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Moto G: Unboxing, Overview, and Hands-on With Motorola’s New Prepaid Phone

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A tasty little Black Friday treat arrived on our doorstep today, so even though we’re sitting in the middle of a long holiday weekend, we couldn’t hold back and decided to unbox it. Yessir, here is our first look at the Moto G by Motorola, an incredibly inexpensive phone targeted at emerging and prepaid markets. 

For those not familiar with the Moto G, you are talking about a phone that is either $179 (8GB) or $199 (16GB) off-contract, works on all sorts of HSPA+ networks across this globe (CDMA variant on the way too), and still has decent enough specs to give everyone a solid smartphone experience without the typically high price. The GSM version is currently available now in the U.S. through Motorola’s store with the CDMA variant arriving in a month or two. Amazon has it up for pre-order.

In terms of specs, the Moto G has a 4.5-inch HD (720p) display, 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 (quad-core) processor, 5MP rear camera, 2070mAh battery, and runs Android 4.3 (with a guaranteed upgrade to Android 4.4 on the horizon). It may not have LTE, but at those prices, I’m not sure even data speed freaks can complain.

Moto G

So what do we think about it? After only a few minutes with it, it’s obvious that this is the little brother to the Moto X. In fact, it feels (and is according to measurements) almost identical in hand, outside of a little extra thickness towards the bottom. The craftsmanship is there, plus the camera, dimple, ports, and buttons are all in the exact same places. It’s certainly plastic, but by no means does it feel cheap.

Performance doesn’t seem to be an issue yet, as the device is responsive enough for its price and set of specs. It isn’t necessarily as buttery smooth as the Moto X, Nexus 5, or LG G2, but it shouldn’t be. If I only had $200 to spend on a phone, I think I’d understand that it isn’t going to be the best of the best. No matter what, this phone seems so far to be able to hold its own.

If there is one downside, it’s that the phone doesn’t have Touchless Control or Active Display, two of the most popular features of the Moto X. I guess I’m not sure I was fully expecting them to be there, but since the phone size and style-wise is so similar to the Moto X, it was a bit of a disappointment. Then again, Motorola is trying to keep the price as low as possible, so their X8 Computing System and variety of chips had no chance of making the cut.

Overall, I’d being lying if I didn’t say that I was impressed. For what you get at $179, everyone should be.

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Moto G

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vs. Moto X

Moto G vs Moto XvMoto G vs Moto XMoto G vs Moto XMoto G vs Moto X

  • Chris Smith

    I’m loving the way Motorola has re-emerged as a major player in mobile industry, and this is just the beginning. What a promising start. I am frustrated, however, to be with Virgin Mobile and not hear word one about whather the Moto X or Moto G will be in VM lineup anytime soon. I would have thought that Virgin and Boost and other U.S. prepaid carriers woiuld be trumpeting the imminent arrival of these phones for U.S. consumers. Sadly, this is not the case, tho I keep doing online searches to check. At the moment, I’m considering jumping ship from Virgin USA to get the Moto X on Republic Wiereless. It’s a very compelling service and looks to be a real game changer w plans of $5, $10, $25 and $40. I’m currently paying VM $35/mo for 300 mins.

  • Valerie Rub

    Good After bumper launch Moto introduce another cell phone save from all of dangerous condition that may be come in during the using. Like Their body is comfortable if it drop and save from dust. it LCD don’t break easily.

  • Anna

    Will the only be available for Verizon customers on prepaid in January, or will customers on contracts be able to use it too? If not in January, maybe eventually?

  • Jaime Kerr

    Is that a NFC ring he’s wearing?

  • chaoslimits

    So after all this time, Bionic was right? lol

  • Elber Galarga

    is this compatible with miracast?

