Moto G evolution: excellent averageness through the years

Moto G evolution: excellent averageness through the years
We spend a lot of time covering the flagship lines of the top smartphone brands: Samsung’s Galaxy S, Google’s Pixels, LG’s G and V series and, of course, Apple’s iPhones. And that’s all well and good, but there are many other phones that have left their mark in the industry – and they're not necessarily high-end models.

Today, we’ll take a look at the evolution of the Moto G line: from its humble beginnings in 2013 all the way to 2019, when the series spans across more screen sizes and price points than ever, but remains true to its original philosophy. So, without further ado, let’s begin with…

The original Moto G

As we already mentioned, the first Moto G came out in 2013, and while it wasn’t anything exciting specs-wise, it was groundbreaking in its own way. Motorola made it for the so-called emerging markets, e.g. India and South America, which usually means low specs, low price. But Motorola managed to hit the sweet spot between the two and created one of the best budget phones at the time. The Moto G’s popularity was beyond the company’s expectations, and not long after the initial release, it was brought to multiple other markets, including Europe and the US.

With its no-nonsense design, decent specs, and low price, the first Moto G was an instant hit. It sold so well, it topped Motorola’s best-sellers chart, beating many other popular phones, including the famous Razr. The Moto G had a 4.5-inch display, a single GB of RAM, and up to 16GB of storage, but for a budget phone in 2013, those were respectable hardware specs.

The original Moto G became the first smartphone for millions of people, and it wasn’t only because of the great price-to-specs ratio. The compact phone had a very welcoming and even cute vibe to it. It was comfortable to hold, durable, and felt like a trusty companion, a digital friend almost. That can be said about few phones today, with their posh designs and glass panels.

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At the time, Motorola Mobility was the company responsible for Motorola phones, and it was owned by Google. This meant the phone’s software wasn’t encumbered by needless apps. Android KitKat on the Moto G ran relatively smoothly, which wasn’t the case for most phones in its price segment back in 2013.

And that’s how one of the most successful Motorola smartphone lines began. No wonder then that after the impact the first Moto G made on the market, newer models were fast in the works.

Early successors

The first successor came out in September 2014 and was followed rather quickly by the third iteration in July 2015. Both phones were simply called Moto G, usually followed by the clarification of the model’s year or generation (second or third). Both devices followed closely the winning recipe of the original with barely any specs changes, for better or worse. The most notable upgrade was a 0.5-inch gain in display size and the third generation Moto G’s IP rating for water resistance. The latter was quite a rare feature for a budget phone in 2015, but sadly, it wasn’t one to stick with future models.

All that meant that both phones were still great value propositions, but since they were just more of the same, their influence on the market wasn’t as strong. Still, people that were late to the party had a more recent model to buy, and for the most part, they were more than happy with what they got.

Between the release of the 2014 and 2015 Moto Gs, something major happened: Google sold Motorola Mobility to Lenovo. This meant the fate of Moto G now rested in the hands of the Chinese tech giant. The deal happened in late October of 2014, but the lengthy design cycles of smartphones meant that it was basically Google’s phone that was released in July, 2015, as the third-generation Moto G. What Lenovo had in store for the public wouldn’t become apparent until the fourth iteration of the line.

Lenovo’s reign over Moto G

Lenovo’s Moto G era officially began with the fourth phone of the line which was now aptly named Moto G4. The naming scheme wasn’t the only new thing, however. Having an established name in the industry in its hands, Lenovo decided to give the Moto G a couple of siblings: The Moto G4 Play and the Moto G4 Plus. The G4 Play was the cheapest of the three and had a weaker chip, while the regular Moto G4 and the G4 Plus moved up a tier and got beefier Snapdragon 600-series mobile platforms. 

Which one of the three models was the spiritual successor of the previous Moto G is hard to tell and ultimately pointless, as users now had the option to choose one themselves. And while the design was in line with the brand’s philosophy, the new models lacked the charisma the original Moto G had. They were becoming just another set of generic no-thrill smartphones. The price was slowly crawling upwards, partially because of the addition of new features like a fingerprint reader, for example, and partially because that’s what the trend on the market was.

That’s not to say that the phones were bad. On the contrary, while there was some variation in quality and perception by experts and consumers, the Moto G line managed to keep its good standings after Lenovo took over despite naysayers seeing doom and gloom in the brand’s future after the deal with Google. There was still a model that was close to the original one price-wise and additional bigger and better variants for those that had a little extra cash but were willing to remain loyal “MotoGists”.
The line became a staple for the phone you’d recommend to someone that doesn’t care much about tech and just wants something that works well and does everything decently. You didn’t worry that they’d scowl at the price or have trouble with some weird software that’s on it. An Android experience perfectly unremarkable!

Lenovo doesn't hesitate to experiment with the lineup of the Moto G series. Since the company gained full control of the design and manufacturing process, it has started offering more variants, looking to satisfy the needs of every market. This reach for bigger market share is clearly represented by Moto G7's lineup of four smartphones.

Alongside the standard Moto G7 come three additional versions: Play, Power and Plus. The Moto G7 Power is a brand new member with a massive 5,000mAh battery. Don't assume, however, that Motorola hits its customers with all four guns at once. In particular, the two phones with the teardrop notches in the picture above, the G7 Plus and the regular G7, are rarely offered in the same country. Perhaps the company's marketing department figured that certain models sell better in some countries than they do in others.

With the wider lineup, Motorola could pick and choose which of the four devices to release depending on the data it has for the specific market. That being said, don't be surprised if next year we see yet another change in the Moto G family.

So while the line has had its ups and downs over the years, just like any other on the market, users that have decided to trust the Moto G name will more than likely be happy with their choice even if they have skipped a few generations. It’s not often you see such consistency in tech, and especially not in the violent world of smartphones. And for that, the Moto G deserves our recognition.

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