Affordable smartphones have become readily available over the last few years, leading to a plethora of choices that offer fantastic value without making too many compromises. Motorola has become a constant figure in this market, especially with its impressive G-series, the first of which was recognized as one of the first affordable flagships.
In 2018, the Moto G6 and its various different models were some of the most popular budget Android phones, and in parallel fashion, its successor, the Moto G7, picks up right where it left off.
Motorola is ready to completely dominate the mid-range market – especially in the U.S. where the competition is not as strong as it is globally – and the Moto G7 is primed to be the vessel through which it enacts this domination. In fact, it already is the new Android budget phone king. This is our review of the Moto G7.
Pound for pound, the Moto G7 is the best budget Android phone you can buy right now. Its combination of hardware, software and price make it an instant must-buy in the mid-range market. Motorola has been steadily improving its G-series and it has reached a new pinnacle in 2019 with the Moto G7.
- Fantastic display
- Impressive hardware
- Agile software
- Quick fingerprint scanner
- Headphone jack
- So-so camera
- No wireless charging
- No NFC
- Unfortunate Motorola branding
Stunning, Sleek and Impressive
Moto G7 Design and Display
Over the existence of the Moto G-series, it has always been on the trend-setting edge of history. Motorola made sure this line picked up some of the features the high end flagships were offering, including its own Z-series. Be that stunning aluminum bodies or impressive displays.
As the tide turned to glass and metal bodies, so did the G6, and now with the G7, you get a completely refined premium body and high quality display that are hard to distinguish from the upper echelon Android devices.
Lets first talk about the body of the Moto G7. The body consists of two glass panels sandwiched together by a shiny aluminum frame. The front glass panel is completely flat while the back panel has curved edges to fit much more comfortably in the hand. And it does.
The Moto G7 feels great in the hand. It feels premium, it feels substantial, it feels expensive—yet it's not.
It feels premium, it feels substantial, it feels expensive—yet it's easily affordable.
Unfortunately the back glass does not make room for wireless charging. You'll have to settle to charging through the USB-C port the old, fashioned way. That is a very sad omission as I find wireless charging super convenient.
Looking the aluminum frame, the SIM slash microSD card slot, which supports up to 512GB, lives at the top, the volume and ridged power button live on the right side and the USB-C port, lone speaker and headphone jack lives on the bottom. On the very back lives the 12MP dual-camera and the fingerprint scanner, but more on those later.
Obviously the headphone jack earns some major points for the phone—it still lives on for another year—and the ridged power button makes it super easy to locate, especially on the Ceramic Black version I tested that completely disappears into the night. I know that the next phase of fingerprint scanners are in-display, yet testing out a physical one like the one on the Moto G7 reminds how perfected this form already is. C'est la vie, I suppose.
Up on the front is where things get really exciting. The front panel houses the 6.2-inch FullHD+ (2270 by 1080) LCD display. That's a very technical name for a great display. Even after all these years, it still astounds me that a display of this quality is available in a phone that costs $300.
The thing that stood out to me right away is the crisp resolution of the display that makes reading articles, scrolling through my Twitter feed or watching YouTube videos a pleasant experience. More so, the colors were rich and vibrant, making the colorful wallpapers I set up or the visually-striking movies I saw on Netflix really pop.
Beyond just the resolution, the overall footprint of the display changed with a reduced tear drop notch at the top. It is definitely gives it a more premium look, similar to the OnePlus 6T, though it is a little bigger. Most videos aren't affected, but the extra wide ones are. That's just a negative of notches, yet I'll take it over the chunky bezels of the Moto G6 every time.
The slimmed down notch gives it a more premium look akin to the OnePlus 6T.
Not all is perfect with the display. Of course there are the limitations of LCD as opposed to OLED, and the overall brightness didn't quite match the glare of the blaring sun when using outdoors.
Another negative falls squarely on Motorola. There is a minor chin at the bottom of the phone, but Motorola couldn't leave it alone. It just had to slap on its full name down there leading to a tacky design choice that's just annoying. I'm also annoyed that the "M" logo on the back had to be placed inside the fingerprint scanner, not lower where most manufacturers place it. But I'll take this over the front logo any day of the week. Shame on you, Motorola.
Moto G7 Software and Performance
Making the experience on the stunning hardware and display exceptional are the internals. Outfitted with Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 processor and 4GB of RAM, the phone spins out Android 9.0 Pie like butter. Using it throughout the day for social media, answering emails, watching YouTube video and looking up things on Chrome, there were no hiccups at all.
I know this is in large part due to the simplified software Motorola put in that is basically stock Android. This means the performance can focus on other more important stuff like refreshing your 50-plus tabs on Chrome instead of wasting resources on dumb OEM software gimmicks like yesteryear.
Aside from Moto Actions, Moto Display and Moto Voice, which can be easily ignored, Motorola doesn't get in the way of Android Pie. I usually am quick to dismiss OEM software tweaks, but Motorola packs in some very useful ones that I actually used. Fast flashlight and Quick capture were some of of my favorite Moto Actions and Peek Display proved very useful at night. It delivered the notifications without turning on the whole display.