  • sarat chandra

    Moto G @http://efyo.weebly.com/1/post/2013/11/motorola-moto-g.html

  • xiaomei
    • clobberedchina

      Spam alert

  • Uncagedchipmunk

    Wish the Moto X had swappable back plates :/

  • rthvk

    Titles above pics! :D

  • MicroNix

    So if an Android phone can be sold outright for this cheap, why not go one step further and for just a little cheaper make an iPod Touch equivalent? This price would totally compete and give folks an option for their young kids. All of my teen’s friends have iPod Touches so there must be some demand in that space.

    • hkklife

      I think you just answered your own question….Apple has that marked wrapped up tight but for NO reason other than clout/brand recognition/apps. A properly executed Android “touch” device would be successful but ONLY if it was sold in every B&M retailer and marketed aggressively. Another problem with Android PDAs/PMPs is that they are always shipped with dated specs and an outdated version of Android and never updated. They’re also (relatively) overpriced and usually chunky and inelegant next to the iPod Touch. But Apple has allowed the Touch line to languish for a looong time so something like a $99 8GB, $129 16GB & $149 32GB 4.5″ Android touch device could do well if executed properly. I don’t think it’ll happen, as the margins aren’t good enough and everyone is gravitating towards 7″ tablets.

  • Drmac58

    why do u call it a prepaid phone?

  • RC

    great phone to give to your parents this holiday season. It looks good and is very affordable. From the unboxing I didn’t notice any jank. I plan to put in a few apps that my parents use and get this for them. Great phone for $200.

  • Patrick Crumpler

    Looks like a great backup or insurance policy for my N4. Or I could probably get a N4 on eBay on the cheap.

  • BAM1789

    I would actually like to see a full review on the phone. I’m curious mostly in how it feels to use everyday. Maybe that can be easily answered without a review. But I’d like to get my mom away from her iPhone 4..

    • jack584

      I would avoid a lower end phone for her first Android phone. It could give her a bad first impression and make her want to go back to the iPhone, making her think that all Android phones are bad.

      I believe that in general Android gets a bad name from everybody that gets those crap low end free phones.

      Get her a Moto X Monday if you can save up the extra money fast enough, or save for a Nexus 5.

      • Drmac58

        I tend to disagree. This is exactly what your mother needs. Pure stock android thats going to to everything she needs. Spec wise thhis thing is competing with the likes of the iphone 5, so its a upgrade for her, and with kitkat optimized for devices without super high end specs, this device will be plenty enough for her. Check out androidcentral they have a review for moto g

        • jack584

          You’re right about stock Android. It’s what a first time Android user should use. Another thing that gives Android a bad name is all the manufacturer skins. And because this doesn’t have one, it will not have a problem with lag even with the lower specs. So yeah I take back what I said earlier about this not being the phone to get.

          But if you can stretch the cash, the Moto X or Nexus 5 would be worth it.

  • paul_cus

    Might have to get one. Don’t have any Motorola phones in my rotation right now and that price is real close to impulse buy.

  • ssl48

    Will this phone also be on sale for Cyber Monday?

  • calum wilper

    as vain and dumb as this is going to sound i really wish they made the moto g look different than the moto x

  • http://www.gahe.co/ Gahe

    The information is quite detailed and necessary for a product. It is possible to learn more about it a bit further up will be decided.

  • Guest

    The information is quite detailed and necessary for a product. Nhuwngxtimf can understand it a little more than sign will be decided.

  • Aaron

    Does anyone know if the Moto G will work on metropcs if I put a metro SIM in it?

  • Prakash

    Take $220 but put a better Camera

  • http://simplephilistine.wordpress.com/ Arla

    Perfect phone for a broke college student like myself.

  • Godzilla

    I had’nt realized it did not have LTE until now. F that.

    • hkklife

      Really, I’d rather have a solid phone across the board that’s 3G-only than some no-name 3.7″ WVGA POS with LTE, especially with the decent HSPA speeds vs Verizon & Sprint’s horrible CDMA 3G. I imagine the 2nd gen G will have LTE.

      While I know it’d never happen, a microSD slot would be perfect on this device, given the removable back.

  • BeejRich

    This would make a great dashcam/bluetooth music player in the car to save phone storage…..

