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Review: Motorola Moto G for AT&T

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Oct 2, 2014, 3:30 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   @phonescooper

Motorola's second-generation G earns solid marks thanks to tasteful improvements to the hardware and evolutionary improvements to the specs. It's a mid-range middleweight that puts up a good fight amongst its competitors.

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Is It Your Type?

The second-generation Moto G is a bit of an evolutionary update to the first-generation model. It's bigger and better in some respects, but loses the compact nature of the first device. It's a full-sized phone. The new Moto G should appeal to budget-conscious shoppers who prefer a simplified Android experience and a straight-forward approach to the hardware.

Body

Motorola gave the second-gen Moto G a nominal boost in specs and size. Thanks in part to the bigger display, the phone is noticeably larger than last year's model. The general concept is the same. It borrows heavily from the design Motorola debuted in 2013 with the X, G, and E handsets. The G has what we can call "the Motorola look." Its lineage is not in question at all.

I'd say the second-gen model looks a wee bit spiffier than the first-gen model. The materials look and feel slightly better, and the addition of some chrome accents helps lend the G some much-needed class. The front is all shiny and glossy glass, and the back is all matte plastic. It's sort of a Jekyll/Hyde thing, if you ask me, but Motorola makes it work. Buyers will be able to choose between white or black fronts and can then customize the rear by swapping out the covers with various color options.

The phone measures 5.57 x 2.78 x 0.43 inches. That makes it taller and wider than last year's phone, but it is slightly thinner in the front-to-back dimension. The curved back surface helps the G fit better in the hand, that's for sure. It's not a small phone, and is close to a number of flagships in terms of overall footprint, but it isn't overly bif. In fact, I'd still call it a one-handed phone (though it's pushing up against the limit).

Body  

The build quality is good. The glass front has a really nice feel under the thumb. The rear cover fits snugly; the seam is nice and tight. There are no unsightly gaps. It's not rugged, but it doesn't feel dainty either.

The G's front face is nicely broken up by two chrome bars, one above the display and the second below. They cover the earpiece and microphone, respectively, and serve as stereo speakers. (It's a bummer you can't customize the colors to match the back, though.) There are no front buttons, as the G uses the on-screen controls offered by the Android operating system.

All of the G's buttons are on the right edge. The screen lock button is closer to the top and the volume toggle is closer to the middle. Both buttons have low profiles, but are far enough apart that you shouldn't mistake one for the other. Travel and feedback of both controls is unacceptably awful. They are mushy and barely spring back once pressed. Motorola could have done a much better job with these buttons. The headphone jack is on top and the microUSB port is on the bottom. Both of those function fine.

The rear shell is removable, but it's a bit of a pain in the... rear. The clasps holding it in place are rather strong, and I was forced to break out my knife to pry the cover off. Having interchangeable covers is welcome, as it allows people to customize the look of their phone at least a little bit. The SIM card and memory card slots are accessible once the cover is removed, but the G's battery is built in; you can't pull it or swap it.

In all, the second-gen Moto G is a decent piece of hardware. I'd call it slightly bland, but there are worse things a smartphone can be.

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