Motorola also offers what it calls One Button Nav. Think of it as a streamlined version of the Android swipe button without the back button. One tap is the home button, a short swipe up is the multitasking and a swipe right is the back button. It's more intuitive that I expected it to be, but I still prefer the Android buttons. Maybe I'm just avert to change.
The major flaw
Moto G7 Camera
Let's return to the Moto G7 dual-camera because mobile photography is more important than ever. The camera consists of a 12MP main shooter with f/1.8 and 1.25μm pixel and a 5MP depth sensor to capture some additional information for portrait shots. On the other side, living inside the notch is an 8MP front-facing shooter.
The main camera is solid if unspectacular. It's the same symptom affecting other mid-range smartphones. The most unfortunate shortcut OEMs take is with the camera, and the Moto G7 suffers the same fate.
That's not to say the camera sucks. It's good, but you are definitely sacrificing in that area. The camera shines the most in perfect lighting conditions. Colors come out vibrant and saturated, and the photos have tons of detail. Processing is good and the overall quality is solid.
At first, I only took shots in perfect sunlight conditions and was taken aback by how good the pictures were coming out. The story changed though in imperfect settings, such as low-light photography. Subjects comes out fuzzy and noise rears its ugly head as a lot of the color is lost.
Everything is overexposed, leading to very uneven photos. The camera struggled to take night shots where an object was full of light. It overexposed the shot, leading to some parts of the image being completely washed out and darkened. The front-facing camera is just bland as well. Its photos are just bland and grainy.
Moto G7 Power
One of the most intriguing aspects of the Moto G7 are the other various models it is available in. Along with the main Moto G7, I also received the Moto G7 Power to test. I didn't do a standalone review for it as it shares many of the same characteristics with its brother such as main camera and design, but here's the exact spec comparison.
|Category||Moto G7||Moto G7 Power|
|Display||6.2-inch Full HD display
2270 x 1080
403 pixels per inch
|6.2-inch HD display
1520 x 720
279 pixels per inch
|Processor||Snapdragon 632 chip||Snapdragon 632 chip|
expandable up to 512GB
expandable up to 512GB
|Rear Camera 1||12MP with f/1.8||12MP with f/2.0|
|Rear Camera 2||5MP depth sensor||None|
|Operating system||Android 9.0 Pie||Android 9.0 Pie|
|Dimensions||157 x 75.3 x 8mm||159.43 x 76 x 9.3mm|
The $250 Moto G7 Power is all about battery power. Its 5,000mAh battery absolutely dwarfs the Moto G7's puny 3,000mAh battery by comparison. The battery just lasts for days.
I streamed Avengers: Infinity War in its complete 2 hour and 40 minute run time on the G7 Power, and its battery only decreased 9% from 100% to 91%. That was almost three hours of streaming video, and it didn't even dent 10% of the battery.
On solid use, the Moto G7 went nearly three days before its battery died on me. That should vary for other people, but I came away very impressed by it.
The Moto G7 Power battery lasts for days.
I believe the only reason to get the G7 Power over the G7 is solely because battery life is truly important to you. The reason being is that it makes too many concessions for essentially just $50. The most blatant is with the display. Not only do you take a step down to a 6.2-inch HD+ 1520 by 720 display, it also has a much bigger notch and chin.
That being said, you can definitely live with the Moto G7 Power's display. It's not terrible; it's good, just a significant step down. Throw in the chunkier body (the bigger battery has to fit somewhere) and downgraded RAM (3GB), and you just don't get the same sleekness and performance as the Moto G7. I'm not willing to make that exchange, but others might.
I should note that there is a third model in the line called the Moto G7 Play. It's the lesser of the three, featuring the G7 Power's design and most specs, but some of its major specs like memory are bumped down even more to only 2GB. That, however, does bring the price down even lower to $199. I didn't get a chance to use this phone as opposed to the other two.
Moto G7 Overall Experience
If I were to buy a mid-range phone, I'd take the Moto G7. In just about every aspect of a smartphone, it succeeds. And even when it doesn't, you understand those limitations are because of its price. There has to be a balance.
The most important thing to me about a smartphone is the hardware and the display, and in those two areas, the Moto G7 absolutely kills it. Moving on to other aspects of the phone such as performance and software, again, it delivers an outstanding experience that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Time and time again, I was surprised by how great of a phone the Moto G7 is.
When it comes to camera performance, that's its biggest downfall, but it is understandable. It's a symptom basically all mid range phones suffer from. The camera is good in good conditions, but anything out of the ordinary like low light photos, and the camera shows its shortcomings. As long as you are aware of this, it shouldn't be a deal breaker. It still takes pictures good enough to enjoy.
Overall, the Moto G7 proved its merit as the best Android budget smartphone right now. It ain't perfect, but nothing is. For what Moto G7 is, you'll end up completely happy with it as your daily driver.
Time and time again, I was surprised by how great of a phone the Moto G7 is. That was mostly because I came away impressed by how much Motorola packed into a $300 phone. This would have been unthinkable years ago, but in 2019, people can get a fantastic device with high end features for a fraction of the price. The Moto G7 ensures that.
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