Moto G 2015

We tend to pride ourselves on using the latest and greatest phones. Better specs. Faster processors. (More heat!) More megapixels. Pick your poison. But there's absolutely something to be said for the mid-range these days, that category of phone that tries to balance style and performance with a price that doesn't break your wallet.

And there are all sorts of options out there. Motorola arguably started the newest generation of these devices with the Moto G in late 2013. And this week we've gotten our first look at the newest Moto G. And this one, folks, is something special. I'll admit I feel a little funny carrying it around. It's not leather. It doesn't have a curved display. In a much-misused word, it's not sexy. But I'm quickly coming to the conclusion that this may be the best phone for a whole lot of people.

Following are some quick thoughts on the new Moto G:

Read now: First five things to know about the Moto G 2015

The display

Moto G 2015

This was my biggest concern coming into the new Moto G. I haven't used a 720p display in a long time. And on a 5-inch display, that's about the lowest resolution I'd ever want to go. And it's ... not horrible. That's damning with faint praise, to be sure. But if so long as you're just going to use the Moto G as a smartphone and not as a gaming platform, it'll probably serve you just fine. Websites look decent enough. Most of my apps look OK — even ones with tons of pictures.

The only time I've really run into something that made me cringe was when I was trying to play Vain Glory on the Moto G. The graphics just didn't look good at all. On the other hand, they were still smooth as butter, and I could just barely feel the phone get a tad warmer in my hand. That's opposed to the crisp graphics and even crispier temperatures on the Nexus 9, which is what I use for gaming. Or for a better comparison, that's compared to what I tend to experience doing just about anything on the G4, GS6 or HTC One M9.

The battery

Moto G 2015

I'm pleasantly surprised with the battery life so far. As a reminder — and you can find the full specs here — it's got a 2470 mAh battery that's non-removable, meaning you can't swap it out for a fresh one as the day goes on. Motorola promises 24 hours of "mixed usage," which doesn't really mean anything.

But I managed to get from 8 a.m. in New York City to 9 p.m. in Florida. Travel days — even counting the downtime in Airplane Mode — usually are pretty hard on my devices. That the Moto G made it that long leaves me with pretty high hopes for how it'll perform in the long term.

One thing to note, though, is that the Moto G doesn't use any of that newfangled "Quick Charge" stuff. Nor does it have wireless charging available. That's probably not a deal-breaker for most folks, though.

The camera

There's still a lot of testing to be done, but so far I'm fairly impressed with this camera, given that we're talking about a $200 phone. It's definitely not the best one in my arsenal. But (at least on Day 2) the camera app is very fast to snap off a shot, the wrist-flick gesture to launch the app is as quick as ever — and both of those things are something to watch as you use the phone for a longer period of time — and so far I haven't wanted to put the phone down because of a lack of quality. (Again, just keep that price in mind.)

Would I recommend the Moto G over the LG G4 or Samsung Galaxy S6? Definitely not. But so far it's holding its own in its price range. We've got a lot more testing to do, however.

The software

Moto G 2015

I'm coming at the Moto G after using the LG G4 for a couple months. And it's amazing the difference that lighter, more optimized software can make. The G4, frankly, can be a bit of a mess at times. (And I'm talking performance. The user interface is another matter altogether.) I've never really used one of the more mid-ranged phones for any length of time. Not even a full day. But the Snapdragon 410 and 2GB of RAM have the phone working as well at just about I typically ask a smartphone to do. Calls, Chrome, Gmail, Facebook, Instagram — all that boring stuff.

It's enough to make you wonder if you even need to mess with a higher-spec'd phone, actually. Not that I'd trade in Quad HD screens or better graphics processing — but it is nice to use a phone for the first time this year that hasn't once become uncomfortable to hold because of the heat.

The price

Typically I don't worry about price when I'm evaluating a smartphone. If you really want it, you'll find a way to buy it — and typically the carriers will aid in that with subsidies. But the new Moto G tops out at $220 for the "high-end" version, just $40 more than the base model that has half the storage and RAM. And I can't stop thinking about that.

Even just two days into using the Moto G, it's clear this is a ridiculously good phone for that price point. I'd go ahead and shell out the extra $40 for 16GB of storage and 2GB of RAM. The camera's not horrible. The software doesn't get in the way. (Plus you get a few of Motorola's cool custom additions in Moto Display, Assist and Actions.) And you know it's going to be updated quickly when new versions of Android come out.

I'm going to have a real hard time recommending anything else for anyone who's looking to not spend a lot of money on a smartphone.

More to come later, folks.