Motorola Moto G7 review: An impressive phone that shouldn't be this cheap

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  • Editors' rating
    8.3 Excellent
  • $249.99

Pros

  • Long battery life
  • Affordable
  • Impressive performance

Cons

  • No NFC
  • Camera can be finicky
  • No IP-level water and dust resistance

Motorola's latest lineup of budget-conscious smartphones includes four new devices: The Moto G7, Moto G7 Play, Moto G7 Plus, and the Moto G7 Power. The lineup of devices ranges from $199 to $299/€299 and are every bit what we've come to expect from a Motorola phone over the past few years. That is a high-end experience for a fraction of the price.

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ZDNet's Sandra Vogel reviewed the Moto G7 Plus after its European launch in February and labeled it a "top-quality budget smartphone" thanks to its design, battery life, camera, and added Motorola features such as Moto Actions.

The Moto G7 is similar to the G7 Plus, with the biggest differences being a 16MP camera on the Plus, with a 12MP camera for the standard G7. One other difference is the addition of NFC to the G7 Plus, while the G7 lacks the extra chip. It's unfortunate the G7 Plus won't be available in the US.

I've spent the last few weeks testing the Moto G7, with plans to test the G7 Power next. The G7 is an excellent budget smartphone. Let's take a closer look.

Moto G7 specifications

Operating system: Android 9.0 Pie
Display: 6.2-inch, 2270*1080 (403 ppi)
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 octa-core
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 64GB with microSD support up to 512GB
Rear Cameras: 12 MP with 5 MP depth sensor
Front Camera: 8 MP
Water resistance: P2i water repellent coating
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/n, Bluetooth 4.2
Connector: USB-C port
Battery: 3,000 mAh
Dimensions: 157 x 75.3 x 8mm, 172 grams
Colors: Ceramic black, clear white

Design

When unboxing the Moto G7, the first thing I noticed was its all-glass back. The premium look and feel of the phone is something that's normally reserved for Samsung's or Apple's flagship lineup, with the phone costing three times that of the Moto G7. The back is curved at the edges, meaning it's easy to get a comfortable grip on a device that boasts a 6.2-inch display.

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On the back of the phone is the familiar Motorola logo, which doubles as the fingerprint sensor. Just above that is a 12MP and 5MP dual-camera system, encompassed in a circle bump.

On top of the phone is where you'll find the SIM card and microSD card tray. You can top up the 64GB of storage with another 512GB if you need more space. On the left edge is the volume up and down rocker, as well as the sleep/wake button. On the bottom of the phone is a headphone jack (!!) and a USB-C port that's compatible with Motorola's TurboPower fast charging tech. Motorola earned a few bonus points for including a headphone jack and a USB-C port -- something that's becoming increasingly rare in more expensive phones.

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Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

The Moto G7 is the first phone I've used that has a teardrop notch at the top of the screen. The teardrop only takes up enough space to make room for the front-facing camera, and nothing else. I appreciate the subtle approach, particularly because it leaves room for notification and system icons along the top.

Motorola still hasn't included any sort of IP-level water or dust resistance with the G7. Instead, the G7 uses a water repellent P2i nano coating. According to Motorola, that means the phone should withstand a splash or spill, but not a drop in the pool. Overall, some sort of water protection is better than none, but I would love to see a more robust level of protection.

The G7 lacks NFC capabilities, meaning you won't be able to use Google Pay for mobile payments. It's not a deal breaker by any means, but we're at a point that NFC should be a standard feature on all phones. If a company can put two rear cameras in a phone, it should have NFC. The number of locations that accept mobile payments has grown tremendously, especially in the US, over the last few years.

Performance

moto-g7-2.jpg

Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Almost every time I use a budget smartphone, I'm surprised by its performance. For all of the attention companies and reviewers give to the latest Apple A-series processor or the high-end Qualcomm Snapdragon processor -- and rightfully so -- the lower end processors from Qualcomm deserve their own praise.

The Moto G7 was no exception. Whether I was trying my hand at my family's latest mobile game obsession, Amaze!, or doing my daily routine of bouncing between email, Slack, Messenger, Twitter, and Reddit, I never felt like I was using an underpowered phone.

The 3,000 milliamp-hour battery had enough power to get through a normal day for me, starting around six in the morning and winding down around 10 at night. Included in the box with the G7 is a 15W TurboPower wall adapter that Motorola promises will provide nine hours of battery with just 15 minutes of charge time. I'm not sold on those numbers but can confirm that TurboPower does a good job at quickly charging the G7's battery.

