Friday, January 9, 2015

So I got a Moto G or 2


a tale of two phone users

I didn't want a cellphone when my wife got me one in 2004 or 2005. I don't like monthly bills and didn't think I would use it enough to justify the price. Plus, I was relatively responsible and could call from a public phone or work phone before leaving if I wanted to deviate from my schedule enough to necessitate giving notice.

Naturally, I was hesitant when smartphones started becoming the norm. I was a little more interested than I had been in cellphones due to the fact that I'm a computer nerd, but my frugal nature (a data plan on top of my, already, high monthly bill) and lack of a "need" for the fun a smartphone could occasionally provide kept me away.

We finally made the plunge by buying ~$100 used smartphones (an OG/1st gen Motorola Droid for me and a LG Ally for my wife, both querty keyboard slide-out phones) and signing up for pre-paid monthly plans through Page Plus Cellular. All said, we were paying less than 1/2 per month what we had been paying Verizon for standard service and we got more minutes, more texts, and even a little data to use on our new smartphones, which we mostly used for occasional GPS directions help or google searches when not close to computers.

A year or two later, my wife got a Droid 3 and I got a Droid X2, both ~$100 second-hand. These were probably a mistake. While our 'old' phones were really showing their age, and both new devices were dual-core, they had too little memory to offer much in the way of upgrades. We were, basically, stuck on the same OS (Android 2.3) as we had been with our old devices. This didn't feel like as much of an upgrade as we had hoped for!

Another year later, I got my wife a new 1st Gen Moto G (Boost Mobile) for $60 for Christmas or her birthday or something in between and was able to flash it to Verizon to activate it on Page Plus. It was leaps and bounds ahead of anything we'd used. She ultimately had worse reception and data availability than her Droid 3, though, but all other parts of the upgrade/user experience were notably better enough that we overlooked it for a while and waited too long to send it back -- I'm still not sure if she landed a lemon or what (i never did a factory reset to see if the problem was software-resolvable). Then, she dropped it and cracked the screen a little, although it is still entirely usable. It does have to be restarted pretty frequently to address the (resulting from the drop?) touchscreen issues. Finally, the Moto G Camera isn't amazing. I'm not sure how much of this complaint is due to unrealistic expectations (we normally shoot photos on DSLRs) or poor performance. I don't expect much from phone cameras so don't usually mind the terrible pictures in lieu of no pictures at all. The video seems reasonable enough that I rarely get out our video camera and camera stills do in a crunch.

At this point, I'm long overdue for a replacement for my Droid X2, and I need a phone my wife is happy with. While shopping (primarily for her, as mine still gets the job done -- aka plays music from a micro SD card and allows me to use turn-by-turn GPS when I need it), I came across a Moto G 4G (released after the first Moto G with 4G support and a micro sd slot) on Cricket Wireless for $25. This price was after a $50 discount and $75 Mail-in-rebate on the initial $150 price. The MIR requires 2 months of service. Sold (for me). It offers no improvement for her (same camera and no guarantee of better voice/data coverate), so I hold out a little.

While mine was on order, I purchased a 2nd Gen Moto G (bigger screen, better camera, micro SD slot, no 4G, Android 5.0 ready[supposedly]) for $150 for my wife. It is carrier unlocked, so I can use it on any GSM network, but will probably put it on Cricket Wireless (AT&T network) after the initial experience with mine. *update -- I did put it on Cricket and was happy with the results. While you lose the $5/month credit for autopay, you get a $10/month multi-line it works out, although it'd be awesome if it stacked. Still no Lollipop (android 5.0) for the Moto G (2014) I got for my wife, but I'm not too mad about it at this point. She stored her contacts on her phone, so I had to sync with Google Contact on old phone, then merge contacts on my PC to get the contact on her new phone properly (Motorola Migrate didn't copy them, apparently), but I've been trying to convince her to stop storing contacts on her phone for ever,

My $25** 1st Gen Moto G (4G) arrived a few days ago, but I was unable to get it until Yesterday. Activation was a cinch and, after transferring my micro sd card from the Droid X2 to the Moto G and running Motorola Migrate on both phones, most of my data came right over. I just had to install the apps I wanted from Google Play and customize Android 4.4.4. I tested my voice and data receptions and was satisfied. Although I'm a lite data user and spend much of my time on Wifi, I'm excited about my Unlimited (up to 1GB before speed throttling) data and may start to consider streaming some music instead of playing from my local storage like I'm so used to.

20150202 Update
My wife's 2014 (3g) Moto G started getting prompted to update to 5.0 (Lollipop) a couple of weeks ago and she accepted after I inquired (the phone had been inquiring for a few days at all the wrong times). It seemed to take 30 mins or so, in total, but she didn't have much trouble with it. I haven't heard her raving about the new features or anything...but she is a phone user more and more and her not complaining about a phone means it is doing a good job. Most nights, though, when I plug hers in (1:00 am) it is at <5% battery. It gets through the day, but I'd not expect an ounce more than that.

Final Thoughts

I still like Page Plus. They offer reasonable service on Verizon's network for good prices. The $30 plan gives plenty of minutes and texts, and enough data (100MB when i started, 500MB by the time I left). They are a good option for CDMA phones supported by them or flashable to work with them.

I submitted the Moto G 1st Gen (4G) for $25 to bensbargains twice and they didn't pass on this deal. I'm very confused.

Cricket is great so far -- better coverage than with the Boost Mobile Moto G (1st Gen) flashed to Verizon for PP use. My wife's new Moto G (2nd Gen) has much better reception than the former. I've yet to do a side by side comparison on the upgraded components (camera)...but the speakers, being front-facing and at both ends of the phone, seem far superior to the original design*.


  • *they may confuse my DIY saltines box smart phone speaker enclosure, which is used to my phones having only one speaker to contain/amplify/fill-out.
  • **assuming my rebate comes without incident.

pop quiz

  • who has had more phones...Melissa or I?
  • which of us has more need for an sd slot due to the preference to play "local" music?
  • [subjective] who is more difficult to please, phone-wise?
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