Part of the reason why about 80% of all smartphones run Android is because manufacturers are able to take Google’s free software and sell it on very cheap devices. Those phones can be very popular, especially in emerging markets like China where the cost of smartphones isn’t much more than regular mobile phones.
Motorola, which is now owned by Google, seems to like that trend, so it made its own super-cheap Android phone called the Moto G. You can buy the Moto G unlocked for just $US179. For comparison’s sake, an unlocked iPhone 5S costs $US649.
I’ve been using the Moto G for a few days. It’s not an amazing, knock-your-socks-off device, but it is pretty darn good for the price.
Here’s what you need to know.
What is it?
The Moto G is a diet version of Motorola’s flagship Moto X. It has a 4.5-inch screen and runs Android. Motorola will also give you 50 GB of Google Drive cloud storage for free for two years. You can buy it unlocked for $US179. It’ll work on many carriers if you just pop in your SIM card.
Why get an unlocked phone? If you don’t want to be locked into a contract with your carrier, unlocked phones like the Moto G give you the freedom to upgrade to a new device or switch carriers whenever you want to.
It runs a clean version of Android.
Most manufacturers like to add their own modifications to Google’s Android operating system, which often results in a lot of bloated features and graphics that you don’t need. The Moto G runs a “clean” version of Android without any of those modifications, meaning you get to use Android as Google intended.
Having a clean version of Android also means the Moto G will get software updates faster than most other Android phones. That’s a huge plus.
You can replace the back cover with colourful shells.
Want to add some colour to your phone? The Moto G’s back cover pops off and can be replaced with a bunch of different colourful shells. There’s also an optional flip cover that unlocks the phone automatically, sort of like the Smart Cover on Apple’s iPad. The shells start at $US14.99.
The camera isn’t very good.
If you’re looking for something that takes amazing photos, don’t get the Moto G. The camera stinks compared to the top-of-the-line cameras on the iPhone 5S and Nokia Lumia 1020. It’s ok in a pinch, but not that great when taking photos in low-light settings or indoors.
If you need a simple smartphone and you’re on a very tight budget, then the Moto G is a pretty good choice. However, if you’re willing to spend a little extra, I’d recommend getting Google’s flagship Nexus 5 instead.