Today, Motorola is announcing the new Moto G series for 2019: the Moto G7 family. There are three devices to take a look at: the Moto G7, the Moto G7 Power, and the Moto G7 Play. Along with the phones from Nokia, members of the G series are among those rare smartphones that can be had for under $400, and that makes them pretty interesting.
We were able to spend some hands-on time with all of them, but before we get into the details, let’s load up a big ol’ spec sheet and talk numbers.
|MOTO G7||MOTO G7 POWER||MOTO G7 PLAY|
|SCREEN||6.2″ 2270×1080 LCD||6.2″ 1520×720 LCD||5.7″ 1512×720 LCD|
|CPU||Snapdragon 632: Eight 1.8Ghz Kryo 250 (semi-custom Cortex-A73) CPU Cores, 14nm|
|CAMERA||Rear: 12MP (f1.8, 1.25µm pixel)
+ 5MP depth sensorFront: 8MP (f2.2 1.12µm pixel)A million extra features
|Rear: 12MP (f2.0, 1.25µm pixel)
Front: 8MP (f2.2, 1.12µm pixel)
|Rear: 13MP (f2.0, 1.12µm pixel)
Front: 8MP (f2.2, 1.12µm pixel),
|PORTS||USB-C, headphone jack|
15W fast charging
15W fast charging
|BACK MATERIAL||Gorilla Glass||Clear plastic||Opaque plastic|
At first the spec sheet seems fine. We’ve got easy $50 increments between devices, and while the SoC always stays the same, more expensive devices get better screens, more RAM, more storage and better cameras. Then we get to the battery section and things get crazy. The more expensive device has a smaller battery!
The Moto G7 Power is a new entry to the Moto G family, and it lives up to its name with a whopping 5000mAh battery. That dwarfs the 3000mAh battery in the more expensive Moto G7, and it puts consumers in a confusing spot. If you want the biggest battery, you have to sacrifice the display, RAM, and storage—but if you want the display, storage, and RAM, you have to sacrifice the battery. It’s great to see a bigger battery in a cheap phone, but not having it on the highest-end SKU really muddies Motorola’s lineup.
The phones all have displays with notches for the front camera and earpiece. Amusingly, the notch size scales inversely with the price. The $199 Moto G7 Play has a very wide notch, the $249 Moto G7 Power has a medium-size notch, and the $299 Moto G7 has a small, teardrop-style notch. All three have a bottom bezel with a shouty “Motorola” logo emblazoned on the front, which seems ugly and dated.
The phones all have aluminum internal frames, but you won’t see any of this metal exposed on the outside of the phone. All the G7s have plastic sides which get various treatments, working up to a faux-metal paint on the Moto G7. The backs are all different, too. The top-end Moto G7 gets a Gorilla Glass back, the Power gets a clear plastic back with an undercoat of color—sort of like a faux-glass back—and the Moto G7 Play gets regular old opaque plastic.
The phones all come with Android 9 Pie and a mostly stock build of Android. They also all have gesture navigation enabled by default. They all have headphones jacks, SD cards, rear fingerprint readers, and USB-C ports. One big missing feature is NFC: none of the models has an NFC chip, so you won’t be able to tap and pay at the register.
Motorola is apparently hoping that a truckload of extra camera features will entice buyers to upgrade to the Moto G7. Exclusive to the top-end SKU is an extra 5MP rear camera for depth sensing, along with a paragraph of features on the spec sheet:
8x digital zoom, Burst shot, Auto HDR, Timer, High res Zoom, Auto smile capture, Cinemagraph, All in focus, portrait mode, cutout, panorama, manual mode, raw photo output, active photos, spot color, best shot, 4k video, slow motion video, time lapse video, hyperlapse video, electronic video stabilization, YouTube live, Google Len integration.
The big downside with any Motorola device is the update policy. Motorola is only promising one major OS update for these devices, and if last year’s Moto G6 update speed is any indication, that update will come very slowly. (Android Pie has been out for six months and still hasn’t come to the Moto G6.) Google has made it mandatory that OEMs offer two years of security updates, but Motorola is only shipping these updates every two months.
This update plan pales in comparison to Motorola’s main competition: HMD’s Nokia phones. Nokia phones come with monthly security updates and two years of major OS updates. HMD is a lot quicker than Motorola, too—the Nokia 6.1 took two months to get Android 9 Pie.
All three phones are available today in Brazil and Mexico. Motorola’s blog post promises the phone will come to Europe in “mid-February” and the US and Canada in “Spring.” They will also eventually make it to Asia and Latin America. As far as specific stores go, all three phones will be sold “universally unlocked” at Best Buy, B&H Photo, Walmart, and on Amazon.com. The Moto G7 will eventually get Google Fi compatibility, the G7 Power will come to Verizon, and all three will get a healthy sprinkling of pre-paid carrier support.
Listing image by Ron Amadeo