With school just around the corner, many of you are thinking of picking up a decent phone on a budget. No doubt the original Moto G will probably come up quite frequently. The problem is that the original Moto G came out 2 years ago and its successor, the 2014 didnít get people quite as excited partly because it lacked LTE, partly because it was priced too high and partly because it didnít gain much traction with carriers (probably because of the LTE issue).
Anyways, theyíre back with their newest G, the 2015 Moto G. The addition of LTE is a no brainer but now theyíve changed the game with the addition of water resistance for under $200. HmmmÖ.
vs Asus Zenfone 2 1.8Ghz:
The Asus Zenfone is about $70 dearer and given their target markets, paying an extra 35% over a G for the Asus may stretch some budgets.
Still, for the extra $70, you get a more compelling device. The Asus has a larger, higher resolution display. More importantly, it's not like how 400 and 500 DPI look more or less the same to the naked eye; when you go from 290 to 400DPI the extra resolution is noticeable.
It also comes with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage which make the Asus easier to live with. Its SoC is also faster though the advantage in processing power is less noticeable even if the benchmarks say otherwise.
The advantage under the hood extends to the back too - its camera takes better looking pictures.
Thereís also the dual SIM cards which may make the Asus better for travelling - just remember that one SIM is GSM only which really limits it to being used for voice only unless you can tolerate the slow speeds you get with EDGE.
That said, the Moto has some advantages too. The speakers are noticeable better sounding and louder. The body is more solid and itís also water resistant.
If you can make some room in your budget, youíre probably better off with a Zenfone 2.
vs Motorola Moto G 2014:
The 2014 wasn't very popular with carriers and in Canada ended up being sold unlocked at Staples for $249.99 Canadian.
Spec-wise it has an older 32bit Snapdragon 400 SoC which is slightly slower than the 2015's Snapdragon 410. The 2014 also lacks LTE and an 8 megapixel camera with a regular LED flash.
The 2015 has LTE, a 13 megapixel which takes slightly better pictures, LTE plus it's water resistant. More importantly, the water resistance is pretty idiot-proof. As long as you're able to snap the cover on you're set; There's no cover over the MicroUSB connector.
It's widely available from Carriers and while it's locked, it's also a more palatable $200 CAN.
vs ZTE Grand X Plus 2:
The Grand X Plus 2 has very similar specs but there are 3 key differences; the ZTE has double the RAM, double the storage and is priced $50 lower. The G has better sounding, stereo speakers, water resistance and a higher megapixel camera.
The Gís speakers are pretty awesome and the water resistance is a nice thing to have but practically speaking, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage are more useful to more people. The 16GB of storage gives you a lot of breathing space and 2GB of storage will result in less programs having to re-launch when you switch between them.
I will say that based on recent history the Motoís software will stay fresh longer than the ZTEís. Last yearís 2014 Moto G came with 4.4 and is currently running 5.0 while itís contemporary model from ZTE; the Grand X Plus is still stuck on 4.4.
Anyways, the $50 you save with the Grand X Plus 2 is the icing on the cake.
- Motorola Moto G XT1540
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 410, 64bit quad-core 1.4Ghz
- Adreno 306 GPU
- 1GB RAM
- 8GB storage
- MicroSD slot
- 5Ē 1280x720 IPS display
- 13MP rear camera
- f/2.0 lens
- dual tone LED flash
- 5MP front camera
- Android 5.1
- LTE bands (2, 4, 5, 7, 12, 17)
- WiFi 802.11n (2.4Ghz only)
- 142.1 x 72.4 x 6.11-11.6mm
- IPX7 water resistance (up to 3ft of water for up to 30 mins)
While the general shape of the body hasnít changed, itís now much more solid.
I never thought that the 2014 felt like it was cheaply made but the 2015ís frame is on a different level.
Itís also water resistant now and it doesnít need a special cover over the MicroUSB or headphone jack to achieve this which is very impressive.
Most water resistant phones Iíve encountered usually have a MicroUSB Port cover. You just need to be careful when you attach the back because it has a lot of snaps to. You need to press in around the sides and then around the camera module. If you donít do this youíll usually miss one snap.
Note the gaskets on the back cover that go over the slots.
Under the cover are the MicroSD and MicroSIM slots.
The back cover has a raised pattern on it which is more interesting than the 2014ís plain finish. To my eye it also makes it looks slightly less sleek but only just.
As always, you can swap the back cover for other ones including this one with a built-in flap.
