Sunday, 2 August 2015

Moto G 3rd Generation Review

Moto G 3rd generation
The best budget phone in Android lineup, Moto G is in its 3rd generation as announced last Tuesday. Moto series E, G and X brought the glory of Motorola couple of years back under Google corporation before owned by Lenovo. The biggest selling point is the quality hardware mixed with the simple stock android unlike the other heavily customized one such as Xiaomi's MiUI, Samsung's TouchWiz or LG's Optimus Ui etc. Speaking about the 3rd generation Moto G device, there are lot improvements in both hardware and software yet, the price remained same as the 1st generation device. Do like the previous models, Moto G is available exclusively on Flipkart through WS retail seller only (8 GB model cost 11,999 and 16 GB model cost 12,999). I am pretty much excited to write Moto G review because a) after many months I opened the blog b) Secondly, first Android device with full hands on experience. Briefly, I am writing about these in the review in detail, you can skip to the following

A) Unboxing, Design, Build Quality
B)     Network and Connectivity
C)     Hardware (Screen, Chipset, RAM, Graphics, Battery, Camera, Location services etc)
D)     Software and Third Party Applications
E)      Missing features and Overall score


A) Unboxing, Design, Build Quality: The packing is simple with good looking colorful box and contained handset with pre inserted battery, data cable and a two pin wall charger. The headphones provided are ordinary but considering the price no complaints though. As part of promotional offer, the device is bundled with 4G ready sim (This is not a new connection, the provided 4G ready sim can be activated with your old Airtel number by sending a SMS to customer service so that you need not to visit store for new sim supporting LTE radio). 



When it comes to build quality, Motorola phones are ahead of many major OEMs like Samsung (Except the recent S6 devices), LG, Sony etc. The feel factor is very well maintained over the years.The shell feels like made up of normal plastic rather than polycarbonate (high end plastic like in the Lumia series of same price range) which is more durable and provide better signal strength compared to normal plastic devices. Moto G is offered in two different variants, one with 1Gb RAM and 8Gb ROM (internal memory) and 2GbRAM and 16Gb ROM, both supporting SD card flash memory up to 32Gb. Currently, there are only two color options available: black and white, however Motorola website displays that back panels (shells) are customizable with different colors (Black, Navy, Cabernet, Golden Yellow, Lime, Cherry, Blue, Turqouise, Raspberry, Chalk). Our review model is a black matte finish one with 2Gb RAM and 16Gb ROM.


Curved back panel with ridges
 The design is curved on rear side with ridges (obviously matte finish!) and rounded edges for better grip and handling. The phone does not look big to operate with single hand (at least to me probably because my primary device is 6inch 1520). All the sensors like ambient light sensor, proximity sensor and front facing camera are placed side by side above the screen along with the ear piece. Metallic look like plastic buttons are placed on right side for volume control and screen lock. Loudspeaker is placed below the on screen navigation controls, mini USB charging port is at the bottom and 3.5mm audio jack on top of the device.

Volume and Power buttons on right side
Moto G is IPx7 rated which means it can protect from water splashes or a dip in water for up to 30min at 1m depth. Very handy welcome feature in cities like Bengaluru where the weather is unpredictable. Higher end flagships like Samsung S6 devices comes with IP67 rating which is best available in the consumer market and are resistant to more harsh conditions.  Motorola did good job in keeping the device weight to 155g which is just 6g more compared to 2nd generation but with  400 mAh extra battery capacity. Due to curved design, the phone is 6.1mm slim at the edges and at the center it is 11.6mm, overall the phone does not feel bulky and easy to operate with single hand. Check the below shot for comparison with Lumia 720 (4.3"), 640 (5" screen) and 1520 (6" screen).
From left to right: Lumia 720, Moto G, Lumia 640 and Lumia 1520

B) Network and Connectivity
Moto G is bundled with various network configurations. First time, LTE enabled device is sold as primary device, not as an optional variant. Before getting in to the connectivity option let us have a look at what is LTE? LTE bands, features and other technical details as it is the future of mobile internet. You can skip the below paragraph if you already know this.

