Review: Motorola Moto G for AT&T
The Moto G ships with the core Google Play apps for content consumption. These apps are available to all Android devices. I find they work well for handling each different type of content available in the Play Store, including music, movies, TV shows, books, and magazines. The G also throws in an FM radio for good measure. The radio works well, but you need to use a pair of headphones (as an antenna) to get any reception.
Music sounds good when played back through my fave set of earbuds, and the screen does a good job with video content. I've been catching up on "The Walking Dead" lately, and it looked great on the G. The stereo speakers are definitely helpful when watching a video with friends and put out plenty of sound to accompany the visuals.
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The G uses the exact same camera software Motorola used on the X. It is rather bare bones, but functions well enough for a device such as the G. It opens quickly from the lock screen or the home screens, but the G loses the X's gesture-based launch function.
The camera UI is spartan. There are only two buttons: one for the video camera and another for the user-facing camera. (Every so often, a little "?" appears in the upper right corner. If you're confused about how to use the camera, this offers you a helpful tutorial.) The controls can only be accessed by swiping from the side of the viewfinder towards the center. Swiping from the left opens the control dial that has most of the options. The Moto G includes HDR (which can be set to come on automatically) and panorama shooting modes.
Want to zoom? Drag your finger up or down. (When you first launch the camera, these actions are explained.) Perhaps the one thing I really like is that the camera has an always-on burst mode. Press the screen and hold, and the G will focus and then fire of two shots per second until you take your finger off the screen.
The camera software is a step up from stock Android, but barely. You can't adjust scenes, ISO, brightness, or white balance. You can toggle GPS tagging on/off; set the flash to auto, on, or off; choose the aspect ratio for your photos: and toggle on/off the exposure lock feature.
The G is a tad slow to focus and capture images. The burst function works very fast, but when shooting single images there's a noticeable delay between pressing the screen and when the G focuses and fires the shot.
Motorola improved the G's camera sensor from 5 megapixels to 8. In general, it produces good images. I saw some problems here and there, such as soft focus, grain, or incorrect exposure, but none of them were disastrously awful. White balance was pretty much always accurate. The bulk of photos were solid. I can say with certainty that the auto HDR function saved some photos that otherwise would have been under/over exposed in some areas. Considering where this device falls in AT&T's lineup, it includes a competitive camera with which most people will be pleased.
Video is a somewhat different story. First, the G can only capture 720p HD resolution (at regular speed or slow-motion). Like photos, the video results are generally good, but I saw consistent trouble with exposure. The G had a hard time balancing out subjects that had a dark foreground and bright background. The result, most often, was a too-dark foreground and a properly exposed background. This doesn't work if your subject is in the foreground. Focus and white balance weren't problematic. The G suffices for snagging everyday video, but special occasions might warrant better gear.
The Moto G includes both the stock Android gallery app and Google's Photo+ app. The stock gallery app is the same one that comes with most Android devices. It doesn't offer anything new or different compared to other KitKat phones. It is acceptable for managing photo albums and sharing photos with social networks. It also has a some simple editing features, such as crop, rotate, red-eye reduction, and filters that help correct color, exposure, and other issues.
The Photo+ app has a more generous set of editing functions, and can be used to back-up and interact with your photos on Google+ (for those of you who still use it).
AT&T didn't stuff any apps onto the Moto G, and for that I am thankful. It comes completely free of bloatware. Huzzah!
I successfully paired the Moto G with my car, headphones, and laptop. Calls routed through my car's hands-free system were loud enough, but rather sketchy in the quality department. It synced my contact data to my car flawlessly. Music sounded pretty good when sent to my fave stereo Bluetooth headphones, but I've heard better. I had no trouble passing files from the Moto G to other nearby devices.
The Moto G ships with just Chrome on board. The newest rendition of Chrome is solid when it comes to rendering web sites, be they optimized for mobile or not. Web sites looked good and functioned well on the G. I found the G to be quick when surfing on Wi-Fi, but page load times were definitely slower over HSPA+ compared to LTE. AT&T's HSPA+ network is solid, but it's just not as quick as LTE.
The G's lock screen offers a simple digital clock. The font is white and the numbers are a wee bit thin for my tastes. You do have to be careful about your wallpapers, as they can obscure the clock at times. Otherwise it's generally easy to read.
Google Maps is the only navigation tool installed on the G. I found it functioned quite well. The GPS radio was quick to locate me, and I'd estimate accuracy is within about 25 to 35 feet. Maps is a great tool for planning routes or searching for nearby points of interest. Of course, there are tons of alternatives in the Play Store.
Hands On with the new Moto G
Motorola's first Moto G has been their best-selling phone ever. It's just enough phone at a really great price.
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