- Fantastic value
- Strong 8MP camera
- Glorious HD screen
- Not as one-handed friendly
- No 4G support
The sequel to last year's fantastic Motorola Moto G is here! The New Motorola Moto G is a bigger phone than the original game-changing Moto G, but is it better? Check out our full review.
Motorola New Moto G (2014): Design
Motorola hasn’t gone for a revolutionary new design with the New Moto G, instead simply taking the original Moto G’s curvy frame and boosting it in size. The only real difference is some crafty speaker rearrangement, which we’ll cover later (that’s called a teaser, kiddies).
That increase in size does unfortunately mean that the New Moto G isn’t quite as comfortable to play with one-handed. We had to balance the phone on our fingertips and stretch our thumb to reach the top corners, eventually reverting to two-handed use for fear of dropping the damn thing.
Of course, if we did drop the New Moto G, we’re pretty sure it would come out unscathed. The plastic shell is solidly built and the rear plate is very firmly fixed on, to the point that we snapped a fingernail trying to prise the damn thing off.
When you do finally get inside the New Moto G’s innards, you’ll find dual SIM card slots and a micro SD memory card slot (but no removable battery sadly). That memory card slot is a massive relief, as the lack of expandable storage was one of our few bugbears with the original Moto G (and something later corrected by the Moto G 4G model). Given the stingy 5GB of usable built-in storage, you’ll need to make full use of it if you’re a happy snapper or love carrying plenty of media around.
We’re pleased to see Motorola offering a variety of coloured backs for the New Moto G too, just like last year’s model. You can build up your collection, then snap your current one off and swap for another at any time to suit your mood.
Motorola New Moto G (2014): Screen and media
We abso-bloody-lutely loved the original Moto G’s 720p screen, which hands down offered the best visuals out of any affordable phone.
So good news, gang, as the HD screen is back on the New Moto G. The resolution hasn’t changed at all while the screen has expanded, so the New Moto G’s display isn’t quite as super-sharp as the first Moto G’s. However, when playing the same high-def videos side-by-side with the original, we saw no difference in clarity.
Colours are boldly reproduced and viewing angles are particularly strong, with barely any loss in visual quality as you tilt the screen.
So, is the boost in screen size worth it? To be honest, we didn’t find our viewing experience was altered much by that extra 0.5-inches of retail space. With Apple’s iPhone 6, that jump from 4-inches to 4.7-inches is a big deal. Here, it’s a lot less noticeable because 4.5-inches is a perfectly good size for a smartphone and enough room to do justice to movies, apps and web browsing.
Motorola has also updated the Moto G’s speaker, taking a leaf out of HTC’s BoomSound book. The old rear speaker has now morphed into a pair of stereo front-facing speakers, housed above and below the screen.
The reconfigured speaker setup doesn’t produce more powerful sound; the old Moto G is on par with the New Moto G when it comes to sheer volume. However, the new front-facing speakers do make audio richer and crisper, producing a more full-bodied sound whether you’re enjoying video or just playing some tunes while you work.
Motorola New Moto G (2014): User experience and features
Fans of last year’s Motorola phones or even Google’s Nexus phones will know exactly what to expect with the New Moto G. Android KitKat 4.4 is the OS of choice and it’s presented in a vanilla form, with no overlays of Motorola’s creation plastered over the top.
Motorola’s tampering has been restricted to a couple of apps, which are completely unintrusive. Motorola Assist, for instance, is the beginnings of what could be a handy virtual assistant, which can silence your phone during meetings read from your Google calendar, or during set times at night.
Security-conscious users who are terrified about losing their phone will also breathe a massive gust of relieved air at Motorola’s lost phone feature. This allows you to erase all of your personal data and change your login password remotely, using your Google account. You can even monitor if someone tries to unlock your phone unsuccessfully, although sadly there’s no option to electrocute the thieving little buggers.
Motorola Migrate is also handy for shifting your personal data over from your old phone, even if it’s an iDevice. Good news if you can’t be bothered to lug everything over manually.
As for the dual SIM cards, they’re deftly handled by Android. You can select which card is used for data in the main settings, plus enable and disable either card with a single tap. And the first time you text or call a contact, you’re asked which SIM you’d like to use. We used our work and personal SIM at the same time and it worked a treat, saving us from carting around two phones at once.
Sadly there’s no 4G LTE support, something we previously saw on the Moto G 4G model that came out earlier in 2014. No biggie if you don’t have the cash for a 4G contract anyway, but it’s worth noting if you think you might be tempted to jump on the LTE bandwagon.
Motorola New Moto G (2014): Performance and battery life
Qualcomm’s ever-dependable Snapdragon 400 processor is stashed inside the New Moto G, and once again proves more than equal to any task you throw its way. Android runs perfectly and we had no trouble with fast-paced action or racing games. Everything ran with beautifully butter-smooth frame rates.
The New Moto G will easily last you a full day of use too, even with the screen brightness cranked up to max and pretty regular fiddling. Each day we streamed some video, snapped some photos, played around with apps and browsed the web, yet we still had battery life to spare before getting tucked up with teddy at night.
If you hammer the New Moto G a little harder, with non-stop movie streaming over Wi-Fi, expect around five hours of use before the phone dies. That's about what we'd expect of a phone this size.
Motorola New Moto G (2014): Cameras
The New Moto G uses almost the exact same camera interface as last year’s model, keeping things simple and streamlined, rather than ramming in tons of features that you’ll probably never use.
However, the camera hardware has been upgraded to an 8-megapixel lens, compared with the slightly iffy 5-megapixel effort on the original Moto G.
It’s a fully auto-focus lens still, and as long as the lighting conditions aren’t dire, we found the New Moto G took photos pretty quick with just a tap anywhere on the screen. If you want to manually focus, you’ll need to pull out the settings dial (flick your finger from the left edge of the display) and select the focus reticule. This slaps a target on the screen, which can be dragged around to focus on a specific area (which also affects exposure levels).
Onto the question everyone and their mum’s been asking: is the New Moto G’s camera better than the old one? The answer is a definitive yes.
That 8-megapixel camera performs well in a variety of situations, only really struggling when conditions are really dim and your subject is moving (and even then, you’ve got the flash to help out). Night snaps came out suprisingly well and our everyday shots were packed with detail and noticeably more attractive than last year’s Moto G photos, with brighter results and more natural colours. Greens and reds look particularly rich and vibrant, compared with the original’s slightly muddy efforts.
You can also shoot decent quality HD video, or even film in slo-mo like the original Moto G. And if you’re into selfies, the 2-megapixel front-facing camera does an admirable job even in low light.
Motorola New Moto G (2014): Verdict
If you skipped the rest of our lovely prose just to read our verdict on the Motorola New Moto G, then how very dare you. But it’s no big surprise that Motorola has once again smashed down its affordable rivals with a great-value mobile, which takes the brilliant original and packs in even more awesomeness.
The only question is, which phone should you get - the New Moto G, or the also-excellent Moto G 4G? There’s no clear-cut answer, to be honest. The Moto G 4G is more compact, for easier one-handed use, and obviously packs LTE support for stutter-free media streaming. However, the New Moto G does pack a superior camera, reason alone to consider it over its smaller brethren.
If you’re still stumped, check out our handy ‘Which Moto G is best for me?’ guide.