LTE stands for Long Term Evolution aka 4G (not exactly 4G but used and marketed as 4G by network operators) which can transfer data at 42Mbps or above. Though first LTE services were started in as early as 2012 in India by Airtel, its penetration is still in infancy. Last year, TRAI has auctioned the spectrum for LTE bought mainly by Airtel and Reliance networks beside government's BSNL. There are two main standards of LTE, one is FDD (Frequency division duplex) and other is TDD (Time division duplex). Globally used standard is FDD. Within these two standards, there are multiple frequencies which are offered in various bands. Unlike GSM (Quad band) and UMTS (also called 3G or WCDMA or UMTS, Pentaband), LTE is offered in wide range of frequencies (more than 10). Currently, Airtel is offering LTE through TDD standard at 2300 frequency which is not universal and few handsets support it, but it started rolling out the standard LTE (i.e FDD) in some cities like Hyderabad and Vizag in 1800 Mhz frequency. It is important to know these because, if you are investing some money on your phone or any other device, you have to make sure that its future proof for at least couple of years and moreover mobile internet is going to rule the next decade.

Back to Moto G review, it has the following connectivity options.
LTE (1, 3, 7, 8, 28, 40) (FDD LTE: 700, 900, 1800, 2100, 2600 Mhz and FDD LTE: 2300 (Airtel in most cities as of now is providing LTE in this frequency)
UMTS/HSPA+ (900, 2100, 850 MHz)
GSM/GPRS/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
Wifi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0

Based on the specifications, the mobile network connectivity options are solid covering most of the frequency ranges. The Wi-Fi chip is 802.11 b/g/n which means it is single band supporting  2.4 Ghz along with Wifi Direct option. WiFi direct helps you in transfer of files using WiFi as medium without a internet connection (Access point). Low Energy Bluetooth version 4 has become common norm since 2014 which is very much required when you are using wearable devices like Mi band or FitBit. Connectivity wise Moto G stands out in its price range, full marks

Speedtest: With LTE turned on, the speed is ~21 Mbps which is average. It is 2300 MHz band TDD LTE which is cost ineffective and limited in full 4G connectivity speeds. Test conditions are ground floor, indoor, open environment results will vary due to better signal strength.
4G/LTE Speedtest
For comparison with 3G speed check the below results
3G Speedtest
My Wi-Fi speed is varying and inconsistent over the last couple of days, hence could not check it properly but can confirm that speed is good for the current standards.

C) Hardware: No doubt Android is well optimized OS but it needs good hardware to experience it better. The system on chip (SoC) in Moto G is Qualcomm’s® SnapdragonTM 410 (MSM8916). It is a 64 bit quad core processor with 1.4 GHz clock speed and Adreno 306 GPU with 400 MHz refresh rate. Strictly speaking, 64 bit processors comes in to picture when the RAM requirement is above 4 GB only and it’s all marketing gimmicks. Though it is nowhere close to the Snapdragon 800 series chipsets, the performance is satisfactory. There is a significant improvement in benchmark tests compared to 2nd generation Moto G which is due to both new chipset as well as the new updated android OS. As we discussed in the introduction paragraph, Moto G is available in two variants that differ in only RAM and ROM. I could not test the 1 GB RAM variant, hence cannot comment anything on its performance but, I expect it to be fairly well as performance is mostly due to the processor speed, not RAM. User available ROM memory on first start up is 11.7 GB only (16 GB model). It is expandable with 32 GB SD card flash memory for storing movies, photos etc.

Screen is the beautiful component of any smart phone and best selling point according to me. Whether a phone is good or not is initially judged by looking at the screen quality and Apple products prove the same. The screen in Moto G is 5 inch HD with resolution 1280*720 that gives out 294 pixels per inch (PPI). It is an in-plane switching (IPS) LCD screen, so the maximum brightness is good as expected. But color reproduction is average and disappointing with most of the colors lacking the “punchy look”. Check below shots for comparison with Lumia 640 whose screen has same HD resolution but LED display. Both are set to default color mode with maximum brightness. Moto G is protected by a gorilla glass 3, the yesteryear offering from Corning. Gorilla glass 3 is “scratch resistant” but not “scratch proof”, hence it is advised to use screen guards, especially tempered glass screen guards which interfere less with the display output. 


Top Lumia 640 vs below Moto G

Sunlight readability is fairly decent, usable in bright sunlight and the viewing angles are great without any loss.


