The second-generation Moto G, which we predicted would be called the Moto G2, is easier to identify by its part code: XT1068. Fortunately, the 2014 model is easy to tell apart from the original (and revised version) thanks to the prominent front-facing speakers and larger 5in screen.
Motorola Moto G (2014) review: price
The new Moto G costs £145, and that's for the 8GB version. We're yet to see a street price, but that's hardly more expensive than the 'old' 4G model, which you can pick up (in 8GB format) for £130. We're sure that discounts will be available almost immediately, and that you'll pay about £20 more for the 16GB version.
Motorola Moto G (2014) review: design and build
The Moto G mk2 addresses feedback Motorola received from the original and has a bigger screen, better speakers and dual SIM card slots.
Design-wise, the new Moto G follows the original almost exactly. There’s no metal and no disguising the plastic finish: it feels cheap compared to the plastic iPhone 5C. However, let’s not forget the massive chasm in price between the two smartphones.
Buttons and ports are in the same places, and the back is removable to reveal both SIM slots and the microSD slot (which will accept cards up to 32GB).
It’s bigger than its predecessor in width and height, but not in depth – it remains the same at roughly 11mm. Weight is practically the same, too, at a shade under 150g. The handset is well balanced and feels lighter than you’d expect.
There are two colours: black and white, but you’ll be able to buy coloured rear shells in October. (There was no mention of official flip covers as with the old Moto G.)
Motorola Moto G (2014) review: screen
The smartphone isn’t much bigger overall, but the 5in IPS display feels like a nice upgrade over the 4.5in of the original. Even so, it’s a tiny bit disappointing that the resolution is still 1280x720, meaning a drop in density to 294ppi (compared to 329ppi).
It’s still a great screen, though, with vivid colours and great viewing angles. Brightness is decent enough, but not the brightest around.
Motorola Moto G (2014) review: hardware
Oddly, there’s no upgrade in the processor department. The Snapdragon 400 quad-core chip runs at 1.2GHz and has the Adreno 305 graphics processor. That means performance is the same, which is to say it’s very good, especially at this low price.
In the UK, the new Moto G will be available in 8GB and 16GB versions, and we’re led to believe all will be dual SIM. 4G is supported, just as with the revised first-gen Moto G.
You get 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS.
Compared to the single rear-facing speaker of the original Moto G, the new front-facing speakers are superb. Just like HTC’s BoomSound, the second-generation Moto G’s sound is excellent. There’s no need to turn up the volume so much – and annoy people sitting opposite you – since the audio is directed straight at your ears.
They’re not great for music, but when playing games and watching videos on YouTube or iPlayer, you’ll really appreciate both the stereo separation and the decent quality.
Motorola Moto G (2014) review: cameras
The good news is that the mediocre cameras have been upgraded, with an 8Mp sensor at the rear, and 2Mp at the front. There’s an LED flash at the back, as before (the old Moto G is on the right with a red rear shell).
The bad news is that video is still shot at only 720p, which is strange as 8Mp is more than enough for 1080p.
You can check out the quality for yourself, but suffice to say, the photos are a lot better than the videos, and a lot better than on the old Moto G.
Instead of using Google’s own camera app, you get Motorola’s. It’s easy to use and includes panorama and HDR modes. You can tap to focus and tap and hold to take photos in burst mode
The HDR mode can be set to auto, on or off. It makes a huge difference in the right circumstances – it’s easy to see the improvement in the photo on the right below.
It’s worth bearing in mind that the app defaults to 16:9 photos, which crops the sensor and uses only 6Mp. If you want the full 8Mp, switch to 4:3 mode. You can see the crop in action in the comparison below: you get a much wider angle of view in 4:3 mode.
This is 16:9:
And here's the full 8Mp, 4:3 image:
Video, as shown in the clip below, lacks detail even considering the 720p limit. It’s not as jerky as some smartphones we’ve tested recently, but there’s no optical stabilisation either.
Audio is recorded in stereo and is usable enough. If you want to have a bit of fun, there’s a slo-mo video mode which also records in 720p. It’s best to hold the phone still rather than moving it about in this mode, though, as you’ll get jerky footage otherwise.
Motorola Moto G (2014) review: software
One of the benefits of buying a Motorola smartphone is that you essentially get plain Android. There’s already a guarantee of an upgrade to Android L when it launches, but it ships with KitKat 4.4.4.
Given the lack of any overlays or customisations, there isn’t too much to talk about. One point worth noting is that there are no hardware or touch-sensitive buttons - the usual Android trio are on screen and you have to swipe to display them in certain apps, such as when using the camera.
You do get Motorola’s useful app Migrate, which helps transfer all your stuff from an old Android smartphone, or an iPhone.
If you’re considering the new Moto G for its dual-SIM slots, bear in mind that the old model was also available with two slots – if you can find one.
The benefit of this new version is that it's very easy to switch between SIMs, and an Intelligent Calling feature will learn which numbers you call from each SIM and automatically switch to the appropriate SIM. You can manually select the SIM to use, but pop-ups will offer messages such as "You called this number on the other SIM last time. Do you want to switch?".
Motorola Moto G (2014) review: bottom line
With a bigger screen, much better speakers and improved cameras, the new Moto G is a great budget smartphone. However, the lack of a processor upgrade or a boost in screen resolution means it's arguably not as good value as the original Moto G was when it launched. That's also because the new Moto G has considerably tougher competition to deal with. There are cheaper options if your budget won't stretch this far, but if you're specifically looking for a budget dual-SIM Android phone, it's a good choice.
Buying Advice With a bigger screen, much better speakers and improved cameras, the new Moto G is a great budget smartphone. It isn't without its rivals, but if you're specifically looking for a budget dual-SIM Android phone, it's a good choice.