Moto G covers

Motorola is now a Google-owned company and like the Nexus 5, the Moto G comes at an extremely attractive price. It starts at £130 for the 8GB model and costs just £159 for 16GB so that's almost half the price of the Nexus 5 and typically more than three times cheaper than a flagship smartphone. It's full marks for value here and we wish we could do a Spinal Tap and give it a score of 11. (See also: Moto G vs Galaxy S3 smartphone comparison review.)

Motorola Moto G review: Design and build

Pebble-like is a good way of describing the Moto G's design and build. It's not particularly thin or light – 11.6mm and 143g – but feels nice in the hand with its rounded soft touch rear cover. The phone is well made, robust and feels like it should cost a lot more than it does.

There's little going on with the design. Silver power and volume buttons sit on the side and the two ports, headphone and USB, sit at either end of the handset.

Interchangeable coloured 'Moto Shells' mean you can customise the phone easily. We quite like our PCA red cover but there are a number of other colours. There's also a 'Flip Shell' cover which instead of going over the existing rear cover and making the phone fatter, replaces it.

The covers are quite tricky to remove but this is because they clip in so well. Once you've got one in place, it's not going very far which is good news.

The Flip Shell costs £18.99 and the more basic Moto Shell is just £9.

Motorola Moto G with Moto Shell

Motorola Moto G review: Hardware and performance

The Moto G doesn't have flagship hardware but it does have a much higher specification than you'd expect from a phone which costs this little.

You're unlikely to get a decent screen for under £200 but the Moto G comes with a nicely sized 4.5in display which has a 720p resolution. That means a pixel density of 326ppi which, would you believe it, is the same as the iPhone 5S. This is simply unheard of for a phone this cheap. Colours are punchy and the viewing angles are great.

A quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor coupled with 1GB of RAM produces fairly nippy performance. We've not noticed any major lag and overall performance is great for a budget phone. This is another area where the Moto G punches above its weight.

Storage is a bit of a downside to this phone. Like other budget handsets, it only comes with 8GB of internal storage, of which 5GB is available. With the 16GB model priced at £159, we'd suggest opting for this model since there is no microSD card slot.

Helping in the storage department is a whopping 50GB of free Google Drive cloud storage. That's on top of the usual 15GB so with the Moto G you'll have a total of 65GB.

Beyond Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS and the typical microUSB port, there's not much to mention in the way of connectivity. You won't find NFC, infrared or 4G LTE support here and the latter is something to bear in mind if you're wanting the fastest mobile data speeds.

Motorola Moto G HD screen

Motorola Moto G review: Calling

Moto G calling dialler During our time with the Moto G, we've experience no problems with call quality. Signal strength is consistent (using a GiffGaff SIM and O2's network) and no drop outs have occurred. Speaker quality is fairly good when in a typical call and in speakerphone mode.

A feature which we're quite surprised to find on a budget smartphone is dual-mics. There's one at the bottom, as you would expect, but also one on the top of the phone next to the headphone jack. Using two microphones and active noise cancellation means that the Moto G cuts out a good deal of the background audio which you don't want to send to the other person.

In terms of software, the Moto G matches the Nexus 5 with the KitKat dialler and contacts app, called People. The main screen of the dialler handily shows your most communicated with contacts, ie an automatically populated favourites list, but you can also view all contacts (without opening the People app), search for a name or number in the bar at the top or even do voice search.  Two buttons at the bottom allow you view your call history and the dialler. You can also import/export and add new contacts straight from the dialler interface.

The People app has a similar look and feel to the dialler. It's got three tabs at the top for favourites, all contacts and groups – pretty self-explanatory stuff. It's easy to navigate around by either taping the tab at the top or swiping left and right between them. Photos will be pulled in from places like Google+ and if you're logged into Facebook on the phone then you can choose to view those contacts here too.

Next page - Motorola Moto G review: Cameras, software and battery life.

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