Introduction

As a successor to the most successful smartphone in Motorola's history, the second generation Moto G surely has hefty expectations to meet. A year after the XT1032 redefined the budget smartphone category by combining high-res screen, quality hardware, and up to date Android build, the newcomer aims to build on its success.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

Moto G (2014) official photos

In line with the trends in the smartphone world, the new Moto G boasts a significantly larger display than the model it replaces, as well as beefed up camera. We also get a microSD card slot for cheap memory expansion and front-facing stereo speakers - their presence is hardly believable considering the unchanged starting price tag of the device.

New features aside, the 2014 Moto G offers similar hardware to the model it replaces. Take a look at it in our traditional list of key features below.

Key features

  • Quad-band GSM/EDGE/HSDPA
  • Available in dual-SIM variant
  • 5" IPS 720p capacitive touchscreen of 294ppi, Gorilla Glass 3
  • Android 4.4.4 KitKat and a fast track update program
  • 1.2GHz quad-core Cortex-A7 CPU; 1GB of RAM; Adreno 305 GPU; Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chipset
  • 8MP camera, LED flash, 720p video capture, 2MP front-facing camera
  • 8GB or 16GB of built-in memory, expandable via microSD card slot
  • Active noise cancellation with a dedicated microphone
  • FM radio
  • 2,070mAh battery
  • Optional battery covers in various colors

Main disadvantages

  • No LTE connectivity at launch
  • Hardware could have used a bump, especially in terms of available RAM
  • Battery size has remained unchanged despite the larger display
  • Camera doesn't record 1080p video

The presence or a larger display in the new Moto G is surely going to be a welcome sight for many users who can't stretch their budget towards a 5" flagship. Coupled with the stereo speakers and the microSD card slot, the quality IPS screen truly transforms the new model into a wallet-friendly multimedia powerhouse.

With stock Android 4.4.4 dressed in Google Now launcher, the 2014 Moto G delivers a true Nexus experience with a few nice extras on top. Timely update to Android L is promised as well.

The chipset surely could have used a refresh in the second generation, though Motorola has decided to focus on improving other areas and it obviously ran out of budget for a beefier SoC. Also, to be fair, despite being a year old, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 silicon is still a popular option in its segment - so maybe Motorola can get away with it for another cycle.

Our main concern about the new Moto G has to do with its battery. The non-removable 2,070mAh unit has been carried over from the first generation, yet it has a larger display to power up now, which may turn an average performance into a disappointing one.

Increased competition is another factor the 2014 Moto G has to face. A year after its predecessor caught the industry by surprise, entry-level and lower mid-range smartphone segments have emerged as the next major battlefield.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

Moto G (2014) live photos

Does the new Moto G have what it takes to stay on top of its class? Read on to find out! As always, we will kick off our review with an unboxing, followed by a design and hardware inspection.

Editorial: You may notice that this review is shorter than usual and doesn't include some of our proprietary tests. The reason is it has been prepared and written away from our test labs. Still, we think we've captured the essence of the device in the same precise, informative and detailed way that's become our trademark. Enjoy the good read!

Unboxing

The new Moto G offers a retail package in line with is low price tag. All you get with the device is a wall charger and a couple of booklets.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

The retail package of the new Moto G

This year, Motorola has decided to omit a microUSB cable from the retail package and replace it with a wall charger. This shouldn't be a deal breaker for most of you as you probably have a cable from an older device already, but if you don't, you should factor in its price.

Like the first generation Moto G, the second iteration has a number of additional accessories available at launch. They include a flip case that replaces the battery cover, stereo headphones, and external battery packs.



Some of the available accessories

Design and build quality

Moto G (2014) has retained the design of the model it replaces. The only major difference between the first and the second generation are the gray strips above and below the newcomer's display, which house the stereo speakers.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

Moto G (2014) in the flesh

The above considered, the Moto G is a decent looking bloke. The interchangeable back panels allow you to change the device's appearance and have it your way - from understated like the unit we tested, all the way to impossible to miss color combinations.

Motorola Moto G 2014

The back covers allow you to change the appearance of your Moto G

Build quality of the Moto G is exceptional, especially considering the price range it inhabits. The device is made of high-quality polycarbonate with matte finish, while its front is entirely covered by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. Its body is splash resistant too, though it is not IP certified.

