Motorola Moto G (3rd Gen) Review: An Impressive Package For Under $200

Android / Mobile / Mobile Reviews / Reviews

A couple weeks ago Motorola announced the 3rd generation Moto G budget smartphone. I offered up my first impressions after only using it for a few days and suffice it say those impressions haven’t changed much. Read on to find out more in this full Motorola Moto G (3rd gen) review.


The Moto G that we were sent to review from Motorola Canada featured the following specifications:

  • 5″ 720×1280 (~294ppi) IPS LCD display
  • Qualcomm MSM8916 Snapdragon 410 Quad-core 1.4 GHz Cortex-A53 Processor
  • Adreno 306 GPU
  • 8GB Storage (16GB model available)
  • 1GB RAM (2GB model available)
  • Rear 13 MP (4128 x 3096 pixels) camera with dual-LED (dual tone) flash; Front 5MP camera
  • MicroSD expansion slot expandable up to 32GB
  • Sensors: Ambient light sensor, accelerometer (2), proximity sensor
  • 2470mAh Li-Ion battery
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n with hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0, microUSB 2.0, NFC
  • microSIM card slot
  • IPX7 water resistant to 1m for 30 minutes


The Moto G follows the design of other recent Motorola device releases. At a glance the device looks like it contains dual speakers at the top and bottom on the front, but the top one acts solely as an earpiece for calls. The front facing camera is to the right of the top earpiece. The volume and power buttons sit on the right hand side of the phone with the volume controls about half way up and the power button just above it. The back of the phone consists of a removable back which can be removed to access the SIM card and microSD card slot. The rear camera sits in the middle top of the back of the phone with an LED flash just below it.

The phone is built with an aluminum chassis and the plastic ridged back is slightly curved and is very comfortable to hold with a nice weight. This budget smartphone feels solidly built, and it is. I even had an unexpected drop test in which the phone went flying out of my hand and arced about 5 feet up and 4 or 5 feet away, landing on a hardwood floor. The only damage to speak of was the back of the phone popped off slightly on the side but that was it – no other dings or scratches. This drop test was unintentional and I wouldn’t try it on purpose, but accidents happen in the real world and I was relieved when I picked it up with baited breath to see the device suffered no damage.


Back of the Motorola Moto G (3rd gen).

Another feature Motorola added to the Moto G in this iteration is the IPX7 waterproof rating. When you first fire up the phone, one of the notification messages you receive warns you to ensure that the back is snapped on tightly and securely before attempting any activities that might bring it in contact with water. Rated for 30 minutes at a max depth of 1m, this phone is definitely waterproof and being waterproof I had no issues taking it rafting down the river where it spent a good chunk of time submerged or wet. The nice thing about the design is that there are no plugs to worry about for the USB connector port or headphone jack before dunking your phone or getting it wet.

The 8GB version might just be a bit light on storage space, with the OS installed you’re only left with 4.53GB of storage space for your apps, photos, and other data – but there is a microSD card slot so that may suit you just fine.



The Motorola Moto G (3rd gen)’s screen.

Sporting a 1280x720p 5-inch display, many may wonder if it’s “good enough” when most higher end smart phones are sporting 1080p or higher displays. In my opinion, the resolution is just fine. You’re still getting 294ppi on the device and text and images look crisp and the colours are quite sharp. The automatic brightness setting works well and there were no issues with viewing the screen indoors or outdoors.


Motorola’s latest Moto G performs just fine for day to day tasks. Apps perform well, and most games run just fine although on occasion I did notice a slightly longer loading time. The device does slow down when trying to use it while updating apps from the Google Play Store and I highly suspect that’s due to the limited RAM (1GB) on the 8GB storage model. I don’t expect that you would notice the same slow down on the 2GB RAM/16GB storage version, and while it’s not a deal breaker it is worth mentioning.


The Moto G ships with Android 5.1.1 installed (which is sure to make owners of older Motorola devices a little upset), and Android Lollipop runs well on the device. Motorola has made some basic functionality changes using their Moto Assist and Actions software. Assist allows you to set up certain times, for example night, or locations like home or work to tailor what notifications to display or snooze.

Actions allow you to turn the flashlight on or off simply by making a chopping motion twice (be sure to have a firm grip on your Moto G when you do) or open the camera at any time by twisting your wrist twice quickly while holding the phone. Twisting your wrist twice while the camera app is launched will toggle between front and rear facing camera as well.

Lastly, Moto Display shows notifications at a glance on the lock screen even when the display is off.

These additional features augment the stock Android experience nicely and are great additions which make accessing the flashlight and camera a bit quicker – and I won’t lie, a bit more fun.


The sound on the Moto G is decent enough. It is pretty crisp and clear and the volume range is pretty decent as well. While it’s not stereo sound, it is good enough in most cases.


As mentioned in our Moto G first impressions, I’m still having mixed results with the camera. It focuses pretty quickly and allows you to select the focus point as well as various other options but I’m still finding the best quality images are created outside in decent lighting conditions. Other options include HDR mode, night mode (for lower light situations), and panorama mode. An interesting feature comes up when the Control Focus mode is enabled (being able to touch and select the focal point). The camera app also allows you to adjust the exposure of the shot by making the scene brighter or darker.


Quick shot with the Moto G (3rd gen) in full sun.


100% unedited crop of above image.


100% crop of unedited image in lower light.

Another fun feature that Motorola has added to video creation is a SloMo video mode. By default the device records 1080p video, and if you toggle it to 720p you’ll access the SloMo video mode which takes a video at regular speed and then slows it down to 25% speed which can make for some pretty fun and cool videos.

Reception/Call Quality

I had no complaints with reception or call quality on the Moto G. I could hear the other party crisp and clearly and there were no complaints on their end about not being able to hear me clearly.

Battery Life

I was really impressed with the battery life on the 3rd generation Moto G. Most days I was left with at least 20% battery power after normal usage which consisted of the usual email checking, hangouts, checking Google+ and playing a few rounds of Hearthstone or checking my vault in Fallout Shelter.


While the device came with a black back cover, it can be removed and replaced with a number of other coloured Motorola Shells. In addition you can also pick up a protective Motorola Flip Shell that protects your phone, front and back.


At $199CAD ($179USD), this budget phone is a steal. It has decent specs, a decent camera and pretty good battery life, not to mention the IPX7 waterproof rating.


While the version we tested only comes with 8GB storage, the microSD card slot allows you to increase this by up to 32GB more.

Wrap Up

Motorola’s 3rd generation Moto G budget smartphone is a really good bang for your buck. Whether you’re looking for an affordable smartphone or a starter phone for your kids, you should definitely check out and consider the Moto G (3rd gen).

Motorola Moto G (3rd Gen) Smartphone
4.7 Out of 5
Nailed it
Price, battery life, design, water resistance.
Needs Work
No real complaints given the price, the camera could be a bit better in some conditions.
Reception/Call Quality5.00
Battery Life5.00
*We were sent a demo unit of the Motorola Moto G (3rd gen) for the purposes of this review.
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