back to article Testing Motorola's Moto G third-gen mobe: Is it still king of the hill?

It's been relatively easy recommending a SIM-free phone for under £200 for the past couple of years. The decision tree looked like this: If you wanted those specific apps, you’d want to consider the Moto G. But if you didn’t, then the Lumia range gave you a better phone at any sub-£200 price point. Windows Phone was intended …

  1. Thomas 6

    It's a shame that the price point has increased (although, perhaps inevitable). I have recommended the Moto G from the beginning, being responsible for probably a dozen sales across the versions, including the Moto G 4G that I am using at the moment.

    Does this give another company room to enter the market with a good, cheap phone?

  2. nedge2k

    Re: Your phone works on electricity

    Worth mentioning you can now get the far superior LG G Flex 2 with 32GB sotrage for £230 on ebay (new). Yes, the SD810 chip does have some aggressive throttling when it gets hot but it's a LOT of phone for £230...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Your phone works on electricity

      but it's a LOT of phone for £230...

      Indeed. Or shop round for deals on last year's top models on contract. Just taken out a contract on Galaxy S5, £11 a month over the price of a sim only bundle, and £40 up front, so £304 but paid in fairly painless instalments over two years. And if I had been quicker I could have avoided the £40 up front.

      I really like the idea of sim-free phones far more than the contract model, but I've always found being careful and looking to buy last year's top models always trumps shelling out £200-300 for a credible contract free handset.

      1. phuzz Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: Your phone works on electricity

        So buying an S5 on contract costs you £304, but the price for the phone alone is £240, so why not save the £60 by going sim free?

        1. Paul Shirley

          Re: why not save the £60 by going sim free?

          ...because for most people it will cost much more than £60 to actually use it for the contract duration.

          Also why it's such a PIA working out whether a bargain really is a bargain for you. As a £5/year man I'll stick with last years remaindered flagships for the foreseeable future.

          BTW O2's cunning stunt of splitting the bill into device+airtime payments so they could carry on hiking prices mid-contract has backfired, so many people worked out they can buy on contract then immediately pay off the device part and cancel the contract, their operators sometimes just ask up front if that's what you plan to do!

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Your phone works on electricity

          So buying an S5 on contract costs you £304, but the price for the phone alone is £240, so why not save the £60 by going sim free?

          Because I couldn't find it for £240 when I bought it, only around £290 and that from companies I'd never heard of before. Buying it on contract means I'm assured a UK market handset, with comeback against a large reseller, and against the network (and failing those two avenues the makers warranty). AND I don't have to pony up £240-290.

          Certainly I could have got a mobile phone cheaper, or saved some money going sim free, my point was just that the benefits of sim free can be as modest as the cash savings.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dunno about other banks...

    But Natwest and Halifax at least have WP apps. The Halifax one sucks, but apparently to the same degree that the other platforms' apps also suck. The Natwest one is brilliantly designed.

    As an aside: FNB in South Africa, my other bank, also has a good WP app.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And worth mentioning

      That a SIM free Lumia 640 is £130.

      If you want a good camera, maps and sat-nav and a limited supply of apps (think older phone users who don't want social media) then it's a fairly easy decision.

    2. Roger B

      Re: Dunno about other banks...

      I think the only banking app missing from the Windows Phone is HSBC and when I asked them last they had no plans to produce one, which is another reason for me really get myself in gear and move onto someone else.

    3. Steve Evans

      Re: Dunno about other banks...

      The Barclays apps (pingit, banking) bork and throw all their toys out of the pram if you dare to root your android phone. They seem to have a team who do nothing more than find new ways to detect the device is rooted... Every release seems to bring new detection which neutralises the last technique hiding the rooted state.

      Which to me sounds like their data storage relies on hiding it somewhere inaccessible as opposed to encrypting it properly like a real programmer should do.

      Anyway, back to the new G... Looks nice.

  4. Cuddles Silver badge

    Inflation

    Exactly how much below £200 was the original Moto G? Because £200 in 2013 (when it was released) is equivalent to about £209 in 2015. While the psychology of being above or below a nice round number might be important, the actual cost probably isn't significantly different.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Inflation

      The pound has risen quite a bit since then though.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Inflation

        The pound has risen quite a bit since then though.

        The dollar has risen more in the same time.

    2. Thomas 6

      Re: Inflation

      I think the originals were around £120, although there were deals around that brought them under £100.

