Moto G

After what's felt like forever, I've finally gotten my hands on the Moto G. Four of them, actually (look for a pre-Christmas giveaway this week), and one thing is immediately clear:

Motorola gets it.

That's not to say there aren't any number of great Android smartphones out there. I'd still recommend the HTC One any day of the week. Or the LG G2. Or the Samsung Galaxy S4. Or the Moto X, of course. There are plenty of other great choices, too, particularly if you don't mind either paying outright or locking into another contract with a carrier.

But for $199 — off contract, out the door — you simply can't do better right now.

I've been using the Moto X mostly as my No. 1 phone for the past few months. (I've been switching off with the Nexus 5, of course.) Pick up the Moto G for the first time, and you're in familiar territory. The display's just a tad smaller, and it's definitely got a bluer tint to it, but it's still completely useable. The overall design and feel are mostly the same — the Moto G's a tad thicker by just a millimeter or so, but enough that I noticed — but it still feels great. It's a matte plastic versus soft-touch, but it's a good, solid feel. The lack of LTE data on the Moto G may be a non-starter for many, and that's fine. But for many others, the trade-off might not be so great. 

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I certainly notice the lack of Active Display, the feature that gives you previews of notifications without having to unlock your phone. But if you've never had Active Display before, you'll obviously not be missing anything. Same for Touchless Control — in which you can talk to the phone at any time to control it — or the little wrist twist to activate the camera. I love all those features on the Moto X. But, again, trade-offs for an inexpensive, off-contract device.

Perhaps that's a lot of trade-offs. I get that. But this is a $200 phone with no real commitments, outside of the initial expenditure.

Know somebody who needs a new phone but doesn't necessarily need the latest and greatest — and let's be honest here, doesn't live or die this stuff like those of us reading (and writing) this column? It's a no-brainer. Buy 'em a Moto G.

And now, a few more thoughts:

  • A good read Friday from GigaOm's Janko Roettgers on the future of Chromecast in 2014. Nothing ever moves as fast as we'd like. But consider the products in this same space that Google (at least appeared to have) rushed into. Google TV. Nexus Q. I, for one, am glad to see Google taking its time here. The living room is too important a space to blow again.
  • And a good read from PCMag's Sascha Segan on why Sprint buying T-Mobile would be a bad thing. I'm inclined to agree. But, again, let's not get ahead of ourselves just yet.
  • There's been a bit of a stink over the very-much hidden and never-meant-for-release App Ops "feature" being removed altogether in Android 4.4.2. I'm one of those crazy people who tends not to get the least bit upset over losing something I was never supposed to see in the first place. I wrote a little more on that on Google+, and a good discussion continued in the comments.
  • I'll be working on my Qualcomm Toq writeup this week. It's in interesting device, for sure. But perhaps a bit undercooked.
  • If you missed it, we published the official CrackBerry app into Google Play last week. Basically it's the same app as AC, only for CrackBerry. The plan is to get all of our sites ported over as well. Only so many hours in the day, and so many developers — and there's still plenty of stuff that needs to be done to the Android Central app. (Which we're very much working on.)

I'm moving back into a real office this week — it's been four years since I last had to drive anywhere daily for work. This should be fun. See y'all this week!

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