Moto G redux sports 5-inch screen, expandable memory, and stock Android 4.4 (hands-on)

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At its Chicago press event today, Motorola announced sequels to its customizable and affordable Moto X and Moto G handsets. Though the mobile company decided against renaming the devices, these successors sport improved camera specs and a guaranteed update to the upcoming Android L OS.

In the US, the Moto G will retail starting at $179.99, £150 in the UK, and AU$269 in Australia.

Design

Given its larger display, the Motorola Moto G sports a slightly bigger build than its predecessor. The device measures 5.57 inches tall, 2.78 inches wide, and 0.43-inch at its thickest (141.5 x 70.7 x 11mm), and weighs 5.26 ounces (149 grams). During our brief time with it, the phone felt nice in the hand. The handset's rear curves comfortably, and the dual front-facing speakers are a nice touch.

The fact that it costs only $180 unlocked seems like a real achievement, given its build quality. Its current look is more in line with the original Moto X, and that's no surprise. This is clearly intended to be a mainstream device for those that don't want to pay up for a premium.

The Moto G's 5-inch IPS display has the same 720x1,280-pixel resolution as the original. But even considering its expanded touchscreen, pixels per inch decreased from 329ppi to 294ppi. Indeed, we noticed that the screen lacked a bit of vibrancy.

One interesting improvement is the addition of a water-repellent coating that protects the handset from casual splashes. While this won't provide enough protection to take your Moto G swimming, it's definitely a welcomed layer of protection against a few unforeseen raindrops.

As expected, there are customizable options with this phone. In addition to the black and white variants, users can change out the Moto G's back plate. This can be done with either a simple Motorola Shell or a Flip Shell, which has a flip cover to protect the front display. Both these shells come in a variety of colors including blue, red, teal, green, and yellow.

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For Moto G users, picking the perfect back plate may be the hardest part. Sarah Tew/CNET

Core components

With this second-generation Moto G, the device will come with stock Android 4.4 out of the box and will update to Android L as soon as the version is available from Google.

As for its hardware components, a few specs remain the same as the original. It still has a quad-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 processor, a 450MHz Adreno 305 GPU, and a 2,070mAh battery. It also still lacks LTE (instead, both the global and US models support HSPA+ bands). However, after Motorola released its first Moto G, a more expensive 4G LTE model quickly followed suit. Though we don't know if the company plans to do the same with this iteration, it's expected that if users want a faster LTE connection, the phone's starting price will then jump to around $219.

As for what did change, camera specs have been notably bumped up. The rear-facing shooter is now equipped with an 8-megapixel lens (compared to the previous 5-megapixel), and the front-facing camera has gone from 1.3 to 2 megapixels. Users can now use the volume rocker to activate the shutter as well.

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The new generation will have an 8-megapixel camera that's capable of recording 720p video. Sarah Tew/CNET

Motorola also added a microSD card slot that can support up to 32GB of additional memory. In combination with the Motorola Assist hands-free support service (which is a sleep mode users can activate that mutes incoming notifications), this handset is a really useful all-in-one Android solution.

Other features include either 8GB or 16GB of internal storage, Bluetooth 4.0, and a dual-SIM option for certain regions. In Brazil, the dual-SIM variant will also have built-in direct TV signal support.

Outlook

If you were to drop it into someone's hands and ask them to guess how much your Motorola Moto G cost, we bet they'd be surprised how affordable it was. Similar to its older brother, the device's main draw is its price. Although it is a competitively priced phone, it doesn't feel or even look like a cheap phone.

Of course, there are some drawbacks. Some of its hardware specs haven't improved this time around, and the lack of 4G LTE (for now, we can assume) is a drag. But given its unlocked value, the Moto G still remains a compelling option for users seeking an inexpensive Android device.

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Where to Buy

Motorola MOTO G

Part Number: MOTOG
Pricing is currently unavailable.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Weight 5.26 oz
  • Diagonal Size 5.0 in