Motorola Moto G (2015) review: Mid-range never felt so good


Since the company reemerged in 2013, Motorola has been trying to prove that specifications mean nothing on paper. Motorola’s portfolio was slashed and now the company offers just three phones to cover different segments — high-end, mid-range, and entry-level. The Moto G (2015) blurs those lines to an extent. Motorola has developed a phone that, when actually used, feels unlike any other mid-range device ever sold. Why is Motorola able do this? Because specifications from flagship devices made in 2013 and 2014 are beginning to be revamped and repackaged for the mid-range devices of today. And consumers can only benefit from that in both performance and price.

Motorola has gotten out of the way of users and their phones and created a comfortable, approachable, and durable device in the Moto G. This phone can actually rival some of today’s high-end devices. Maybe some will view it as Motorola’s true flagship. Sounds crazy, right? Motorola doesn’t care because it’s true. The value here goes far beyond its $179 starting price.

Note: This review was conducted with the model that has 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage.



Anyone who has ever used the Moto G (2014) will feel right at home. The Moto G now measures 142.1 x 72.4 x 6.1-11.6mm and weighs 155g. This makes the new model ever so slightly taller, wider, and thicker than its predecessor while weighing exactly the same. Nothing about increase in size poses a problem as the Moto G is still compact and light.


This year, with the latest round of hardware, Motorola makes excellent, albeit small, improvements. The rear panel is now textured with lines going across diagonally to give a better grip of the phone in one hand. Paired with the company’s signature curved design, the textured rear panel makes the Moto G extremely comfortable to hold, contouring to the shape of your hand. The curved back is met with a not-quite-metal plastic on the sides. The metallic accent, which is also around the camera, makes the Moto G seem premium despite metal not being present.


Company branding is seen on the rear’s dimple where Motorola’s logo resides. In use, that dimple is for resting your index finger.

Holding the Moto G is a relief in a world of massive displays.

Motorola takes a somewhat traditional approach when it comes to buttons and ports. Being that the Moto G utilizes Android’s on-screen buttons, the firmly-placed power and volume buttons on the right side are the only ones physically accessible. The bottom of the device offers the micro-USB port for charging and data transfer while the audio jack is placed at the top. The curved back of the Moto G could be limiting space and thus forcing the audio jack to remain above the display rather than below. Regardless, button and port placement on the Moto G is acceptable. The height of the phone is not to the point where people with small hands would have trouble reaching the power and volume buttons. Hands big and small will be all over the Moto G.






Moto Maker, the company’s customization suite, was launched first for the Moto X and expanded last year to the Moto 360. In 2015, the Moto G joins Moto Maker. Without question, this is the most customizable a mid-range device has ever been. You can match the front, back, and accent of the Moto G to any style because of how many options are available. The selection isn’t quite as plentiful nor unique as it is for the Moto X, but I guarantee that you will find something that fits.

So what can you do with the Moto G in Moto Maker?

  • Front: black, white
  • Back: lime, golden yellow, black, white, raspberry, cherry, navy turquoise, blue, cabernet
  • Accent: lemon lime, dark chrome, light chrome, red, champagne, purple, orange, blue, black, pink
  • Memory: 8GB of internal storage / 1GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage / 2GB of RAM
  • Flip Shell: charcoal, crimson, raspberry, blue, turquoise
  • Engraving: Name or short message of up to fourteen characters



The Moto G features a 5-inch 720p HD (1280×720) LCD display, 1.4GHz quad-core Snapdragon 410, Adreno 306, 1GB or 2GB of RAM, 8GB or 16GB of internal storage, a microSD card slot for up to an additional 32GB of storage, a 13MP rear camera, a 5MP front camera, a front-facing speaker, a 2470mAh battery (non-removable), WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, and Bluetooth 4.0 LE.

Bands (by model):

4G LTE (2, 4, 5, 7, 12, 17)
UMTS/HSPA+ (1, 2, 4, 5)
GSM/GPRS/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)

4G LTE (2, 4, 5, 7, 12, 17)
UMTS/HSPA+ (1, 2, 4, 5)
GSM/GPRS/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)

XT1542, XT1543, XT1544
4G LTE (4, 7, 28)
UMTS/HSPA+ (1, 2, 4, 5, 8)
GSM/GPRS/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHZ)

4G LTE (2, 4, 5, 12, 17, 25, 26)
UMTS/HSPA+ (2, 4, 5)
GSM/GPRS/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)

XT1550, XT1551
4G LTE (1, 3, 7, 8, 28)
UMTS/HSPA+ (1, 5, 8, 19)
TFD LTE (40)
GSM/GPRS/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHZ)


Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 410 is inside the Moto G, but this little chipset manages tasks big and small. The Snapdragon 410 has four cores clocked at 1.2GHz and you can pair it with either 1GB or 2GB of RAM. Power users will jump straight for the 2GB model; however, the 1GB model should be suitable for everyone else. During my time with the Moto G, the phone was always snappy and kept around an extra gigabyte of memory in its pocket. Day-to-day activities for me include managing emails, sending around messages on Hangouts, spending free time on Twitter, and playing the occasional game of Threes. The Moto G jumps between apps without lag or slowdowns. Even though it’s not blazing fast and lighting up benchmark scores, the Moto G’s speed is pleasantly consistent.


The display may seem subpar since Full HD and Quad HD resolutions are considered standard for noteworthy phones. On the Moto G, especially with its 5-inch size, 720p works perfectly. If anything, the LCD display lacks the sharpness and vibrancy of AMOLED displays with higher resolutions. It’s still sharp, colorful, and bright indoors and outdoors.

