Motorola has embraced relatively stock Android since the launch of Moto X. I originally disliked how the Moto X wasn’t really stock, (cue the philosophical discussion about what stock really means), but truth be told the software preload is devoid of what I don’t like about the skinned, operator-adulterated stuff we’d get otherwise. It strikes perhaps the optimal balance between the two, what works is left intact, what tweaks there are seem to be the bare minimum to appease operators and make the experience better for the majority of users.

The Moto G doesn’t deviate from that formula. At launch, the Moto G comes running Android 4.3, the latest possible version supplied by Qualcomm for the platform inside.


Motorola has promised an update to Android 4.4 KitKat in January (probably near the end of the month), this aligns with the software roadmaps I’ve caught glimpses of. Remember that Motorola is still effectively an OEM and subject to the software release cadences of its silicon suppliers.


The Moto G’s unlocked and operator-free status makes it subject to a bit less than the operator-attached variants of the Moto X I’ve played with, like the AT&T address book and status indicator branding. On the Moto G there’s none of that, just the few tweaks that Motorola has added in, like Device ID, Assist, Migrate, Care, and of course their own camera application.

The delta between the Moto X and G on the software front really comes down to subtraction of features it lacks the hardware for. Specifically the Active Display notifications and interface which used a TI MSP430 and leveraged an AMOLED display, and the always-on voice activation (“OK Google Now”) which used a TI C55x DSP. It’s an easy to understand differentiation point between the two products that I can’t complain about, and although I enjoyed those two features, their absence doesn’t really dilute the software choices that make the Moto G enjoyable.

Moto G also adds an FM radio over Moto X. Inclusion of FM radio is something which remains oddly is absent from most flagship handsets, but a must have on the lower end devices.


Just like the Moto X, the bulk of these applications (Camera, FM radio, Boot Services) are updatable over the Play Store. Motorola has effectively decoupled a bunch of their own first party applications from the normal OTA process.

Again I can’t complain about Motorola’s software strategy for the Moto G. I almost hesitate to make the comparison, but Nexus ends up making flagships that are very competitive on cost in the high end segment, the space Moto G is competing in is entirely different. Having Android 4.3 and the promised upgrade to 4.4 within essentially a month is great, but real proof of Motorola’s commitment will be in continued software support beyond that update.

Intro and Hardware Battery Life and Charging
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  • Taracta - Thursday, December 19, 2013 - link

    "Moto G arrives without LTE and instead offers up to single carrier HSPA+ with 64QAM, for up to 21 Mbps on the downlink. Although MSM8x26 itself has a modem block capable of up to dual carrier HSPA+ and category 4 LTE, it seems as though Motorola went for single carrier HSPA+ in the Moto G for time to market reasons, with the LTE and dual-carrier HSPA+ enabled software tree likely slotting in a quarter later than the initial code drop with single carrier HSPA+."

    Does this means that the Moto G will have LTE in the near future? This would put my only major reservation about this phone to rest!
  • Mogster - Thursday, December 19, 2013 - link

    I'm wondering that as well. Even if it's not officially supported, could the phone be hacked to use LTE or dual-carrier HSPA+? Guess I'll check XDA Developers, maybe they have some info on it.

    Also, any idea if the CPU can be overclocked?
  • orenc17 - Thursday, December 19, 2013 - link

    now that the kitkat update began seeding will you update the review
    to see if kitkat actually improved anything?
  • smarty69 - Friday, December 20, 2013 - link

    As I knew Tesco were cheaper than phones 4 U for the moto g phones 4 U were selling it 16GB for £149.99 + £10 top up any network (so they are unlocked!)
    & had them in stock :)
    Phones 4 U will if you ask customer services nicely price match :-)
    & if you've ordered online you have 7 days change of mind policy I said I don't want to return it but Tesco is cheaper than you! so they refunded me back the difference! .... & their deal was an unlocked moto g with free white phone back case & a £10 top up & entry into their Christmas giveaway draw (I got a scratch card sent to me with a code entered it online ) & won 25% off all accessories!
    I got these as well :0)
    & only paid the same as Tesco £129!!!!!
    Hope this helps grab a bargain....loving my Moto g ;0)
    Excellent Battery life BTW & Go online & read a few Android tips.... eg use auto brightness & stop apps running in background
    Use power saving etc etc I get 23 hours out of my phone with 8 hours of actual on screen time omg! :0) that's amazing.....
    Merry Christmas ppls X
  • bhima - Friday, December 20, 2013 - link

    Really great review Brian. This is probably the most accurate review of this device on the internet. So far I'm really enjoying my Moto G, especially the battery life compared to my old Galaxy S1.
  • metayoshi - Friday, December 20, 2013 - link

    I've been reading this review in installments and finally got to the battery life section... Wow, that's impressive. It has got to be the best battery life on any smartphone in this class. And it has Android 4.4.2 as of the writing of this comment? Way to go Motorola. They have really stepped up their game.
  • unconnectme - Saturday, December 21, 2013 - link

    Moto G is a game changer for the consumer. Moto G + service from 35orless. Savings versus 2 year agrement over $1,000
  • will2 - Sunday, December 22, 2013 - link

    @Brian. Very good detailed review of most of it, but no mention of any means of getting the screen mirrored to TV, and if it plays at least 720p films smoothly. I read elsewhere it doesnt have any wired TV-out, but are you able to check if it supports Miracast ? ... and if it plays films smoothly ?
  • blzd - Monday, December 23, 2013 - link

    First Nexus 5 now the Moto G. Google are on a roll here for those price:performance sweet spots.

    Also 4.4 Kit Kat supports screen mirroring natively.
  • truminspiron - Monday, December 23, 2013 - link

    Oh so good for see but not good for buy...

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