12 June 2014
I've been using a Samsung Galaxy S2 for some time (talking of which I need to put it on eBay now) and while the phone was an amazing improvement over my Motorola Defy (remember the phone they advertised on the telly as being "lifeproof"? It really wasn't), it seemed more and more tired compared to the S3, then S4 and phones from everyone else. Then Motorola announced the Moto G (XT-1032) and it seemed my perfect (for the moment) phone had arrived. I was all set to buy one and then I heard that the next model, the XT-1033 was announced and would have the capacity for a second SIM. Since I go to England and the states quite often it made sense to get that version of the phone rather than the XT-1032, but it wasn't ever going to be available here in France. So I bought one from Negri Electronics in Las Vegas. It cost me $337.22 (€253.95) including shipping and I ordered it on 13 Feb 2014 (just checked, it was a Thursday not a Friday).
The phone turned up at the beginning of March 2014 and I was full of the joys of spring when it arrived, as any hot-blooded young man is with new tech. I bought myself a case for it that came with three screen protectors that I perhaps foolishly didn't use and a touch screen stylus thing. I didn't really like the case compared to the soft silicone of my Galaxy S2 case. It felt hard with little pointy bits. Anyway, we're a week into March 2014 at this point, okay? I hadn't had the phone for a month when, on 12 March 2014, I took it out of my pocket while sitting on my scooter to score me some Ingress. The scooter was stopped and the stand down. It *was* raining, but since the moto g is lauded for its waterproofivity I wasn't worried. Even when it slipped through my fingers as I took it out of my pocket I was only mildly concerned, the thing was in a protective jacket and I'd seen a Beetle run over one for Jeebus' sake!
My smug confidence was shattered at about the same time as the screen on my phone as it did a lazy "buttered toast" flip in the air to land screen side down onto a sharp bit of gravel.
To add insult to the already grievous injury suffered, I received a demand for roughly €80 in import duty for this phone the day after it crashed to the ground and died. Woo hoo. :|
I did the rounds of the net and the one mobile phone repair shop local to me. They took the phone, turned it over and said that they'd never heard of it and couldn't I have broken a Samsung like everyone else?
Hmm, drawing board return. The interweb provided me with a company that not only supplied spare parts to shops like the one I'd been to, but also offered them for purchase by individuals. Based in Shenzen, China I thought "urgghh, I'm going to get got for more import duty", but it seems that only applies to finished, boxed products. I tried ordering a replacement screen and digitiser (http://bit.ly/1s6Eo5t) 14 March 2014, but they were out of stock. I asked again a week later, still no stock, and again a fortnight later, nope, and again a month after that, still no joy. Finally,19 May 2014 I was happy to see eTradeSupply *finally* got the necessary part in stock and I ordered one of the above and the necessary Torx screwdriver to go with it (another €67.31).
The new screen arrived 27 May 2014. That evening I broke down my moto g based on this video from eTradesupply. A nerve-wracking half hour passed, but the phone was back together and turned on okay. But there was an issue...
For some reason eTradeSupply not only do not ship their replacement screen with an "ear speaker", the speaker that is used when you hold the phone to your head rather than the loudspeaker on the back of the phone, but this also means you can't use headphones since the same speaker provides for them. I wasn't going to order a €0.50 item with a shipping charge of €14.40 and so discussed with them. I had contact with a nice lady Fara Lau and suggested some things to make the site better and how I was going to get this very necessary part. In the end, a friend needed a new screen for his phone too and I bought a case for the moto g and eTradeSupply gave me €5 off the deal, so what should have been about €30, half of which was the shipping, was now ~€25 - a teensy bit more acceptable.
After I fitted the new speaker the night before last my phone has been great. I'm dubious about its continued resistance to water now since the sealed unit has been opened so many times, but that's okay. I finally have a good working phone. Bloody typical that now the MOT-4G variant is available. It does 4G but only has 8 GB of onboard memory. That doesn't matter since it now has an SD card slot! Gah! It's also cheaper than this 16 GB version (naturally). It doesn't have dual SIMs however.
Anyway, given that this is now really my phone (since I rebuilt it twice), I felt the right to root it, which was pretty easy to do (unlike my S2). It would be nice if there was a stable build of Cyanogenmod because that would go straight on there too.
For rooting, it suffices to follow the simple instructions presented here: xda developers (thanks to Aashish-kkhckr). Since this kills the standard Motorola bootloader you will get a warning message instead when you power on your phone. I'm half-tempted to replace that message with my own picture, but it's amusing to have it there and it's something you only see when booting your phone, not just turning it on.
Finally, a review of the phone. It's great. A charge lasts easily a day (although I tend to charge more frequently to keep the battery level at the sweet spot between 40-80% percent). The camera is fast but not at a good quality. I'm not just talking about the megapixel quantity but also the quality. Have a look at the pictures above for an example. The dual SIM element is a boon I fully intend to take maximum advantage of finally (I ended up in Blighty while the phone was out of action so I couldn't try it then), and overall I'm very happy with this phone. It's still small by comparison with the Galaxy S4 and S5, which is great and the 1280x720 screen is beautiful (I have a Slimport cable arriving in the next day or so so I can test output to the TV).
PS. This lauded "budget" phone has ended up costing me roughly €426!