Had Motorola gone for a Snapdragon 600 series processor and a Full HD display, the Moto G would cost north of $250, a price goes against what this phone is about.



The 2470mAh battery should provide the all-day battery life that we hear about frequently. Realistically, the Moto G can touch thirty-six hours of use until begging for a charge. I’ve been using the LG G4 and HTC One (M8) in recent months and both of those phones have a hard time exceeding twenty-four hours. Are those two phones more powerful than the Moto G? Sure, but let’s applaud the Moto G’s battery life for what it is.

Although it lasts nearly two days, many people will be disappointed to know that battery is non-removable. Motorola made the decision to encase the battery to help achieve the aforementioned IPX7 certification. To be honest, the consumers hell-bent on getting a removable battery are too busy badgering Samsung and HTC. The Moto G’s non-removable battery is non-issue for most.



Take a look at the other companies manufacturing Android devices and none of them compare to Motorola’s software strategy. No one else gets the hell out of your way like Motorola does. The Moto G ships with an untouched version of Android 5.1.1 Lollipop. While Samsung and LG include everything and the kitchen sink, Motorola uses Android in its basic form and adds lighter features.


The dedicated Moto app acts the control center for the Moto G’s unique features. Moto Assist, Moto Actions, and Moto Display are all packed into this one app. Through the phone’s various sensors, the Moto app learns from your daily habits.


Moto Assist adjusts the handling of notifications based on where a user is and what he or she is doing. Users add activities and places for the Moto G to be contextually aware of so that the phone doesn’t interrupt meetings or disturb sleep. It works by designating a time or place to activate the filter. Normally sleep from 10:30PM to 6:00AM? Don’t worry about a call putting a stop to your slumber. Need to be productive at work? You won’t be told when someone liked your Instagram photo from the night before. Worriers can enable high-priority notifications to force themselves through and alert upon arriving.

Two hand gestures, filed under Moto Actions, offer quick access to the flashlight and camera even if the phone’s display is off. Do a chopping motion twice and the dual LED flash will provide light. Similarly, twisting your wrist twice immediately launches the camera. No buttons are necessary to start taking pictures. You can say that both gestures are… handy.


Moto Display is by far my favorite thing about the software. No notification LED, no problem. Notifications, when the phone is inactive, are shown on the display. The screen lights up and you interact with app icons to decide what is done with notifications — preview, open, or dismiss. It really doesn’t have that much of an effect on battery life as the screen isn’t always on. The reason why so many people love Moto Display is because you are not left reaching for your phone every time a notification appears. Notification LEDs are ambiguous, you can never see if the notification is worth your time. On the contrary, Moto Display shows you the app icon so you can decide whether or not the notification needs to be looked at.


Regarding software updates, Motorola is easily the best; expect the Moto G to receive a software update with Android 6.0 Marshmallow in a timely manner this fall.



Mid-range devices are never applauded for their cameras. And let’s get this out of the way: Motorola’s cameras typically pale in comparison to any other company’s. We all know it. Motorola knows it, too. So a mid-range device from Motorola is bound to have an awful camera, right? Not this time around. Motorola finally made a commitment, which very much shows, to release devices that can take decent pictures. The 8MP camera from last year on the Moto G has been dropped in favor of a 13MP camera (with dual-LED flash), but an improvement in quality of this degree cannot be credited solely to raising the megapixels. Motorola either went for pricier components or tinkered with the processing.

The simple software approach taken by Motorola is also evident when using the camera. Two buttons are all Motorola thinks you’ll need. Need anything more than switching cameras and recording video? Then use the menu that slides out from the left side to alter the camera’s settings. All set? Then just tap the display to capture an image. The Moto G’s camera constantly refocuses on different subjects for you. Forget about pointing, focusing, and then shooting; that’s condensed into a single tap.

You’ll need to first go into the settings of the camera in order to start taking pictures at 13MP. By default, the Moto G is set to take pictures at 9.7MP and 16:9 aspect ratio. Reverting to the maximum 13MP changes the aspect ratio to 4:3. Both settings produce best-in-class results.


Specifications don’t matter. The Moto G performs well above what’s expected for a phone that costs less than $200. The display is accurate, the processor can endure heavy multitasking, and the camera pulls off amazing shots. Find another phone that you can say the same about. Right, the only way you could is by spending hundreds of dollars more. But by spending $179, you’re getting a phone that performs smoothly and feels like it was crafted just for you. So many inconsistencies exist between devices of any price yet the Moto G can give flagships from other companies a run for their money.

The Moto G raises the bar for mid-range devices and Motorola is once again proving that what you do is better than what you have.

[Motorola Moto G]

About the Author: Justin Herrick

Born and raised in New Jersey, Justin is a graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University where he studied marketing with a focus on digital marketing. He's very talkative and enjoys discussing anything from technology and sports to video games and television. As for Justin's current device rotation, he carries around the Google Pixel and Nexus 9. In the rare case that his phone or tablet is not in his hand, he is either flicking through cards on his Moto 360 (2015) or typing away on the Microsoft Surface Book. Justin is patiently waiting for the day that Google replicates the Galaxy Nexus with modern day specifications.

  • V

    Lots of reports that the XT1540 does not have band 12. Motorola site updated to reflect as well.

    • MarkAzali

      not the case for the Canadian site which lists 12 still

  • mahesh

    Recent phones getting problems on software not like before models Moto G and Moto E , now came moto G 3r generations wait and see how the performance give