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


View All Comments

  • ESC2000 - Monday, December 23, 2013 - link

    I always appreciate the extensive numbers you guys collect to lend some objectivity to your conclusions rather than offering unsubstantiated impressions and opinions like all other reviews. That said it is interesting to me that people's responses to various displays are so individual-specific. Even though the Samsung phones don't seemto score well other than in black levels of course, I still prefer their displays over most of the other phones on which you gathered data. Overall it looks like the iPhone did the best (although it looks like in some categories - whiteness, grayscale - it regressed from the 5 to the 5s) but I've never liked the displays on iphones. It is hard to evaluate on the 5s because I dislike the color scheme of iOS 7, a strange mixture of pastels and bright red. Reply
  • a1exh - Saturday, December 28, 2013 - link

    Nice review. But you missed that the Moto G doesn't have MHL (HDMI out over USB). This feature has been on all my phones for the last few years and is a must have when visiting relatives without a smart TV. I wonder why such an easy feature was omitted? Reply
  • BallGum - Saturday, December 28, 2013 - link

    Does anyone expect an update to the Moto G sometime, with the new SnapDragon 410 SoC? Reply
  • Gothmoth - Sunday, December 29, 2013 - link

    do you think writing "DELTA" all the time makes you look l33t3?

    you sound like a cheap wanaabe nerd repeating this "DELTA" over and over.

    otherwise the article is nice....
  • Davidjan - Sunday, January 19, 2014 - link

    Really cool! Nice gadget to add Moto G's storage- a tiny MicroSD reader: Reply
  • orenlevy - Thursday, January 23, 2014 - link

    America ,iphone,nexus updates??? well i have xiaomi mi2s and every week there is ota update,
    hardware-beast, snapdragon 600 2G ram ,well updates with reach feature but android version change each year .but most kitkat updates already there for monthes, add cloud service includes apps & setting,gallery,logs,sms ect backup ,firewall ,antivirus, ftp server...2 paratiton each time the other update during system on! it is possible and it is hear for 300$ camera i have very nice shoot in darkness using night mode also video in club,i think the near feuture will be chinees company like that,service....updates....every week....
  • shmotog - Sunday, February 2, 2014 - link

    I did my video review on the black flip shell for moto g here

    Also here

    I also did a review on moto g itself here
  • jfelano - Tuesday, February 4, 2014 - link

    G stands for GOOGLE duh. Google just bought Motorola. Reply
  • sephirotic - Wednesday, February 5, 2014 - link

    No micro SD? "This is a new tendency"? That's ridiculous. This phone is automatically excluded from my next smartphone possible-upgrade lists. No quad core, 720p or "ultra-cheap price"can compensate for that. There has been 50USD phones from 10 years ago that already had micro sd support. This is utterly unacceptable. If you don´t live in US or EU you can´t count on unreliable and limited internet to rely on cloud services. Even so, you can´t install all applications or produce most content relying on remote files. What's the point of a fast processor, good gpu and large screen if you can´t install anything in it or fill it with movies and music? Net surfing and google maps? You don´t need a quad core for that... Only casual users would not see all the drawbacks of being completely limited on local storage. Cloud storage is not "the future", maybe for the casual illiterate user, but for us, power-users and non-US/EU residents, is just a nightmare. I rather expend 30% more on a similar spec phone (even a dual core) with external storage than buying this. I don´t understand how this can appeal to the "masses". Maybe the US "masses", because the rest of the world doesn´t have decent unlimited internet to rely on clound services at all. Reply
  • wolfram74 - Tuesday, February 25, 2014 - link

    The camera review does not speaks about speed, time to focus, lag etc. I didn't get the whole information needed about camera. Reply

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