      



Android phones are bad in efficiently using the battery and are power hungry. Google in its I/O conference this year announced that the battery programming in Android M is updated with doze mode that intelligently powers down your phone or tablet when it's not in use for a long period of time and enhances backup. This is not available yet on Lollipop Android OS. Motorola is increasing the battery capacity year on year in Moto G as well as Moto E. Moto G 3rd generation has 2470 mAh Lithium ion polymer battery.  Capacity is great compared to the price it is being offered (50,000 Rs Samsung S6 has 2600 mAh). With heavy usage, solid 1 day backup is guaranteed. Though back panel is customizable, the battery cannot be removed probably due to the IPx7 water resistant rating. Charging time is roughly 2.00h from 10-100% which means the charger provided is normal ~5V, 1.6A charger, comparatively slower in the current era. It has two outputs so that you can charge two devices simultaneously albeit at slower pace.

Camera: Sensor resolution took big jump from the 2nd generation device (8MP vs 13MP). Motorola did not provide the detailed specification of the sensor such as size, pixel size, back or front side illuminated sensor, optics details etc. Looking at the photos, it is likely the normal 1/3.2” sensor. The overall quality of photos is good for its price range. The macros are great and I am able to focus within 15 cm range. As per my observation, photo quality is very good in day light and little bit noisy and pixelated under low light conditions such as indoors etc. Night shots are backed up by dual tone LED flash which helps in better colors by combining LED lights white and yellow colors. It has become common feature in many Android phones since its introduction by Apple iPhone 5S. Moto G is capable of Full HD recording (i.e. 1080P, 1920*1080 resolution). 5 Mp camera is good for taking quick selfies. Check the below shots for camera quality and comparison to 8MP Lumia 640 images.

Update: As per Anand tech, the camera sensor size is 1/3.06" with 1.1 um pixel size, the sensor size increased with more pixels. You can find more about the mega pixels myth in mobile industry in my article here Increasing Mega Pixels Race in Mobile Industry-Myth



8MP main camera of Lumia 640 (top) compared to 13MP Moto G under bright sunlight

Note that the angle and area covered are different due to difference in sensor size and optics.


Macro shot from ~15 cm
Indoor lighting shot in a shopping mall









Front 5MP camera of Lumia 640 (left) compared to Moto G (right)

Note: All photos are taken in automatic mode as it is the default mode for most users.

Sensors and Location services: Moto G is bundled with following sensors
Accelerometer –For gaming and navigation
Ambient Light Sensor- For automatic brightness adjustment
HERE Maps
Gyroscope-For Gaming and motion detection
Proximity Sensor-For locking screen during calls.


Besides Moto G has sensor hub that uses sensors like accelerometer, GPS, Audio etc under low power 
for some software features.


For positioning the device, Moto G has support for GPS and AGPS (American satellite navigation system), GLONASS (Russian satellite navigation system) and BeiDou (Chinese satellite navigation system). Hardware compass is missing but not an issue. Location services are well powered by the inbuilt Google maps which has great search functionality compared to rival HERE Maps but misses out the offline maps functionality. HERE maps are available in Android OS introduced in Oct, 2014 which supports offline maps and very handy feature. It even had voice guided navigation which is not available in Google maps. It has 4.5 star rating and more than 40 million downloads since inception. 


D) Software: My experience with Android is little bit na├»ve and I am yet to explore the complete features. The stock Lollipop android UI looks clean and attractive without heavy customization by OEM which affects the performance. 




Google play store is well organized, easy to search and install apps & games quickly without much trouble. The onscreen navigation is simple and beautiful. Since, it’s a Google backed product, all the google services are bundled by default. The transitions are butter smooth, thanks to Adreno 306 GPU. High end graphic games like Asphalt 8 are well handled without any hiccups. 



Personal assistant Google now is available for all Android devices and does the same as Siri in iPhone and Cortana in Windows Phone. Audio player interface is simple and the quality is good. The inbuilt video player is capable of playing almost all video formats thrown including MKV without any glitches. One of the best feature I liked is, the software sense the one time password (OTP) requirement and applies it to the desired applications as soon as the message arrives without any user intervention. As usual the software experience is great and compliments the hardware well. Many people used to tell me that their phone gets slowed down over a period of time, I have to wait and see this.




