New Moto G Packs Fast-Charging, Better CPU for $199

Last year's version of the Moto G proved you didn't have to pay up to get a first-rate smartphone. With the fourth-generation of its unlocked handset, Moto is keeping the sub-$200 price tag, but boosting the processor and charging speed.

The $199 Moto G debuts July 12. It'll be joined by the Moto G Plus, a $249 version of the phone that mirror's the regular Moto G's specs but adds a more powerful camera and a fingerprint sensor.

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The Moto G features a 1.5GHz octa-core Snapdragon 617 processor and 2GB of RAM. You'll be able to choose from either 16GB or 32GB of storage with a microSD card letting you boost capacity to 128GB. The 5.5-inch display boasts 1080p resolution. You'll be able to shoot photos with a 13-megapixel camera on the back of the phone while a 5-MP camera handles selfies up front.

Those camera specs are unchanged from the most recent Moto G, but everything else is an improvement over the phone that impressed us last year. That model ran on a 1.4GHz quad-core Snapdragon 410, and its 5-inch display offered only 1280 x 720 resolution.

Motorola improved the battery on this year's Moto G, too, opting for a 3,000 mAh-battery instead of the 2,470-mAh power pack in last year's phone. What's more, the Moto G promises fast charging; Motorola says the phone supports TurboPower, meaning the Moto G can get 6 hours of power after 15 minutes of charging. It also retains the water-resistance of previous Moto G models.

The Moto G Plus matches those features, though it offers a 64GB storage option instead of 32GB. The bigger difference lies in the rear camera: You'll get a 16-MP shooter instead of the 13-MP version on the regular Moto G. The Moto G Plus also sports a fingerprint sensor, bringing that security feature to a sub-$250 phone.

Motorola plans to release a third model of the Moto G. The Moto G Play comes with a Snapdragon 410 processor and 8-MP and 5-MP cameras on the rear and front of the phone, respectively. The 2,880-mAh battery packs slightly less of a power punch than the battery in the other Moto G models. Look for the Moto G Play to arrive later in the summer.

We were big fans of the most recent Moto G, particularly its 9-hour battery life. We're eager to see how much longer the new version of the phone can last. Our biggest complaint with last year's Moto G centered around the camera's struggles in low light, so we'll be curious to see if the new Moto G addresses that, as well as how the Plus model's improved camera performs.

Motorola's biggest struggle seems to be convincing users about the merits of unlocked smartphones. In announcing the Moto G's U.S. pricing and availability, the phone maker cited a survey it conducted in which 68 percent of smartphone owners said they were unfamiliar with unlocked smartphones. Time will tell if the new Moto G changes that.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.