Physical measures of the new Moto G are 141.5 x 70.7 x 11 mm and it tips the scale at 149 grams. As expected, the second generation has grown significantly over its predecessor (129.9 x 65.9 x 11.6 mm).

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

Moto G (2014) sized up against last year's model

Thickness of the new Moto G is slight letdown, especially considering the unchanged battery size over last year's model. However, the presence of dual stereo speakers does somewhat make up for the substantial waistline.

Handling

Despite the thicker profile, handling of the new Moto G is easy thanks to its curved back. The latter follows the natural shape of the human palm and offsets the noticeable thickness of the phone.

Motorola Moto G 2014

Handling the Moto G (2014)

The soft-touch plastic body of the smartphone enhances grip. You are unlikely to accidentally drop it.

Display

Moto G (2014) packs a 5" IPS display with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels. The display has grown in size over last year's model, but has retained the same resolution. The result is a lower, but still near-Retina pixel density of 294 ppi.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

The display of the Moto G (2014)

The display of the Moto G (2014) is a quality unit, despite the lower sharpness over last year's solution. It impresses with good color reproduction, stellar contrast, and wide viewing angles.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

A closer look at the device's display

Sunlight legibility is good, especially considering the price range the smartphone inhabits. It is not as reflective as one would expect.

Overall, despite its lower pixel density when compared to last year's model, the display of the new Moto G is one of the best in its class. You will be hard-pressed to find a better screen on a sub-$200 smartphone.

Controls

The earpiece and one of the stereo speakers are located above the display, tucked behind a gray strip. The ambient light and proximity sensors, as well as the front-facing camera are also located in this area.

Motorola Moto G 2014

The view above the display

The earpiece and the other stereo speaker can be found under the screen. Once again, they are hidden behind a gray strip of plastic.

Motorola Moto G 2014

A look below the screen

There is nothing on the left side of the smartphone. The power/lock key and the volume rocker sit on the right.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

The sides of the handset

The 3.5mm audio jack is on top of the handset, with a secondary microphone for active noise cancellation by its side. The microUSB port is on the bottom.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

The top and bottom of the new Moto G

The back of the Moto G (2014) is home to the 8MP main camera and its LED flash. The signature dimple with Motorola logo that debuted with last year's model range is there too.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

The back of the device

Removing the back cover reveals the micro-SIM card slot and the microSD card slot. The battery is sadly not removable.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

A look under the back cover

Battery performance

The new Moto G has the same 2,070mAh battery as its predecessor. Because of the larger display on board, we were a tad skeptical about the performance of the device in our battery test.

It turns out that we weren't wrong. The new Moto G posted an endurance rating of 50h in our battery test. As expected, the score is slightly lower than that of last year's model.

We should give the Motorola Moto G a few extra points here as its display is brighter than most of its competitors' at their respective 50% settings. This means that you will almost certainly squeeze out more from the device in real-life usage.

Connectivity

The new Moto G starts off with the basics - quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE and 3G globally.

Also on board is Bluetooth 4.0 alongside Wi-Fi b/g/n with hotspot support. Wired connectivity is covered by a microUSB 2.0 port with USB host.

Although it is missing some of the more advanced connectivity features like NFC, and IR-port, or LTE support (at least for the time being), the 2014 Moto G does have an FM radio and GPS with GLONASS.

User interface

The new Moto G boots the latest Android 4.4.4 KitKat. The smartphone offers the exact same launcher as the Nexus 5, so it truly is a budget-friendly alternative for Android purists. Check it out in action below.

The lockscreen widgets remain unchanged and are full-screen, resizable tiles. One of them is always visible at the top of the main lockscreen, above the padlock icon. The rest are a right swipe away. The widget on the main lockscreen is collapsed to make room for the padlock button, but can be expanded to display additional information.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

The lockscreen

There are a few stock lockscreen widgets: Messages, Calendar, Gmail, Digital Clock, Google Now and Google+. The camera shortcut, just like before, is a left swipe on the lockscreen.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

Some of the lockscreen widgets

Lockscreen widgets are resizable - tap and drag down to expand and show more content, if available. Tapping and dragging can also reorder lockscreen widgets, so you can choose which one is visible on the main lockscreen. They can also be dragged up to discard.