  • J PARKER

    Does it have Moto assist?

    • NickMotoX

      Yes it does.

  • Radgatt

    I can tell already that the viewing angles on that phone are terrible.

    • guest

      nope its not, i have one ..compared to nexus 5 viewing angles are same

      • JMonkeYJ

        I like the N5 display for its sharpness and great color accuracy, but its viewing angles are definitely not its strong suit. They’re worse than those of the other 2013 flagship phones that I’ve seen/had.

  • John

    Can this phone be activated and work on verizon newt work?

    • jack584

      You have to wait for the CDMA version to come out. And when it does come out, it will only work on Verizon prepaid. It will not work on Verizon postpaid, so you won’t be able to activate it on a family plan or anything like that.

      I would just forget about this phone on Verizon because their 3G CDMA network is super slow, and it will only get worse starting in 2015 when Verizon startes refarming some of their wireless spectrum currently used for 3G to be used for even more 4G LTE capacity. The only reason I still have them is because their 4G LTE network is easily the best in the nation.

      • John

        Thanks

      • hkklife

        I *think* Verizon still allows prepaid devices that have service on then for 6 months or more to be activated on a postpaid plan. But really, why would you want that? You’d be better off picking up an X or a cheaper LTE smartphone used right away.

        VZW’s 3G is bad and only gonna get worse, as the poster above states. Their LTE network is already dropping to 3G-like speeds in many areas compared to the other carriers’ LTE networks.

        • jack584

          Verizon’s LTE network is going to be back to the top when they complete the rollout of AWS Band 4 LTE to 5,000 heavily conjested sites by the end of the year. When they start using their PCS spectrum currently used for EVDO for extra LTE capacity, its only going to get better, and we won’t be experimcimg another slowdown do to the sheer amount of wireless spectrum Verizon owns.

          When T-Mobile starts to experience a slowdown in their LTE, the fix won’t be as easy. The first problem is that T-Mobile is out of wireless spectrum. Everything that thethey own is currently being used. And they can’t refarm their 2G spectrum for LTE because they would loose HUGE swaths of coverage. Sad truth about T-Mobile is that large areas of the country are covered in GPRS/EDGE.

          And even if they had the spectrum, they wouldn’t be able to beef up the network as fast as Verizon is doing it. They just don’t have the capital.

          There will be a day when T-Mobile is slow and conjested. And without a huge infusion of cash to buy more wireless spectrum and the equipment and labor to install, the network will remain slow.

          And the nice HSPA+ fallback network will also become slow. The reason is because it uses the same backhaul from the tower to the internet that LTE uses. T-Mobile does not own any of their own backhaul unlike AT&T and Verizon.

          If you downvote, you’re just denying the truth. Verizon’s LTE was super fast at the start. Just like T-Mobile is now. Verizon has the means to upgrade, T-Mobile does not.

          • hkklife

            Good points, all of them and thanks for the clarification.
            I guy I work with has recently jumped ship from Verizon (2011-2013) to AT&T simply because of the improving AT&T coverage and less LTE congestion and the HSPA+ fallback speeds. But he switched to AT&T back in March or so and has already noticed a drop in his LTE speeds…he is blaming all of the teens on their iPhone 5Cs for that one! I told him to sit tight for another year or so since, like you said, Shammo has already publicly stated that they are working on a fix.

    • Zach B.

      If you’re looking for VZW-like coverage, you’d best be suited for a prepaid plan on AT&T’s network (AIO, etc). They’re filling out quite nicely, and their 3G/4G HSPA/+ or whatever letters it is network can give LTE a run for it’s money.

      • Diablo81588

        No it can’t their hspa+ is garbage and slower than Verizon’s 3g in most cases.

        • Sean Plantz

          Im not a fan of ATT or its network, but that statement is ridiculous.

      • not_the_doctor

        I would have to drive 180 miles to get any AT&T service.

    • hkklife

      A CDMA 3G version is coming to VZW in early 2014 as a prepaid offering only.

