Motorola Moto G 4G (2015) | Moto G 2 with 4G review

Motorola does it again with a top-value phone, and now it has 4G

5
Price when reviewed 
145

Last year’s Motorola Moto G 2 was an incremental improvement over its predecessor, the Motorola Moto G. It had a tough act to follow, and it fell short, bizarrely omitting 4G support.

The 2015 update finally adds the feature that the first one should have had all along; but is it too little too late, or is the Moto G 2 now the budget smartphone to own? See also: what's the best smartphone of 2014?

Screen and design

It certainly gets off on the right foot. With a price of £149 and a large, 5in screen, it looks just as good value as the original 4.5in was when it originally launched in 2013, and the 2014 3G version as well. Everything else is as it was.

The Moto G2 4G still has a decent display. The resolution may not raise eyebrows any more, but 720 x 1,280 still looks sharp to our eyes on a 5in screen, and delivers a pixel density of 294ppi. In short, you'll only see the pixels if you look really hard at it.

And the important thing is that the quality of the screen remains a strong point. There's plenty of contrast and colour saturation, with a luminance of 441cd/m2 it’s as bright as the original Moto G, while a contrast ratio of 1,046:1 ensures onscreen images have a decent amount of “pop” and solidity. Colour accuracy is also reasonable, with an average delta E of 2.45, so movies, photos and games all look fantastic.

As before, the design is solid rather than exciting. It weighs 155g, a touch more than the 3G version; it measures 11mm from the front of the screen to the thickest part of its gently curved rear panel; and that curve, finished in a smooth, matte plastic, means that it feels comfortable to hold.

Upfront, there's Gorilla Glass 3 to protect the screen from scratches and cracks, and as with the rest of the Motorola smartphone range, the phone has been treated so it's water- and dust-resistant; it doesn't have an IP rating like the Sony Xperia Z3 and Samsung Galaxy S5, though, so don't go swimming with it.

It still has stereo, front-facing speakers able to push out sound at a reasonable volume without distorting. It’s perfect for watching iPlayer on the move, or sharing a YouTube funny with a friend.

And you still have the same front-facing 2-megapixel camera, with an 8-megapixel f/2 snapper at the rear. Photos are superior to those taken on the original Moto G, providing clean, sharp and detailed outdoor snap, just don’t expect amazing results in tricky conditions or low light.

Elsewhere, Motorola has retained the microSD slot, but the Moto G 2 4G only comes in a single-SIM variant. The battery on this year’s Moto G still remains sealed within the chassis, but it’s a slightly higher capacity this time around.

Motorola Moto G (2nd Gen.) review: performance and specifications

As we said earlier, this 4G iteration of the Moto G is exactly the same as the original Moto G 2. Normally that wouldn’t be a bad thing for an incremental upgrade, but the Moto G 2 also contained the same internals as the first Moto G. Two years on, its Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 SoC running at 1.2GHz isn’t quite as snappy. Embarrassingly, it’s slower and older than the Snapdragon 410 CPU in the cheaper Motorola Moto E 2.

It’s also a touch limited in the storage department, with Motorola having decided to remove the option of 16GB of storage, giving users just 8GB to play with. As before, all this is slightly irritating, but the 4G Moto G 2 still feels pretty slick in everyday use. This is, in part, thanks to the inclusion of Android 5 Lollipop, continuing Motorola’s trend of packaging its phone with the latest version of pure Android. But, as you may expect, it’ll struggle when you push it with multiple applications running at once or the latest mobile games.

In terms of benchmarks, unsurprisingly it achieved similar results to its predecessors. Its single- and multi-core Geekbench 3 results were 343 and 1,161 respectively (the 3G Moto G 2 hit 344 and 1,145, with Moto G hitting 342 and 1,157), and in GFXBench’s T-Rex HD gaming test it hit 11fps (both the Moto G 2 and Moto G achieved the same).

This version does gain a slightly larger battery from the 2014 model, growing to a capacity of 2,390mAh. And in conjunction with the efficiency improvements delivered by Android Lollipop, it delivers distinctly better battery life than its predecessor. In our battery tests video playback in flight mode depleted the battery at a rate of 8.5% per hour (compared to the 3G version’s 10.5%), with GFXBench’s battery test estimating around 300 minutes of total runtime playing a power-intensive HD game, compared to 267 minutes on the 3G model.

These aren't hugely impressive figures, but they're the right side of average: they can't match long lasting phones such as Sony Xperia Z3, but they are better than other budget smartphones we've tested, such as the Honor Holly. In our experience, the 4G Moto G 2 easily delivered a day of charge, usually lasting into the next day with moderate use - such as browsing and checking email and social networks now and again.

Motorola Moto G (2nd Gen.) review: software and verdict

Running the latest version of Android, as all new Motorola phones do, there aren’t any great surprises with the Moto G 2’s software. Making the decision to install a clean version of Android 5 Lollipop with only a hint of Motorola dusting is, as always, a welcome move. You’ll get Motorola’s Assist, Alert and Migrate apps preloaded, and it’s more than likely it’ll receive all future Lollipop updates, although Motorola hasn’t confirmed this yet.

In all, the Moto G 2 4G is a top-quality budget smartphone. It has a superb display, improved battery life, and fixes its predecessor’s only blunder by including 4G without inflating the price. The aging innards are a concern, but it’s not enough to prevent this being an excellent budget choice.

Price when reviewed 
145£145 inc VAT

Details

Cheapest price on contract Free
Contract monthly charge £19.00
Contract period 24 months
Contract provider www.mobilephonesdirect.co.uk

Physical

Dimensions 71 x 11 x 142mm (WDH)
Weight 149g
Touchscreen yes
Primary keyboard On-screen

Core Specifications

RAM capacity 1.00GB
Camera megapixel rating 8.0mp
Front-facing camera? yes
Video capture? yes

Display

Screen size 5.0in
Resolution 720 x 1280
Landscape mode? yes

Other wireless standards

Bluetooth support yes
Integrated GPS yes

Software

OS family Android

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