Let’s talk Phone : The Moto G

So I recently acquired the Google Moto G, produced whilst Google owned Motorola, when my last phone (the Nokia Asha 201) finally packed up on me. I’m not the greatest expert on technological matters (my standard solution to all problems is to switch the phone off and on and, if the phone is a Blackberry, to throw it out of an auto).

My credentials, you ask? Well, for one, I have mostly owned mid-range phones, never retired a phone for being out of date, only for reasons of its packing up on me or because I lost it (one Sony Ericsson W series phone, one Blackberry Curve), I use my phone a lot (I was basically attached to mine at the finger for some time), I’m a reasonably savvy user in that I use my phone to do more than just take calls, text and play games, and also back up my data fairly regularly, so that I’ve never gone through that embarrassing experience of asking people on facebook for their numbers and scratching my head at the shocking amount of numbers I don’t need that are available (like that of my batchmate from school’s younger brother) and the lack of useful numbers (like that of my local grocery store, presswalla and vet) that I imagine all you mere mortals face. Additionally, I prioritize comfort and battery life above all else because I use my phone for long periods of time and have a tendency to stiff hands. I have small hands and can’t really manage large TV screen type phones (looking at you, Nexus 5) or heavy ones (this means you, iPhone 4) and regularly “borrow” my friend’s phones to play games, send texts, call, use apps and so on. This review, therefore, will focus on the lay perspective of this lovely new phone from a user who doesn’t use very expensive phones, uses their phone a lot, is interested in the various interesting tasks their phone can perform, charges said phone minimally and likes small phones. Oh, also, I held out for 3 years before I succumbed to the pressure of purchasing a touch screen phone. I am very very very attached to phones with buttons.

Let’s start with the completely useless bit first: how it looks. Now, I hear the ad for the Moto G was quite impressive and I just checked it out on YouTube here, where it really does show to favour. The phone has a lovely smooth curved feel to it, free of the sharp edges of the iPhone 4 and 5, more similar in shape and slimness to the old iPhone 2. It has a soft-touch polycarbonate back panel, so it doesn’t have the same plasticky feel of the Samsung smartphones, opting instead for a back panel with some friction. I have had more than one person compliment me on my plain black phone, with its large, vivid screen and rounded edges. Its operating system is also one I am more accustomed to (I have a Nexus 7), its upper left hand corner notifications and its grid layout when you access the settings on the right. I prefer this layout by far to the interface on most Samsung phones, which I find a little confusing and distinctly unattractive. The phone is actually quite large, something I didn’t really bargain on when I saw it on Flipkart (its exclusive online retailer in the first week after its release) and I was a little dismayed to see it didn’t fit in my hand snugly enough that I could use it one handed. Having said that, the phone is really quite light and I can hold it in my right hand and swype one handed with my thumb, at a pinch. The phone has a front and rear camera with flash, but because the camera is placed at the center of the back panel, my fingers keep touching the lens of the camera, which I imagine is not very good for it. The Moto logo is visible at the back, looking like a very cool bat-symbol and the volume and power buttons on the side are very discreet, taking nothing away from the shape of the phone. I have yet to purchase a cover for the phone, but fully intend to purchase a light plastic one, to round the back of the phone completely.

moto_g_0

Next up, Battery: Now, Moto and Google tout it as having 24 hours of mixed use battery life. If that sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is. When I leave for class in the morning, the phone is about 95% charged (some of it having drained over the course of the night). I run the phone with automatic brightness adjustment and Avast virus protection running in the background, use 3G and rarely switch on the wi-fi function outside my home. I use my phone through most of class, playing Giant Boulder of Death, Word Feud or reading articles on it and texting. Over the course of the day, I play much GBoD and Word Feud, text moderately, but I’d say I use the phone not more than 4 hours with the screen running and use it to talk for about 15 minutes a day on average. By about 11 pm, the phone is on 14% charge and its battery saver function running, which restricts background data. This translates into about 15 hours of mixed use, which is still a lot more than I’ve seen from other phones, and I am not in the same pitiful condition as many others, who need to roam around with their chargers on them at all times (that’s right, I’m talking to you, Blackberry users). I can easily spend the whole day downstairs without needing to charge my phone, which is a big plus for me. Prior to obtaining this phone, I used a Moto Razr, which gave me 2 days of use. But, of course, the Razr was running without background data and gave me about 3 hours of actual talk time. The phone charges pretty fast, going from 10% to 100% in 2 hours and I don’t leave it on charge overnight, preferring to put it on charge around 11 pm and taking it off at 1 am. Also, the charger wire is a little on the long side compared to other phones, so I don’t need to struggle to use it when it’s charging

