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Lifewire / Andrew Hayward
Sleek, premium-looking design
Large, crisp, and colorful screen
Android 9.0 is pretty smooth
Moto Actions options are smart additions
Good price for the package
Poor gaming performance
Hit-or-miss camera results
No water resistance rating
Middling speaker quality
It's not the best option for snapping photos or playing games, but otherwise there's a lot to like about the affordable Motorola Moto G7.
There are plenty of flashy-looking smartphones available today, but most of them will set you back several hundred dollars. Luckily, premium pizazz is beginning to reach the lower end of the price pool, as evidenced by Motorola's Moto G7.
The Moto G line has consistently been one of the best in the budget space, but the Moto G7's design punches above its weight, giving off surprising flagship allure at a fraction of the cost. That illusion doesn't extend throughout the experience, as the modest processing power and camera capabilities feel more typical for the price point. This is still one of the better all-around phones you can buy for less than $300, although the Moto G series' rising price point is starting to pull it away from true budget status.
The Motorola Moto G7 is a cut above the budget competition with a look that largely echoes some of the latest top-end phones. There's minimal bezel around the screen thanks to the use of a teardrop-style notch—a small cutout at the top center for the front-facing camera. That helps boost the immersion of the screen and gives it a high-end visual perk.
Granted, the notch is a little deeper than some of the other teardrop cutouts seen on other phones, but not dramatically so. Likewise, the "chin" of bezel below the screen is larger than on pricier phones like the OnePlus 6T or Huawei P30 Pro, and the Motorola logo does slightly take away from the overall allure. Smartphone aficionados will be able to spot the differences, but the average phone buyer will probably just be happy to have a phone that looks much more expensive than it really is.
The Motorola Moto G7 is a cut above the budget competition with a look that largely echoes some of the latest top-end phones.
The Moto G7 opts for a plastic frame rather than aluminum, but it sticks with glass on the back. A big central camera module juts out near the top of the phone, as well as a responsive fingerprint sensor with the Motorola logo beneath. Overall, it's not the most distinctive phone aesthetic, but still feels a cut above the rest for the price. And it has a 3.5mm headphone port, which is more than you can say for most pricier phones these days.
The Moto G7 comes in Ceramic Black and Clearly White models, each with 64GB storage within. However, you can slot in a microSD card up to 512GB for significantly more storage. The phone does not have a water resistance rating, however, it has a "water-repellant design" with P2i nano coating. We still don't recommend dunking it in the pool.
Motorola's setup process is very similar to what we've seen on other recent Android 9.0 Pie handsets, which means it's straightforward and easy to understand. Simply power on the phone by holding the small button on the right side and follow the steps on the screen, including signing into a Google account, agreeing to the terms, and choosing whether or not you want to restore from a backup or transfer over data from another phone. It should only take a few minutes to get up and running.
Thankfully, the Moto G7's large and prominent screen doesn't feel like a downgrade in any way. It's a 6.2-inch LCD screen at 1080p resolution. It's a big and colorful display that's perfect for watching movies and TV shows, browsing the web, and anything else you might ask of it. This isn't the brightest screen we've seen on a smartphone, although it's hardly dim, and the LCD panel means it doesn't have quite the same level of contrast or true black levels as the OLED panels more commonly seen on flagship phones today. Still, it's pretty great in everyday usage.
Now here's where the Moto G7 shows some limitations. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 processor is a lower mid-range chip, but paired with 4GB RAM, Android 9.0 Pie still runs solidly. It's not as lightning fast as phones running flagship-level chips, but it'll get the job done for average, everyday usage. The PCMark Work 2.0 benchmark score of 6015 is significantly less than some other phones, however—such as Google's Pixel 3a, which scored 7,413 using the more powerful Snapdragon 670 chip. Samsung's pricey Galaxy S10, meanwhile, scored an eye-watering 9,276.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 processor is a lower mid-range chip, but paired with 4GB RAM, Android 9.0 Pie still runs solidly.
Game performance is where differences are much more noticeable. The Adreno 506 GPU chip can just barely handle modern 3D games, with racer Asphalt 9: Legends running at a very low resolution—but also pretty smoothly, to its credit. Meanwhile, online shooter PUBG Mobile significantly cut down aspects like resolution and texture quality, but was still solidly playable despite the graphical downgrades.
The Moto G7's gaming struggles are made very clear via benchmark testing, with the phone hitting only 3.6 frames per second (fps) in the GFXBench's Car Chase demo and 22fps in the T-Rex benchmark. The Pixel 3a nearly tripled that frame rate in Car Chase and more than doubled the frame rate for T-Rex. The Moto G7 can handle simpler, 2D games just fine, but it just wasn't built for 3D gaming. It can just barely run current 3D games, which doesn't bode well for the next waves of flashy mobile titles.
The Moto G7 showed the kind of speed levels that we're used to seeing in this particular test area, about 10 miles north of Chicago, using Verizon's 4G LTE network. Using Ookla's Speedtest app, we saw download rates between 24-30Mbps and upload speeds around 8-10Mbps. Both are similar to what we've seen with other phones. The phone also supports 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz Wi-Fi networks.
The Moto G7 can handle simpler, 2D games just fine, but it just wasn't built for 3D gaming.
The Moto G7 isn't built to serve as a speaker for your music, as it only has a single mono speaker at the bottom of the phone. That's fine for playing a bit of music in the kitchen or garage, but the playback quickly becomes muffled and constrained at higher volume levels. The receiver at the top of the phone isn't used for music playback at all, but it works well for calls.
