-level smartphones, but since then, plenty of handset makers have launched products that try to take the Moto G’s crown. On paper, the list of specifications isn’t the best you can get at this price point, but on the performance front, the Moto G is definitely up for the task.

Moto G 2015 -34

The many positives of this handset definitely outweigh the few and if you can handle the shortcomings in the display and camera, the Moto G is the one for you. With that said, we had a great experience with the higher end model. If you can, spring for that one. But if you’re trying to pinch as many pennies as possible, we’re sure the entry-level smartphone will do just fine in your pocket.

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Check out these other great reviews

  • Mr Mop

    iirc, the 3rd gen Moto G only has a single speaker as opposed to the stereo speakers found on the 2nd gen.

    • PI

      NO its the stereo speaker ,,,, its just in call speaker,,, front speaker will work,,,,, but in music/video playback .. its stereo speaker

      • jpxdude

        Nope, unfortunately it’s a single mono loud speaker this time. A slightly disappointing downgrade, but the loudspeaker is surprisingly loud!

        • We’ve corrected this now. It’s definitely a single loudspeaker and it gets the job done but somewhat disappointing they didn’t offer two speakers like last year.

  • Rodrigo Shizuo Yasuda

    Did you guys manage to use a USB OTG flash drive? I’ve always done it in Moto G 2nd generation, but I’m still unable to do so in this new model. It does support as in Settings -> Storage the option is available, but when I plug in an OTG flash drive it just doesn’t recognize it.

    • abhinav

      Download a third party file manager and then see if OTG works

    • use es file explorer. It will be visible there.

    • Rodrigo Shizuo Yasuda

      No luck guys. My Moto G 2nd gen shows up the available space in Setings -> Storage when I plug it in, but Moto G 3rd gen doesn’t show it. It has the option to mount it, but it’s greyed out.
      I tried using ES file explorer and Astro, no luck with both of them.

  • If I have to choose between Moto G 2015 (16 GB ROM, 2 GB RAM) With Asus Zenfone 2 (16 GB ROM, 2 GB RAM), which one should I go for (in General sense)??

    • go with the moto g 2015.

    • Airyl

      Asus Zenfone 2 any day of the week.

    • Blowntoaster

      Rather go with the Moto G. will get software and developer support for longer.

      The Asus might seem better spec wise, but Asus are lousyish with updates and developer support will be limited compared with the Moto G

      • balcobomber25

        Asus doesn’t seem better spec wise, it is better spec wise. And Asus has very good support.

    • balcobomber25

      Asus is a superior phone in every way.

    • Filly Jnr

      Asus if your spec crazy however moto G is actually the better phone what with battery, performance optimisation, in hand feel, camera and water proofing is a nice bonus

  • Daggett Beaver

    Non-removable battery??? NO DEAL. Oh, wait, this is not a Samsung phone? Okay, then it’s cool.

    • TheGreatDroid

      Dude, is defending samsung and non removable batteries the only thing you do? Besides, this is a 250$ phone aimed at emerging markets….What the hell do you expect when trying to compare this with 600$+ samsung phones?

      • balcobomber25

        I expect it to compete with $250 phones from emerging markets. I can name about a dozen phones from China and India which blow this phone away all costing less than $250.

        • TheGreatDroid

          Oh, in that case, how many of those phones were from Samsung? In case you didn’t notice, my question was focussed on this idiot here who was trying to compare a 250$ phone with a 600$+ SAMSUNG phone. I never stated that this phone was absolutely the best for its price or that no chinese manufacturer could compete with it. I don’t know what compelled you to make such an ‘out of place’ comment here in the first place. If dragging me in an argument about Chinese vs Moto phones was your intention then I am sorry to disappoint you but I am absolutely not interested. Go rub your preferences on somebody else’s face.

          • balcobomber25

            Aww did someone get his feelings hurt? You asked what he expected for $250 then made the absurd generalization that it was only made for emerging markets. Even tho Moto sells more phones in the US than anywhere else. So I was pointing out how absurd your comment was. For $250 there are better phones with better specs, some even have comparible specs to Samsung phones like the Asus Zenfone 2 which for round $230 gets you a phone with 4GB of RAM.

