Wednesday 31 August 2016

Motorola Moto G - 2nd Generation vs 3rd Generation

A few weeks back I bought my son a Motorola Moto G 3rd generation and for what is, a mid-range handset, I have been seriously impressed with it.

So when looking for a phone for my daughter I instantly looked at the Moto range. A faulty Moto E had to be returned, and finally I settled on a Moto G 2nd generation.

The Moto G range are Motorola's mid range phones sandwiched between the budget Moto E and the top end Moto X, so you don’t expect premium performance - but the Moto G are decent performers and are reasonably priced. You get serious bang-for-your-buck.


The 2nd gen was released in September 2014, less than a year later the 3rd gen was released. The 2nd gen is slightly smaller, thinner and lighter than its successor. They both feature a similar body shell, 5.0” IPS LCD screen with 294 ppi and Corning Gorilla Glass 3, 1GB RAM. The 3rd gen adds IPX7 certified - it is water resistant up to 1 meter and 30 minutes.

The 3rd gen is available in 8GB model which has 1GB RAM - which my sons is - as well as 16GB model which has 2GB RAM.

Where the two differ are marginal. The quad-core 1.2Ghz processor in the 2nd gen is upped to a beefier 1.4Ghz. The GPU has been upped slightly too. The cameras go from a 8 megapixel main with LED flash capable of 720p videos and 2 megapixel front, to a 13 megapixel main with dual LED flash capable of 1080p videos and 5 megapixel front. 

Mobile Network

My 2nd gen is a XT1068 model which has no 4G, whereas later ones did. The 3rd gen however does have 4G.

Android Version

The 2nd gen shipped with Android ‘Kit Kat’ but is upgradeable to ‘Lollipop’ and ‘Marshmallow’, whereas the 3rd gen shipped with ‘Lollipop’ and upgradeable to ‘Marshmallow’ with a possibility it will received ‘Nougat’.


Both feature built in non-removable batteries, but the 3rd gen increases capacity by about 20%.


I ran both side by side. Both are running Marshmallow and there really is a negligible difference. Apps and games ran pretty much the same, with only a second or two between them and not always in the 3rd gens favour.

Pokemon Go and Facebook - two rather heavy apps for any device ran the same on both. Opening Chrome and loading pages over WiFi there was no difference.


The cameras on both handset are very impressive. The 8 megapixel camera on the 2nd gen produce crisp, sharp and well balanced pictures and the increased 13 megapixel on the 3rd gen do just as well.

Front cameras aren’t for much more than taking selfies or video calls. The 2 megapixel on the 2nd gen produced decent images and the upped 5 megapixel on the 3rd gen were even better.

Call and Audio Quality

Both handsets were great for calls, producing clear and very loud calls. Music playing on both were as good as you get from any phone. Personally I don’t like music blasting out from a small plastic device - couple it with a Bluetooth speaker or a pair of decent earphones and I am much happier.


My kids are happy with both handsets. There isn’t much difference between the two. The 3rd gen has slightly higher specs, improved camera, water resistance and a possibility of receiving Android ‘Nougat’.

Both handsets are decent performers.

Written by Simon Royal. Follow me at

Monday 8 August 2016

Motorola Moto E (First Generation): Budget But Not Basic

My daughter was looking for a new handset, and I have been very impressed with the Moto G 3rd generation I got for my son a few weeks back, so I started looking around at other Moto handsets.

Her requirements aren’t as heavy as his and she didn’t want such a large phone. I picked up a Moto E first generation. The Moto E line is Motorola’s budget range and the specs are reflected in the price.


This Moto E - XT1021 model - was released in 2014 and has a dual core 1.2Ghz Cortex A7 processor, 1GB RAM, 4.3” screen and 4GB internal storage with MicroSD slot. It has a 5mp rear camera with no flash and no front facing camera. It shipped with Android 4.4 ’KitKat’ and received 5.1 ‘Lollipop’ - but didn’t receive 6.0 ’Marshmallow’.

It does lack a gyroscope and a digital compass which can make it incompatible with some apps such as Pokemon Go.


The phone seems very well built. It is an all plastic phone and the back pulls off to reveal the SIM and MicroSD slots. It has a rubbery feel and gives the whole phone a decent grip. Whilst clipped on securely the back did feel a little loose fitting.


It is a budget phone so you don’t expect premium quality when it comes to the screen. However the 4.3” screen features 540x960 px and 256ppi. It offers a bright and crisp display, that is more than good enough for you average user. Viewing angles were good and whilst direct sunlight affect viewing it was still ok to use.

The Moto E first generation next to my sons Moto G third generation


One area where it suffers from its budget price tag is the camera. The rear camera is a 5mpx fixed focus and no flash. It produces decent pictures outside in decent light, but indoors and in poor light it didn’t produce good photos at all. The lack of auto focus also often affected the clarity of the pictures taken. It has no front facing camera, which in a world of selfies, face swapping and video calling is quite essential.

OS / Speed

This handset is running Lollipop. Being Motorola is near stock Android and this helps to keep the OS light and slick, together with the 1GB of RAM. Navigating around the phone is quick, installing apps, setting up accounts and sorting out the SD card were lag free. Apps such as Facebook, Facebook Messenger and Chrome loaded quickly.


Accessing the Play Store, surfing using Chrome and watching videos on YouTube were great over wifi as well over 3G. Sites and videos loaded quickly and the experience was great.

Phone & Music

Using it as a phone was good. Call quality was superb making conversations easy, the speakerphone however lacked volume. Music and YouTube also followed suit, lacking volume and any bass. In crowded or noisy environments I would expect to find it hard to hear music.

NOTE: I should point out this handset was faulty in the speaker department. When it first arrived no sound would come out of it - a common issue. It did eventually work but this could have impacted on volume.


I haven’t used this Moto E enough to give a true account of the battery life, but its low screen and budget hardware should see the fairly decent sized 1,980 mAh built in battery. Setting up, installing and having a general look around the phone and apps didn't really impact on battery.


The first gen Moto E lacks the premium hardware of its bigger siblings - but that is reflected in the price. Pushing aside its poor cameras, the performance of this little handset is fantastic. Its smaller screen and stock Android gives a great experience.

They can be picked up for around £20 on the used market and for a handset running Lollipop this is an amazing bargain.

Written by Simon Royal. Follow me at