We pit the humble £149 Motorola Moto G 4G against a trio of titans that each cost three times as much – the Sony Xperia Z2, HTC One M8 and Samsung Galaxy S5 – to see how this mini marvel stands up to its premium-priced rivals. The results might surprise you…
For our comparison reviews, we usually pit two or more similarly-priced phones against each other, for the sake of fairness. I mean, you wouldn’t put the Vodafone Smart 4 Mini against the HTC One M8, just like you’d never organise a fight between Mike Tyson and Dame Judi Dench (although we reckon Judi would pack a mean left hook).
But the £149 Motorola Moto G 4G isn’t some mobile weakling just because it’s cheap. With some fantastic features, HD visuals and a colourful, customisable body, it’s got enough fight in it to take on the big boys of the smartphone world. We’re talking the Sony Xperia Z2, HTC One M8 and Samsung Galaxy S5.
So can the humble 4G-ified Moto G hold its own against phones more than three times its price? Let’s get this grudge match started…
Motorola Moto G 4G vs Sony Xperia Z2 vs HTC One M8 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Look and feel
All three premium phones rock a very unique and distinctive style. There’s the crinkle-cut Galaxy S5 with its soft, bevelled rear; the glossy Xperia Z2, with a glass back and front and iconic power button; and the HTC One M8, which is a shiny metallic all-in-one slab of gorgeousness.
But the Moto G 4G has a couple of advantages over all three. First, you can bag it in a range of vibrant colours which are far nicer than anything the other, more expensive models have to offer (although we’re still tempted by the blood red One M8). You can even change the colour on a whim, by swapping the cover for another.
More importantly, the Moto G 4G is much more comfortable to hold and use with one hand, thanks to its compact size. All three flagships are five inches or more, and unless you’ve got hands like Jack Skellington, you’ll struggle to flick and prod comfortably without using both your mitts.
That’s not to say the Moto G is far superior, of course. For example, it isn’t waterproof like the Xperia Z2 and Galaxy S5, and Samsung’s phone packs in a fingerprint scanner, which is quite a cool addition (when it works). But for fans of colourful handsets, and general ease of use, the Moto G is definitely the best choice here.
Motorola Moto G 4G vs Sony Xperia Z2 vs HTC One M8 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: OS and features
You might expect the premium smartphones to murder the Moto G when it comes to general features, but once again the mini marvel holds its own.
As with the flagship phones, you get full Android KitKat on the Moto G, and Motorola’s minimal tampering makes for a slick experience. If you don’t want a heavy custom overlay, the Moto G is definitely your best shout, followed by Sony’s Xperia Z2.
Set-up is as easy as it comes, with Motorola’s Moto Migrate on hand to copy across everything from your old phone. And while Motorola Assist is still far too basic for our liking, at least it’s the beginnings of a smart virtual assistant who can silence your phone during meetings and snoozy time.
And then there’s full 4G support, found on all four phones, so you can get online and stream media with no awkward pauses. You can get cheaper 4G phones than the Moto, such as the EE Kestrel, but they can’t touch the Moto G for other features such as the HD screen.
Of course, you may prefer the custom interfaces that the premium phones offer. HTC’s BlinkFeed delivers social and news updates direct to your desktop, and it’s finally smartened up to include RSS support and other bits originally missing. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S5 still has an abundance of motion gesturing tools, so you barely even need to touch the 5.1-inch screen.
They offer very different experiences, but as you can happily download news/social aggregators onto the Moto G, not to mention apps that replicate many features found on the premium phones here, the Moto G once again deflects its rivals’ blows and comes back swinging.
Motorola Moto G 4G vs Sony Xperia Z2 vs HTC One M8 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Media
One area where the premium phones show an advantage against the Moto G is media playback. The Xperia Z2, Galaxy S5 and One M8 all boast spacious 1080p displays that really make the most of your movies – but the Moto G defies its low price point, and serves up a very strong 720p screen that makes for comfortable viewing.
We definitely prefer the premium screens, but we’d happily make do with the Moto G on a long-haul flight, and you’re certainly not missing out as images are still crisp and colourful.
The Moto G also sports surprisingly powerful and good quality speakers, which more than hold their own against the Xperia Z2’s and Galaxy S5’s offerings. But of course they sadly can’t compete with the mighty BoomSound blasters of the HTC One M8. And the Xperia Z2 boasts on-board noise cancellation, so you can drown out those horrible kids screeching on your commute home.
Finally, all four phones here microSD memory card slots, so you can expand the on-board storage and carry around your entire media collection. Nice.
Motorola Moto G 4G vs Sony Xperia Z2 vs HTC One M8 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Performance and battery life
If you’re after true future-proofing, the flagships are the way to go. Their powerful SnapDragon 801 processors won’t be outdated any time soon, and comfortably handle the latest games and power-hammering apps.
But then, the Moto G 4G’s quad-core SnapDragon 400 processor can run the latest action-packed titles too, and the whole vanilla Android OS experience is slicker than 50’s hair. It may not have the same longevity or effortless multi-tasking as its premium rivals, but right now there’s no gap in performance.
As for battery life, the Moto G lasts around the same length of time as the Sony Xperia Z2 and Samsung Galaxy S5. You’ll last a full 24 hours assuming you don’t abuse the phone with games and streaming. But the HTC One M8 is still the granddaddy, with a day and a half of use between charges.
Motorola Moto G 4G vs Sony Xperia Z2 vs HTC One M8 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Camera
The Motorola Moto G 4G has put up a very brave fight so far, in some cases beating back the more premium handsets, but when it comes to cameras, the Moto G is spent. It collapses, panting and heaving, while the expensive flagships wearily raise a triumphant fist.
The Moto G’s 5-megapixel shooter is still a respectable budget effort, complete with LED flash and a simple tap-to-snap interface (some may say too simple). But our final photos lacked detail and occasionally looked fuzzy compared to snaps from the other phones. And of course the premium handsets all boast impressive features, such as the One M8’s focus shifting and the Xperia Z2 and Galaxy S5’s 4K and slow motion modes.
If you’re an amateur photo nut who takes tons of snaps, the Moto G will just about do the job, but the expensive handsets will really satisfy.
Motorola Moto G 4G vs Sony Xperia Z2 vs HTC One M8 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: Verdict
Considering the massive difference in price between the Moto G 4G and the premium smartphones, Motorola’s baby has come through this battle relatively unscathed. For colourful, customisable design it can’t be beaten, and it wins out on ease of use too thanks to its one-handed friendliness. Performance is strong, you get full 4G browsing, and the 720p screen delivers beautifully crisp HD visuals.
In fact, the only real weakness in the Moto G’s repertoire is its camera, so budding photographers may want to consider splashing the cash on a more premium model.
Do you think the premium Sony, Samsung and HTC phones are worth that extra cash, or would you be happy with the Moto G? Let us know in the comments below.
Check out our guide to the latest Motorolas: Moto E vs Moto G vs Moto G 4G what’s the difference?