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Moto G hands-on: Motorola's most popular phone gets a premium upgrade

It's hard to believe a $179 phone can feel this good

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Much of the surprise surrounding the next version of the Moto G faded last week, after leaks told us nearly everything there is to know about the device. Motorola's "cheap" phone can't really be called low-end anymore. Like a car that got introduced as a value machine, it has steadily increased in power and features until it's become solidly a mid-range Android phone now — one that's still impressive.

But what does "mid-range Android phone" even mean in 2015? The ever-changing and ever-more-complicated striations in the Android market are hard to keep track of, so let's break it down. It has a 13-megapixel camera partially borrowed from the Nexus 6, 5-inch 720p Gorilla Glass display, 2GB of RAM (in the 16GB model), a quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor, and the latest version of Android. You can get one in multiple storage sizes (8GB or 16GB), and in multiple colors thanks to Moto Maker. It's also water resistant and can work with two SIM cards in some markets.

All that adds up to a phone that not only competes with top-tier phones from only a couple of years ago, it competes now as a phone that's more than powerful enough for most people. And it also now feels more premium than ever. It's not flawless; the display doesn't really stand out, for one, and it lacks the battery life of Motorola's true flagships. But this is by far the best feeling Moto G ever — the back is metal — and Motorola's most successful phone could be due for a big year if consumers take notice. You can purchase it starting today from Moto Maker, Amazon, or Best Buy for $179 (8GB/1GB RAM) or $219 (16GB/2GB RAM) and it'll be in Best Buy retail stores on August 2nd.

Moto G (2015) hands-on photos