  • Capt. Crunch

    I love the new website, however the mobile site still needs a little more work.

    • EC8CH

      there is no difference between the mobile site and the regular site… it’s all the same site.

      • KMS_Alex

        Exactly, that’s crap. I’m on a nexus 7 2013 and it lags.

        • Gnex

          Thanks to Chrome :p

          • aQuickBit

            Wait what? Is chrome on mobile supposed to be laggy? I’m on my iPad and its snappier than snappy can be. Ok so lets try it on my android phones….HTC One = buttery smooth. GNex = a bit “slow” but not horrible. Windows Phone 8x? Well it uses that heathen of a Internet browser but Droid Life loads wicked fine. I’m ok with the new site!

          • Gnex

            If you think Chrome is buttery smooth on the One then you’ve never tried anything better. Chrome’s scrolling problems still haven’t been fixed.

          • aQuickBit

            Besides a G2 or S4, what could possibly be better than the One?

          • Gnex

            Haha sorry about the sloppy wording, I meant a better browser. You probably notice Chrome’s scrolling lag as someone who uses an iPad.

          • aQuickBit

            Ah… Haha now I understand what you’re talking about.

          • Patmw123

            What would you suggest as a better browser alternative to use besides chrome?

          • Gnex

            What version of Android are you on?

          • Patmw123

            4.4 KitKat. I am just curious because my experience with chrome has been great and very smooth and would love to try out potentially better alternatives.

          • Gnex

            If you’re on kit kat then 3rd party browsers won’t make much of a difference, thanks to the implementation of Chromium webview. Anyway, there’s a known problem with Chrome where it lags for a second after you lift your finger off of the page when scrolling/panning around. Honestly I wouldn’t worry about it if it’s smooth enough for you

          • F Young

            Patmw123, you might give the Puffin browser a try. In tests, no other browser comes close to its speed; it also plays Flash and has a user-friendly and powerful user interface.

            However, it does not do voice search, and it can’t import bookmarks. If you have a lot of bookmarks, you would export them to an online bookmarks app and access them from there.

          • FAL_Fan

            The note 3

  • EC8CH

    I really hope in the long term Moto succeeds because they are the manufacture that finally appears to be serving customers needs.

    Go Moto!

    As of cyber Monday you will have another customer on a Developer Verizon Moto X
    And whenever you get around to releasing your wood backs you’ll have another one as well.

    • Dennis Woodside

      We appreciate your feedback and in fact have tried to listen over the past years. I learn a ton from the comments in Droid Life, so keep the suggestions coming.

      DW

      • EC8CH

        No problem Denni….. can I call you Denni?

        • Dennis Woodside

          You can call me Al.

        • hkklife

          Woodside=Sarge! It was him all along!

      • Cory Pitkavish

        make that 3 moto x owners on verizon because me and my brother will also be par taking in the cyber monday madness! keep up the awesome work!

        • Dennis Woodside

          Thanks Cori. We are just getting g started. Appreciate the support

      • Marcus Schoen

        Wait, the CEO of Motorola actually reads DL? Well, good job with the X and G, I hope they provide a good foundation for the new Moto.

      • guest

        Fake!!

        • RedBeaVeR

          I would like to agree, but if you check out his Twitter account, it looks scarily convincing…

          • nate

            Is there proof that the twitter account is real?

          • RedBeaVeR

            Nope.

        • Guest

          No reason not to believe it. Not saying it’s real, but to say it’s fake also requires evidence. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if it actually were him; after all, what better way to learn what your customers want then to directly interact with them?

      • RedBeaVeR

        Mr. Woodside, what’s the deal with Moto Maker not available in Canada?

      • EraserXIV

        Loving my Moto X, but next-gen Moto X with a 3000+mah battery = no reason to buy any other phone. Get it done!!

