Overview
Introduction
Design
Display
Hardware
Software and apps
Camera
Audio and video
Performance
Battery life
Conclusion
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Motorola Moto G (3rd Gen) Review

A surprise mid-range package and delivers one of the best Android performance
By Samir Makwana on 2015-08-28
Key Features
  • 5-inch 720p display
  • Water-resistant properties
  • 13-megapixel camera
  • Android 5.1.1 Lollipop
What we like
  • Great build quality
  • Splash proof properties
  • Fluid Android performance
  • Impressive imaging capabilities
What we don't like
  • No QuickCharge support
  • Display could be better
  • Non-removable battery
8.4
Our Score
Introduction

Motorola Moto G 3rd Gen Review - Introduction

Motorola is vying to grab the top spot for the best mid-range device since the first generation Moto G. Last year, Xiaomi Mi 3 nabbed that spot. So this year, Motorola has released the third generation smartphone in the Moto G series with the same goal.  

The Moto G 3rd Gen features a similar profile and looks of its predecessor but several upgrades have been integrated. Motorola is selling the 8GB on-board storage version with 1GB of RAM for Rs 11,999 while the 16GB storage version with 2GB of RAM is priced at Rs 12,999. That’s a very slim difference and one would obviously buy the 16GB model. 

We got our hands on a 16GB Moto G 3rd Gen model and put it to test for gauging its real-world performance against its popular predecessor.

Design
9

Motorola Moto G 3rd Gen Review - Design
Motorola Moto G (3rd Gen) has the same design language as its predecessor, the Moto (2nd Gen). That's why both tend to look similar from a distance. The display has remained largely unchanged - 5.0-inch with HD resolution. While the obvious change is visible in the form of the patterned and grippy removable back panel. This rubber-like feel giving rear panel looks quite premium when compared to the simple and plain-looking back panel of the Moto G (2nd Gen). Both the front and the back cameras also see an upgrade in this newer model. The new Moto G has a 13-megapixel rear snapper as compared to a 8-megapixel one on the Moto G (2nd Gen) and the front camera is now 5-megapixel while the predecessor sports a 2-megapixel camera. One major improvement in the Moto G (3rd Gen) is the IPX7 certification which means the phone is water resistant up to a certain level of splahes and is water proof for 30 minutes under 1 metre of fresh water. That's one thing we've been meaing to see in a sub-Rs. 15,000 smartphone.
Motorola Moto G 3rd Gen Review - Design

The front of this new Moto G is dominated by a 5-inch IPS LCD display with an earpiece vent and a front 5-megapixel camera along with a proximity sensor on the top. A single speaker rests at the bottom. Motorola has dropped the LED notification light from this model, but added the active display technology, which basically lets you quickly check the notifications from the lockscreen without actually unlocking the phone. On the right we have the power and the volume rocker keys. At the bottom are the micro-USB slot and a primary microphone, which is located close to the bottom speaker. While its left side is completely empty, the Moto G (3rd Gen) gets a 3.5mm audio port on the top and a secondary microphone for noise cancellation next to it. 

Motorola Moto G 3rd Gen Review - Design 1

The 13-megapixel AF camera, a Dual-LED flash and the Motorola logo are located at the back. Removing the back panel reveals the two Micro SIM card slots, and on the top left is the microSD card slot. Though Motorola officially claims of supporting up to 32GB microSD card, we managed to use a Kingston 128GB Class 10 SDXC card without any issues. In India, only the Dual SIM dual standby variants are available. 

The interesting bit is that even the new Moto G measures 11.6 mm thick like its predecessors and but puts on weight with 155g including the non-removable battery. The new Moto G gives a solid feel in hand while being pretty light-weight at the same time. Overall, the new Moto G feels quite good to hold.

