Each year Moto launches an affordable new G-series mid-range phone and each year it receives rave reviews from critics and consumers alike. Last year’s Moto G6 was no exception, and this year’s Moto G7 is poised to carry the torch. But what’s even more interesting is that starting with the G4, Moto broadened the G-series into a range of handsets with slightly different specs, including detuned Play and enhanced Plus versions.
For 2019, Moto is adding a fourth model, the G7 Power. It slots above the G7 Play and below the G7 and G7 Plus, and puts an emphasis on battery life, with a massive 5000mAh cell. So, beyond that, what do you gain and lose? Does the G7 Power hit the sweet spot in the lineup? Is it worth buying over the standard, but pricier and fancier G7? Read my review to find out.
Hardware and design
The G7 Power is a big phone — roughly the same size and weight as the current crop of large flagships from Apple, Samsung, and Google. At 9.3mm (0.37in) thick, it’s a little chunkier than most devices in this category, but you’d be hard pressed to notice because the curved edges make it feel good in hand. Design-wise, it’s a variation on the classic G-series lines instead of the modern Moto X4-like vibe of the G7 and G7 Plus. What my review unit lacks in sophistication, though, it handily makes up with a striking Marine Blue color.
Despite looking like a glass and aluminum sandwich, the G7 Power is primarily made of plastic, including the frame and faux-glass back. In front, Gorilla Glass 3 covers a 6.2-inch display that’s notched to host the earpiece and the 8MP selfie camera. While the bezels are reasonably small, there’s a significant Motorola-branded chin below the screen. The rear is home to Moto’s signature circular camera pod with a single 12MP shooter and LED flash, plus a trick fingerprint sensor that doubles as Moto’s “M” logo.
Continuing the tour, there’s a headphone jack and secondary mic on top, a USB Type-C port and primary mic at the bottom, a nano-SIM/microSD tray on the left side, plus a volume rocker and (pleasantly textured) power/lock button on the right. Finally, the G7 Power benefits from a special water-repellent nanocoating, for extra peace of mind.
The G7 Power features a 6.2-inch HD+ IPS display (1570 x 720 pixels, 279ppi) with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio and a notch. It looks fine overall, with decent contrast, pleasant colors, and good black levels. At the same time, viewing angles are somewhat limited, and the low resolution is definitely noticeable, especially when reading small text. Basically, it feels like Moto deliberately reduced costs by downgrading the screen to 720p, and that’s a bummer. Still, it gets the job done, and will serve most people well.
Mid-range handsets have really benefited from all the camera tech trickling down from flagships in the last couple years, to the point where even $200 devices take nice enough pictures in most situations. But the gap is widening again this year, with high-end phones showing great improvements in areas like low-light photography. So while the G7 Power probably matches the imaging performance of some two-year-old flagships, it also exhibits similar limitations.
Moto rightfully saved money by putting a single 12MP f/2.0 shooter in the back. There’s no fancy OIS here, but the sensor features 1.25-micron pixels and phase-detection autofocus. And it’s able to capture video at 4k / 30fps (and 1080p / 30 fps stabilized!) with stereo audio, which is pretty impressive at this price point. The selfie camera clocks in at 8MP and packs an f/2.2 lens, 1.12-micron pixels, and 1080p / 30fps video recording.
The resulting photos are quite detailed, with decent colors and exposure. Obviously, the G7 Power stumbles a little in terms of dynamic range and low-light performance, and that’s to be expected, but it’s nothing that can’t be fixed with Google Photos. Shooting modes include portrait (driven by face recognition instead of depth-sensing), spot color (fun!), group selfie, manual, cinemagraph, and panorama. Video capture is surprisingly competent, and the camera even supports slow-motion and time-lapse.
Reception and sound quality
Like most unlocked Moto handsets sold in the US, the G7 Power supports legacy CDMA networks like Verizon and Sprint’s, which is nice. I tested it on Verizon and AT&T’s LTE networks in San Francisco and Portland without hiccups. The earpiece doubles as a mono speaker and sounds adequately loud and clear for both calls and media playback. Audio quality over headphones is excellent, surpassing devices costing significantly more, and the phone is loud enough to drive finicky studio headphones without drama.