        • hkklife

          Give me a Moto X successor on VZW with a 5.3″ to 5.5″ 1080P screen, a Snapdragon 800 with X8 architecture tweaks applied, a Maxx-size battery and a decent camera. 64GB of storage would be the icing on the cake. Basically, Moto needs to do “their” version of the G2 but improve on every one of LG’s shortcomings (slow/no updates, slippery cheap plastic etc)

          • George264

            That’s going the EXACT opposite of where Moto wants to go. The reason there isn’t even a quad-core S4Pro or a 1080p screen or 5 inches, is because, one it saves battery, two, it’s cheaper. They could have went with 1080p and they could have went S600 on X8, and a 5 inch 1080p screen, but it wouldn’t be as small, as comfortable, and it would be thicker given the extra battery. 318ppi is perfectly fine. 4.7 is really comfortable. And if they upgrade to a S800, it would be dual-core. Apple has shown that a dual-core can handle everything that a smartphone needs. They’re going to fit as much battery in the case as they can, they’re not going to make it thicker to put 3300 mAh. But I’m sure the S800 would save even more battery.

          • Jonathan James Rychart

            I wouldn’t want a larger screen, both for battery consumption and for ease of fitting in the pocket and hand; but a faster CPU and higher resolution screen, on the other hand, would be very nice, and with improved manufacturing processes, wouldn’t necessarily have to lead to a considerably more power-hungry phone. A bigger battery would be great too of course, but might not be doable without making the phone larger.

        • Valerie Rub

          May be it is true. But i don’t Satisfied.

          • jun bernardo

            hey 3rd world countries can afford to buy high end phones like moto X, iphone and samsung that’s what we have been anticipating . Please consider the moto X to go world wide because here in the Phil (which is the texting capital) we really love to buy phones .

      • Kanaga Deepan N

        OK, one good suggesxtion from my side… How about adding bigger battery to upcoming Moto G or at least upcoming flagship phones (NO, NO… I am NOT talking about DROID phones)…

      • HarvesterX

        With LC’s recent focus towards televisions and only keeping on their existing R&D in the way phone division for support/etc (RUMOR from news stories at least), then Motorola may be the direction I’m headed next. My first first phone was an original DROID and that device along with my G2 have been my two favorites that I’ve used daily.

        This is the same suggestion that I gave to LG days before they announced they were leaving the game. Nobody in their right mind would buy a PC without having Administrator access to it. Smart phones are computers and soon enough the public shift in philosophy will reflect that.

        Those of us who demand we run under root privilidges when desired should NEVER have to resort to an exploit or pay extra money on a ‘Developers Edition’ to do so. LG doesn’t, but Motorola DOES have the muscle to put the foot down with all carriers who think otherwise. The SAME goes with locking down (and encrypting) bootloaders. If a corporation wishes to buy an encrypted device, then do as is done now in the PC/SERVER market. Corporate/Business devices can be locked down while the people wh own their devices OWN their devices. The existing methodology is reversed as is. The public shouldn’t have to pay more to fully access what they own. But companies should pay more for layered security.

        Before anybody says that those of us who run our computers (*cough*, smartphones) with root and make bit for bit backups, press the backspace key and go Google search a popular smartphone you’re pretending to do research on and looking for a review. The same minority also populates most of the top search results.

        The carriers must never have touched any other operating system other than Windows on their PCs. Everynight at midnight I have cron jobs running that backup my init.d folders and other important work documents. One of my init.d boot up scripts remounts all my file systems optimizing them for mobile use and running fstrim on all mounts (well all that are compatible).

        My smartphone is my computer 99% of the time and when it isn’t I have to go find a friend’s or work’s computer, which only occurs if I need to push a new ROM over due to accidently deleting all of /system, /data, and /data/media (I’ve since reallocated partition sizes and store TWRP backups elsewhere where they are safe

        • Droid 1967

          Just FYI the whole LG going away from mobile was not true. Not sure exactly the motivation of that story but LG has already come out and stated it is not true and they have no intention of slowing down on their mobile rollout.

