Motorola has been having a great couple of years with the critically acclaimed Moto X and the segment re-defining Moto G and Moto E affordable smartphones. And now we have the next generation Moto G 2014 with us. It comes with a larger display, front-firing dual-stereo speakers and an 8 MP camera and more importantly a microSD card slot for storage expansion. All this at the same price. Sounds great, right? Well, that's what we are here to answer in the full review of the Moto G 2nd-gen.
- Bright Sharp Display
- Excellent Performance, Build Quality
- Great Camera
- Expandable Memory
- Stereo Front-speakers
- USB OTG Support
- Average Battery Life
The new Moto G 2nd-Gen (2014) packs the same Snapdragon 400 SoC inside with 1 GB RAM and 16 GB inbuilt storage which you can expand upto 64 GB with a microSD card. But there are some changes on the imaging front, now you have a 8 MP rear camera and 2 MP front camera. Both are good, but more on that later.
You also have dual-stereo front firing speakers and a larger 5-inch HD IPS display compared to 4.5-inch with the same resolution on the previous-gen device. GPS, Wi-Fi Hotspot, USB Tethering, Bluetooth Tethering, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 4.0 as well as dual-SIM 3G support are still available.
Now, even though the screen size has been increased by half an inch which will consume more power, the battery has been kept the same at 2070 mAh but Motorola still says the phone will last a day on a single charge and its still non-removable. The back-cover is removable and can be swapped for a flip-cover or a different colored back-cover to customize your phone.
Out of the 16 GB ROM you have about 12 GB available to install apps and games. You can expand that with a microSD card up to 32 GB. Moreover, USB OTG is also supported.
The new Moto G isn't that different from the original when it comes to overall build. But the design has got a bit of a makeover. In the front you have the 5-inch HD 720p display with a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass for scratch resistance, which does make the display a bit reflective. The display is as beautiful as it was on the original Moto G with wide viewing angles and excellent color reproduction.
Just above and below the display you have the new dual front stereo speakers. You also have the 2 MP front-camera, pulsating white notification LED as well as proximity, light sensors just above the display.
There's nothing on the left and you can find both the volume rocker as well as the power button. Both are sturdy and offer good feedback with a satisfying click, but after a bit of usage they do begin to wobble a little bit.
While at the top you have the 3.5mm audio jack and the secondary noise cancellation microphone. At the bottom lip the micro-USB data-syncing/charging port can be found and that's also the space using which you can open up the back-cover. The back-cover has a matte finish just like the previous-gen device. Motorola has again used the same curved back design which has become the company's new design language making the phone easy to hold and makes it fit perfectly in your palms.
You will see the upgraded 8 MP camera with LED flash at the back, but no speakerphone grill as that's been moved to the front. Inside you will find two micro-SIM card slots as it is a dual-SIM smartphone but there's also a microSD card slot at the top. Motorola understood the need for expandable storage on its devices and the result can be seen as the Moto E as well as the new Moto G.
You now have a 5-inch HD display in the front up from the 4.5-inch HD panel on the previous variant. Motorola still uses an IPS panel which decidedly has muted colors but wide viewing angles.
Sunlight visibility could have been better as could have been the contrast levels. Colors feel a bit muddled but that's what we have seen with the previous variant as well. Last time around Motorola had the best smartphone in this price segment with the best display, but this time around there are several options available.
But we have to give it to Motorola to include Gorilla Glass protection alongwith a HD display at this price and the only phone undercutting here is the Xiaomi Mi3 with its 1080p panel. The display shows natural colors in a world on Samsung where everything needs to have a little punch, so it might seem a bit pale in comparison.
The display on the new Moto G has excellent touch response but due to the Gorilla Glass layer it attracts fingerprints readily and is quite reflective as well. Sunlight legibility is decent at best, the highly reflective front panel does bother quite a lot under the sun.
Network & Call Quality
The Moto G (2014) seems to get a network even where other phones fail. I didn't have any issues with network coverage or WiFi reception.
Moreover dual-mic noise-reduction works quite well here and the call quality is good. The earpiece in the front is loud and doesn't rattle during calls. Motorola uses a clean, stock build of Android, so the dialer and contacts are just like you'd expect them.
