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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  • darwinosx - Wednesday, December 18, 2013 - link

    Motorola is a Google company now no matter how they try to pretend otherwise with the whole firewall between them nonsense. I'd see how they do now. Meanwhile Google payed an idiotic sum for Motorola to get a bunch of worthless patents and is left trying to save face by still producing phones. Reply
  • sprockkets - Wednesday, December 18, 2013 - link

    O hai appletard! Nice to see you still have a brain, somewhere. Reply
  • Bob Todd - Thursday, December 19, 2013 - link

    Just as a small update, 4.4.2 started rolling out for the Moto G today... Reply
  • InvaderC1 - Saturday, December 21, 2013 - link

    Moto G already had 4.4.2 shipped, and Moto X was first non-nexus device with Kit Kat. Since being bought by Google, they have turned thing around, at least with this first wave. Reply
  • Hakuron - Saturday, December 21, 2013 - link

    Well moto g already got 4.4.2 a couple days ago. http://www.xda-developers.com/android/android-4-4-...
    And it has been said by motorola that the RAZR HD will as well get 4.4 soon.
    Besides, taking into count that motorola has already got 5 devices running on 4.4 (Moto x, moto g, Droid ultra, maxx and mini) while other manufacturers haven't got 4.4 not even in their flagship talks really, REALLY well of their new update policy.
    P.s: Old Razr (xt910) released on 2011, worst time ever for motorola, still went from 2.3 to 4.0 and from there to 4.1. Just for you to keep it in mind :)
    p.s.s: Yeah, i do know that the atrix family as well as milestone didn't have the same luck, but luckily for us, they seem to have changed, for good.
    Reply
  • Hakuron - Saturday, December 21, 2013 - link

    Well moto g already got 4.4.2 a couple days ago. http://www.xda-developers.com/android/android-4-4-...
    And it has been said by motorola that the RAZR HD will as well get 4.4 soon.
    Besides, taking into count that motorola has already got 5 devices running on 4.4 (Moto x, moto g, Droid ultra, maxx and mini) while other manufacturers haven't got 4.4 not even in their flagship talks really, REALLY well of their new update policy.
    P.s: Old Razr (xt910) released on 2011, worst time ever for motorola, still went from 2.3 to 4.0 and from there to 4.1. Just for you to keep it in mind :)
    p.s.s: Yeah, i do know that the atrix family as well as milestone didn't have the same luck, but luckily for us, they seem to have changed, for good.
    Reply
  • Gunbuster - Wednesday, December 18, 2013 - link

    Thumbs up for not using the prefab line from what I must assume is a google/moto payoff presskit "Moto G, simply the best phone under $200"

    Thumbs down for no comparison with the Lumia 520/521 that have been dipping down into the $50 range off contract.
    Reply
  • uhuznaa - Wednesday, December 18, 2013 - link

    Damned good phone considering the price point. No, even compared to quite a few more expensive ones. Absolutely impressive battery life, a camera that doesn't suck and at least as fast as the last generation of top-end phones, all in a nice package and for very little money. Well done, Motorola. Reply
  • CatfishTX - Wednesday, December 18, 2013 - link

    A lot of phone for the money. I bought a 16GB model and will be giving it to my daughter for Christmas. She wanted good battery life, good display, and stock Android if possible. I would say the Moto G delivers all three. Reply
  • apertotes - Wednesday, December 18, 2013 - link

    "The Moto G’s goal is pretty simple – to deliver an affordable smartphone experience that doesn’t make any sacrifices"

    I'd say that a maximum of 16gb of memory is a pretty big compromise. Because of those, about 12 will be available to the user, and out of those 12, at least 1 or 2 will be gone in stupid gallery thumbnails hidden files. Add 3-4 gb of music, and 2 or 3 heavy games, and you are left with less than 2 gb of free space. If you want to record videos, capture photos, or download movies, you are really screwed. And this is not a poweruser scenario at all.
    Reply

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