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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  • Impulses - Wednesday, December 18, 2013 - link

    FLAC on a phone is a massive waste of space... MP3 w/a high enough bitrate as to be indistinguishable take up like 1/10th the space and a large 100-200 disc collection takes an hour or two to transcode (on a modern laptop).
  • apertotes - Wednesday, December 18, 2013 - link

    that is true, but it is also true that 1000 songs is a very low number for many people, and having to change your collection every week sucks. So yes, 16 gb may be enough. Of course, even 8gb. If you have no other option, you manage with what you got. But that does not mean that many people will find themselves cursing at the lack of internal space a short time after their purchase.
  • sprockkets - Thursday, December 19, 2013 - link

    Use 160kbps ogg vorbis.

    160kbps = 1.2mb per minute. Avg 4 min a song gives 2560 for 12GiB capacity.

    Need more music? Then you are either weird and think you need more than 2500 songs at once so spend $ elsewhere.
  • bhima - Monday, December 23, 2013 - link

    FLAC for your phone? Are you using $600 Grado cans, an amp and DAC with your phone? If you aren't, you literally have zero reason to be using FLAC over 320kbps MP3s. Hell, you'd be hard pressed to notice the difference in 256kbps even with great IEMs or cans unless your powersource/dac is good.
  • flyingpants1 - Friday, December 20, 2013 - link

    What kind of stupid person are you? 8GB?
  • Bob Todd - Wednesday, December 18, 2013 - link

    Nice timing on the review. I just gave my wife's mother my old N4, and her dad has been looking longingly at it. I was thinking about the Moto G for him, and in truth even it would be overkill. I think a lot of folks, myself included, were wondering what the hell Google was going to do with Motorola (beyond patent acquisition and some potential gains for Google TV...before selling the division responsible for the STB business anyway). It looks like they are going to carve out a really nice niche in the midrange. A device like this could be huge in places like India. CPU performance is more than reasonable for the price, NAND performance is good, and I was just plain surprised by the battery life showing. Excellent device for the off contract price.
  • Hrel - Wednesday, December 18, 2013 - link

    I wonder if this will support those new LTE frequences on Virgin Mobile. Assuming of course the Delay on Virgin Mobile is due to adding LTE.

    I hope that's the case SO badly!

    Anyone paying over $35/month for their smartphone is part of the problem. STOP doing that people. Fucking Verizon, with it's $130/month bullshit.
  • erple2 - Sunday, December 22, 2013 - link

    The problem I have with Virgin is that they piggyback off Sprint, which has the worst coverage in my area of the big four. Plus I average about 500 minutes a month. So I'm looking at their $45 plan. Or I can go with another mvno that piggybacks off the gsm providers for the same price but with unlimited calls. And get much better coverage/speeds in my area. Which I do. Either way, this Motorola G looks like a great phone to have.
  • gus6464 - Wednesday, December 18, 2013 - link

    Moto X and G are exceptional phones that definitely got me drinking the Motorola koolaid.
  • darwinosx - Wednesday, December 18, 2013 - link

    I don't know who this phone is for especially in the US. You are going to pay LTE prices and get rapidly diminishing 3G service. You can get top end smartphones for good pieces online etc...I just can't see the market. Even the Moto X which as an iPhone user I still think is a great phone, is not selling well at all. Moto

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