Google Now is always the leftmost pane on the homescreen. You can't set it as a default homescreen but you can turn it off if you like, just like the BlinkFeed on the HTC One lineup.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

The homescreen

The bottom of the screen is reserved for the three navigation controls: Back, Home and Recent Apps. The dock is customizable and features two shortcut icons on either side of the app drawer key. You can have folders there, each with multiple shortcuts.

Google Daydream is available too. Once turned on, you can set it up to show photo albums, the latest news from Google Now, the clock, or an animation.

The notification center and Quick toggles are on board too. They're accessible via an icon in the top right corner of the notification area. You get access to key device settings such as brightness, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, location, mobile networks and Battery. Some toggles are directly accessible shortcuts to their respected functions in the settings menu. The quick settings menu can be accessed by a two-finger swipe down from the top of the screen.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

The notification area

Notifications can be expanded and collapsed with a downward swipe. The top one is expanded by default (if the app that put up the notification supports it, of course).

Motorola Moto G 2014

Expanding the notifications

The homescreen consists of just two panes - Google Now and the default one with a bunch of shortcuts. You can add more once you start putting widgets, shortcuts or folders. You can add as many panes as you want.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

Editing the homescreen

The widgets are no longer part of the app drawer. You can access the widget list only by a tap and hold on an empty space on the homescreen and selecting the dedicated Widgets shortcut. We prefer this way of handling the widgets, because they don't get in the way of the day-to-day work with the app drawer.

Most of the widgets are resizable in all directions in order to fit into any tight space. To resize a widget, you tap and hold and then release. Four handles will appear on its sides, allowing you to change the widget's size in the direction you want.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

Adding and editing widgets

Folder functionality functions as expected. A folder is created by dropping an app shortcut on top of another shortcut and can be named by tapping on the "Unnamed folder" label. Opening a folder expands it only as much as needed to show the icons inside.

The folders icons themselves are circular with several individual app shortcuts stacked on top of each other. They are lined up so the first shortcut in the folder will be the only one unobscured - the rest of the icons are nearly impossible to tell apart.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

A look at the folder functionality

The app drawer consists of 5 rows of icons on side-scrollable pages. The app icons are big and easy to access.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

The app drawer

The apps are ordered alphabetically and there's no other sorting option. Placing a shortcut on the homescreen works as you would expect: press and hold to grab it and then position it on the homescreen pane of choice. Two more options appear at the top of the screen while you're dragging - Uninstall (to quickly remove apps) and App info, which opens the application's entry in the Manage applications list.

Last but not least, the Recent Apps list has remained virtually unchanged. It would be nice if Google finally adds a kill all/close all option.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

Recent apps

Overall, Android 4.4.4 Kit Kat offers polished UI. Coupled with the top of the line chipset, operation is lightning fast all the time.

Performance

The new Motorola Moto G packs Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 MSM 8226 chipset with 1.2GHz quad-core Cortex-A7 CPU. The GPU is Adreno 305, clocked at 450MHz. The device's silicon is the default setup for most mid-range Android smartphone over the past year, and has proven to be a decent performer.

GeekBench and AnTuTu showcase the raw CPU power of a smartphone. The new Moto G did as expected on both occasions.

GeekBench 3

Higher is better

  • HTC One mini 2
    1526
  • Xiaomi Redmi 1S
    1492
  • Sony Xperia T3
    1373
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    1175
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    1171
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    1106

AnTuTu 5

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Redmi 1S
    19912
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    19016
  • HTC One mini 2
    18641
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    18245

We tried out the anti-cheat version of the popular Basemark OS II benchmark and we found that the Moto G doesn't use any tricks to climb up the score table.

Basemark OS II

Higher is better

  • HTC Desire 820
    605
  • Sony Xperia T3
    535
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    526
  • HTC One mini 2
    517
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    495
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    452
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    452
  • Xiaomi Redmi 1S
    394

Basemark OS II (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    1701
  • Sony Xperia T3
    1465
  • Xiaomi Redmi 1S
    1435
  • HTC One mini 2
    1304
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    1192
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    1131
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    1123

Basemark OS II (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    12771
  • Sony Xperia T3
    5759
  • HTC One mini 2
    5182
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    5012
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    5001
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    4887
  • Xiaomi Redmi 1S
    4875

Adreno 305 is widespread GPU solution in the segment. The benchmark results of the Moto G are on par with similarly equipped devices.