      My Moto G 2nd Generation 4G (bit of a mouthful) was £140 earlier this year.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Inflation

        Moto G 2G 4G

        1. Midnight

          Re: Inflation

          That version was always light on storage.

          You know, the Moto G 2G 4G 8G.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Inflation

        Moto G 2G 4G, which adds up to a Moto 7G.

      3. dotdavid

        Re: Inflation

        I think they're positioning the Moto E where the G used to be, as the economics of sub-£100 phones where the E used to be aren't as profitable as they'd hoped. The G is being pushed up the price range and the X brought down a bit with the cheaper edition (whatever it was called).

        I might have to start recommending the Moto E as I think £200 is a bit much for the sort of people I tend to recommend phones to.

  5. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Sounds good people who aren't full time gadget speccy types.

    Which I suspect is quite a lot of people.

    1. phuzz Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Sounds good people who aren't full time gadget speccy types.

      I am a gadget speccy type, but I still get on fine with my first gen Moto G.

      1. duriej

        Re: Sounds good people who aren't full time gadget speccy types.

        I bought a first gen Moto G 8GB cheap from Tesco as a dev test device.

        Have to say I am very impressed with how capable it is.

        For the money it was a hands down winner.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cardboard

    Without the Compass chip, cardboard (the Google cheapo VR headset) apps won't work with the little magnetic switch thingy.

    I believe it's used to stabilize the gyro too as the old Moto G 2 was really jittery on Cardboard and didn't have the compass, but the Nexus 4 (with a compass) is nice and steady.

  7. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    The nice thing about my older G

    is that it came without all the add-ons and other crap; just the bare Google applications. I don't use most of those, and have only added one application: Navigator maps.

    The missus is looking for a phone and I think she will want something similar, so this is a possibility (neither of us do much with a phone beyond, well, using it as a phone: phone and texts. No social media stuff, no browsing or 'meedja consumption'. Certainly no money transactions.).

    [As an aside, when I turn on location services, it politely asks me every time whether I would like google to know all my movements. It also includes a tickbox for 'remember this answer'. Trouble is, whenever (every time) I tell it 'no' the tick box disappears...]

    1. JP19

      Re: The nice thing about my older G

      " it politely asks me every time whether I would like google to know all my movements"

      That isn't what they want you to turn it on for, they want to use your battery and bandwidth to help them maintain their map of every WiFi node in the world.

      The lies about what Google location services needs to be turned on for in that nagging dialogue annoy the hell out of me and gives me zero confidence about their claim of the occasional data being anonymous.

    2. CRConrad
      Facepalm

      Re: whenever (every time) I tell it 'no' the tick box disappears

      So tick the box FIRST, and THEN select "No".

  8. TheProf Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Removable memory

    "disappointing to see the memory card slot limited to 32GB cards, so you can’t cart around a large music or video collection."

    Perhaps one could carry more music/video on a second card and switch them as required. You know, because, removable memory.

    1. phil dude
      Boffin

      Re: Removable memory

      FYI, I have the Moto-E 2nd Gen 4G, running Lollipop 5.1 and I am using a 128GB SD card.

      I'm not sure that limitation is a physical thing, it is apparently to do with licensing for the FAT filesystem. This might be conjecture, but empirically allowing Android to re-format the SD card, made it work fine.

      P.

      1. dotdavid

        Re: Removable memory

        Yep it's to do with ex-FAT licences. Android's native formatter can format the card to FAT32 for you, which will let you use the full capacity but won't let you store files larger than 4GB.

        1. phil dude
          WTF?

          Re: Removable memory

          @dotdavid: Thanks for the confirmation.

          I have filed a bug report with Google about the lack of ext4 on android. Ted Tso (ext4 author) *works* for google, so how hard is it to allow ext4 formatting and we can ignore FAT altogether?

          And save about 4G of space (for 128GB fs)?

          And have files of arbitrary size?

          P.

          1. dotdavid

            Re: Removable memory

            Ext4 is actually supported in Android's kernel (which is Linux after all) but disabled by Google for removable storage. You can get round this by rooting but IMHO it's a bit clunky (you have to run all sorts of mount commands manually). I have no idea why Google have borked this. They seem to have very weird opinions about SD cards and removable storage generally and there are no signs of that changing, so I doubt unfortunately your bug report will change anything.

      2. mrmond

        Re: Removable memory

        Love to know how you got it to update to 5.1. I got mine sim free from CPW and it came with 5.0, updated OTA to 5.02 and has stuck there ever since while I've looked at other networks getting updates.