        • Jonathan James Rychart

          I don’t have a problem with phones having the bootloader locked when you get them, but it definitely should be unlockable without requiring some kind of hack and without voiding hardware warranties, for sure. It isn’t just about the carrier, it’s also a security advantage to have it locked. It has the same benefits as Secureboot has for PCs. Difference being of course with PCs, you can disable secureboot without any issues, and you can’t do the same with most phone bootloaders.

      • MicroNix

        I would like to support Motorola again but my kids are at that age where I take a lot of pictures. I was very disappointed with the Droid 3’s camera (IMHO it shouldn’t have even been advertised with one) and it seems there were some bumps with the X’s camera that may or may not have been fixed. I’ll be due up in the spring and have an open mind, but that camera needs more focus! If it can get to the performance and quality of my S3, you just may earn yourself a customer back.

      • boogie_monster

        is this the real Dennis Woodside? if yes, I really like the way the new Moto is performing. reading comments and answering them? wow! well I didn’t buy Moto X I was hoping I could get one like the Nexus 5. an International unlocked version that supports 4G LTE, therefore I had to buy Nexus 5. But I’d definitely buy one for my sister and a Moto G for my Mom. BUT in any case Moto decided to give us an International Version WITH *NO CARRIER LOGO* that supports all the 4G LTE band, I’d definitely jump ship. #Uncarrier

      • globster2000

        Hey dennis, im glad to see the ceo of motorola is active on DL. This is impressive and I must say the Q4 report will show the direction that motorola as a company is going towards. I am a proud Moto X owner, but wished I could have waited for the wood back. The rosewood back would had looked great on the phone, and I know that since I have had the Moto X since September that I cannot send it back to change the back and Accents. It would be cool if there is a possibility for current users to pay $$ to send their phones to motorola in order to swap backs and accents.

      • Dennis?

        Will the MotoX2 have a better camera? Thats the ONLY reason i passed this round…

        • Sean G

          But… I will be buying a Moto G for my Mom (: That price is Killer…
          Also, the MotoX shoulda been priced imo at $349 (look what happen to your website when you announced that price… it exploded. Ha)
          Esp. With that crappy camera…

    • StuckOnVerizonForever

      Could they even afford it in Africa?

      • World

        Now you may want to sit down for this. Africa is actually a continent made up of many different countries ranging in wealth. However, even with the poverty troubles in some places I bet they all are more Educated and open minded about the surrounding world when compared to your delusional view :)

        • StuckOnVerizonForever

          This guy. I know, im friends with all the white folks in the south.

    • hkklife

      The REAL awesome story here is Moto aggressively dropping their full retail prices on the X. The aggressively priced G is just another positive milestone.

      Even if its just a limited time for BF (and understanding that the X was hideously overpriced from the start) it’s an amazingly positive sign that the years of $600-$700 retail smartphone prices may be on the way down. To the best of my knowledge, other than a rare EBay or DailySteals type bonanza on used/refurb/ancient phones like the GNex and Palm Pre, I cannot recall when a new (not refurb) “flagship” smartphone that was recently released has been aggressively discounted in an off-contract manner,especially for Sprint and VZW.

      Kudos to Moto and Dennis Woodside for following through on their earlier promise to make quality smartphones more accessible and affordable.

    • Kyle Cordiano

      Agree. My Moto Xoom was a beast and was built terrifically.

  • steve0617

    Note there are two GSM varieties. ‘US’ and ‘Global.’ Both with work on AT&T but only the ‘US’ version will work on TMobile with full data speeds since the ‘US’ version adds the 1700 (AWS) radio frequency. I *think* the one on Amazon is the ‘Global’ GSM one as they say it *only* works on AT&T and their MVNOs. The posted and answered Amazon questions are all over the place on what exactly people think this is.

    Source: http://www.motorola.com/us/consumers/moto-g/Moto-G/moto-g-pdp-ways-to-buy.html

    • Balthazar_B

      Yeah, lack of broad geographic capability would be the one disincentive about getting this phone. Like the Nexus 4 and any number of others, it should have had a pentaband GSM radio.

    • http://www.unexpectedparameters.com Aaron Hurt

      Good info.