Review: Moto G Is the Phone for the ‘Rest of Us’

You're not getting the best or the latest technology with Motorola's $179 Moto G smartphone. What you do get is a great price for something close.

Motorola bills the Moto G as the phone for the rest of us -- the ones who can't afford $500 to $700 for a high-end smartphone. That's a big deal overseas, where carriers don't subsidize phones with two-year service contracts the way they do in the United States. But even in the U.S., more people are moving to contract-free plans and ones that offer frequent upgrades, meaning the full retail price is what's going to matter.

The Moto G started shipping in the U.S. this week, initially for the GSM networks used by AT&T and T-Mobile. I spent the past week testing the Moto G, comparing the phone primarily with its more expensive cousin, Motorola's $500 Moto X. I also put it up against another lower-cost phone, Google's $349 Nexus 5, as well as the premium, $649 iPhone 5S from Apple.

Where the Moto G fell short was in its camera, battery life and inability to access faster, 4G LTE cellular networks. For everything else I tested, the Moto G stood up well.

Motorola, which is owned by Google Inc., doesn't skimp in equipping the Moto G with a speedy processor. Apps launch almost as quickly as they do on the phone's pricier rivals. The Moto G runs a fairly recent version of Google's Android system, with a promised upgrade to the latest, Kit Kat, early next year.

The Moto G also has a decent screen. It's about as sharp as the Moto X's and the iPhone's, enough for 720p video, though the Nexus and various Samsung phones do better by offering full, 1080p high definition. The Moto G's screen measures 4.5 inches diagonally, which is larger than the...

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