Performance and battery life
For 2019, Moto switched the entire G7 lineup to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 600-series chips — 636 for the G7 Plus and 632 for the rest, mated with varying amounts of RAM and storage. The bump in performance vs. last year’s Snapdragon 450 is noticeable, and my G7 Power review unit felt snappy no matter what I threw at it, even with just 3GB of RAM. Basically, you’ll be fine as long as you don’t play the latest games at max settings. As for built-in storage, 32GB fills up quickly, but there’s support for microSD cards up to 512GB, making this less of an issue.
While performance is good, battery life is what really sets the G7 Power apart. How does 12+ hours of screen-on time sound? What about 3 days between charges? Yeah, that’s both amazing and liberating. It’s what happens when you combine a massive 5000mAh cell with a power-efficient 720p display and mid-range SoC. And with a 15W TurboPower fast charger in the box, filling back up is a breeze.
My only real beef with the G7 Power is the lack of NFC. I write this every year, every time I review a G-Series phone — I definitely sound like a broken record at this point. So what gives, Moto? Google Pay is a thing, people use it and want it, and NFC cost peanuts. Come on!
As is usually the case with Moto handsets, the G7 Plus runs an almost stock build of Android 9 (Pie). There’s nothing to complain about here — it’s a delightful user experience devoid of any crud (skins, customizations, or unwanted apps). It’s quick and lightweight, with a sprinkling of helpful features to make life even better. This includes face unlock, which works fine when there’s enough light, but isn’t as secure as fingerprint unlock.
Moto Display wakes up the screen for incoming notifications or when you nudge the phone. It also keeps the display on as long as you’re looking at it. Moto Actions lets you chop down twice to activate the flashlight, or swipe down from the center to the bottom left or right corner to shrink the screen for one-handed use — among other things. There’s also a handy screenshot editor that auto-scrolls content if necessary. Great stuff.
Moto G7 Power vs. Moto G7
So what’s really different between the G7 Power and the standard G7? Moto sent us both devices to review, so here’s a quick cheat sheet:
- G7 is more expensive ($300 vs. $250)
- G7 is slightly thinner and lighter
- G7 has nicer materials (glass vs. plastic back)
- G7 has a smaller battery (3000mAh vs. 5000mAh)
- G7 has a better display (1080p w/ teardrop notch vs. 720p w/ regular notch)
- G7 has a better rear camera (12MP f/1.8 + 5MP depth sensor vs. 12MP f/2.0)
- G7 has more RAM and storage (4GB RAM vs. 3GB, 64GB of storage vs. 32GB)
- G7 has a better, separate mono speaker
- G7 has a less powerful headphone amp
- G7 has more software features (like wave to wake, Moto Voice, and Dolby Audio)
Price and competition
The G7 Power sells unlocked for $250, directly from Moto, but is also available from Best Buy and Amazon. Better yet, the dual-SIM international version (without support for Verizon or Sprint, but with 4GB or RAM and 64GB of storage) costs just $220 on Amazon. That’s a pretty good deal. Alternatively, consider the rest of the G-series range — the basic G7 Play, regular G7, and premium G7 Plus.
Beyond that, competition is scarce. In the US, nothing can really touch the G7 Power, especially when it comes to battery life. The $229 Nuu G3+ comes close, but lacks a headphone jack. If you don’t mind giving up some stamina and want to save money ($200 or less), there’s last year’s Moto G6 or the Nokia 6.1. If you don’t need compatibility with US bands and can handle skinned Android, consider the Huawei P20 Lite and Honor 8X. If you can spend a little more ($300 or more) and want better specs, there’s Xiaomi’s Pocophone F1 and the Nokia 7.1.
Putting it all together, it’s clear the Moto G7 Power represents the best value in this year’s Moto G-series lineup. If you can get over the pedestrian design, 720p screen, and lack of NFC, it offers incredible battery life, a decent camera, solid performance, and a great user experience — all in a very affordable package. The G7 Power is perfect for those who need superior battery life, have a limited budget, or want an unlocked phone that works on any US carrier. It’s a unique handset that punches way above its weight. And that’s just great.