Words On Wednesday

Words on Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Just a few hours left of 2014. I hope everyone has accomplished what they wanted this year and will be striving for even more in the years to come.


Setting Up the Moto G

Bright and early Sunday morning, I get to play with a brand new Moto G.


I got a text from Amazon saying that my package including the Motorola Moto G was handed over to my local postage service carrier. Well, great. The mail doesn’t run on Sunday, so USPS wouldn’t be getting my phone to me until Monday. I could come home on my lunch break, but that would require my wife and I driving 2 separate cars. I’d much rather carpool and I don’t want to bug her for the car on lunch, so I wouldn’t be getting it until I got home at 5. Lame.


Just to check, since Amazon normally delivers with FedEx, I decided to throw on some clothes and go out to check the mailbox. Lo and behold, what lies in my mailbox but a package from Amazon. I brought the box inside and ripped it open. Sure enough, inside was my Moto G and Micro SD card. The case and screen protector will be arriving later. Until then, I’ll be handling the phone with as much care as one would take with the holy grail, and I’m leaving the manufacturer display plastic stuff on. Sure, it inhibits my view of the screen, but it reduces scratches and smudges until I can get a true screen protector on it.


I popped the back shell off more easily than expected, which is a good thing. Anything I’ve seen on the Moto device line seems to indicate that the shell clings tightly enough to be a hassle to remove. Honestly, I had no trouble sliding my fingernail in near the micro USB port and pulling the shell right off. Not that I could see it falling off or flexing any, I think the amount of force needed to remove the shell was perfect. The feel of the shell itself is nice, almost like a soft rubber texture. It isn’t great enough to go without a case, though, and I’ll be covering that sucker up as soon as the case comes in the mail. I removed the 32 GB micro SD from its packaging and took the SIM card out of my Nexus 4. I’m sad to see it go, but that’s what I get for going caseless. With SD and SIM cards in place, I snapped the shell of the Moto G back on.


When I powered up the device, the first thing I noticed was the non-stock boot animation. With both my old phone and tablet on AOSP, it’s rare for me to see other boot animations lately. The phone finally came on and I began the typical setup procedure: sign in with my Google account, use one of my Google Authenticator backup verification codes to prove that the device is mine, start grabbing apps, and set up the home screen. In doing all this, the screen did not seem unpleasant at all. Most complaints I’ve heard about the Moto G harp on the screen having the same resolution as the first generation device with a larger screen, resulting in fewer pixels per inch. Maybe my vision is just bad (actually, it is, but I’m nearsighted rather than farsighted and so using a phone isn’t a problem), but the screen looked fine to me. I couldn’t really tell much of a difference from my Nexus 4, but I don’t care a ton about how vivid and crisp a screen is. If the display is good enough to watch videos and read text, I’m alright.


In order to test the front-facing stereo speakers, I loaded up Google Play Music and played the Rainbow Cruise theme from the Super Smash Bros. soundtrack. Maybe I’m just used to bad phone speakers, but this thing sounds amazing. Even at the absolute lowest volume level, the sound is still relatively loud.


As curiosity struck me, I went into the settings to check which version of Android the phone was currently running. Oddly enough, it’s still on 4.4.4 Kit Kat. I thought that the Moto G had already received an update to 5.0, but maybe my phone in particular just hasn’t received the OTA update yet. I’m not particularly concerned. I like the new features that 5.0 brings, but I can live without them.


One thing that is particularly strange to me is having an external storage slot again. I haven’t had a device with external storage since my old Droid 2 Global, so that will take some getting used to. Regardless, having 32 + 8 GB of storage on this phone will be far better than the 16 I had on the Nexus 4.


The other popular complaint I’ve heard about the Moto G is that the RAM and CPU are both inferior to many phones on the market today. I’ve heard reports of stuttering, trouble multitasking, and just general issues that come with less powerful hardware. In the short time I’ve used the phone so far, I will say that the Moto G is far more capable than I expected. While it isn’t quite as powerful as my Nexus 4, it seems more than adequate for my needs. My music skipped briefly when switching from profile to landscape orientation, and the device took a moment to register than the phone was upright again to switch back, but I was running several applications at once. I imagine that the phone will slow down with use, but I highly doubt that it will ever become as slow as I feared it might be.


