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Moto G real-world review: The best budget phone money can buy

JR Raphael | Dec. 9, 2013
The Moto G provides an excellent overall experience at a low off-contract price -- but it's still a budget phone. So is it worth owning?

In terms of general form, the Moto G is chunkier than the Moto X: It's 5.11 x 2.59 in. and 5.04 oz. with thickness ranging from 0.24 to 0.46 in. The X, meanwhile, is 5.09 x 2.57 in. and 4.58 oz. with thickness ranging from 0.22 to 0.41 in. The differences in weight and thickness are the most noticeable of those measurements; the G looks and feels somewhat bulky next to its sleek sibling.

The Moto G (right) is slightly larger and thicker than its high-end cousin, the Moto X (left).

While the Moto G itself is slightly larger than the X, its screen is actually smaller: The G packs a 4.5-in. LCD display compared to the X's 4.7-in. AMOLED display. The reason is that the Moto G has larger bezels than its brother, both on the sides and at the bottom of the device.

At 720p and 329 pixels per inch, though, the Moto G's Gorilla Glass-protected screen looks fantastic. Colors are vivid and true to life, text is sharp and the display is bright and easy to see even in glary outdoor conditions. Images on the Moto G are less saturated than what you'll see on the X, but that's largely just a result of the difference between LCD and AMOLED technology. The G's screen also has less deep blacks but more pure whites than the X's display, which is also typical of any LCD vs. AMOLED comparison.

A small LED notifier sits above the Moto G's screen, to the left of the earpiece. The phone has a sturdy-feeling metallic-colored power button and volume rocker on its right side, a 3.5mm headphone jack on its top edge and a standard micro-USB port on its bottom edge. There is no HDMI-out functionality.

As far as audio goes, the Moto G has a single speaker grille on the upper-left side of its back panel. The phone's sound quality is unremarkable but decent enough by smartphone standards: Music played through the phone is loud and clear and, thanks to the phone's sloped back, remains relatively unmuffled even when the device is sitting on a flat surface. The G's audio is a bit tinnier and less full-sounding than the X's, but we're talking a fairly faint contrast between the two.

Under the hood
The Moto G runs on a quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor along with 1GB of RAM. When you consider that it's a budget-level phone, its performance is impressive: The device never feels sluggish and is able to keep up with most common day-to-day tasks without any stutters or slowdowns.

Relative to the full smartphone spectrum, though, the Moto G's performance isn't perfect. There's occasional subtle jerkiness in animations, for instance, and elements sometimes don't stay in active memory when they're out of the foreground. That means if you load a Web page in Chrome or a document in Google Drive and then switch to another app, the page or document often takes a moment to refresh when you return to it.


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