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The Moto G might be the budget smartphone that conquers the world (hands-on)

Motorola has switched gears from its focus on flagships with the Moto X to the heavily rumoured and now official Moto G. But for a phone with the tagline of ‘exceptional phone, exceptional price’, does it err on the side premium or budget?

You look familiar

At first glance the similarities between the Moto X and Moto G are immediate, it’s budget status means that the design is slightly more bulbous, with softer lines and edges over the X, but the comparisons are unmistakable.

Akin to the Google Nexus 5, the front and back offer a nice contrast. There’s a glossy black bezel around a Gorilla Glass-protected 4.5-inch 720p HD display. It’s not the largest bezel around, but true flagships like the Galaxy S4 and LG G2 certainly appear more svelte. The display itself looks great too, with a nice level of clarity thanks to a pixel density of 329ppi, a number Motorola was quick to point out is higher than that of Apple’s iPhone 5S. All that being said brightness drops off dramatically at more extreme viewing angles, something prospective buyers should make note of.

The default back of the Moto G is a soft, lightly textured removable plastic shell that can swapped out for a myriad of colourful and even a magnetised flip cover. The 19 different colour options don’t quite match the flexibility of MotoMaker, but it’s nice to see some old school customisation on a premium device.

As well as a centrally positioned, embossed, indented Motorola insignia for you to nuzzle your finger into, there’s also a centrally positioned 5-megapixel camera with an LED flash and an offset loudspeaker too.

For the purists

If you’re looking for an up-to-date device that’ll offer what is essentially a stock Android experience at an incredibly reasonable price, then seriously consider the Moto G. Running Android 4.3 Jelly Bean at launch, Motorola has also promised an upgrade to 4.4 KitKat before the end of January 2014, potentially making this one of the first non-stock Android devices to receive the update, but that remains to be seen.

We say it’s essentially a stock experience as there are a few tweaks and changes from the true, pure Android 4.3 UX. The camera’s user interface is an obvious example with a ‘tap to snap’ control system that lets you take a picture by tapping anywhere on the screen and is otherwise devoid of any discernable controls.

In addition Motorola Migrate and Motorola Assist are two interesting additional services. To make it as easy as possible to transfer content from your old Android device, Migrate helps partly automate the process. Assist meanwhile is an evolution of the pre-Google Motorola Smart Action app, building in a level of automation to change phone settings for certain situations like sleeping or meetings.

Enticing pricing

As well as a 720p HD screen, and on first encounter what appears to be a fairly decent 5-megapixel rear camera, the Moto G also offers up a very respectable 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor twinned to 1GB of RAM, which looks to offer up a slick user experience and some solid 3D gaming performance, if our brief encounter with a pre-installed copy of Minion Rush was anything to go by.

As the initial rumours suggested, what really sets the Motorola Moto G apart is its price. The company gave us a couple of use cases for consumers looking for an affordable smartphone experience with what’s currently available and in both examples, most users end up with an underpowered device that won’t stand the test of time with regards to performance or quality. In their own words, the Moto G team ”think people deserve better”.

Both 8GB and 16GB models will come with the standard 15GB of Google Drive cloud storage, plus an additional 50GB to help counter the lack of expandable memory. What’s more the 8GB model will hit markets including the US, South America, Canada, and parts of Europe including the UK, Italy and France for just $179/€169/£139, whilst the 16GB model will cost at impressive $199.

For what’s on offer this price even makes us think twice about paying up for the flagship performance of the Nexus 5, and for those looking for Android on a budget, this pricing should firmly cement the Moto G as the only logical option.

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