Motorola Moto G (3rd gen) Review

Motorola discovered a winning formula when it released the original Moto G in the fall of 2013. Based on stock Android and free of the bloatware that usually clutters the app drawer, it offered a compelling user experience for less than $200. At the time, roughly similar devices in terms of features and performance, such as the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini and the HTC One Mini, started out at well over $300.

While it was a good bargain, the original version was not perfect. One of the main criticisms was that it did not support LTE. About half a year later, in the spring of 2014, Motorola updated the Moto G to support LTE, removing this deficiency but adding $50 to the price. The updated version also brought microSD support, another much requested feature.

In the fall of 2014, the company launched the second-generation Moto G, which improved the cameras and bumped the screen size from 4.5-inches to 5-inches. The larger screen, however, led to a decrease in battery life as the battery size remained the same as the original. It also used the exact same Snapdragon 400 SoC at a time when other phones were moving to the 64-bit Snapdragon 410. This oversight made the Moto G (2nd gen) a harder sell, especially when Motorola launched the Moto E (2nd gen) in the spring of 2015 with the higher-performing Snapdragon 410 at a lower price.

Specifications

The new third-generation Moto G fixes many of the issues it experienced during its sophomore slump. For starters, it now supports 4G LTE in its base configuration. It also gets upgraded to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 SoC, which has four 64-bit Cortex-A53 CPUs and an Adreno 306 GPU.

Sticking to a 5-inch 720p IPS screen makes the Moto G easy to use with one hand and small enough to slip into a pocket. The overall dimensions are up slightly, including the thickness, due in part to a larger battery that increases capacity from 2,070mAh to 2,470mAh. In theory, this should more than offset the higher power draw of the A53 cores and give the new Moto G an overall increase in battery life.

Motorola makes a few other hardware improvements too, especially to imaging. The rear camera gets a dual-LED flash, for more natural-looking colors in low light, and now uses a 13 MP Sony IMX214 Exmor RS sensor, the same sensor used in the Nexus 6 sans OIS. Around front, camera resolution increases to 5 MP. It also gets IPX7 certification for improved water resistance.

There are two different storage options for the Moto G (3rd gen): an 8GB model with 1GB of RAM for $179 and a 16GB model with 2GB of RAM for $219. Both models support storage expansion using microSD cards up to 32GB as well (including UHS-I cards).

Cellular

Model NumberXT1540XT1548
CarriersAT&T, T-Mobile (US)

Bell, Eastlink, Fido, Koodo, Rogers, SaskTel, Telus, Videotron, Virgin Mobile, Wind Mobile (Canada)
Sprint, US Cellular, Verizon, Virgin Mobile
LTE2/4/5/7/172/4/5/12/17/25/26/41
GSM850/900/1800/1900 MHz850/900/1800/1900 MHz
CDMA20000/1/10
WCDMA1/2/4/5

The integrated modem inside the Snapdragon 410 SoC supports LTE Category 4 (LTE-FDD, LTE-TDD), which means downlink speeds of up to 150Mbps and uplink speeds of up to 50Mbps. It also supports UMTS (WCDMA, TD-SCDMA), CDMA1x, EV-DO Rev. B, and GSM/EDGE.

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  • utroz
    Not bad for a relatively cheap phone..
  • InvalidError
    Yay, one more seemingly decent ~$200 phone that isn't Asia-only.
  • MasterWandu
    Just got the 16GB phone. Best value for money phone I have ever owned. Cannot believe the quality / specs at the price point. It's about as quick / specc'ed as my Nexus 4 that it replaces, but it trumps the Nexus 4 with it's expandable memory and 4G/LTE capabilities. Couldn't recommend it more!
  • gangrel
    I don't game on my phone, so that's never been an issue for me. I do note that app install speeds are very good; download speed I can't really say, as I do all of that on wifi, not cell. I'm quite happy with it.
  • RCFProd
    Had to choose the even cheaper Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 over this one.
  • Glock24
    Why is the ZenFone 2 listed in the specs / comparison table , but not on benchmarks? It's $20 cheaper than the Moto G 16GB/2GB
  • MattBoothDev
    Only issue is it released a couple of months ago, but isn't getting Marshmallow. Bit poor, that.
  • RCFProd
    2118962 said:
    Only issue is it released a couple of months ago, but isn't getting Marshmallow. Bit poor, that.


    it is getting Marshmallow no?
    http://www.androidstandard.com/android-m-will-hit-moto-g-3rd-gen-and-2nd-gen-in-this-fall/
  • ZolaIII
    Not impressed. There are similar spec Chinese phone's with more than 2x lower price like for instance Elephane Trunk. I know it's weird Elephone made a decent phone but strange things happen. As much as Motorola got a developer community and long suport it's not worth 2+x.
  • MobileEditor
    Quote:
    Why is the ZenFone 2 listed in the specs / comparison table , but not on benchmarks? It's $20 cheaper than the Moto G 16GB/2GB


    There are two different versions of the ZenFone 2 (well more if you count the special editions). The less expensive version is shown in the spec table since it's closer in price to the Moto G. We only tested the more expensive version with a faster SoC, so that's why it's not in the benchmark charts. Plus, we already included the more expensive/faster Z8 as the upper bound in the charts. I figured this was more relevant, since it has a more common SoC configuration.