Display
7

The display of the new Moto G is almost the same as that of its predecessor. It sports a 5.5-inch IPS LCD panel with a resolution of 720x1280, and offering pixel density of 294 PPI. Although the display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3, it doesn’t improve its visual quality significantly. The display is bright enough for indoor use, but not bright enough for using outdoors in bright sunlight. We struggled with viewing angles while using the phone's screen.

Motorola Moto G 3rd Gen Review - Display

Hardware
8

Motorola houses a 64-bit architecture featuring Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 mobile chipset which has quad-core processors clocked at 1.4 GHz. Also, this chipset integrates Adreno 306 GPU for graphics. The presence 2GB of RAM in its 16GB model is a welcome change compared to the predecessor offering 1GB of RAM. This quad-core mobile chipset configuration may appear slightly less powerful than the octa-core MediaTek chipsets and might remind of the sub Rs 10,000 phones with a similar core hardware.  

Motorola Moto G 3rd Gen Review - Hardware

The new Moto G supports both 4G LTE network bands - Band 3 (1800 MHz) and Band 40 (2600 MHz) for India. By default, it offers Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n support for faster mobile downloads and Bluetooth 4.0 LE for quick file transfers. Location based services are powered with a GPS chip that is usable along with A-GPS and GLONASS. Motorola claims of working hard to improve the battery life for this new Moto G using various software and hardware improvements. While its specifications don’t appear as impressive as that of many other powerful smartphones, we believe that the hardware’s potential on this device has been tapped.

Software and apps
9.5

Motorola Moto G 3rd Gen Review - Software and Apps
The new Moto G runs Android 5.1.1 Lollipop out of the box. The bouquet of the Motorola-exclusive apps such as Moto Assist, Moto Alert, and Moto Migrate which provide some interesting features. For example, the Moto Migrate app allows the user to transfer user-data such as contacts, call logs, SMSes, photos, videos, and music from compatible Android devices and contacts and calendar entries from iPhones to this device. Since Motorola manufactures feature phones as well, it has also provided the user with an option to transfer contacts from these old feature phones to the new Moto G. 

Just like its predecessor, the new Moto G has a smooth and fluid UI, which works well most of the time. While we did not face any stutters while navigating the UI, we observed some stutter in the dialer app and the default SMS app, when both of these had a lot of data - more than a hundred entries in call log and a few thousand messages - stored on them. Most of the popular social apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp ran without any issues. Installing a number of apps, including couple of graphic-intensive ones, also did not slow the device down even a bit. For a Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 powered chipset, this certainly is a pleasant surprise. 

Camera
8.5

Motorola Moto G 3rd Gen Review - Camera
Motorola has upgraded the primary camera on the new Moto G to 13-megapixel with an F2.0 aperture and a Dual-LED flash. Motorola claims that this is the same camera that has been used in the Motorola Nexus 6, but without the Optical Image Stabilisation. The rear camera also gets a wider Field of View of 76 degrees. The front camera is also upgraded to 5-megapixel with an F2.2 aperture and a wider Field of View of 72 degrees.

In terms of performance in low light, this 13-megapixel camera module is way better than the 8-megapixel camera used in its predecessor. The daylight performance is absolutely fantastic. Both the autofocus and shot-to-shot time are pretty quick. Motorola has done a great job to come up with a camera app that has great noise control, without losing out on the detail in the image. The panorama shots were not up to the mark, though. However, you could always use a third party camera apps for better panorama shots through the new Moto G.

The interface of the camera app is the same as that of its predecessor, and is quite clean. In order to access settings, you need to swipe from left to right. Doing so gives you options for HDR, Flash Control, Touch Focus, various video modes such as Slow Motion, Panorama, Location option, Storage option, and settings for resolution and shutter sound. 

Motorola Moto G 3rd Gen Review - Camera UI

The new Moto G can record 1080p Full HD videos at 30fps as well as 720p HD slow motion videos at 120fps using both front and rear cameras. Just like its imaging performance, the video recording performance, especially the slow motion video recording in both cameras, completely surprised us. The noise was also well-controlled in these videos in all kinds of lighting conditions, except for when the light was too low.

