Motorola Moto G7 Review.
The G7 is just one in a family of four new Moto phones, and it’s no longer the star performer.
Motorola’s G range has been the budget phone king since 2013, but the competition is fiercer than ever.
Not only does the Moto G7 face an expanded Moto G range – the Moto G7 Play, Plus and the Moto G7 Power – but now a stiff challenge from Honor, too.
Motorola’s answer to this in the past has been to bump up the price and the quality of its phones, and the approach is much the same now.
What’s New ?
The G7’s biggest new feature is its edge-to-edge display.
This fills most of the front of the phone and ensures that, despite being 0.5in larger than last year, the handset itself isn’t much bulkier; it’s only half a centimetre taller and a few millimetres wider.
That front-filling screen has a couple of knock-on effects, though, and the first is that there’s a notch, which is an unsightly example of the breed.
The narrower bezel beneath the display also means the fingerprint reader has had to move to the rear of the phone, which I prefer.
The rest of the construction is similar to the G6.
Gorilla Glass 3 tops and tails the phone, the volume and power buttons are on the right edge and there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack and USB-C charger port on the bottom.
The top edge plays host to the nano-SIM card slot, which is where you pop in your microSD card if you want to expand the phone’s 64GB of internal storage.
Flip the phone over and you’ll see yet more similarities between the Moto G7 and Moto G6, with the long edges curving gently over to meet the colour-matched frame (the phone is available in all-black or silver colours).
The dual camera is housed in a circular “bump” in the centre towards the top, just above the fingerprint reader.
To my mind, the detailing isn’t as attractive on this year’s phone, however, with the faceted surround on the camera bump replaced with a featureless, glass-topped cavity.
Back to the 6.2in screen. It’s an IPS based display, so contrast isn’t flat-out perfect like it is on phones that use AMOLED technology, but it’s bright, reaching a peak luminance of 481cd/m2.
Contrast is a weakness – we measured it at 823:1 – but colour representation was fine, covering 91.3% of the sRGB gamut.
It’s worth playing with the three colour profiles in the settings.
Out of Natural, Boosted and Saturated, Boosted gives the best compromise between colour saturation, accuracy and contrast.
It’s a decent display, then, but I prefer the punchier Honor Play with its contrast ratio of 1,589:1.
|Processor||Octa-core 1.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 632|
|Graphics||Adreno 506 graphics|
|Screen||6.2 in IPS screen|
|Display||1,080 x 2,270 resolution|
|Camera||Front Camera: 8MP
Back Camera: Dual 12MP / 5MP Rear Camera
|Battery||3,000 mAh Battery|
|Connectivity||11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC|
|Warranty||1 Year Warranty|
Chip of two halves
While the display is the most noticeable upgrade, hidden within the tight confines of the Moto G7’s glass and aluminium case is the processor, which sees an upgrade to the new 1.8GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 chipset.
Backed up by 4GB of RAM, this delivers much better performance than last year’s Moto G6, as you can see from the charts.
Speed Performance ?
The issue for the Moto G7 is, however, that since this time last year we’ve seen several faster performers emerge at around the same price.
(The Moto G7’s slower frame rate in the GFXBench test compared with the Moto G7 Power and Play are due to the fact that it has a higher resolution 1080p display.)
Gaming Performance ?
I also tested the Moto G7 with PUBG Mobile and Shadowgun Legends using Gamebench’s performance analysis software.
In PUBG on the “High” frame rate (capped at 30fps) and “Smooth” graphics quality, I saw solid median frame rates of 30fps and a frame rate stability of100%, meaning that the frame rate was pretty much locked in.
Playing Shadowgun Legends with the quality at low and the frame rate limit set to 60fps, the Moto G7’s frame rate fluctuated considerably more with the median frame rate dropping to 28fps and frame rate stability to 67%.
The conclusion is that, while the Moto G7 will play demanding games reasonably well, it will only do so at reduced quality levels.
It’s a similar story with battery life – another area where the cheaper Moto G7 phones outdo the regular Moto G7.
Video Performance ?
Perhaps because its 1080p screen is more power-hungry, the Moto G7 lasted a mere 11hrs 26mins in our video rundown test – a surprisingly poor result next to the Moto G7 Power’s huge 26hrs 22mins.
This is better than the Moto G6 by almost 40 minutes, but the Moto G7 is also beaten by the Honor 8X, the Honor Play and Honor 10 Lite by an hour or more, which is disappointing.
Finally to the camera, which was the Moto G6’s crowning glory.
Don’t get too excited, as little has changed.
In fact, the specifications on the rear camera are identical to the G6: it has a 12-megapixel (f/1.8) and 5-megapixel (f/2.2) dual camera array on the rear with an 8-megapixel selfie camera on the front.
The only thing that’s changed is there’s now no room for the G6’s front LED flash.
No surprise, then, that in good light without HDR enabled the Moto G7’s photos look all but identical to those produced by the Moto G6.
There’s a touch more detail at the edges of the frame but the colour balance, image processing and details across the rest of the frame all look the same.
Switching to HDR reveals more significant differences, with the Moto G7’s HDRmode producing more natural-looking colours in our test shots and a lot less visible noise.
It’s a similar story in our indoor, low-light test scene. Both colour reproduction and detail capture are pretty much identical on the G7 and the G6, with the G7 edging it when it comes to detail.
So this section of the review is pretty easy. The Moto G7 has the best camera for still photographs of any smartphone below £250.
There are significant differences between the G6 and G7 beyond pure image quality.
The biggest is video, where the new Snapdragon processor lets the Moto G7 record 4K footage at up to 30fps. Last year’s Moto G6 could only manage a maximum of1080p.
The camera software itself offers new features, too. In manual mode you can shoot in RAW.
there’s a new levelling tool to help you keep your horizons straight, live filters have also been added, and the camera shutter will now capture images when a smile is detected.
The latter doesn’t appear to have been designed with bearded men in mind, however; it failed nine times out often with my hirsute test subjects.
The G factor
Despite the failure of capturing happy bearded gentlemen, though, the Moto G7 does have an impressive camera for a smartphone at this price.
It also represents a decent improvement in design and performance over last year’s budget king.
And, yet, I’m having much more difficulty deciding whether to heap the same amount of praise upon the Moto G7 as I did last year with the Moto G6.
That’s largely because its rivals have become so much stronger and yet the price has risen by £20.
Ultimately, I don’t think the Moto G7 is going to be this year’s best budget smartphone and the reason lies elsewhere in the Moto G7 range.
The Motorola Moto G7 Power has a huge 5,000mAh battery that lasts much longer than the G7’s, it has the same processor and it’s only pegged back by a lower resolution display and slightly off-the-pace camera.
The Moto G7 remains a superb low-cost phone but, in 2019, there’s a new kid on the block.
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