GFX 2.7 T-Rex (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    9.8
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    6
  • Sony Xperia T3
    5.9
  • HTC One mini 2
    5.8
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    5.8
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    5.8
  • Xiaomi Redmi 1S
    5.7

GFX 2.7 T-Rex (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    15.5
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    13.3
  • Sony Xperia T3
    11.2
  • HTC One mini 2
    11
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    10.8
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    10.8
  • Xiaomi Redmi 1S
    10.3

BrowserMark 2.1 tests HTML 5 performance, while Mozilla's Kraken 1.1 is JavaScript-centric. The new Moto G did well in both benchmarks when compared to its peers in the segment.

Kraken 1.1

Lower is better

  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    12416
  • Xiaomi Redmi 1S
    12470
  • Sony Xperia T3
    13738
  • HTC One mini 2
    15684
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    15988
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    16118
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    16129

BrowserMark 2.1

Higher is better

  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    1085
  • Sony Xperia T3
    978
  • HTC One mini 2
    945
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    911
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    883
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    588

Overall, the hardware performance of the new Moto G met our expectations. The device is not a powerhouse by any means, but will handle daily tasks without breaking a sweat. The stock Android UI felt fluid and responsive the entire time.

Phonebook

The phonebook is made up of three tabs that you can switch between with sideways swipes. The middle tab is the default one, listing all of your contacts. Contacts are listed with a name and a picture to the right. They can be sorted by first or last name, and viewed as first name or last name first.

There's a permanent scroll bar available that you can grab and jump straight to contacts starting with a certain letter. There's regular search as you type too.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

The phonebook

The quick contacts feature triggers on tapping a contact image to bring up a tabbed popup window. The tabs are _phone_ and email with a list of the available numbers or addresses. These tabs can be navigated with sideswipes as well.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

Quick contacts

Single contact view displays the contact's name along with a star to mark a contact as favorite and a Settings button that lets you edit, share or delete a contact, as well assign custom ringtones to them or set the _phone_ to redirect calls from that contact straight to voice mail.

Under that is a list of all contact info sorted by category - phone numbers, emails, events, notes and so on.

Motorola Moto G 2014

Viewing a single contact

While editing a contact, you can add various new fields to fill in more info for the contact. You can link contacts too, if you've added the same person on multiple services.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

Editing a contact

The other two major tabs in the phonebook are Groups and Favorites. Groups are listed by service (e.g. your Gmail account), while favorites are a listed as a grid of large contact photos, which is readily thumbable.

Motorola Moto G 2014

Favorites

Telephony

In-call of the Moto G is exceptional. Voices come out loud and clear and the device held on to signal without issues - hardly a surprise as its metal frame was developed from the ground up with antennas in mind.

Android 4.4.4 KitKat offers a smart phone app with new design. Upon launch it brings you to its default dialing tab where you get a search field, the most recent dialed contact and a list of contacts you've dialed most often.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

The phone app

You can bring up or hide the dialer by its dedicated shortcut at the bottom. It supports smart dialing both by name and phone numbers.

The search field on top of the page scans both your contacts and nearby places. For example, you can type Subway and you'll automatically get the nearest Subway phone number. You can turn the nearby search off from settings, of course.

There is also a standard history tab in the phone app. It has two sub-tabs - all and missed. There you get the complete history of all your phone calls.

Motorola Moto G 2014

The in-call screen

Messaging

You can choose Google Hangouts or the default messaging app to handle your text messages. Hangouts has two pages - the first one shows all of your conversations, while the second lists the people you exchanged Hangouts with, plus suggested contacts and other contacts (a.k.a. from your phonebook).

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

Google Hangouts

The messaging section is business as usual. All SMS/MMS communication is organized into threads - each thread consists of all messages between you and one of your contacts.

Each thread is organized like an IM chat session, the latest message at the bottom. You can manage individual messages (forward, copy, delete) and even lock them (to prevent deletion). You can use search to find a specific message in all conversations.

