The maturing smartphone market, facing headwinds from pesky consumers waiting longer and longer to replace their existing devices, has now begun fracturing by price point.
Flagship phones are becoming more powerful, premium, and pricey with every passing year, while devices targeting the lower end of the market attempt to differentiate by value, looking to strike the right balance between price and performance, and if they’re lucky, truly excel in at least one area.
Motorola has been a strong player in budget phones for some time through its Moto G line, cheap devices that use a close-to-stock Android operating system.
A lack of bloatware helps things run smoothly even on these lower spec phones, but now Motorola is trying to add another string to its bow with the G7 Power.
As the name suggests, Motorola has taken its regular Moto G7 phone and juiced it up with an unprecedented 5000mAh battery the company claims gives the Moto G7 a marathon 60 hour battery life.
This is one area the phone excels, the question is: are there any others?
It’s unlikely Motorola is going to win any awards for the utilitarian and uninspired design of the G7 Power.
The phone looks practically identical to a lot of others, and its plasticky construction does nothing to help you forget this isn’t a premium phone, but at least it’s honest about it.
The 6.2” display covers the full front of the phone, barring an iPhone-esque notch for the front facing camera and a mild lower bezel bearing the Motorola name.
The screen is good for 1570 x 720 pixels, which is lower than the G7 and G7 Plus, but still provides a perfectly respectable 279 pixels per inch, and its colour reproduction, brightness, and contrast can hardly be faulted for a phone at this price point.
The back of the phone houses a single 12MP camera and LED Flash above a fingerprint sensor.
Wow features on a phone at this price point are predictably pretty rare, but this LED Flash does provide one, thanks to one of the few tweaks Motorola has made to the stock Android 9 Pie OS the phone ships with.
The included Moto app provides users a few cool features through “Moto Actions” and “Moto Display”, and one of them is called Fast Torch.
When enabled, users can quickly shake the phone in a “karate chop” like motion to turn the LED Flash on or off as a torch.
This is a shockingly useful feature and all phones should include it from here on.
Some other Moto Actions include a three finger tap to take a screenshot (which is less convenient and requires more hands than just using your thumb on the hold button and volume down), twisting your wrist twice to open the camera app, and flipping the phone screen side down to activate Do Not Disturb.
Moto Display includes Attentive Display, which prevents the screen going to sleep if you’re looking at it, and Peek Display, which is supposed to allow users to interact with notifications while the screen is off.
In practice I found all this does is briefly illuminate the phone screen every minute if an unaddressed notification is lingering, which serial notification ignorers like myself will just find annoying.
Motorola has stayed loyal to the headphone jack on the G7 Power, but it’s located at the wrong end of the phone for people who want to charge and plug into an audio source at the same time, still beggars can’t be choosers.
Design was never going to be the main draw for this phone, instead the focus is on performance, or rather stamina.
The 5000mAh battery is 2000mAh more than on the regular G7.
Motorola claim two and a half days battery life, and it largely stacks up.
I tried to get the phone to go flat over a weekend but my time and patience ran out before the battery did.
Moreover, the included 18W “TurboPower” charger provides up to 9 hours charge in just 15 minutes (provided the battery is flat enough to activate it, charging speed slows as the battery is charged).
While it’s unlikely to set the world on fire in terms of responsiveness or speed, using the G7 Power is snappy enough.
Apps never take more than a couple seconds to open, with most near instantaneous, while hangs and crashes are exceedingly rare.
An Octa-Core Snapdragon 632 and 4GB RAM keep things going smoothly, and multi-tasking is made easier using the One Button-Nav Moto Action, a substitute for the handy but still inconsistent Google Gestures.
With One-Button Nav enabled users can flick back and forth between apps with a single swipe, and it’s easy enough to get the hang of.
The camera is nothing special, but that’s to be expected at this end of the market.
The G7 Power doesn’t get the same dual camera as the G7, leaving users with a single, slower lens.
G7 users get a maximum aperture of f/1.8, while G7 Power users are stuck with f/2.0.
It doesn’t look like much, but it can make a difference with the small sensors used in smartphones.
Motorola have tried to spruce it up with some claimed “smart camera” enhancements like “hi-res zoom”, which the company claims restores details and image clarity lost by digital zooming.
This is automatically applied to photos taken at more than two times zoom, but not until after capture.
The G7 Power also features a screen flash for illuminating selfies, can shoot 4k video, and make cinemagraphs (short animations with movement restricted to one part of the frame).
Importantly, the G7 Power has the Camera2 API, which allows users to shoot photos in RAW format DNG, which captures more information and gives greater flexibility for editing.
This capability, paired with any number of available apps including Snapseed, VSCO and Lightroom, means (with admittedly a touch extra work) users can still create high quality photos with a less than stellar camera.
Value is obviously the main concern for buyers considering a phone like the G7 Power, so luckily for Motorola this is where it excels.
The G series of phones have always represented pretty good bang for their buck, but with the G7 Power it’s particularly so.
Motorola sell the G7 power via its website for $349, but it’s available at vastly varying price points from online retailers.
Telstra – for some reason – has the phone starting from $59 a month on a 24 month plan with only 3GB included data, a ridiculous offering you’d be a fool to take up, even by Telstra standards.
Additionally, the carrier’s version of the phone doesn’t have the dual SIM slots offered on the Motorola edition.
The G7 Power, like most budget phones, is best as an outright purchase paired with a cheap plan, whether through one of the main carriers or an MVNO.
Its $349 pricetag makes it cheaper than the G7 and G7 Plus, and while sacrifices have been made in the screen and camera, they don’t cripple the phone by any means.
As the name suggests, this phone is really about one thing: Power.
So at the end of the day it’s quite a simple choice: if you’re looking for a cheap, capable phone with a battery life that puts any other to shame, get the G7 Power.
It’s by no means the prettiest or fastest, even amongst budget phones, but it does get the job done and will keep getting it done long after many of its rivals have given up.