A feature that annoys me is having “T-Mobile” displayed constantly on the upper left corner of the screen. On my Nexus 4 with Android 5.0, it would only display when I had no notifications. Now, it’s always there and takes up a large portion of my notification bar. I don’t like a busy notification bar, so I’d much rather have it gone when I have some sort of notification. Maybe I’ll figure it out somewhere in the settings. If anyone knows of a way to turn that off, please let me know.


I’m super excited that this phone has a 5” display. The 4.7” display of my Nexus 4 wasn’t necessarily cramped, but I did want a little more screen real estate to play with. The 2070 mAh battery is one feature I’m torn on. It’s slightly smaller than the battery in my Nexus 4, and the screen is bigger. Both of those could increase the rate at which my battery is drained. Perhaps the decrease in processing power will allow me to squeeze more juice out of the phone, but that remains to be seen. I’ll be sure to update after using it normally for a few days. Note: I also have location services turned on high accuracy, so that could definitely pull more power. I don’t recall what setting I had my Nexus 4 on, but I feel like high accuracy location services would be more beneficial.


I hate that this phone doesn’t have NFC capabilities or a multi-color notification LED. Neither is a particularly debilitating exclusion, but they are features that I became accustomed to on my Nexus 4. NFC was used some for Google Wallet Tap-and-Pay, but more frequently to beam pictures and videos quickly to and from my wife. Sure, we have a bazillion other means of transmission, but that was the most easily accessible and intuitive.


With the multi-color functionality of the notification light, I don’t really care so much about having an individual color or flash pattern for app notifications themselves; my bigger issue is charging notifications. I typically charge my phone at work, rather than overnight. It allows me to have more juice throughout the afternoon, rather than spending it through the morning and having to ration my battery later in the day. I don’t like to leave my phone plugged up when it is fully charged, but I also don’t like having to check it all the time just to see how charged the battery is. I had a notification light manager on my N4 that allowed me to select what color the light would show when the phone was plugged up at different battery levels. With a quick glance, I could see how much battery I had within 25%, and any notifications meant that the light would be flashing rather than solid. With the Moto G only having a single color, I can’t tell how much the phone is charged.


Having used the Moto G for roughly 3 days now, I can honestly say that I am extremely happy with the purchase.

TL;DR: The battery lasts far longer than my Nexus 4. The screen is larger and the decrease in pixel density doesn’t bother me. I like the form factor, though I am eager to get a case on the phone so I don’t destroy it. I love the near-stock software, and it feels extremely natural to use. The hardware isn’t as powerful, but everything is snappy enough that I have absolutely no frustration with general use. The cameras, both front and rear, seem perfectly acceptable for my needs. If I want better pictures, I’ll use my DSLR.


For this price point and quality, I can firmly recommend the Moto G to nearly anyone. Someone new to smartphone technology can get a taste of it without paying the premium that top of the line flagship devices require. Anyone familiar with smartphones that doesn’t need the absolute bleeding edge of specs and performance should have no issue using this phone. The only demographic that I would advise against getting this phone would be super crazy power users or business owners that will be multitasking constantly and need applications to load fractions of a second faster. If you’re looking for a new toy to play with, if you’re on a budget and need a smartphone now, if you have plenty of money and simply don’t want to pay a ton for top of the line devices, then the Moto G is the phone for you.


End of 2014

A retrospective, as the year comes to a close.


It’s been a very busy year for me. Though my son was born in November of last year, I’ve done more actual parenting this year. I got married. I bought a house. It seems like things have been nonstop for every one of the 365 days. Not that I’m complaining, I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot and I’m very proud of that.


There is very little I wish I could change about 2014. As for my plans for 2015, I do want to make some improvements. Many people make new years resolutions, but I refuse to do that. They’re essentially made to be broken and I don’t want to say I’ll do something without going through on it. I do have a few life policy changes for myself, though. I picked up regular exercise in 2014, trying to walk everyday on my lunch break. I’d like to continue this, and maybe augment it with some light jogging. I certainly need to eat better. My blood pressure runs a little high and that could bring on a plethora of health problems if I don’t address it soon. I could do with less sodium and processed foods, maybe leaning toward smaller portions and more salads. If I lose weight with this, awesome, but weight loss isn’t my main goal. I want to be healthier. I want to be as productive and helpful as I can with my family, at work, and in everything I do. I can only accomplish that if I’m in good health.

In closing of the last Words on Wednesday post of 2014, I ask that everyone be safe tonight. Go out and have some fun. If you drink, don’t drive or shoot fireworks. Here’s to the memories of 2014 and the opportunities of 2015.


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