          • TheGreatDroid

            Damn dude, you do realize you are literally begging for an argument here don’t you? It’s kind of sad that you need other people to acknowledge your preferences and admit defeat in order for you to feel important. Anyways, since you clearly don’t have the brain cells to comprehend what I said earlier, let me spell it out once again for you. Moto G is CLEARLY aimed at developing markets. The fact that the company decided to hold it’s launch event in a country like India should have made that obvious enough. And I never stated that it was made ONLY for emerging markets, the fact that it sells phones in US too has nothing to do with what I said. Of course there are better phones at 250$ than the moto g. I never denied that. I was just pointing out how comparing the features of a $600+ phone with a 250$ phone is ridiculous. That’s all. If this still doesn’t clarify your misconception, than I am sorry but I’ve got better things to do rather than engage in a ‘comment war’ with some obnoxious 13 year old twat who can’t understand the context behind peoples statements.

          • balcobomber25

            It’s funny when someone calls someone a “13 year old” and that someone reverts to name calling. The irony in that is hilarious. You apparently can’t handle people criticizing your comment without you freaking out. Just because it was launched in a developing country doesnt mean the phone is aimed at them. The Moto G is actually priced too high to be aimed at most developing markets, the Moto E on the other hand would be perfect. But you being so smart I bet you already knew this. Don’t have an anneurism this time, it’s juts the internet, calm down, go for a walk and take some deep breaths. Life will go on and people will disagree with you online. It is really not that serious.

  • Airyl

    I’m perplexed. How did this thing score higher than the Lenovo K3 Note? I’ve recently used both, and I found the K3 to be better in pretty much everything except for design.

    • balcobomber25

      The scoring on this site is awful. There is no standard for how scores are done.

  • CodeTruth

    Samsung S6, Samsung Note. Is the Best!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • peter debel

      Erhm….

      No!!

  • Ikechi Anyalewechi

    It’s the moto g 2nd edition thats got 2 speakers, not the moto g3.

    • PI

      its stereo speaker but in call,,only fornt will work

      • Anustart

        Dude just stop. It’s confirmed it’s a single speaker. It’s not stereo so stop commenting on every post that mentions it.

  • galaxyNote4isBoss

    Moto maker on the G seriously making me consider upgrading from my Galaxy s6! Lagsung is doing my nut!

    • peter debel

      JUST DO IT!!

  • The intro to the video review is awfully similar to Pocketnow’s video review… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEfOwHkmfdI

    • I’ve noticed that and it’s a surprise as I’ve not even seen Michael Fisher’s video. Having watched some of his past videos, I can only guess that he inspired me somehow!

  • Ruby

    It’s a pity Motorola didn’t include two important features on the new model that the Moto G 2014 version did have.
    1. Only one of the two speakers work, meaning inferior sound quality and no stereo effect.
    2. No gyroscope. This is a huge let-down since Google Street view is no longer interactive and 360 View videos don’t work.

  • Anustart

    Price is too high for the specs. I bought the alcatel one touch Idol 3 on the Amazon sale for 179 which is the base price for the 8gb model moto g. The alcatel is near stock with a small skin on top. With the stereo speakers, double the ram, better processor, etc. It’s a better deal than this. Only downside is the updates will be slow on the alcatel. Root and custom recovery are available for it as well. I did it on mine and it was easy.

  • balcobomber25

    I didn’t believe people when they said this site is all about Moto, now it all makes sense. Let me get this straight for $219 you get the following:

    1. 720p display
    2. SD 410 (very under-powered)
    3. Average camera despite a good sensor (which means it is using cheap optics)
    4. small battery
    5. 2GB RAM (not bad but not great)

    You can get the Xiaomi Redmi 2 with almost the same exact specs for as low as $130:

    1. 4.7 inch 720p
    2. SD 410
    3. 2GB RAM
    4. Great camera

    For the same $220 you can get an Asus Zenfone 2 or Jiayu S3 which destroy the Moto G specs wise.

    • peter debel

      But in REAL DAILY USE MOTO G 3gen will kick their asses.