        I thought I was guaranteed to get an update to the latest update from Motorola.

  9. Chairo
    Unhappy

    No compass...

    ... is a serious omission in a smartphone nowadays. At least for people moving around in unknown cities. How often did I start walking after exiting the metro, just to realize I am moving in the wrong direction after 50m or so? No compass is a show stopper for me.

    Otherwise the phone looks quite nice. Perhaps not the bargain it used to be, but certainly good value. Especially if you count the water protection.

    Btw: How sensitive is the touch screen against water drops? My current phone gets unusable pretty quickly, as the screen detects touches everywhere, just not where I touch it. My Z2 tablet isn't much better, despite being waterproof. Would be interesting to know, if it still operates well in light rain.

    1. tacitust

      Re: No compass...

      Water resistance doesn't mean you can operate the phone when wet. Indeed, Motorola warns that you should not operate the new Moto G if it is wet, since you might compromise the seal. I doubt any touchscreen works well in the rain.

      1. John H Woods Silver badge

        Re: No compass...

        "I doubt any touchscreen works well in the rain." -- tacitust

        My Sony Xperia Z3 seems to work fine in anything but the heaviest rain.

  10. Al_21

    I like the verdict comparing it up against other phones in the market.

    Guess a differentiator other than specs vs others in the market at a similar price-points is things like screen size (5.5" is too large for some) and support (CS and software updates).

    Moto's one of the best at keeping phones updated.

    1. Thomas Whipp

      Completely agree here - I have an original Moto G and its on 5.0.2, I've had a couple of Samsung "Flagship" devices (original Galaxy S and Note 10.1) that had a single update but then just dropped off the support schedule.

      I'm looking for a new handset in a couple of months, quite tempted by the Moto X Play which looks like it might be worth the relatively limited uplift from the new G (and still keeps the clean Android install)

    2. I_am_Chris

      " Moto's one of the best at keeping phones updated."

      Ha! Just make sure you don't get it from Three. My Moto G 4G, which I bought in Feb, hasn't had a single update. Still on 4.4.2.

      1. Colin Ritchie
        Windows

        Unlock it and go with Giff Gaff

        I bought a Moto G 4G for £110 from an O☡ shop that thought it was still selling 3G ones. It updated to Lollipop 2 months ago. Lovely little phone, keeping it till it breaks.

  11. damworker

    Or the G3 ?

    When I wanted something better than my excellent original Moto G last year, I got a LG G3. These can now be had new for around £250 (and probably less) and the spec easily beats the new G. Removable battery but does sometimes get a bit hot. The large size (due to screen) is a feature or an issue (delete as appropriate).

    The cheap Lumias are excellent phones - work supplies me with one but you look like a luddite.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nonsense

    "but the platform turned out to be much less demanding than thirsty Android"

    I found my lunia 625 a laggy battery hog, chock full of bugs and a half day battery life.

    My xperia z3c has nearly 3 days between charges and is better on every count.

  13. Millwright

    Bought one a few days ago for £140 (+ £1 SIM and £10 top-up) unlocked from 3. Nice phone at that price, good replacement for the original G I just broke.

  14. Bob Vistakin
    Facepalm

    "If you don't need Apps get a Lumia"

    Love it! Some refreshing honesty for a change. If only microsoft had used that in their ads...

  15. McBread

    SD Card

    1) The media never seemed to pick up on it, but the SD slot on the previous generation has serious issues, with cards not being recognized or behaving inconstantly. They improved it somewhat with software updates and guidelines to avoid the fastest classes of cards, but it still not perfect. My 4G occasionally drops the card or won't see it on start-up. Hopefully this has been fixed this time...

    2) The SD card slot isn't limited to 32GB by hardware. Format a larger card to FAT32 and it'll work. I have a 64GB card in my 4G.

  16. I Like Heckling

    2nd Gen owner

    I've just picked up a 2nd gen model for the princely sum of £126 brand new from Amazon (not via warehouse deals).

    Typically I only change my phone every 3-4yrs... when they either break or become so obsolete that they become pointless using anymore. My old HTC Desire HD... had served me well for 4yrs and was still in good shape, works perfectly. But simply couldn't keep up with progress. I lost count of the number of times I couldn't install an app because it was still Android 2.3.5.

    Now I couldn't give a shit about owning the latest phone... it's a tool that I need and use for day to day things... but it's not a 'must have latest/greatest' type of product... so I tend to regard those who must have the latest and greatest as 'tools' too. :)

    I did want a Nexus device... but the price point was ridiculous for a phone. and I did my research and settled on the 2nd Gen Moto G because it was simply the best phone on the market in that price range... and at £126 there simply isn't anything out there to beat it.

