• Moto G (2014) hands on review
  • Moto G (2014) hands on review
  • Moto G (2014) hands on review
  • Moto G (2014) hands on review
  • Moto G (2014) hands on review
  • Moto G (2014) hands on review
  • Moto G (2014) hands on review

£150 seems to be Motorola's magic number.

Because the Moto G has been taken apart and put back together again in a bigger, louder, cleverer package. And instead of charging that little bit extra, the Moto G (2014) is going on sale for the exact same price as last year's model did at launch. That's £145 for the 8GB model in the UK.

Did the world's best budget smartphone simply get better? Or is this a whole new choice, alongside the original 4.5in Moto G and 4.3in Moto E?

Moto G Goes Large

Moto G (2014) hands on review
Moto G (2014) hands on review
Moto G (2014) hands on review

This does, in fact, feel like a completely different smartphone to the Moto G. The jump from 4.5in to 5in is a big one, for small hands especially, and even after a few hours with the device we think they will appeal to different sets of gadgeteers. 

The new Moto G is a bit taller (141.5mm), a bit wider (70.7mm) and a bit heavier (at 49g) but there's plenty of people who pine for a nice, big 5in screen for whom this won't be a problem. The blown up proportions do make it look a bit cheaper, perhaps simply just because there is more plastic on show. What this does mean is that there's room for a pair of stereo speakers which sound fairly clear and loud on a first listen and which we'll be comparing to both budgets and the reigning HTC One (M8) when we're back in the gadget lab.

Put it next to a finely crafted smartphone, though, particularly the white Moto G we're testing, and it doesn't fare very well. The smaller, tidier designs of the Moto G and Moto E hide the budget build much more successfully. 

Still, it's a solid two piece construction with a removable back that's just as pesky to get off as last year's model. It won't flex either no matter how hard you try - a win over much more expensive smartphones from, say the Samsung Galaxy range, for instance. At £150, carefully designed accents and flourishes probably aren't top of any Moto G buyers priorities. And Motorola Shells, i.e. swappable backs, are on their way to the UK too so you can customise your Moto G. 

As for the 5in screen itself, it's bright and looks reasonably sharp though, of course, wth both being 720p displays, last year's smaller 4.5in screen is the sharper at 329ppi versus 294ppi. And where the original G tended towards a pink tinge, this new 5in Moto G's whites can look a little blue when viewed off-axis. We're nitpicking here though - for the money it's sure to be unbeatable. Because most phones at £150 don't have HD screens, nevermind 5in ones.

Impressive specs in a £150 phone

Moto G (2014) hands on review
Moto G (2014) hands on review
Moto G (2014) hands on review

In our brief time with the 5in Moto G, it's run just as smoothly as we'd expect from a Motorola handset of the past year or so. It's the exact same Snapdragon 400 as the Moto G inside, with 1GB of RAM, and it's running on Android 4.4.4 KitKat with a guaranteed upgrade to Android L when the time comes. That sounds futureproof enough but oddly this Moto G doesn't support 4G even though we've already seen a 4.5in model that does in the UK. 

The cameras have had a boost with a new 8MP sensor on the back and an upgraded 2MP on the front, both of which shoot 720p video. Taking a few snaps at Motorola's Chicago HQ the main camera looks to be an improvement already taking brighter, clearer shots than what we were used to with the original Moto G's sometimes disappointing 5MP cam. Also new to this G phone is using the volume button to activate the camera shutter but as with the one-tap capture function, this can be risky. 

We haven't had a chance to test the battery life of the 5in Moto G yet but as it's the same sized 2070mAh unit as last year's handset, we'd expect the bigger screened phone to run out of juice quicker. Motorola say the 5in Moto G has an all day battery life so hopefully some efficiencies have been made in the past year. 

All in all, the new Moto G isn't exactly an improvement in every way over last year's smartphone. The new camera is the most exciting addition, followed by the microSD slot for up to 32GB of expandable memory which we've already seen on the Moto G 4G. But the bigger screen loses some pixel density and might impact on battery life. Either way, the 5in Moto G will no doubt still be fantastic bang for buck like the two smaller budget Motos. Just don't expect the 4.5in G to go anywhere for now.