Quick contacts work here too and there's a call shortcut at the top of the screen when viewing a thread.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

Messaging

You can add multimedia (photos, videos, sounds, etc.), which will convert the message to an MMS. If you need multiple slides or multiple attachments, you can go to a full-blown MMS editor as well.

The Gmail app and the generic email app are now almost identical in both looks and functionality. They feature color-coded sender images, based on the first letter of the sender's name. Both apps support multiple accounts, but the unified inbox is available only on the default email client.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

Gmail

You can swipe left or right to move between messages in your inbox.

The Google keyboard is the default text input option out of the box. It is one of the most preferred Android keyboards out there and its screen the keys are comfortably large in both portrait and landscape mode.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

Google keyboard

Gesture typing is available as usual. Naturally, it benefits from the already existing Android word prediction, so you can just click on the words the keyboard suggests.

A tap on the text area will reveal a "handle" attached to the text cursor - it's easy and more accurate, which makes correcting mistakes easier. A double tap will bring up the select options - Select word and Select All - with two handles to adjust the start and end of the selection.

If a word has a typo, it will be underlined in red and when you tap it, the phone will offer a number of suggested corrections along with options to add the word to the phone's dictionary or just delete it.

Voice input is available as well and it works great too. It doesn't even require network connection if you download the specific language file and make it available for offline usage.

Photos and gallery

The gallery in Android 4.4.4 KitKat is called Photos. Upon opening the app you'll see two tabs - Camera and Highlights. Above those two tabs you get the Movie, Search and Settings shortcuts.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

Photos app

The movie shortcuts allows you to easily select pictures and videos from which you want to create a movie and they will be automatically added to the brand new Video Creator. After that you can add music, stitching theme and your video is ready with just a few taps.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

Creating a movie within the gallery

The Camera is a grid of your photos and videos, three on a line. The very first thumb is marked as Folders and will return you a step back to the old Album view, where you can choose to open a different album. The Gallery will always open the Camera album by default.

The new Gallery has a few hidden goodies that we almost missed. There is a hidden navigation menu pane that is revealed with a swipe from the edge of the screen anywhere in the gallery. You can easily switch Google+ accounts from there, go to Albums, Videos, Photos you are tagged in, all Google+ photos or even the deleted photos.

There is also an Auto Awesome section. It is something like a smart gallery that combines similar photos and videos in a cool way - it either exports a collage picture or a motion gif. If you like the combination the gallery has made for you, there is a dedicated shortcut to save the new picture in the gallery.

The old gallery is also on board. The Default view of the gallery is Albums, the first of which is always the Camera album, which has a camera overlay icon too. Rather than the familiar stacks, the app uses a grid of photos, two on a line.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

The old gallery app

Besides, Album view, you also get Locations (photos are grouped based on where they were taken), Times (grouped by when they were taken), People (if the photos have tagged faces in them) and Tags (these are general tags you can add manually).

A handy option is the Make available offline feature - it lets you easily select multiple online albums and download them for offline viewing. The Gallery app supports online albums from Google+ and Picasa and sync is available just like in the new Photos app. You can make all of the albums available offline.

Motorola Moto G 2014

Looking at a single photo

The settings menu lets you do simple edits to a photo (rotate, crop) or go into a more capable editor with a lot more option. The editor can be accessed from a small icon from the bottom left hand-side corner and offers light adjustments (so you can bring out the shadows or the highlights), effects, color styles, red eye correction, straightening a photo, sharpening and face glow (which detects faces automatically). Most of these options have a slider that lets you fine-tune the strength of the effect.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

Editing a photo

Video player

The video player has retained its stock Android interface. Like last year, Motorola has added much better codec support than the one found in Nexus devices. The video player is now perfectly usable out of the box - it plays a host of formats, which include H.263, H.264, MPEG4, VC-1, and VP8.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

The video player

You can also wirelessly share videos with a Wi-Fi enabled TV. The feature relies on DLNA technology to connect and the Miracast protocol for streaming. It's another feature most customs launchers had, but is only now making its way to the platform itself.

Google Play Music

Google Play Music is the default music player. It features Listen Now feature, which tries to determine what you like and the sequence of your track-changing so that it can start offering you music you might like to play next.

