Moto G100 full review
The Moto G100 is the latest in Motorola’s ever-growing collection, and while this is still very much a mid-range smartphone, the G100 has a trick up its sleeve: Motorola’s Ready For technology. The new tech is designed to turn the mid-range smartphone into a desktop PC, moving your favourite Android apps and games to the big screen via a bundled docking system.
The question is, does the Moto G100 suffer to make up the extra cost of bundling a Ready For docking system in the box? The mid-range market is an extremely competitive one, after all. Read on to find out.
Design and display
The Moto G100 is, in many ways, a successor to last year’s premium Motorola Edge – in fact, it’s actually branded as the Motorola Edge S in China despite the lack of a curved screen edge on this year’s model.
Confusing branding aside, the Moto G100 is very much an eye-catching mid-range smartphone, mainly due to the colourful rear.
The Moto G100 comes in Iridescent Sky or Iridescent Ocean, which for those at home are pink and white, and pink and blue (pictured), respectively. It’s a gorgeous two-tone effect that shimmers and changes in the light, although the odd shiny-yet-matte finish does mean it’s a fingerprint magnet. Luckily, Motorola includes a transparent TPU case in the box which isn’t quite as fingerprint-y, and it doesn’t cover up that fun colour scheme either.
The colour scheme extends to smaller elements of the smartphone, with matching coloured bezels on the rear-facing cameras, and the rear-facing fingerprint scanner – complete with embossed Moto logo – blends in perfectly too.
Flip the phone over and you’ll find a 6.7in IPS LCD display boasting a Full HD+ (2560 x 1080) resolution. It’s tall, with a 21:9 aspect ratio, making it easier to use one-handed while also having the bonus of removing the black bars when watching Hollywood blockbusters. That’s something you’ll be tempted to go on the Moto G100 too, given the crisp, vivid output on offer, and there’s HDR10 support too.
There’s also a 90Hz refresh rate, making just about everything, from scrolling on Instagram to playing the latest mobile games, feel smoother and more responsive than a standard 60Hz display. It’s not unique to the G100 by any means, and there are higher refresh rates on offer from more premium options, but I’d argue that the jump from 60- to 90Hz is what’s most noticeable for the majority of consumers.
On the sides of the Moto G100 you’ll find a dedicated Google Assistant button – that isn’t reprogrammable, much to my disappointment – alongside a power button and volume controls, and there’s a USB-C port and a 3.5mm headphone jack nestled in nicely at the bottom too.
There’s no denying that the Moto G100 is a big boy, measuring in at 207g and 9.7mm-thick, but it’s not really all that noticeable in everyday use thanks to the curved rear edges that help the phone sit comfortably in the hand. Those with smaller hands may find the G100 a little unwieldy though.
Features and performance
Sporting Qualcomm’s high-end Snapdragon 870 – just a whisker away from the top-end Snapdragon 888 – alongside an Adreno 650 GPU, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, you’re certainly getting bang for your buck with the Moto G100.
In many regards, the G100 performs like a flagship, with the Snapdragon 870 providing a smooth smartphone experience further enhanced by the 90Hz refresh rate. There’s no stutter scrolling through media-heavy apps, high-end games like Genshin Impact run without issue and taking photos is near-instant. With 5G connectivity, Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 also thrown in, that need for speed is apparent in every area of the G100’s design.
That’s great for consumers, especially given the extended functionality on offer from the smartphone that turns it into a hybrid PC – but I’ll get into that a little later.
In fact, with the combination of a large display, smooth refresh rate and a decent battery, I’d say that the Moto G100 is an undercover gaming phone, offering similar graphics performance to that of the Red Magic 6, although it’s far behind premium gaming phones like the Asus ROG Phone 5.
That experience is complemented by Motorola’s implementation of close-to-stock Android 11, which is a joy to use compared to Android skins like Xiaomi’s MIUI. In fact, the only Moto-branded software you’ll find is the Moto app, allowing you access to a variety of Moto-themed gestures, themes and gaming controls. Even then, the Moto app isn’t a requirement – the phone will function perfectly well even if you never open the app.
Another area where the Moto G100 excels is in the battery department, featuring a whopping 5,000mAh battery that’s more than enough to comfortably get you through a day’s usage with average use, even with the refresh rate locked at the buttery-smooth 90Hz. I played games, scrolled through Instagram and texted all day long, and still finished the day with around 30% left in the tank.
That’s backed up by our battery benchmark, which saw the Moto G100 last 12 hours and 11 minutes running PCMark’s battery benchmark at 200cd/m2.
That’s not quite enough for a second day of use in my experience, but if you use your smartphone less frequently than I do (or you can live without the 90Hz refresh rate) then it could well last a little longer.
The good news is that, with 20W fast charging on offer, you can regain as much as 34% charge in 30 minutes when it does need a top-up, with a full charge taking little over 90 minutes.
The Motorola Ready For system
Announced alongside the Moto G100, Motorola’s Ready For system aims to turn your smartphone into a desktop PC, although I don’t think anybody will be ditching desktops and laptops for a Moto G100 anytime soon.
The system connects via either USB-C to USB-C or USB-C to HDMI depending on the display you’ve got access to, and when it comes to the G100, there’s a special dock with a built-in fan to keep the phone cool during more intense Ready For sessions – after all, keeping a system cool is integral to overall performance, as any gamer will tell you.
In some markets the docking system may be optional, but for those in the UK, it comes in the box as standard.
The idea is that, once you’ve connected the dock to a display and paired a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, you’ll get something akin to a standard desktop experience with access to all your favourite Android apps and games.
It’s not something most users will ever use, but Motorola envisions it being used as a mobile workspace for those constantly on the go, especially when combined with 5G connectivity.
