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Moto G (2015) Review: Motorola’s best-selling phone just got even better

The Moto G offers a flagship camera for a third of the usual price and a design you can customise before you buy

The Moto G has been given a big upgrade. The third-generation model still holds true to the principle that made its predecessors so popular: it offers a high-quality phone for a third of the price of most flagships. But with more and more budget phones claiming they offer ‘high specs, low price,’ has the Moto G (2015) upped the ante enough to distinguish itself from the competition?

Judging it solely on its looks, the Moto G (2015) might disappoint you. While other phones this year have placed an emphasis on a slender metal chasses, from the front the all-plastic Moto G (2015) looks more like the Samsung Galaxy S4 rather than the Galaxy S6. It’s also a chunky monkey with a 72.4mm width and curved back that ranges from 6.1-11.6mm.

However, its 5.5-inch display is bright and crisp with wide viewing angles, even if its pixel density of 294ppi (pixels-per-inch) is only a single pixel higher than its predecessor. It also has dual front-facing speakers that provide a booming loudspeaker during calls, though we did find them a little tinny for music playback.

However, flip the Moto G (2015) over and you might be more impressed. Motorola have extended its online design studio, Moto Maker, to the new Moto G, so you can mix and match how the handset looks before you buy. Though you’re only limited to black or white on the front of the phone, you can choose from 10 colours and another 10 accent tones to personalise the back cover. Colours range from vibrant lime green, golden yellow and cherry red, but also include the more sombre black, white, navy blue and cabernet purple, giving you a wide selection to play with.

Sadly, you can’t choose between materials for the new Moto G’s case like you can with the more expensive Moto X Style though, which can have a back cover made from plastic, wood or leather. Instead all of the back cover designs are made from a textured rubber. This gives the Moto G more grip and ensures that the phone is waterproof. While you can’t actually use it underwater, with an IPX7 rating, it can be dunked up to one metre of water for up to 30 minutes without fear of leaking.

While we approve of the new Moto G’s customisable design, one add-on we didn’t expect to pay for was a wall charger. The box only includes a USB charger to plug into the back of a computer. Motorola’s own TurboPower wall charger costs £24.99

Under the personalised cover, the Moto G (2015) is packing a Snapdragon 410 quad-core processor clocked at 1.4GHz. This is an improvement on the second-gen device’s 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400, but is far from cutting-edge. It benchmarked 23987 on Antutu and its single- and multi-score Geekbench 3 results were 522 and 1,595, which were both far ahead of its predecessors, but still in line with older (albeit, more expensive) phones from one or two years ago. In real terms though, we did notice a significant delay in performance when using the phone day-to-day and enjoyed graphic-heavy games without jitters.

Personalise the look of your Moto G in Moto Maker or buy Shell cases, sold seperately
Design how your Moto G looks to suit your tastes before you buy with Moto Maker

While there is a seperate device called the Moto G 4G, the Moto G (2015) is the first in the offical line of Moto G’s to support LTE. This means users can enjoy faster video streaming, app downloads and internet access. However, diehard Android users will be disappointed that the new Moto G doesn’t support NFC.

One area that has been greatly improved is the camera. The rear shooter is exactly the same as Google’s £500 Nexus 6, boasting 13MP for crystal clear HDR images and a dual LED flash for colour-balancing. This is a huge jump from the second-gen models 8MP, and the front-facing selfie snapper has also been upgraded from 2MP to 5MP. It also shoot 1080p HD video.

With this powerful rear camera and the fact the Moto G (2015) runs near-stock Android Lolllipop 5.1.1, you might think of it as almost a knock-off Nexus. However, though it now has homescreen skin and is lean on bloatware, the Moto G (2015) shows that Motorola are really trying to push some of its own apps this time around. The most significant of these is Moto Assist, which rather than being a poor substitute for Google Now is a helpful automation tool. It recognises when you’re driving to automatically read out texts and it will block unwanted notifications between set times when you’re sleeping. The rather brilliant Moto Display is also still here, delivering essential info straight to your lockscreen.

For us, the Moto G still sets the standard for low-end smartphones. However, those who want a more stylish look, a bigger screen or better audio may want to shop around.