The Only New Motorola Smartphone You Can Trust…
The big announcement hit this July of 2015…three new phones from Motorola! While at the Dark Android Project we have a very short list of acceptable Android devices to use–and generally, we don’t even talk about or recommend smartphones due to their inclusion of security vulnerabilities commonly known as SIM cards–every once in a while I like to talk about a piece of hardware that might be “slightly more safe” for you to get your hands on if you are concerned about privacy and security.
And let’s get this right out of the way, the new Moto X Style Pure (or the Moto X Play) doesn’t fit the bill. The Moto X–2015 or not–has never been an acceptable smartphone if you are interested in privacy and security.
Why? The voice co-processor. This co-processor (which iPhones use, similarly, since the 5S) is designed to allow for a mobile device to perform operations even while the device is idle. With all of the models of the Moto X, this is what allows you to interact with it at any given time with voice commands, even when you’re not actively using it. This is why “Google Now” works so smashingly on them, too.
But in a “full-paranoid”, “never use Google” setup like the Dark Android Project works towards, this voice co-processor is effectively just a better guarantee of and more efficient way for the NSA, other government organizations, and even corporations to “listen in” on what is going on with you and around you. To some degree this is all speculation on my part as there isn’t proof that the voice co-processor is being used to more readily facilitate an intrusion on your privacy, but it is without question that the aforementioned organizations do use your microphone against your human liberties (thanks to the Snowden documents, and others).
So out of the three phones released by Motorola this week, only one is really worthy of consideration, in my opinion, because it doesn’t have this voice co-processor: The Moto G 2015. And it’s a pretty great phone, really, Dark Android setup or not.
While it is considered a “budget phone”, the fact that so much is packed into a device that could potentially only cost you $179.99 is nothing to ignore. Let’s break down some of the specs here quick:
- 5″ 720p display.
- 1 or 2 GB of RAM.
- 8 or 16 GB of internal storage (plus a MicroSD card slot).
- 13MP camera.
- 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 with 400MHz Adreno 306 GPU.
- 2,470mAh battery (larger than last years Moto G).
- Android 5.1.1
Not bad. I recommend getting the Moto G with the 16GB of storage and 2GB of RAM, which still only sets you back a little over $200. The processor isn’t the greatest thing on planet earth, but it’s still quad-core and will handle most apps pretty well, including gaming. The 720p screen has always been beautiful on the Moto G’s, and it allows for far better battery life than phones with QHD display, so I consider that a bonus. All of that said, I have three points I’d like to bring up with you on why–if you must have a smartphone (with Dark Android we only recommend using tablets–buying a 2015 Moto G is a good idea.
First is a specification that I didn’t list above: the amount of radios on this thing. It has all four major GSM antennas, which means that it works very well all around the world, and since you can largely only buy it as “unlocked”, you can easily insert and remove any SIM card from any telecom you want. Which theoretically I think you could use this with Sprint (and maybe Verizon) since the US version you buy also includes a CDMA antennae that Sprint and Verizon use. And yes, unlike Moto G’s of the past, the 2015 Moto G comes stock with 4G LTE. So in many ways, this phone is one of the most “connectable” phones in the world, able to connect to towers just about anywhere (many GSM phones only come with two GSM bands as compared to four, most people don’t realize this).
The second point of why this phone is a solid buy is a bit of a personal taste on my part: it’s waterproof. While it’s rated to be able to be underwater at 1 meter for up to 30 minutes, my present Kyocera Hydro Vibe has the same waterproof rating, and I’ve definitely put it to the test. The results of those tests that from tubing, to swimming, to being in a hot tub for much longer than 30 minutes, my waterproof Kyocera has never failed to turn on and get into action. I hope the same is true for the 2015 Moto G’s waterproofing. It’s not a huge deal, but when you start taking pictures while in the ocean, you very quickly want everything you have to be waterproof. So this isn’t a “killer feature”, but it’s a welcome one.
My last point is where Dark Android ideals come in. Motorola phones are famous for being widely supported by the ROM community, and you’ll likely be able to have updated versions of CyanogenMod ready to go quickly for the 2015 Moto G, which means you’ll have the latest security patches and features before much of the rest of the Android ecosystem. Even if you don’t want to put CyanogenMod on it, Motorola has done well to keep the latest versions of Google’s Android available for their phones as late, the Moto G in particular. And keeping your OS up-to-date is “step 1” in having a secure device (barring certain examples).
So in conclusion, if you’re asking me what are the best 2015 phones you could get your hands on right now if you’re concerned about privacy and security? The 2015 Moto G and the ASUS Zenfone 2 stand at the top of the list (with honorable mentions of the Samsung Galaxy S6 Active and the Blackphone). Both of those phones give you a lot of options and control over their device, but always keep in mind that as long as something has a SIM card in it, you never really have control. These are solid phones that have some of the latest technologies, without the features that infringe upon your human liberties (like fingerprint readers). Two thumbs up for the 2015 Moto G.