The camera on the G7 is at times impressive, and other times just alright. I found that when using something like portrait mode if the lighting wasn't just right, the camera struggled. When using the regular camera mode, I found the G7 to slightly overexpose most shots. This is typical of most lower-end phones, however, so I wasn't terribly surprised. 

I like the placement of the fingerprint sensor on the back of the G7. It's in a spot that's easy to find with my finger, and the phone unlocks without any delay once it registers my fingerprint. I did have some issues with the sensor not recognizing a registered finger, but after deleting and re-registering my fingerprint I have yet to experience any hiccups.

A budget phone that punches above its weight

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Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

The Moto G7 is a $300 budget phone that looks, feels, and performs like a high-end phone. 

I can't think of another low-end smartphone line that's continued to push the boundaries of what a budget smartphone is and should be able to do. Motorola continues to blur the lines of budget and high end, without raising the end cost. You can buy three, maybe four, Moto G7's for the same cost as one iPhone XS Max or Galaxy S10 Plus. Unreal. 

If you need a new phone but don't want to spend a ton of money, you can't really go wrong with the Moto G7. 

Specifications

Phone Features
Phone Functions Speakerphone, voice control, call timer, conference call, flight mode, voice dialing, vibrating alert
Sensors Accelerometer, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor, magnetometer, gyro sensor, ultrasonic sensor
Additional Features Face Unlock, Three microphones, Quick gestures, Google Lens
Security Devices Fingerprint reader, face recognition
Details
Integrated Components Front-facing camera, FM radio, voice recorder, navigation, dual rear-facing camera, digital player
Body Color Clear white
Cellular
Technology CDMA2000 1X / GSM / WCDMA (UMTS)
Type smartphone (Android OS)
Integrated Components FM radio, digital player, dual rear-facing camera, front-facing camera, navigation, voice recorder
Navigation A-GPS, BeiDou, GLONASS, GPS, Galileo
Band WCDMA (UMTS) / GSM 850/900/1800/1900 / CDMA2000 1X 1900/850
Mobile Broadband Generation 4G
Phone Form Factor touch
Service Provider not specified
Operating System Family Android
Intelligent Assistant Google Assistant
SIM Card Type nano SIM
SIM Card Slot Qty single-SIM
Input Device Multi-touch
Miscellaneous
Sensors accelerometer, ambient light sensor, gyro sensor, magnetometer, proximity sensor
Messaging & Internet
Messaging Services MMS, SMS
Supported Social Networks and Blogs Yes
Communications
Data Transmission EDGE, EV-DO, FDD-LTE, GPRS, HSDPA, HSPA+, HSUPA, TDD-LTE
3G UMTS Band Band 1, Band 2, Band 4, Band 5, Band 8
Wireless Interface Bluetooth 4.2 LE, IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n
Processor
Clock Speed 1.8 GHz
Type Qualcomm Snapdragon 632
Manufacturer QUALCOMM
Processor Core Qty 8-core
64-bit Architecture Yes
Display
Technology IPS
Display Format Full HD+
Pixel Density (ppi) 403
Diagonal Size 6.2 in
Diagonal Size (metric) 15.7 cm
Smartphone Diagonal Size 6.2 in
Aspect Ratio 19:9
Protection Corning Gorilla Glass 3 (scratch resistant glass)
Color Support color
Features Max Vision display, attentive display
Memory
Supported Flash Memory Cards microSDHC, microSDXC - up to 128 GB
Multimedia
Graphics Accelerator Qualcomm ADRENO 506
Battery
Run Time Details Mixed usage: up to 24 hrs
Fast Charging Technology TurboPower technology
Digital Camera
Special Effects Spot Color
Header
Brand Motorola
Product Line Motorola Moto
Packaged Quantity 1
CE Input Device
Type touch sensitive screen (multi-touch)
Features
Sensors accelerometer, ambient light sensor, gyro sensor, magnetometer, proximity sensor
Phone Functions call timer, conference call, flight mode, speakerphone, vibrating alert, voice control, voice dialing
Security Devices face recognition, fingerprint reader
Additional Features Face Unlock, Google Lens, Quick gestures, Three microphones
Android Enterprise Recommended Yes
Digital Player (Recorder)
Sound Enhancements Dolby Audio
RAM
Installed Size 4 GB
Flash Memory
Internal Memory Capacity 64 GB
Max Supported Size 128 GB
Supported Flash Memory Cards microSDHC, microSDXC
Graphics System
Graphics Accelerator Qualcomm ADRENO 506
Service & Support Details
Type limited warranty
Full Contract Period 1 year
Front-facing Camera
Sensor Resolution 8 Megapixel
Service & Support
Type 1 year warranty

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Where To Buy

Motorola Moto G7 (ceramic white)

Part Number: CNETMotorolaMotoG7white