Metal mid-ranger

Motorola’s always had this gaping hole in their smartphone lineup that was begging to be filled. While their competitors already have several generations of solid, metal-backed mid-range smartphones in the market, the Lenovo subsidiary still lacked a solid mid-ranger to serve as a bridge to the more expensive Moto Z Play and flagship Moto Z. That’s where the Moto M comes in. Packing a full metal unibody design, mid-range guts and solid performance, the Moto M is poised to carry Motorola’s mid-range torch – at least until the new Moto G5 and G5 Play get here.

Motorola Moto M specs

  • 2.0GHz MediaTek Helio P10 octa-core processor
  • Mali-T860MP2 GPU
  • 4GB RAM
  • 5.5-inch Full HD IPS display, 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • 32GB internal storage, expandable via microSD
  • 16-megapixel PDAF rear camera with LED flash
  • 8-megapixel front-facing camera
  • Dual-SIM
  • 3G, LTE
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS, Glonass, Fingerprint scanner, USB Type-C
  • Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
  • 3,050mAh non-removable battery, 10W rapid charge support

Premium metal unibody design

Metal phones in the sub 20K price-range aren’t new, though the Moto M packs something that very few phones have in this price category – a unibody aluminum design. Most phones in the Moto M’s price range use metal bodies that have segmented backs and plastic tops. That’s fine, though their build quality pales in comparison to the Moto M. The Moto M feels like a really solid phone once you pick it up, and no doubt its unibody design means its a little sturdier and tougher than the other phones in its price category.

The phone really does feel awesome in the hand, with the back sporting a gentle concave curve that facilitates easier handling with one hand. The corners are rounded as well, and the chamfered edges give it a premium feel overall.

The 16-megapixel rear camera and LED flash sits on a raised camera module that is a smidge too big. The raised camera module might be a problem, especially when placing the phone on uneven or rough surfaces since the glass on it will be the first to hit rocks, pebbles and other abrasive things and not the metal body.

Motorola says the phone is splash-proof thanks to its water-repellent nanocoating, though we strongly advise against using this phone underwater as it doesn’t carry a IP rating.

Right below that huge camera module is the fingerprint scanner. The two antenna bands are located on the top and bottom of the phone.

On the right sits the power and volume buttons, while the right of the phone sits the microSD/SIM tray. The top of the device holds the 3.5mm jack along with a hole for the microphone, while the USB Type-C connector is on the bottom, flanked by speaker grilles.

The chin of the phone is quite substantial, despite the fact that the device uses on-screen Android navigation keys. This makes the device a little bigger than it has to be, in our opinion. The phone has a 5.5-inch full HD IPS display with 2.5D glass layered on top.

The display quality of the phone is pretty good, with generous viewing angles and generally okay color reproduction. The display handles direct sunlight pretty well, and the screen is still readable under the noonday sun.

Mid-range guts

Inside the Moto M sits decidedly mid-range hardware: MediaTek’s P10 octa-core processor (with the Helio P15 option being a country-specific option for India). Accompanying the P10 is 4GB of RAM and 32GB of internal, expandable storage.

We’re a little disappointed to know that the Moto M uses a MediaTek processor rather than a Qualcomm chipset for its price, the Helio P10 isn’t a bad processor per se. Majority of the issues that we had with the chipset stemmed from a lack of software optimization and RAM, which are thankfully not the case with the Moto M. The phone felt fast and zippy, though more graphically demanding games like NBA2K17 will need its graphics toned down to be played smoothly.

Motorola’s known for providing a clean version of Android with each release with very little to no bloatware on the phone. That continues with the Moto M. There’s no unnecessary apps in the phone that takes up valuable storage space. We wish every other company would copy Motorola’s example, or at least limit the amount of unnecessary crap included in their phone (ASUS, we’re looking at you).

Moving on to other stuff: sound quality is good, and is enhanced by Dolby’s Atmos audio app. The fingerprint scanner is fast and relatively accurate. LTE and GPS performance are good, and the phone connect rather quickly to both data and GPS satellites when needed.

Camera is okay overall, though HDR leaves much to be desired

The 16-megapixel camera of the Moto M has phase detection AF and an LED flash which makes for a decent shooter. Photos taken with the camera are generally pleasant to look at and has good color reproduction, though the HDR mode leaves much to be desired. Photos taken using HDR have their highlights blown out, with images looking artificial. Despite that, photos taken with the camera are quite decent and is pleasant to look at.

Battery is good for the entire day

With a 3050mAh battery, the Moto M has enough battery to last you a day before having to top it off. With moderate use we managed around 12 hours with the phone, that’s with data on and mainly browsing Facebook, checking our messages and placing a call or two. The phone uses a USB Type-C connector, which is fast becoming the port of choice for many.

Vedict: A solid mid-range phone in sea of similar devices

Motorola’s mid-range Moto M is a very solid phone in its own right. A nice unibody metal construction, solid set of internals and decent battery life make it a good choice for people looking for a mid-range phone to spend on. Unfortunately the phone has tough competition from a multitude of other brands that have similarly solid mid-range phones to offer, sometimes for a few thousand pesos less than what the competition is asking for.

The Motorola Moto M retails for Php 14,999.