      • balcobomber25

        In real daily use Moto will kick your wallets ass and that’s about it.

        • peter debel

          But a Xiaomi and you’ll be crying after a year.

          Trust me.

          Its not worth it!

          • balcobomber25

            I have owned a Xiaomi Mi3, Mi4 and Redmi. I do end up crying after a year, tears of joy that I have a phone that still works like new a year after using. A phone which receives regular updates even after a new model is released. And a company that puts customers first and will go out of their way to help you even when your country isn’t officially supported by them. Buy a Xiaomi and you will realize how much you are missing out and how much you can save.

  • SaRPeR

    Motorola should have used a Full HD display and Snapdragon 610 for Moto G while keeping the same price tag.

    • peter debel

      Full HD uses more Power..

  • SaRPeR

    Meizu M1 Note, Sony Xperia C4 or Asus Zenfone 2 with 32GB storage and 4GB RAM, which one should i choose ? They all cost nearly same where i live.

  • Иван Разборов

    I loved my moto g 1st gen. But honor 4c have better specs and its cheaper.

  • D13H4RD2L1V3

    I’m sorry, but in the video, did he just say “even 1440p”??????

    WUT

  • Sanjay

    android authority can you suggest me which one is better in performance and specification.. moto g 3rd gen, galaxy j5 galaxy grand 2 , galaxy e5 or any other phone at similar prices.. i need performance and durability most thanx

    • peter debel

      Moto G.

      Always better than Samsung!!

  • Devendra Pareek

    Motorola – Complaint for Motorola Service

    Motorola committed to repair my phone within 7 days and now it has been more than one and half months and you people are wasting my and time and energy by sending me from one person to another.

    I have spoken to many customer care executives of yours and all they fooled me by committing to deliver within next 7 days, then again within next 7 days, then again within next 7 days ? It?s more than 30 days over your commitment to repairing my phone within 7 days.

    Don?t you feel any kind embarrassment when you keep breaking your commitments repeatedly for 5 times? That?s too after getting a deadline of 7 days to fulfill one commitment?

    If you can?t repair my phone, replace it with a new one ASAP or else I will be forced to go to consumer forum against you. You don?t have any idea what kind of convenience I am going through for your faulty service. Please pay attention my request. It?s my humble request to you.

    Don?t make your customer feel helpless like this.

    Devendra Pareek

    [email protected]

    9982943871

  • Devendra Pareek

    @motorola committed to repair my phone within 7 days and now it has been more than one and half months and you people are wasting my and time and energy by sending me from one person to another.
    I have spoken to many customer care executives of yours and all they fooled me by committing to deliver within next 7 days, then again within next 7 days, then again within next 7 days – It’s more than 30 days over your commitment to repairing my phone within 7 days.
    Don’t you feel any kind embarrassment when you keep breaking your commitments repeatedly for 5 times? That’s too after getting a deadline of 7 days to fulfill one commitment?
    If you can’t repair my phone, replace it with a new one ASAP or else I will be forced to go to consumer forum against you. You don’t have any idea what kind of convenience I am going through for your faulty service. Please pay attention my request. It’s my humble request to you.
    Don’t make your customer feel helpless like this.

    Id – [email protected]
    Mob – 09982943871

  • Dhruv Tiwari

    Yes, this review is perfect, , I have also written some great articles on my site http://www.techmaniya.com

  • Lucas Nabais

    PLS I NEED HELP! Should I buy the zenfone 2 laser or the Moto G 2015, the 1GB OF RAM model?

    • peter debel

      The Moto G!!

      Dont even ask about that!!

      More Updates.

      Better overall. Maybe NOT On specifications, but IN REAL LIFE!!

  • e. nichols

    one point made in the video which isn’t really accurate is how the versions compare. the first version VERY different inside and out compared to the second. the third yes that one is similar to the third aka 2015 version but the hardware is much improved.

    that said we have a moto x 2nd gen and a first gen moto g (son has 2nd gen G) and all we’ve found to be rock solid and reliable. thankfully our carrier, republic wireless, only uses moto products. between the price for the phone and how little we pay with our carrier the newest G is really a great bargain imho.