There’s certainly potential here, with the ability to move video calls to a larger display while using the phone’s cameras in place of a webcam, and you can access apps like Microsoft Word and games like Call of Duty Mobile on a big screen too, but it’s not quite as expansive as a standard desktop experience.
That’s mainly due to the limitations of mobile apps compared to desktop counterparts in general – you won’t be able to get access to the fully-fledged version of Photoshop using Ready For, for example.
But, if there are Android apps that you rely on for work, or if you find yourself bored in a hotel room with a ‘dumb’ TV, you may find yourself gravitating towards Motorola’s new system.
While you might assume a quad-camera setup when looking at the rear of the Moto G100, it’s not actually the case. While you do get a main 64Mp snapper and a 117-degree ultra-wide 16Mp camera to play with, the other two ‘lenses’ are actually a time-of-flight sensor and a 2Mp depth sensor.
Aside from the fact that the two lenses arguably do the same thing, it’s an easy way for Motorola to knock up the camera count on the mid-ranger with very little effort. It’s not an issue exclusive to Motorola, it’s part of a problem with much of the budget/mid-range market where, in its most basic form, numbers matter more than performance.
Lens rant aside, the main 64Mp snapper does a decent job at capturing the moment, with images taken in bright sunlight appearing detailed and vibrant enough thanks to pixel-binning tech that compresses the original 64Mp image into a higher quality 16Mp image. The issue is that the post-processing can sometimes be a little over the top, especially when there’s a lot of detail to work through in the scene.
The f/1.7 aperture of the main snapper also allows for passable shots in dimly lit environments, although the dedicated Night Vision mode doesn’t quite have the wow factor of some premium rivals.
There’s a bit of a drop-off in quality when it comes to the ultra-wide snapper, but that’s an issue with most ultra-wide lenses. The 117-degree f/2.2 wide-angle lens allows you to capture more of a scene, but with noticeable noise reduction tech giving a soft look to images, particularly when light levels begin to drop, it’ll likely only be used occasionally by most.
Aside from the hardware, there are plenty of shooting modes, filters and other features to help capture the moment, and if you’re interested in video, it caps out at [email protected] on the rear, although we imagine most will stick to [email protected]
The Moto G100 features a dual hole punch camera system on the front, and that’s comprised of a main 16Mp snapper and an 8Mp ultra-wide. Aside from the annoyance of having two camera cut-outs on the display, the freedom to switch between a tighter wide angle and an expansive ultra-wide is welcome, providing both tighter single-person selfies and the ability to take decent group shots without the need for a selfie stick (remember those?).
One nice touch is that, when taking a selfie, a colourful ring will appear around the lens in use (one of the pros of having a camera within the display) to let you know which to look at. No awkward selfie taking here!
The Moto G100 is undoubtedly the most capable smartphone in Motorola’s arsenal right now, but it still costs only £449.99 in the UK – and that’s including the all-important dock for Motorola’s Ready For system. Those in the US are out of luck though, with Motorola confirming it won’t be making it to American shores.
That is admittedly £120 more than Xiaomi’s Poco F3, which sports the same Snapdragon 870, but the near-stock implementation of Android and the Ready For integration (if you want to use it) make it worth the price.
If you’re interested, the Moto G100 is available at retailers including Amazon as well as Motorola itself, and to get a better understanding of the mid-range market, take a look at our selection of the best mid-range smartphones.
The Moto G100 is a great-looking mid-range smartphone that does its best to compete with the flagship competitions, and in many respects, it does.
The G100 sports a gorgeous iridescent colour scheme that shimmers in the light, and although the finish does make it a bit of a fingerprint magnet, it’ll likely attract all kinds of attention if you’re brave enough to use it sans-case.
It’s a winner in the display department too, sporting a tall 21:9 6.7in display perfect for scrolling through social media and watching movies, and the 90Hz refresh rate makes everything a little smoother too. It’s not the brightest display we’ve seen, but it’ll suffice for most, and the IPS LCD display tech means viewing angles are great too.
Though it’s not powered by the flagship Snapdragon 888, the Snapdragon 870 featured in the G100 is but a whisker away, and that’s evident in everyday performance. The smartphone is free of lag and stuttering, much like the flagship competition, and it scored impressively in our benchmark tests too.
In fact, by all intents and purposes, the Moto G100 is a bit of an undercover gaming phone, albeit without the built-in triggers and RGB lighting on offer from dedicated gaming handsets.
One reason for so much power could be to power the Ready For experience, using the G100 and a connected display to provide a desktop-like experience with access to all the apps and content on your smartphone, although I can’t envision many ditching a laptop or desktop for a G100 anytime soon.
The only real chink in the Moto G100’s armour is in the camera department: despite looking like a quad-camera setup on the rear, only two are usable. While the main 64Mp snapper has the potential to capture decent shots, post-processing can be a little aggressive – especially in more detailed scenes – and shots taken on the 16Mp ultra-wide can look a little soft. It certainly won’t be taking on the best mobile snappers on the market, that’s for sure.
But if you can overlook the hit-and-miss camera performance, there’s a lot to love about the Moto G100 – especially at the £449 price point.
Moto G100: Specs
- 168.4 x 74 x 9.7mm
- 6.7in 90Hz IPS LCD display
- FHD+ Resolution (1080 x 2520)
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 870
- 8GB/12GB RAM
- 128GB/256GB storage
- 5,000mAh battery
- 20W fast charging
- Wi-Fi 6
- Bluetooth 5.1
- Rear cameras: Main 64Mp f/1.7, 117-degree 16Mp f/2.2 ultra-wide, 2Mp depth sensor, ToF sensor
- Front cameras: 16Mp f/2.2, ultra-wide 8Mp f/2.4
- Up to [email protected] video
- Android 11