Google Play Music also gives you the option to upload music onto the Google-branded cloud and stream it on your device via Wi-Fi or mobile data. There's also the nifty option of downloading the content onto the device if you want to have there for connection-less times.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

Google Play Music

From the Settings key you can get into the equalizer. It can be turned on and off and features several equalizer presets along with a custom user defined one. If you plug in a headset, you can also play around with the Bass boost and 3D effect sliders.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

Equalizer

The Now Playing screen uses the song album art and gives you a quick shortcut to the rest of the artist's songs along with the play controls. While the player is working, the entire lockscreen features the album art and track info for the current song along with dedicated playback controls. The notification area also lets you control the playback via an expandable notification.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

Now playing screen • the notification area and the lockscreen

There's an FM radio on board too. It users wired headphones as an antenna and offers clean, intuitive interface.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

FM radio

The stereo speakers of the smartphone offer quality sound even at max volume. They are loud too, though far from the BoomSound setup of the HTC One family.

Very good audio output

The Motorola Moto G (2014) performance in our audio quality test was a step forward from its predecessor in terms of purity although it was . The 2014 version of the handset did show slightly better frequency response as well as get rid of all the distortion.

When connected to an active external amplifier the Motorola Moto (2014) showed great dynamic range, signal-to-noise ratio and stereo crosstalk. Its frequency response was also spot on and there was no distortion, leaving the only average volume levels as the only not-excellent bit of its performance.

The good news is, besides the extra stereo crosstalk, there's virtually no degradation when you plug in a pair of headphones. The volume levels remained only average here, but that still makes up for an impressively solid overall performance.

And here go the detailed results so you can check them out for yourselves.

Test Frequency response Noise level Dynamic range THD IMD + Noise Stereo crosstalk
Motorola Moto G (2014) +0.01, -0.06 -91.6 92.4 0.0089 0.014 -91.7
Motorola Moto G (2014)(headphones attached) +0.02, -0.09 -91.6 92.4 0.011 0.017 -45.7
Motorola Moto G 4G +0.18, -1.07 -92.1 92.1 0.010 0.188 -92.1
Motorola Moto G 4G (headphones attached) +0.15, -1.10 -91.9 91.8 0.014 0.222 -48.4
Motorola Moto G +0.08, -0.85 -92.1 91.9 0.0059 0.082 -91.4
Motorola Moto G (headphones attached) +0.10, -1.03 -92.0 91.8 0.010 0.117 -50.4
Oppo R819 +0.04, -0.09 -92.4 92.3 0.017 0.045 -87.9
Oppo R819(headphones attached) +0.58, -0.13 -91.0 90.9 0.015 0.438 -48.7
Nokia Lumia 625 +0.13, -0.10 -90.3 90.3 0.013 0.355 -82.5
Nokia Lumia 625 (headphones attached) +0.24, -0.00 -90.2 90.2 0.014 0.460 -83.8
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini +0.03, -0.04 -92.6 90.7 0.016 0.018 -94.0
Samsung Galaxy S5 mini (headphones attached) +0.23, -0.05 -86.7 86.2 0.052 0.167 -55.7

Motorola Moto G (2014) frequency response

Motorola Moto G (2014) frequency response

You can learn more about the whole testing process here.

8MP camera with LED flash

The new Moto G features an 8MP camera with LED flash. The snapper is an improvement over last year's 5MP setup.

On the software side, the camera offers HDR and panorama. There are also features like face detection and geo-tagging that we've grown accustomed to in most phones nowadays.

The camera UI of the Moto G is quite simple. It relies completely on sliding gestures for zoom and settings - sliding from the left opens the settings, while sliding from the right opens the image gallery. Zoom works by sliding your finger up and down the screen. Capturing an image is as easy as tapping on the screen.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

The camera UI

At the front of the Moto G, there's a 2MP camera capable of 720p video recording for video-chatting purposes.

The quality of the shots produced with the main camera is pretty decent. Colors come out good and there's enough resolved detail. Noise levels are slightly high, but that's not out of the ordinary in this price range. Solid overall showing by the Moto G.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

Moto G (2014) camera samples

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

HDR off • on

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

Flash off • on

720p video camera

The UI of the video camera has remained unchanged. Video capture begins by pressing the button located in the top right corner of the app.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

The video camera

The 720p resolution is rather low in this day and age, so understandably we are not particularly excited by the clips produced by the Moto G (2014). That said, the videos have smooth framerate, nice colors and just enough detail. With 2160p capable camcorders around, it's hard to give the Moto G output more than a passable mark however.

