Motorola Moto G 3rd Generation Review

MotoG_Main
The 3rd Generation of Motorola’s Moto G line improves upon its predecessors and offers a compelling package, as long as you like black.
Every time I pick up the Motorola Moto G 3rd Generation, I’m reminded of one of my favourite scenes from that evergreen classic of comedy Sci-Fi, Red Dwarf. This one, to be precise:

The Motorola Moto G is, you see, black. Very black, and designed in such a way that it somehow manages to not stand out even when it’s the only thing on the table. This isn’t necessarily an unpleasant or annoying thing however, if all you want is a phone that looks like it gets on with the job.

It seems crazy, but the Moto G is smartphone shaped, and designed to look like a smartphone.
It seems crazy, but the Moto G is smartphone shaped, and designed to look like a smartphone.

A lot of budget handsets go overboard in design terms, but the Moto G went the other way with a subtle ridged pattern on the rear that gives it just a little bit of grip, and not much else. If you’re fussy, the power and volume buttons on the right hand side are rather thin which can make operation a touch tricky.
Slightly thicker buttons would have been slightly better (but this is a pedantic point)
Slightly thicker buttons would have been slightly better (but this is a pedantic point)

At 142.1 x 72.4 x 11.6 mm and 155g it’s an easy phone to hold in the hand. The rear black casing is fully removable to reveal the microSD card slot and dual 4G SIM capability. We’re seeing more and more dual SIM phones hit Australian shores, and while they’re a niche that not everybody needs, especially as telcos start making most phone plans (*coughexceptTelstra*) unlimited, it’s not a bad feature to have. The Motorola Moto G 3rd Generation’s 2470mAh battery is non-removable, however.
In terms of core specifications, the Motorola Moto G 3rd Generation has a 5.0″ 720×1280 294ppi display, which is fairly average for a mid-to-budget range handset. It’s wrapped up in Corning Gorilla Glass 3, which gives it the prospect of solid durability, and it’s also IPX7 rated, so it can survive a dunk in fresh water for up to 30 minutes.
A quick diversion if I may; there’s only a handful of smartphones that offer waterproofing, but both customers and manufacturers do themselves few favours when it comes to this, with plenty of anecdotal tales of destroyed handsets after a day at the beach or a dip in a pool. The IP waterproofing standards only apply to fresh water, not chlorinated or salty water, which introduces additional stress factors. Phones such as the Motorola Moto G 3rd Generation might survive a dip in the surf, and almost certainly will do so better than phones with no water resistance at all, but that’s not the same thing as proof against all different water compositions.
To get back on track, I’ve dunked the Motorola Moto G 3rd Generation into my sink and left it there to bubble, and it survived. I can’t think of a situation where I’d want to take a photo of my sink plug, but it’s at least possible.
No amount of waterboarding would make the Moto G admit to its role in alleged terrorist activities.
No amount of waterboarding would make the Moto G admit to its role in alleged terrorist activities.

In processing terms, the Motorola Moto G 3rd Generation runs on a quad-core 1.4GHz Qualcomm MSM8916 Snapdragon 410 processor, as befits its relatively budget status. That’s not a high reaching part, but it could have some impact on overall battery life, which is particularly of concern for a dual-SIM phone where you could have two radios chattering away all day and slurping up battery power. There’s 2GB of RAM and 16GB of onboard storage to play with, plus whatever microSD card you care to throw in there, running on Motorola’s very lightly skinned Android 5.1.1. You could easily be forgiven for thinking that this was absolute vanilla Android, because Motorola really does play with a very gentle touch beyond a few quirky aspects such as twisting to launch the camera or an onscreen notifications blind on the lock screen. If you want lots of preinstalled apps this might not be the phone for you, but if you’re happy to muck in and make Android do what you want it to do, there’s reasonable scope here.
The Motorola Moto G 3rd Generation isn’t running massively high-specifications internally, and that’s reflected in its largely average benchmark scores.
[table]
Motorola Moto G 3rd Generation Benchmarks,
Benchmark,Score
PC Mark Android Work,4187
3DMark Slingshot,48
3DMark Ice Storm,4448
Geekbench 3,532/1580
Quadrant,14526
Antutu,24660
[/table]
Benchmarks don’t always tell the whole story; to give some context to those raw scores they’re not terribly different to some of the scores achieved by the much cheaper Sony Xperia E4g. The difference in real world use, however, is quite remarkable, because where the E4g frustrated me with very slow response, the Motorola Moto G 3rd Generation only had a few hiccups and bumps along the way. As you’d expect, you can’t push the Motorola Moto G 3rd Generation to any kind of extreme performance and expect much, but for most regular Android users it’s entirely capable.
The same is true of the Motorola Moto G 3rd Generation’s 13MP rear and 5MP front cameras, both of which are fine in regular light and predictably a little poor once the sun has gone to bed. They’re not the fastest to focus, but Motorola’s supplied camera app is easy to learn and should suit the Motorola Moto G 3rd Generation’s target market well.
A capable enough camera, but nothing truly exceptional.
A capable enough camera, but nothing truly exceptional.

What about battery life? Obviously this can be affected by the number of SIMs present, and I’ve largely only tested with one SIM onboard. The Motorola Moto G 3rd Generation’s 2470mAh battery anecdotally should be fine for a single day’s battery use without too much fuss at all. That’s backed up by Geekbench’s battery test, which sapped the Motorola Moto G 3rd Generation’s battery in 7 hours and 43 minutes precisely for a battery score of 3087.
HOT NAKED SMARTPHONE ACTION!
HOT NAKED SMARTPHONE ACTION!

The Motorola Moto G 3rd Generation isn’t the flashiest phone, unless you’re a very close relative of Hotblack Desiato. It’s not the fastest phone, either, but despite only mid-range benchmark scores, it’s a capable enough performer for its asking price, which is $369 outright.
Unlike the Motorola Moto X Style and Motorola Moto X Play, both of which are Vodafone exclusives, there’s no way to put the Motorola Moto G 3rd Generation onto a contract. Motorola hasn’t yet announced its retail partners for the Motorola Moto G 3rd Generation, but it’s expected to go on sale here in Australia in early September. If you’re after a budget to mid-priced handset that keeps things very simple and mostly pleasant, it’s well worth consideration.

About the author

Alex Kidman is a multi-award winning Australian technology writer, former editor at Gizmodo, CNET, GameSpot, ZDNet, PC Mag, APC, Finder and as a contributor to the ABC, SMH, AFR, Courier Mail, GadgetGuy, PC & Tech Authority, Atomic and many more. He's been writing professionally since 1998, and his passions include technology, social issues, education, retro gaming and professional wrestling.

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