Sunday, June 7, 2015

Phone Review: Motorola Moto G (Second Generation)

After over three years with my Samsung Galaxy Note 1 - or may I call it "TIM"? - I have finally moved on to a new phone. The Note was a good phone, for the first year, before things started to go awry. Some of the problems were my fault (such as upgrading the operating system to various versions, none of which worked well on the hardware), some of the problems were Samsung's fault (such as low-quality hardware), and some of the problems were Android's fault (darn Google for releasing so many versions, leaving my Note in the dust!)

Despite the good times I shared with the Note, it finally gave up the ghost when the charging port refused to accept the cable. I was going to send it for repair (again) but when I realized my 3-year-old daughter had learned the phrase "stupid phone" from me, I knew that enough was enough.

The Note cost a pretty penny, and a pretty penny I don't have to replace it with something of equal standing in the current phone rankings. The LG G4, Samsung Galaxy Note 4, and Samsung Galaxy 6 Edge (among a slew of flagship phones from competing vendors) were all out of my price range. Besides, my Note only lasted a little over three years, so it hardly seems worthwhile spending all those pennies on a device that depreciates to zero in such a short time.

With a more modest budget, I set out to find a replacement phone. I settled on the Motorola Moto G (2nd Generation). The salesman in the store suggested that the Galaxy S III, which he was still selling, was a better phone. In terms of hard-cold specs, he was probably right, but I was done with Samsung - at least for now. Besides, the Motorola Moto G (2nd Generation) had great reviews and is a current phone, still being marketed by Motorola. The Galaxy III is three generations behind the current offering.

When I un-boxed the Moto G, it was loaded with Android KitKat 4.4.4. However, as soon as I connected to a wireless network, it prompted me to load Android Lollipop 5.0.2.

The Moto G is an easy phone to use. It fits nicely in the hand and the pocket. The screen is big enough without being huge. It is bright and responsive. Lollipop works really well on the Moto G. The phone is snappy and handles transitions between programs effortlessly.

The hardware seems reasonable. The rounded back makes the phone easy to hold. I'm not sure what the back is made from, but it is comfortable to grip and is not slippery. On the inside, there are slots for two sim-cards, although I only have use for one right now. There is a removable battery and a place to insert an SD card. I like that you don't have to remove the battery to take out the SD card.

Call quality is good, and the cellular, GPS, wireless, and Bluetooth connections seem to be strong. I had problems maintaining a connection in some parts of my house with my Note, but not with the Moto G. So far, the battery has lasted all day and a bit under medium use, a smidgen less than a day under heavy use, which is fine.

The camera is decent, although it won't win any awards. I'm not sure if the camera software is Motorola's or Android's, but I really like the "tap-anywhere-on-the-screen" to shoot feature and the "tap-and-hold" for multiple shots feature.

There are a few things that bug me about the phone. The power button is located on the right-hand side of the phone, just above the volume rocker. The problem is that it is difficult to activate the phone with one hand (say, when I'm driving - I know, I know...) Also, the volume rocker is positioned at almost exactly the place where the brackets of the car-phone-holder grip it. If I drive over a bump, the brackets sometimes press on the volume rocker and my podcasts fade out into nothingness. This is not an intrinsic fault of the phone - I might just need a new car-phone-holder - but it is annoying.

I still need to get used to using Lollipop, and I am glad that Motorolla didn't pre-load a bunch of junk to clog up the phone. There are a few Motorola apps that come with the phone, but I am yet to explore them and determine their usefulness. But it seems that Motorolla has left the OS to speak for itself, which is a refreshing change from Samsung's penchant for unremovable bloatware.

In summary, the Moto G is a decent phone and I just hope it lasts me another 18 - 24 months. Anything more than that is probably a bonus. I have been using the Moto G for less than a week, but I enjoy the fact that it is built to run the latest operating system and that it handles all of the tasks I use it for effortlessly. For a phone in its price range, so far, so good...

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