    I'm not fussed that some reviewer thinks the camera isn't up to scratch... it's frickin phone, you take opportunist snaps with it and nothing else. If you're trying to take serious amateur photographs with a phone... well, get your head examined. Buy a camera designed for the task instead of complaining that your phone camera isn't good enough.

    Any hoo.... The phone is great, voice recognition is excellent, calls are clear and crisp (and I don't live in the best reception area), the screen is bright and clear... It does everything I need it too excellently and at a price point far below that of your average sheeple.

    Is it the best phone around... No, is it the best phone you can buy for less than £150... Absofrickinloutely

    1. tacitust

      Re: 2nd Gen owner

      I just bought my third phone in ten years. First was the Motorola SLVR L7, the first phone I could surf the web on. Five years later, when I could no longer load any websites, not even mobile ones, I bought a refurbished LG Optimus T for $100. Another five years on and it can barely load websites anymore, so it was time for a new phone. I opted for an unlocked, off-contract LG G2, for $219 off Amazon. (The Moto G was a serious contender.)

      Wow. Now, I finally understand why El Reg uses the word fondleslab to describe these devices. I would be very surprised if it can't load webpages five years time. The only question is whether I'll be able to replace the non-serviceable battery successfully when the time comes.

    2. AIBailey
      Thumb Up

      Re: 2nd Gen owner

      I've been wanting to upgrade from my old Lumia 520 for months now. I've tempted by the Moto G 2nd gen (Carphone warehouse have a tempting offer (free) using their "new" iD network (piggybacking on 3's network) for £12.50 per month).

      However, the Huawei Ascend G7 is a lot of phone for not a lot of money (a lot of phone in many ways, both in capacity AND the fact that it's pretty large). Need to pop in store and try them side by side.

      In the mean time, thanks for the opinions of the 2nd gen G, nice to hear.

  17. Gene Cash Silver badge

    SIM free?

    So did they drop the SIM option? My Moto G was in fact my first SIM phone.

  18. scruncher

    Smarter choice...

    ... might be the new Vodafone Smart Ultra 6. £125 of unlockable 5.5in loveliness. You do need big pockets though!

  19. HK Craig

    Stock Android the way to go

    I recently bought a HTC Desire 620 for my old mum in Hong Kong ahead of a trip back to the UK. Wow - I sure learned a lot, first the device didn't understand what UK English was, second it was riddled with apps that could not be uninstalled such as Facebook (I think those were paid for to be placed on the device think time limited Antivirus apps on branded laptops/PC's) and finally in the 'running services section' had heaps of odd apps such as sino weibo monitoring apps that I presumed were sharing data with mainland China.

    Had I had the option to wipe and place Cyanogen on it I would have but there is no build for the 620, so I returned it to the shop and when in the UK bought the 2nd gen Moto G which is almost stock Android and I'm pleased I did that.

    Lesson learned here is don't buy Android phones with vendor bling or apps that you can't uninstall.

    Craig.

  20. Vociferous

    The only things I've not liked about my Moto G...

    ...are the awful camera, and the even worse sound quality when playing music. In all other aspects it's a fantastic phone. After reading this article I still don't know if the sound quality and camera have been improved.

  21. Tezla P

    1st Gen Moto G Owner

    I've been waiting for the 3rd gen release, and the only version I want is the 2GB/16GB edition, except apart from it appearing on Amazon France for about £160ish I can't find a UK version since everybody seems to be selling the 8GB one, let alone cheap when sellers are advertising over the £200 mark (namely Motorola on Amazon).

    In the ukhotdeals forum mentioning the France deal, someone had mentioned the Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 at £125 as a great alternative and much higher specced than the Moto: 2GB RAM, 16GB Storage, MicroSD expansion, 3000mah battery, 5.5" Full HD IPS screen, Snapdragon 615, 13MP back/5MP front camera. After reading the reviews I've ordered one, although I don't know when it'll arrive since there are stock issues but I'm willing to wait. Pity the Moto G seems to be pricing itself out of the budget section but at least they gave it a needed shot in the arm in the first place. My 1st gen is still my main phone and was a brilliant purchase when it came out, and when the Ultra arrives, it will happily find a new home replacing my Mums dying Galaxy Ace.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is it still king of the hill?

    Not for reading TheRegister on, it isn't.

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