I’ve had the chance to try out some amazing phones this year: the Samsung Galaxy S7, the HTC 10, and even the Huawei P9, which isn’t sold in the US. Right now, I keep an iPhone 6s Plus in my pocket.
But by far my favourite phone released in the last 12 months is the Moto G3. Durable, colourful, and beautifully designed, it’s a budget phone that feels like a high-quality, premium gadget.
It’s also the last phone I bought before becoming a full-time tech writer — at $US220 (for the 16 gb version) it was the only quality device I could afford while working part-time and freelancing. And I used it until an unfortunate hip-check into a door smashed its Gorilla Glass screen in my pocket this past February.
That I bought it before taking my current job is significant — it’s the sort of device a knowledgeable consumer with neither an excess of funds nor an inside track on the tech industry picks up for themselves.
Its 5-inch, 720p, rich-colour screen is beautiful but just shy of a “retina” display where you can’t spot the individual pixels; its 1.4 Ghz processor and near-stock Android skin are plenty fast for most purposes; the 8 GB or 16 GB onboard storage options are easily expanded with a MicroSD card; with relatively low-power components and a large battery, its usage life can stretch through several days. And it’s water-resistant.
(Incidentally, if you can afford it, I recommend the 16 gb version which comes with an extra gigabyte of RAM for just $60 more than the base $260.)
In other words, it does everything you’d want a good phone to do, but lacks the fancy specs that help flagship devices fly off the shelves. It’s the sort of device tech writers should point to and write about more often.
Because the reality is that the $800 or $900 prices most premium phones demand these days are several times what most people can reasonably afford. That’s especially true in a world where nearly half of Americans couldn’t pull together $400 in an emergency.
But still we fetishise the ultra-swanky devices. Once this led carriers to bury the true costs of phones in usage bills. Now, instead, major manufacturers are just convincing buyers to go into debt for phones they can’t afford. Meanwhile, tech writers like myself get to examine most of these phones at no cost, rendering that key element of these devices’ true value invisible.
So yes, the Galaxy S7 or iPhone 6s are the best phones in the world for people with money to burn. But for everyone else, there’s the Moto G3.