Despite its premium looks, the Moto G7 can't match higher-end phones on camera quality. It's not even close. The Moto G7 packs a pair of rear cameras: a 12-megapixel (f/1.8 aperture) main sensor, and a 5-megapixel depth sensor alongside that's used for determining distance for portrait-style shots with blurred backgrounds. The camera has phase detection autofocus (PDAF), but lacks optical image stabilization.
It's possible to snag a good shot with plenty of lighting available, packing decent contrast and detail. But that's with ideal conditions, and other scenarios don't typically deliver similar results. Indoor shots were often blurry in our testing and struggled to deliver natural-looking results. Low-light shots, especially, weren't typically very good. The Moto G7's camera can produce Instagram-ready shots on a hit-or-miss basis, but don't expect a ton of detail or consistent clarity. Unsurprisingly, the 4K video shooting (at 30fps) also isn't especially crisp or detailed.
Meanwhile, the front-facing 8-megapixel camera delivers solid selfies, but there's nothing particularly noteworthy about the results.
The 3,000mAh battery pack on the Moto G7 is modest for a phone with such a large screen, but the 1080p resolution and also lower-end processor mean it's not being pushed as hard as it would with some ritzier flagship phones. In our testing, we typically finished the day with 20-30 percent of a charge left, but it's not that difficult to push the Moto G7 to the brink before bedtime by playing games or streaming media.
The Moto G7 doesn't offer wireless charging, which makes sense for the price, but at least the included 15W TurboPower charger can give you a quick top-up with a cable: Motorola says that it'll give you up to 9 hours of usage from a 15-minute charge, though your results may vary.
As mentioned above, the Moto G7 runs the latest version of the mobile OS, Android 9.0 Pie, and Motorola's skin thankfully takes a light touch. It still looks and feels a lot like core Android, and it's largely smooth and responsive given the lower-end processor onboard. Google Assistant is the onboard voice assistant here, and it likewise feels speedy, answering questions with ease. The Moto G7 doesn't have an NFC chip within, so there's no option for mobile payments on the phone.
The Moto G7 has the usual three-button Android navigation bar, but you can also switch to iPhone-esque gesture controls via the installed Moto app. Activating one-button navigation puts a little bar at the bottom of the screen which you can tap to go home, do a quick upward swipe to access the multitasking menu, swipe right to swap to your last-used app, and swipe left to go back. It's a pretty handy option that also makes the screen look a lot cleaner.
The Moto app also holds the key to Moto Actions, a series of handy gestures and other bonus features that Motorola has been gradually cultivating over the years. These unobtrusive additions are helpful little benefits, such as doing two quick chopping motions with your phone (even when the screen is off) to activate the flashlight, or opening the camera by quickly twisting your wrist twice. You can also take a screenshot by touching the screen with three fingers, for example, or automatically enable Do Not Disturb mode by flipping over your phone face down. All of these features can be enabled or disabled in case you're accidentally triggering something you don't want or need.
At a $299 list price, there's a lot to like about the Moto G7—from the flagship-inspired design to the big and beautiful 6.2-inch screen and the solid Android 9.0 Pie performance. On the other hand, the phone has limited gaming capabilities and the camera can be hit-or-miss. In both cases, that usually just comes with the territory for lower-end phones. A lot of what's here is nice for the price.
On the other hand, $299 is the highest price to date for a base Moto G model, and it's arguably pushing its way out of the budget realm and into the mid-range price range. And if you're not locked into buying a brand new, 2019 phone, you might consider looking back at an older flagship like the Samsung Galaxy S8 or Google Pixel 2, both of which you can find refurbished for around $300 or less. In both cases, you'll get a more powerful device with a better camera.
Also, note that there is a cheaper version called the Moto G7 Power, which sells for $249 and makes a few notable changes. The screen still comes in at 6.2 inches, but it's a lower-resolution (720p) panel and has a wider, iPhone-esque notch at the top. Also, the phone only has one camera on the back and the back material is plastic instead of glass. On the upside, it has a huge 5,000mAh battery pack, which should get you two full days of uptime per charge.
There's also a Moto G7 Play for $199, which has a smaller 5.7-inch screen (still at 720p) and an even larger notch, but just the standard 3,000mAh battery. It is the true budget option of the Moto G7 pack, however, and still runs Android 9.0 Pie with the same processor onboard.
As the rival to the G7, you might also consider spending a little bit more on the newer Google Pixel 3a. The Pixel 3a is Google's attempt to redesign its flagship phone as a mid-ranger, with a less-powerful processor than the standard Pixel 3 and a plastic build, but the results are still impressive. It has the same 12.2-megapixel camera as the Pixel 3 and takes stunningly detailed shots, while the Snapdragon 670 chip brings noticeably better performance than the Snapdragon 632 in the Moto G7.
It sells for $399, however, and comes with a smaller screen at 5.6 inches. The 6-inch Pixel 3a XL goes for $479 meanwhile. But we think it's worth taking a smaller screen and spending the extra $100 for the Pixel 3a over the Moto G7, due to those key performance and camera quality boosts. It's well worth the added investment, and it's a phone that is better suited to handle the performance demands of upcoming games, apps, and Android OS revisions.
It's a strong sub-$300 phone, but doesn’t excel for camera performance.
There's a whole lot to like about the Motorola Moto G7, especially at a glance: the design nearly puts this $299 phone in the same company as much pricier phones, and the 6.2-inch screen doesn't disappoint. Still, the poor game performance and spotty camera quality quickly remind you that this isn't a high-end phone. Savvy smartphone shooters might be better off spending a bit extra on the Pixel 3a, however, or looking to an older flagship phone for better performance. Still, if $300 is your firm budget, then the Moto G7 should be on your list.
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