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Best budget Android smartphone there is? Must be the Moto G

Motorola’s cheap-as-chips assault on no-name handsets and iThings

Solid construction

Previous cheap ‘droids have not been so well made, no point arguing otherwise. But the Moto G is a very well screwed together handset. It’s solid as a rock, comfortable to hold thanks to the rounded back and satisfyingly hefty at 143g - a good few grams heavier than the 520 and 5C, but remember the 0.5-inch larger screen.

Motorola Moto G

The micro USB port and the capacitive controls

At 66 x 130 x 11.6mm, the G isn’t an outstanding piece of design in any way - and curiously there is a total lack of Motorola branding on the fascia - but it is a nicely proportioned little lump.

If I had to pick an aesthetic hole [You do. — Ed.] it’s that the bezel above the display is thicker than that below, which can make the G appear a little unbalanced when you are looking at the screen in landscape.

To counter that observation, I have to point out that the micro USB port is centrally placed on the bottom while the 3.5mm audio jack is at centrally placed on the top. The chrome volume and power buttons are well situated on the right flank. In other words, everything is Where It Should Be.

Motorola Moto G flip case

The optional Flip Shell looks the part and should keep your G looking mint

To add some spice to its looks, you can purchase coloured backs that Motorola calls Flip Shells. These replace the plastic rear and include a magnetic screen cover much like the S-View cases you can get for high-end Samsung handsets. There’s no window in the cover but otherwise the Flip Shell is a rather nice accessory.

Some folk will be disappointed that the removable back doesn’t mean a removable battery. The 2070mAh battery isn’t the biggest you’ll find in a modern smartphone but the Snapdragon 400 chipset is efficient, so getting two full days from a charge is far from out of the question.

Loop a 720p MP4 video and you’ll get around eight hours of playback. And you’ll enjoy your film: the Moto G’s speaker is a solid performer and the 329dpi display – a wee bit sharper than the iPhone 5C’s retina screen – is bright, sharp and robust of viewing angle.

Motorola Moto G test results

Decent performance for the price: the Moto G versus the Nexus 4 and others

I’ve read in several places that the screen is an IPS LCD affair and though I can’t find any proof of that in Motorola’s documentation it certainly looks like one to my eyes.

Motorola does say that the Moto G has a water-repellent coating but with open USB and audio ports I didn’t feel confident enough to dunk my review handset into a sink to see how far the word "repellent" will stretch.

So much for the looks and the tech, but how does the Moto G work? Thanks to running an incarnation of Android that is a very close to stock – and devoid of bloat – it’s as quick and fluid as either an LG G2 or an HTC One – or a Lumia 925 or an iPhone 5C.

Motorola Moto G UI

The G’s OS is darn close to stock Android (left) but you’re stuck with 8GB of storage (right)

In fact, no matter what handset you compare it to, the G’s performance is impressive. By way of example the G’s SunSpider browser speed test score of 1360 was, while not electrifying, certainly comparable to the more costly competition.

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