    - Matt Humrick, Mobile Editor, Tom's Hardware
  • gangrel
    How many of those Chinese phones are available outside Asia? And what else are you sacrificing with them?

    One major advantage of the Motorola phones is *minimal* add-ons, and most of em aren't intrusive at all. I don't like most skins. Another point: I have high confidence that Motorola will release security patches very quickly. I have no confidence that some budget Chinese maker will put ANY effort into this.
  • InvalidError
    764133 said:
    I have high confidence that Motorola will release security patches very quickly. I have no confidence that some budget Chinese maker will put ANY effort into this.

    No need to look at no-name brands either: Acer has a poor reputation with dropping firmware updates for their low-end devices merely months from launch.
  • ZolaIII
    764133 said:
    How many of those Chinese phones are available outside Asia? And what else are you sacrificing with them? One major advantage of the Motorola phones is *minimal* add-ons, and most of em aren't intrusive at all. I don't like most skins. Another point: I have high confidence that Motorola will release security patches very quickly. I have no confidence that some budget Chinese maker will put ANY effort into this.

    Not much but hire is one & from Chinese firm behind it that is known for regular updates. It's currently available only in Asian Pacific region but Alcatel is officially present in much more (especially EU) countries than Motorola so it's expected that it arrives & on other markets. By all means it's not perfect but it beats Moto G 3rd gen in lot aspects that are important by the view of general users.

    As I don't want to advertise anyone I will mention only manufacturer & product name so if you are interested in more details browse & particularly pay attention to user opinions & review about it.

    It's Alcatel Flash 2.
  • cypeq
    Moto continues to stomp the market with budget offering that leaves 600$ phones with big question mark near 'why bother'.
  • RCFProd
    309074 said:
    Moto continues to stomp the market with budget offering that leaves 600$ phones with big question mark near 'why bother'.


    As a former 2nd Gen Moto G owner I'd say It's far from that situation.
  • kaalus
    The biggest problem with this phone is poor screen resolution. 5" screen with 720p is way too low. Get a Nexus 5 instead (still available through eBay). It's cheaper. It's smaller with a proper screen. Has no SD card or waterproofing though. But has a faster CPU and already runs Marshmallow.
  • gangrel
    Alcatel Flash 2 is Asian market, and has limited LTE bands...questionable whether it'd work in the US.
  • InvalidError
    173767 said:
    The biggest problem with this phone is poor screen resolution. 5" screen with 720p is way too low.

    720p on a 5" display is already 293ppi, high enough that most people won't really notice resolution any higher than that unless they specifically look for differences. It may seem "way too low" for marketing purposes but as far as real-world usability is concerned, it is perfectly fine for an almost entry-level device.

    Personally, the lack of an SD slot on Nexus devices is a much bigger deal-breaker.
  • DbD2
    Quote:
    How many of those Chinese phones are available outside Asia? And what else are you sacrificing with them? One major advantage of the Motorola phones is *minimal* add-ons, and most of em aren't intrusive at all. I don't like most skins. Another point: I have high confidence that Motorola will release security patches very quickly. I have no confidence that some budget Chinese maker will put ANY effort into this.


    You can buy them all on amazon, they don't generally come with much bloat, and you get twice the phone the current moto g gives you. The main place you suffer is android updates. Imo this latest moto g is still not what the first one was. When that came out it combined what was at the time mid range hardware/screen/etc at a significantly lower price. Now it's distinctly low end with it's low res screen and slow processor.
  • RCFProd
    The 1GB RAM was actually a big issue with the Moto G 2014. It was actually quite slow. Has this been fixed with the new 1GB RAM 2015 model?
  • MobileEditor
    Quote:
    The 1GB RAM was actually a big issue with the Moto G 2014. It was actually quite slow. Has this been fixed with the new 1GB RAM 2015 model?


    As shown on page 7 of the review, the new Moto G has significantly more memory bandwidth than the previous model, in addition to better CPU performance. So no, memory speed is not an issue like it was before.

    - Matt Humrick, Mobile Editor, Tom's Hardware
  • RCFProd
    Actually looks very solid. I love the phone's design even more this year aswell. It's worth considering over the Xiaomi Redmi Note 2, because the support for the phone is simply very very good.
  • RealityOfIt
    Motorola does not sell the XT1548 on their web site and it is not for sale unless through a carrier or service provider. Even though they advertise it as "unlocked". This article should have made this information clear to the readers.
  • RCFProd
    I bought one since I've become a big fan of Motorola since Google took over. The phone runs decent enough, the Android stock experience is beautiful and the phone's design is great and very well built.

    I'm scared because Motorola has been making solid phones but they're not making profit so Google sold them to Lenovo. It's sad when absolutely great phones go unnoticed by the majority because of the Samsung and Apple hierarchy. Hate the fact Motorola is no part of Google anymore. Hopefully Lenovo has great plans with Moto.