Motorola Moto G: Hands-on preview

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Motorola's Moto G may just start a revolution.

A well-built Android smartphone for £135 sim-free, the Moto G is clearly going to raise everybody's expectations with regard to unlocked budget handsets. In one swathe, it attacks Nokia's growing success with the Lumia 520, Samsung's bustling midrange business, and all of the no-name and Chinese manufacturers that are growing fast in the developing world.

I got to spend a little while with the Moto G, and I was deeply impressed. The key here isn't just the specs, but also the build quality. Generally, budget handsets look and feel cheap, but that isn’t the case with Motorola’s latest effort.

Indeed, we’d go as far as to say that the Moto G's killer feature is its fit and finish. And that’s part of the reason that Nokia’s Lumia 520 (available in the UK for £130 now) has done well in places like Latin America – because it doesn't feel cheap.

Neither does the Moto G, and it has the specs to back it up. Its 4.5in 720p IPS LCD screen had deeper, more saturated colours than my Moto X's AMOLED screen. It runs a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, a more mainstream part than some of the more generic Cortex-A7s you see in other low cost smartphones. The rear camera is a 5-megapixel affair, and there’s also a 1.3-megapixel front-facer.

Holding the Moto G in my hand, it didn't feel much cheaper than my Moto X. The backplate peels off to reveal the sim card slot, and you can replace it with one of seven colours, a nod to the Moto X's Moto Maker customisation scheme.

Motorola has cut some corners, but they're relatively invisible. The base Moto G has 8GB of storage and no memory card slot – and that's going to be tight, but there’s a 16GB model for £160 if you can splash out a little more. There's also no LTE (but HSPA+ will be supported), no touchless control (i.e. no "OK Google"), and no Active Display, the Moto X's very useful little notifications trick.

Motorola confirmed that it is making money on this handset, which is also a good thing: Unlike, say, the Amazon Kindle Fire, this isn't a break-even or loss leader product. And since this is a Google phone, it'll get Android 4.4 KitKat starting in January.

The Moto G is available in the UK now, with the sim-free price (as we’ve already mentioned) being £135 for the base 8GB version, and £160 for the 16GB model.

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