Motorola Moto G 3rd Gen Review - HDR Sample

Motorola Moto G 3rd Gen Review - Sample 1

Motorola Moto G 3rd Gen Review - Sample 2

Motorola Moto G 3rd Gen Review - Sample 3

Audio and video
7.5

Motorola Moto G 3rd Gen Review - Audio and Video
In terms of the audio performance, the new Moto G is now one of our favourite phones in the under-Rs 15,000 price bracket. It not only provided louder sound, but was also able to drive our test earphones such as Creative Aurvana 2 and Bose QC20. Its bundled stereo headset is quite basic, and we recommend that you get better earphones to enjoy the real potential of this device. The audio output is also fairly balanced and provides distortion-free output even at higher volumes. Just as on its predecessor, Google Play Music is the default music player.

Moto G comes with a built-in FM Radio which didn’t give us any signal issues indoors. On this device, you can also record programs on FM Radio app in stereo quality. It can play Full HD videos out of the box. The default apps for videos did not get any support for subtitles. While the apps could play MP4 videos, we experienced playback issues with MKV files.

Performance
9

The new Moto G scored 23715, in Antutu Benchmark test. While this score was better than that of its predecessor’s, it didn’t quite match up to the score of some of the rivals. Regardless, the new Moto G performs quite well when it comes to real-world usage. Its performance is also smoother than the devices from Samsung, LG and many of the Chinese brands, all at the same price point. While it runs Android 5.1.1 Lollipop out of the box, Motorola has guaranteed software upgrade priority at least for the next one year. 

Motorola Moto G 3rd Gen Review - Benchmark

In terms of gaming, the new Moto G plays games like Modern Combat 5: Blackout, and Real Racing 3, which are quite graphic-intensive, quite smoothly. There were no major heating issues while playing these games for 30 minutes straight. As usual, expect steep battery drain while playing these high-end games.  

The new Moto G also does quite well in terms of call quality. The earpiece is quite loud and the noise cancellation in calls is also decent. In terms of voice calls, both parties were able to hear each other quite well. Although this device gets only a single speaker, it outputs a loud sound in the speakerphone mode. All in all, Motorola has given a fantastic call experience in the new Moto G.

Battery life
8.5

Motorola Moto G 3rd Gen Review - Battery life
Motorola has also upgraded the battery on this phone to a higher capacity of 2,470mAh. On moderate usage which involved making several voice calls, browsing the web, streaming videos on YouTube, gaming for about half an hour, and letting social networking apps sync in the background all the time, the phone lasted for more than a day. With heavy usage in the Dual SIM mode, one can expect more than ten hours of run time and more than five hours of screen-on time. Motorola has also provided a wall charger offering 1.1A of output, which takes close to three hours for complete charge. However, when we used a 2A charger, the time for charging the device was shortened to two and a half hours for complete charge. But then again, the phone doesn’t come with a QuickCharge 2.0 support. 

Conclusion

The Motorola Moto G 3rd Gen is offered in two different models that are distinguishable based on storage - 8GB for Rs 11,999 with 1GB of RAM and 16GB for Rs 12,999 with 2GB of RAM. We recommend going in for the higher storage model in order to keep your device future-proof. Though the new Moto G doesn't use the fastest or the most powerful processor, we were presently surprised wiht the software optimizations, imaging, and an overall experience of using this device. The battery capacity could have been bit more. We can easily call it a no nonsense smartphone ideal for everyone with a sub-Rs 15,000 budget. 

The Moto G 3rd Gen brings some key upgrades over its predecessor such as the IPX7-certified water proof solution, a far better 13-megapixel camera with great video recording capabilities, an expandable storage of up to 128GB (32GB officially), 2GB of RAM, bigger battery, and smooth phone performance. The new Moto G certainly tops our recommendation list for all those who seek a reliable phone that falls within a budget of Rs.15,000.

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