And this is an untouched 720p video sample taken straight from the new Moto G.

Here goes a slow-motion video sample from the device. The Moto G stretches 15 seconds of capture into a minute-long video.

The new Moto G comes with Google Chrome as the default web browser out of box instead of the generic Android browser. Chrome received a major update recently, which brought a new UI on board. It is now even more pleasant to look at.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

Google Chrome has new UI

Of course, one of Chrome's strengths is its ability to seamlessly sync with the desktop version, using nothing but your Google account. This allows you to open an article on your PC and finish reading it on your mobile phone. It also syncs your bookmarks and favorite sites.

Google Chrome is generous with the available settings as well. You can control almost every aspect of your web browsing from choosing what content you want to allow to load like JavaScript, images, cookies and pop-ups. Reduce data usage does what it says - Google servers compress the webpage (using Google-developed tech like SPDY and WebP) and send them to the phone.

Opening the tabs area reveals a list of tabs that can be closed, again with a left or right swipe. Incognito tabs let you browse without saving history or cookies.

Other apps

The Calendar has four different types of view - daily, weekly, monthly and diary (agenda). Adding a new event is quick and easy, and you can also set an alarm to act as a reminder.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

The calendar

Moto G also features the Quick Office, which supports creating, viewing and editing office files (docs, xls, ppt), and it can also read PDFs.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

Quick Office

The stock Android Calculator and Clock app (with stopwatch, world clock and timer) are available by default.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

Calculator and clock apps

Moto Assist automatically adjusts the settings of your device depending on the environment you are in. Available modes include Sleeping, Driving, Home, and Meeting. You can tweak the settings of each individually.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

Moto Assist

Moto Migrate is on board too. It helps you transfer data from an iPhone or another Android smartphone to your new device.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

Motorola Migrate

Final words

Moto G (2014), like its predecessor, is easily among the most capable Android smartphones you can buy in its price range. The smartphone offers a well-designed, solidly crafted hardware package, topped with up-to-date OS, which is bound to receive updates in a timely fashion.

"Don't change it unless you can make it better" is the mantra, which Motorola embraced during the development of the new Moto G. In this regard, the manufacturer deserves credit for updated features without changing the entry-level price of the smartphone.

Key review findings

  • Build quality and overall ergonomics of the smartphone are good
  • The display is a high quality unit despite its lower pixel density
  • The stereo speakers are a great addition to the list of features
  • Chipset and graphic performance are in line with similar devices
  • More RAM on board would have been great
  • 1080p video capture is a noticeable omission
  • Bigger battery would have been greatly appreciated
  • Pricing is really attractive

The larger display and the stereo speakers help the device stand out among its competitors. We are really pleased that Motorola brought enhanced audio experience to the Moto G - it is truly hard to come by in its segment.

With the addition of a microSD card slot on the other hand, Motorola addressed one of the biggest shortcoming the first Moto G had. Cheap memory expansion is vital in the markets where the 2014 Moto G will aim to succeed - we reckon that the memory slot alone will help it win quite a few new fans.

Stock Android 4.4.4 and the promise of timely update to the next major OS build are another major plus for the new Moto G. Budget smartphones rarely get treated this well - actually few of them are even on sale with the latest Android version at the moment.

The Snapdragon 400 chipset offers performance that is on par with standard for this segment. It's not ground breaking anymore, but adequate is good enough for a chipset clearly getting long in the tooth.

The lack of a larger battery is the biggest gripe we have with the new Moto G. Considering its expanded multimedia capabilities, we reckon that more mAh would have been great to have on board and given the thickness of the device we can't imagine it would have been too hard to fit.

Lack of 1080p video recording is another major omission, despite the brand new camera sensor in the new Moto G. We believe that the lack of additional RAM played a role on this instance.

However, all shortcomings that the new Moto G has are more than made up for by its price. At $179.99, the smartphone is an incredible value any way you look at it. Here are some alternatives in case you are willing to shop around.