E) Missing Features and Overall Score: Glance feature (Can observe this feature in initial image where the time and other information is displayed under lock screen). Glance feature is available in few high end android phones and requires display memory for the panel, expensive and hence unavailable.  Double tap to lock screen or unlock screen is missing. It is available in similar priced android phones like Asus Zenfone 2 and low priced Lumia’s since last 3 years. Near field communication for Google Pay or any other service is absent, no complaints though as it is yet to gain popularity. Super sensitive touch is absent which means it cannot work when wearing gloves. This is a handy feature in cold climate countries like European, and some US states where temperature are freezing cold during winters. Other missing feature include missing hardware camera button, reverse USB type C etc. All these feature are not deal breaker for most users but enhance the phone experience by many times. Feature I could not test include the audio recording, water resistant test, call quality, video recording etc.


Overall Score
Design and Build Quality: 8/10
Network and Connectivity Features: 10/10
Screen: 7/10
Other Hardware: 7/10
Software Overall: 9/10
Camera 7/10 (Due to average low light quality)

Worth buying for its specs to price

This is the fastest article I wrote in my blog and I tried my best to provide comprehensive analysis. Please share and add comments in the below section if you like it, thank you for reading.


16 comments:

AKHILESH KANT S MISHRA said...

realllly nice.although I do not belong to technical field but I love to read such things, & u have delivered such techicalities in a very handy way.All the best.Happy life !

prasanna kumar said...

Excellent review and expecting more such detailed reviews from you brother :)

Harsh Singh said...

Well Written! :) I'm confused with Yureka+ and Moto G3, which one to buy? Please can you help me?

Swaroop Kotha said...

good patience with perfect presentation...im confused to buy with k3 note to moto g3 and ur review helped me a lot and i ordered g3 today already...I appreciate ur work..

Raja said...

Thank you Akhilesh, Prasanna Kumar and Swaroop

@Harsh Singh

I always prefer and branded device over local made. The quality will be poor especially screen and network related

Anonymous said...

Hi, I bought moto g3 n after using found out that while playing music or receiving calls only bottom speaker works

Me said...

Gyroscope and Compass Sensor is absent in this phone...

Raja said...

@Anonymous

Only one loud speaker present at the bottom

@me
Gyroscope is common feature in any of the phones now and without that you can not play any motion sensor games like Asphalt etc. It is there as part of sensor hub I guess, hence they did not mention it separately

and regarding Compass, yes its not there, I mentioned it in review

sidhu said...

Thank you for your detailed review. Can you help me to choose the best out of Lumia 640 and Moto g3? I don't play games and need a good phone with a decent battery backup for calls and normal usage.

Ravi Raj Saxena said...

Really nice reviews. I'm really confused like hell between Asus Zenphone 2 & Moto G3.
According to me these are pros of Asus Zenfone 2

3000 mAh battery (Li-Po) (highest weightage )
5.5 screen
1080x1920 res
& additoinal compass sensor

& cons are Android 5.0 (highest weightage ) which cant say will be updated

& about the Moto G 3 pros are Android 5.1.1 & may be with frequent update & Branded with quality & water resistant
with cons 2470 BAttery (highest weightage ) & 720X1280 res

Can you pls help. & how much these screen resolution & size can practically matter.

Raja said...

Then Lumia 640 is good choice for you, 4k less price and same hardware, if you want 4G, Microsoft is releasing a LTE version in 1-2 weeks

Raja said...

I had frnd who is using Asus Zenfone 2
Honestly its good phone but build quality is poor
Size wise I did not feel any difference

Resolution yes it matters but again not major one if you consider pros and cons is each device

Zenfone lacks LTE as far as I know

Ravi Raj Saxena said...

Really Thank you for your comment. Though I want android. Didn't like lumia interface on my father's phone.
However I read at many places that Zenphone 2 has LTE & selected ph on that basis also
P.S. I work at a company which works on 4G comm only so there is no way I'm gonna miss on that part.
Thank you again.

pankaj said...

Its very interesting post, good job

videocon 4G data
Videocon Telecom, the telecom brand of the $4 billion Videocon Group, will be investing over Rs 1,200 crore in the next three years for 4G rollout in 29 cities, a company statement said.

itsyoursreekanth said...

Please write about MI4 and Red mi 2 prime.

Kabir said...

Nice Blog , This is what I exactly Looking for , Keep sharing more blog .



Moto G3 Case