Connectivity options aren't limited here either, you have 3G dual-SIM support, Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS with GLONASS support and FM Radio. WiFi, Bluetooth and USB Tethering is also supported. The GPS on the device works quite well, it is able to locate quickly in open spaces. You also have a Magnetic Field Sensor built in to facilitate navigation.
Moto G now comes with a 8 MP AF rear camera and it delivers. More pixels means better images is true for the new Moto G. The camera here takes sharp pictures with excellent color reproduction but can still just record in 720p.
Video quality is average at best but let's not get hung up on that. Motorola bundles its own camera app which isn't that feature-rich but more than makes up for it with its simplicity.
You also have an updated 2 MP front facing camera which doesn't perform that well indoors but its better than the VGA unit found on the first-gen Moto G.
Music & Video Playback
By default you have the Play Music app pre-installed. In itself its a great app to play songs. You have different bifurcations for Album, Artist, Tracks and Playlists. But this is not a review of the Play Music app, so, moving ahead there are stereo speakers in the front of the new Moto G2.
They have considerable impact when watching movies or playing games, but not so much in music. The audio quality to is nothing amazing, but I do appreciate the value of front-firing speakers. Moreover, they are location at the exact height where they should be from the ends of the device so that your fingers don't block them while gaming.
Audio quality is good but now I have begin to notice a bit of crackling from the speakerphone at full-volume. Just a notch or two it disappears. You also have the Audio Effects plugin built-in using which you can customize the sound profile of your device. FM Radio also works well on the new Moto G (2nd Generation) but you still can't record FM nor listen to it through the speakerphone.
You can play 1080p videos with the new Moto G 2014 as well in MKV, AVI, MP4, 3GP file formats without needing to install 3rd party apps. But with MXPlayer and the likes you can play pretty-much any video format available.
Motorola has made it a point of using near stock Android on its smartphones, its the same case with the new Moto G (2014). It comes with Android 4.4.4 KitKat which is upgradable to Lollipop. There is no bloatware on the device. But it does come with Motorola's excellent apps like Migrate and Assist.
With a near stock UI, performance is smooth as well. Wireless Display, option to disable notification LED can be found here as well.
Coming back to the launcher, there are five homescreens by default. You can add widgets to the lockscreen as well and they can be disabled through Security settings.
Face unlock is also available. Android Lollipop is coming to the Moto G 2014 as well, which would change everything about the device, including performance, gaming and a lot more. We will write a review of Lollipop on the Moto G 2014 as well when that update arrives.
Out of the 16 GB storage you have about 12.5 GB available. USB OTG is also supported on the device. Chrome comes in as the default web browser and you have the Google Keyboard with gesture support for typing.
Even the new Moto G (Gen 2) performed brilliantly in our gaming review. There was no major lag in any of the high-end HD games that we tried. Moreover, the front-firing stereo speakers make gameplay more immersive.
More importantly, the new Moto G 2014 too doesn't heat-up while playing games. We tried several games including NOVA 3, NFS Most Wanted, Modern Combat 5 (MC5), Asphalt 8, Real Racing 3 and more.
Even with the same dated SoC, the new Moto G 2014 performs well without any lag. Motorola has clearly optimized Android KitKat to make it more fluid. App launch times are less than average and multitasking is quick.
But we would have still liked to see more RAM on the device, with 1 GB RAM garbage collection is a bit too aggressive for my taste. Apps to get killed quickly if many background tasks are running.
Motorola decided to put the same 2070 mAh battery in the new 2014 Moto G as well even though it comes with a larger display. So, that should affect battery-life by quite a margin.
Apparently its not so. You can still get almost an entire day out of the device on 2G with both SIM Cards on and auto-sync always on. On 3G however, you would have to charge the phone overnight even with moderate use.
When the 1st-gen Moto G was launched in 2013, it was a revolutionary phone at its price point with a 720p display, quad-core Snapdragon 400 and 1 GB RAM. Flash forward to 2014, its still a good proposition since the mid-range segment has been left wide open by tier-1 manufacturers like LG and Samsung.
The Asus Zenfone 5 seems like a good competitor to the new Moto G 2014 but it too has its cons. Average battery-life being one of them.
But the new Moto G still wins with better ergonomics, sharp display, great camera, stereo front speakers and excellent performance. Its still the device to beat when it comes to performance and usability. Moreover, you are going to get the taste of Android Lollipop before almost everyone else.