Processing and speed and other fancy techy shizz: I don’t know what the benchmark for these factors is, but I was using a Moto Razr before this, so my answer to speed is “so speed, many apps, much wow”. Some apps have a distressing tendency to hang (GBoD, Domino’s), but I suspect that’s mostly the fault of the app developers, not the phone. It can occasionally take its time booting Whatsapp if not in 3G range and has a little delay in refreshing conversations if I lock the phone with a conversation window open. The boot time for the phone itself is not very long and it has a very pretty opening sequence. Since I’m not sure what the criteria for this involves, contact me if you have any questions or any paces you’d like me to put the phone through. Also, do not accidentally leave the phone in sun. I left it lying around and the drop down menu wouldn’t drop all the way down and I had to reboot the phone. The phone also doesn’t heat up, which is where it really wins over all other phones for me, because hot phones are basically anathema to my hands. Where the iPhone 4 heated up after half an hour of Candy Crush Saga or my BlackBerry heated up while charging, this phone is almost always cool to the touch, even if I just took it out of my pocket, making it a winner in my books.

Ease of Use: Now here is where it gets a little tricky. As mentioned before, I am a strictly buttons gal and I have had my fair share of pocket/palm/thumb dials on this phone over the past week, because of the unusual way in which its “phone” feature is accessed. So, when you press the phone button, instead of opening to your dial pad or even your contacts, the phone opens to a screen which has your most recently dialled number right at the top, followed by 3 square panels with your top 3 contacted persons and all your favourites displayed below. Fortunately this means the people I pocket dial the most are my closest friends and I am easily forgiven. The reason I’m going into this in so much detail is because it took me forever to figure this one out and I thought my phone was being totally arbitrary in selecting said contacts. So, those of you suggesting said phone to parents or other older relatives, bear this in mind. Also, it takes some little manoeuvring to remember where exactly to press a contact to edit their details instead of dialling them, so I have still managed to accidentally call people who aren’t on my favourite list. The really annoying thing though is how impossible it is to set ringtones on the phone. If you transfer music files from your computer to your phone, you have to set up new folders to use said files as ringtones or alarms and they won’t be accessible on Google Play Music. I don’t know what the fix to this is, but I assume there is one. There is also no file manager that allows you to move files within the device, so you have to download one. The messaging feature also leaves a little to be desired in terms of deleting conversation threads and the like, but if you have a smartphone, you’re not using the messaging feature all that much.

Camera: Now, this phone gets a lot of flak for its camera and I frankly don’t know why. I think the camera’s pretty stellar, though the lack of effects for the front camera are a little sad. The flash is certainly bright, if prone to a little red-eye at night and redness in the image overall. In normal sunlight, the images are clear and sharp. Where it could improve is in stabilizing images when your hand is moving or shaking, which is where other cameras probably win over. But I was won over by its single touch, multiple shot feature, which allows you to just press down and get a burst of photos, so you can pick whichever is sharpest. The front camera is kinda crappy, giving you grainy images in low light and changing my face tone to yellow or totally washed out, depending on the lighting.

Speaker and volume: Loud enough. Not exactly a music system of a phone, but more than adequate for your alarm to wake you up or to hear the phone ring in another room even if not set to full volume. The earphones included with the phone are uncomfortable and plasticky, so you’ll have to use your own. Sound quality on the speaker is prone to being a little tinny.

Other negatives: The built-in storage. The phone comes in 8 and 16 GB storage sizes, with no extendable storage available. 8 GB translates into 5.5 GB of usable space. If you want to store a lot of stuff on your phone, that’s probably a deal-breaker for you, but I don’t use the camera or music player on my phone very often, so I got the cheaper 8 GB model. The phone is only available in a dual sim model, which I simply don’t understand. As mentioned before, one keeps touching the camera lens due to awkward placement. The auto-rotate is also a little over sensitive, making it inconvenient to use the phone while lying in bed or moving it from hand to hand. There’s no auto-rotate button in the quick access panel, so I had to download one and put it on the home screen. The phone also doesn’t come with a data cable, so you have to purchase one. It’s also not the easiest phone to personalize, which is a little sad because it is an Android device after all.

Other positives: water resistant, which means it can withstand light splashes of rain. This is a reasonably cool feature, because the number one cause of my phones hating me is water damage. I love walking in the rain, I don’t love owning waterproof bags and the obvious conclusion follows. I would think this feature basically translates into: you can listen to music in the shower with this phone. I think that’s legitimately useful. The interface is very nice and it’s like owning a cheaper Nexus (the design is also very similar). And the most overwhelming positive of all is the price. At Rs. 12,499 (no delivery charge), I defy you to find a better phone. This price tag officially makes it the most expensive phone I’ve owned and probably my most favourite by far. While my perfect phone still involves buttons instead of a touchscreen, this phone seems like a right phone for me.

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