Motorola Moto G 3rd gen – Review

It has been just less than a couple of years since Motorola launched the original Moto G, and now the third iteration of Motorola’s successful device is with us. I recently live-blogged the announcement event for the 3rd generation Moto G, the Moto X Play and Moto X Style. At the London event, I was given a review unit of the 16GB 2GB RAM 3rd gen Moto G, and after a few weeks of extensive usage as a primary device, here is my review.

Motorola Moto G 3rd gen   ReviewThere are two variants of the 3rd gen Moto G: an 8GB storage 1GB RAM version (starting at £179) and a 16GB storage 2GB RAM (starting at £209). Both variants are powered by the same chipset and are in the same water resistant body.

Full specifications:

  • 5” 720×1280 IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors (67% screen to body ratio)
  • Android 5.1.1
  • 13 megapixel rear camera with dual tone flash
  • 5 megapixel front facing camera
  • 8GB or 16GB storage expandable via Micro SD (up to 32GB)
  • 1GB RAM (8GB storage model) or 2GB RAM (16GB storage model)
  • Micro SIM
  • Quad-core CPU (Qualcomm MSM8916 Snapdragon 410 – 1.4GHz A53)
  • GPU Adreno 306
  • WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, bluetooth 4.0, A-GPS, GLONASS, Beidou, FM Radio
  • Water resistant construction (up to 1 metre for 30 minutes), IPX7 certified

In its 3rd iteration, the Moto G plays on the strengths of the previous generations and updates parts of the design in line with the higher tier Moto X Play and Moto X Style. The back is now a rubbery feeling silicon panel, which gives a reassuring grip and makes you feel less likely it will slip. In the middle of the back panel there is a metal insert which mounts the rear camera lens (f2.0 aperture) and the dual LED flash.

The front of the device is very very similar to the second generation Moto G, with front facing stereo speakers and relatively thin bezels around the 720×1280, 5” display.

All physical buttons on the 3rd generation Moto G are on the right side: a power button and the volume rocker.

The micro USB charging port is centrally positioned on the bottom edge and a 3.5mm audio socket similarly positioned at the top.

Motorola, now under Lenovo, have continued to ship a close-to-Google-Experience version of Android on the Moto G 3rd gen. There are minor changes to a few icons, a Motorola camera app with slide in control carousel and a Motorola Gallery app. A few other Motorola apps are in the OS, but nothing intrusive or big enough to be called bloatware.

Motorola Moto G 3rd gen   Review

If anything, the Moto app guides the user to making the most of some of the value add software/hardware features of the Moto G. Moto Display used to be a feature of the flagship Moto X less than two years ago. Now it is on the Moto G. The advantage may be minimal, as the screen of of the Moto G is an LCD one and so it all has to be lit up to be on, unlike the AMOLED panel on the Moto X.

Motorola Moto G 3rd gen   ReviewOne of my favourite things of the Moto G 3rd gen is the Actions, which are motion activated functions of the phone: perform a double karate chop with the phone and the torch turns on without you needing to unlock the screen. Double twist the Moto G, and the camera is opened.

Motorola Moto G 3rd gen   ReviewAssist is a location/context assistant which aims to set or configure your phone appropriately. It needs to be trained, but once setup turns out to be quite handy.

The Moto G 3rd gen is a water resistant smartphone. It has IPX7 certification, which means it can be under fresh water up to 1 metre for up to 30 minutes. I’ll admit it, I’ve taken the device into the pool with me and taken some sample photos. The screen doesn’t work underwater, but no bad things came to my device while holding it under the surface. I think this will give the average user a bit of peace of mind when using the device in situations like when caught in rain, or near water. I have a feeling this device is going to be popular in Scotland…

The camera on the Moto G 3rd generation is a 13 megapixel one. At the launch event in London, I was lucky enough to have a chat with Peter Matsimanis, the technical lead behind the team who looks after the cameras on Motorola smartphones. Peter explained that the sensor on the Moto G 3rd gen is the same as the one in the Nexus 6 (without ring flash or optical image stabilisation). I’m really impressed with the camera performance on the Moto G 3rd gen, especially considering the price range of the device. In outdoor, well-lit conditions, the snaps are clear and with HDR set to Auto. This is a great point and shoot camera.

Motorola Moto G 3rd gen   ReviewLow light shots are not great, but still outperform some of the more expensive competition.

Video is good in optimal light conditions, and the HD recordings are clear.

Motorola Moto G 3rd gen   ReviewFor the first time in the Moto G iterations, Moto Maker is available for it. Moto Maker is Motorola’s device customisation service. You can visit their website, choose the colour of the front and the accents of your device, the colour of the back silicon panel and what to have engraved on the device. You will also be able to choose which memory configuration to choose (8GB storage/1GB RAM or 16GB storage/2GB RAM).

The Moto G 3rd gen is available in black and white SKUs from multiple retailers in the UK. Three UK have a network exclusive on the Moto Maker, but if you are happy to buy the affordable device outright, allow you to personalise with Moto Maker.

I’ve been won over by the Moto G since the first iteration in late 2013. With the 3rd generation, Motorola have improved on the original formula, and brought water resistance and improved on the second gen’s bigger screen and body. I must say I really really like the Moto G 3rd generation. I like it so much I’m using it as one of my main devices and have even used one of my precious Google Play Music authorisations on it. The only thing I find myself wishing the Moto G 3rd gen had is an AMOLED screen, mostly so that Moto Display uses less battery power. Expandable memory, a great feeling device with reasonable battery life and a very recent Google-like version of Android are pushing all the right buttons with me: a bit like the onscreen ones…