Motorola's own Moto G 4G might technically be a predecessor, but it's actually an alternative to the 2014 model. It offers more compact body with LTE connectivity and microSD card slot, though it is a tad more expensive at $219.

Motorola Moto G 4G

Motorola Moto G 4G

Xiaomi Redmi 1S matches closely the new Moto G in specs and is even cheaper than the subject of our review. However, it runs an outdated Android version and is incredibly hard to find in stores outside China.

Xiaomi Hongmi 1S

Xiaomi Hongmi 1S

Sony Xperia E3 is an interesting alternative, though it lags behind the new Moto G in terms of screen resolution and doesn't offer stereo speakers. Its pricing is yet to be known, though it will likely be in the same ballpark as the new Moto G.

Sony Xperia E3

Sony Xperia E3

Micromax Canvas Elanza 2, Canvas 2 Colors and Canvas Turbo Mini all offer 720p displays and run on quad-core Cortex-A7 processors. They are also dual-SIM-enabled and feature capable 8MP snappers. However, they lag behind the Moto in terms of Android build, brand appeal, as well as design and finish.

Micromax A121 Canvas Elanza 2
Micromax A120 Canvas 2 Colors
Micromax Canvas Turbo Mini

Micromax A121 Canvas Elanza 2 • Micromax A120 Canvas 2 Colors • Micromax Canvas Turbo Mini

Buying a smartphone for less than $200 will always require certain levels of compromise. However, the Moto G (2014) balances things out well enough so none of those are deal-breakers and that's a big win in this segment. You will simply be hard-pressed to find a better new Android phone for the money.

Unboxing

The new Moto G offers a retail package in line with is low price tag. All you get with the device is a wall charger and a couple of booklets.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

The retail package of the new Moto G

This year, Motorola has decided to omit a microUSB cable from the retail package and replace it with a wall charger. This shouldn't be a deal breaker for most of you as you probably have a cable from an older device already, but if you don't, you should factor in its price.

Like the first generation Moto G, the second iteration has a number of additional accessories available at launch. They include a flip case that replaces the battery cover, stereo headphones, and external battery packs.



Some of the available accessories

Design and build quality

Moto G (2014) has retained the design of the model it replaces. The only major difference between the first and the second generation are the gray strips above and below the newcomer's display, which house the stereo speakers.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

Moto G (2014) in the flesh

The above considered, the Moto G is a decent looking bloke. The interchangeable back panels allow you to change the device's appearance and have it your way - from understated like the unit we tested, all the way to impossible to miss color combinations.

Motorola Moto G 2014

The back covers allow you to change the appearance of your Moto G

Build quality of the Moto G is exceptional, especially considering the price range it inhabits. The device is made of high-quality polycarbonate with matte finish, while its front is entirely covered by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. Its body is splash resistant too, though it is not IP certified.

Physical measures of the new Moto G are 141.5 x 70.7 x 11 mm and it tips the scale at 149 grams. As expected, the second generation has grown significantly over its predecessor (129.9 x 65.9 x 11.6 mm).

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

Moto G (2014) sized up against last year's model

Thickness of the new Moto G is slight letdown, especially considering the unchanged battery size over last year's model. However, the presence of dual stereo speakers does somewhat make up for the substantial waistline.

Handling

Despite the thicker profile, handling of the new Moto G is easy thanks to its curved back. The latter follows the natural shape of the human palm and offsets the noticeable thickness of the phone.

Motorola Moto G 2014

Handling the Moto G (2014)

The soft-touch plastic body of the smartphone enhances grip. You are unlikely to accidentally drop it.

Display

Moto G (2014) packs a 5" IPS display with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels. The display has grown in size over last year's model, but has retained the same resolution. The result is a lower, but still near-Retina pixel density of 294 ppi.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

The display of the Moto G (2014)

The display of the Moto G (2014) is a quality unit, despite the lower sharpness over last year's solution. It impresses with good color reproduction, stellar contrast, and wide viewing angles.

Motorola Moto G 2014
Motorola Moto G 2014

A closer look at the device's display

Sunlight legibility is good, especially considering the price range the smartphone inhabits. It is not as reflective as one would expect.

Overall, despite its lower pixel density when compared to last year's model, the display of the new Moto G is one of the best in its class. You will be hard-pressed to find a better screen on a sub-$200 smartphone.