Motorola Moto G HD screen

After deciding not to launch the Moto X in the UK, Motorola has launched the budget priced Moto G. Here's our full review of the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean Moto G.

Motorola is now a Google-owned company and like the Nexus 5, the Moto G comes at an extremely attractive price. It starts at £135 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.

Motorola Moto G: 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 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 we're waiting for a price on the Moto Shell.

Motorola Moto G with Moto Shell

Motorola Moto G: 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: Cameras

At 5Mp for the rear and 1.3Mp at the front, cameras are mid-ranged at a budget price. Both cameras perform pretty decently, especially when you consider what you're paying for the phone. You can even shoot in burst, panorama and HDR modes. Video can be shot in 720p HD quality and there's an unexpected slow motion recording mode.

Motorola Moto G test photo

Click to enlarge

Motorola has tweaked the camera app so you can touch anywhere on the screen to take a snap. Luckily you can still control focus by switching it on in the slide out menu.

Motorola Moto G: Software

Unfortunately, the Moto G doesn't come with Android 4.4 KitKat but it will be upgraded by January 2014, according to Motorola. That's not far away and until then it's running on version 4.3 Jelly Bean which is ahead of most existing Android smartphones.

The interface is largely vanilla, which is good, but there are a handful of Motorola flavoured additions. Motorola Migrate helps you bring all your content such as photos, videos and text message history – as long your old phone was Android. Motorola Assist helps to avoid disruptions when you're in a meeting or asleep which we've found extremely handy.

Other than this, there are the all the Google services which you'd expect to find on an Android phone and you can do what you like in terms of customisation. See how it looks compared to the Nexus 5 below.

Moto G vs Nexus 5

Motorola Moto G: Battery life

Motorola touts 'all day' battery life for the Moto G and this is certainly the case in our testing. The Moto G will last a day and if you are a light user then you'll probably even get a couple of days from the handset.

Despite having a removable rear cover and being able to see the 7.7Wh battery pack, you can't actually remove it.

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Motorola's Moto G is the best budget smartphone around. At £135 it's got great build quality, an excellent screen, decent cameras and Android 4.3 Jelly Bean soon to be upgrade to 4.4 KitKat. It's only limited in the storage department and a lack of 4G support.