The screen is 5Ē with a resolution of 1280x720 which yields a pixel density of 290PPI. It falls just short of the 320ish PPI you need for a really sharp display. Most of the time, the missing 30 PPI isnít a big deal but you will notice if when you have very small text.
It has very good whites. Viewing angles are good and it works well outside in direct sunlight.
I did notice that you can see a diagonal grid on the screen - itís kind of distracting.
Overall, itís an adequate display and more importantly, aside from the faint pattern, itís an improvement over the 2014 Moto Gís display.
The resolution has been bumped to 13 megapixels plus you get a dual-tone LED flash.
Iím not a big fan of camera phone flashes in general but dual-tone flashes usually work well. They yield better colour but they still make your pictures look like youíre using a flash.
Pictures have more detail and are cleaner looking than the 2014 Moto Gís camera. That said, pictures still look washed out. While theyíre better, theyíre still not quite good enough.
Still, Iím pretty happy with the shot-to-shot and focusing speeds. They make the 2015 more usable.
Given adequate light, video looks decent. The microphone isnít too bad either.
The front facing camera has a resolution of 5 megapixels. I was pretty happy with the pictures from it.
Itís still using Motorolaís camera software which Iím not a fan of, but given the extra speed I donít mind it as much as I used to.
Overall, the camera is an enough of an improvement that some will find it good enough but overall still needs some work.
The 2015 G ships with Android 5.1. In the past 2 years, Motorola has been really good about keeping their phones up-to-date. The original 2013 Moto G came with 4.3 and since then itís been update to 4.4, 5.0 and now for some users, 5.1. So based on this, thereís a good chance the 2015 will get quite a few updates. Itís also worth pointing out that Motorola is pretty pedantic when it comes with their updates so along with receiving updates, you usually get them more frequently than other manufacturers.
The 2015 doesnít deviate from Motorolaís strategy with regards to software. That means they try to leave Android alone as much as possible. The list of extras is very short; you get a custom help app and something to help you migrate from your old phone.
You also get their ďMotoĒ app which flashes notifications on the screen when the phone is off.
Inside is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 410. It has four 64bit Arm Cortex A53 cores clocked at 1.4Ghz which is an upgrade from four 32bit Arm Cortex A7 cores clocked at 1.2Ghz.
The GPU model number gets bumped from an Adreno 305 to a 306.
Practically speaking, the processing side is an enough of an improvement that the 2015 is slightly faster when you have them side-by-side. Identical webpages load a fraction of a second faster, the camera launches quicker. That sort of thing.
However, the GPU is actually slightly weaker. In benchmarks Iíve found that the 306 is actually about 10% slower.
Of course, I have to bring up the Zenfone again. For slightly more money, you get a faster phone with a lot more graphics power. Note how the benchmark chart looks like the Intel processor in the Asus is giving a big middle finger to Qualcomm. I assure you it was purely coincidental.
As a Phone:
RF performance is very good.
Maximum earpiece volume is excellent. Sound quality is good.
The speakerphoneís volume is average.
Behind is a 2470mAh battery, given the size of the screen, resolution and SoC itís a decent size and should last most users the day.
I love the stereo speakers. While they havenít changed much from the 2014, theyíre still one of the best pair around. In absolute terms, they donít quite have the oomph in the bass department as say a Nexus 5 and while itís not a quiet phone, a bit more volume would be nice too.
As I already mentioned, the Moto G only comes with 8GB of storage. Note that this is only in Canada, down south you can pick up a version with double the RAM, 16GB of storage and a lot less complaints about those 2 bullet points. Since I have the 1/8GB variant, Iím just talking about that one.
8GB of storage can be a bit of a pain if you store a lot of music or snap a lot of photos so if thatís you, you might want to pick up a MicroSD card.
The addition of LTE and water resistence help the 2015 Moto G stand out in an increasingly crowded field. However, the competition is fierce - if you can swing it, an Asus Zenfone 2 is a few more dollars and has more RAM, more storage, a bigger, sharper screen and a better camera, while you can get can the double RAM and storage for $50 less with a ZTE Grand X Plus 2.
Subjectively, the Moto G has better sounding speakers plus the body is more solid than these 2 phones so you have to weigh whether those features plus the water resistance are worth it.
3.5 Howies out of 5
- Water resistant
- Nice sounding speakers
- Motorola is diligent with updates
- Only 1GB of RAM when cheaper competitors have 2GB
- Only 8GB of storage when cheaper competitors have 16GB