If there’s a better value smartphone on the market right now then we can’t find it. The Moto G is the reigning budget king and it delivers an experience that’s more like a premium phone than its price suggests. As great as it is, no phone delivers perfection. Now it’s time we turn our attention to Moto G’s known problems. Every phone has bugs, and here is how to deal with the Moto G’s most common.
Updated on 7-14-2014 by Simon Hill: Added problem with KitKat upgrade loss of signal, call muted glitch, Moto G won’t turn on, and updated battery life erratic problem.
After the update to Android 4.4.2 a lot of Moto G owners began to experience a problem with loss of signal. The cell signal seems to drop randomly, sometimes the connection to the SIM card dies, and users can get messages related to airplane mode being on, even though they never turned it on. While the signal is lost they can’t connect to the network or make calls. You can check which version of Android you have in Settings > About phone under Android version. Motorola is aware of these issues and has already released an update to address some of them, but apparently the fixes aren’t working for everyone.
- Hold down the Power button and turn the Moto G off and then on again and it should be temporarily resolved.
- Sometimes switching Airplane mode on and then off again is enough to resolve it, but the problem can return randomly.
- There’s no indication that a factory reset or any of the other potential fixes has had any success, so you’re stuck waiting for an update. You should get it over the air, but you can always check in Settings > About phone > System updates.
Glitch: Call volume too low
A lot of people have encountered an issue with making calls where the volume seems to be very low. The speaker volume will be loud as expected for music or video, but when making or taking a call it can be difficult to hear the caller.
- You can generally resolve this by turning the Moto G off and on again, but that’s hardly an ideal solution.
- Try pressing the Volume up and Volume down keys together or press Volume down and then Volume up again and you should be able to change it to a comfortable volume.
- Motorola has released an update (174.44.1.en.US.) that is supposed to address this issue. It should arrive OTA, but you can check for it via Settings > About phone > System updates.
Problem: Moto G won’t turn on
A few people have run into a problem where the Moto G simply refuses to turn on. It seems to be completely dead and doesn’t respond to key presses.
- Plug it in to the charger and then press and hold the Volume down key and the Power key for more than two minutes (time it to make sure you’re doing it for long enough). You should see the boot screen with the Normal Reboot option highlighted and you can press Volume up to boot it.
- If that doesn’t work you should contact your retailer, carrier, or Motorola.
Problem: Freezing and rebooting
A lot of people have been having trouble with the Moto G screen freezing and the phone rebooting at random, sometimes when the screen is off. This could occur with a specific app, the phone dialer, or without an obvious pattern.
- Tap the power button to turn the screen off and then tap it again to bring it back. This might temporarily unfreeze it.
- Tap and hold the power button for a few seconds, until the device reboots.
- Try running the Moto G in safe mode. Press the power button and then tap and hold Power off until the Reboot to safe mode window pops up. Tap OK and it will reboot in safe mode. If it worked, you’ll see the text Safe Mode in the bottom left corner of the screen. If the phone runs fine in safe mode then one of your apps is the problem. You could try removing installed apps one at a time until you find the culprit, or you could just wipe the device and start from scratch.
- You can factory reset via Menu > Settings > Backup & reset > Factory Data reset and then tap Reset Phone. Make sure you back up anything precious first.
- There’s a chance that a faulty SIM card is the problem. If you have another SIM card that you can try then switch it out and see if it makes a difference.
Glitch: Battery life erratic
You may find that the remaining battery percentage on your Moto G jumps around erratically. It may surprise you by dipping down to 1 percent overnight, but then when you charge it the percentage suddenly jumps to 50 percent or more. This seems to be a calibration error and it might be related to a software update.
- Allow the Moto G to completely discharge, just run it until it turns itself off. Now plug it in and charge to 100 percent. Repeat the same process; allow it to run down until it turns itself off and then charge it all the way to 100 percent. The problem should be gone.
- This is apparently an error in the calibration system and Motorola has identified a fix for it, but it hasn’t rolled out yet. You can see the announcement from a Motorola engineer here.
Problem: Can’t detect SIM
Some people have found that the Moto G is unable to detect their SIM card. It may also inexplicably drop service, or detect the SIM correctly only to drop it later.
- The Moto G takes a Micro SIM, so if you’re using a Nano SIM with an adapter or a trimmed SIM then you might run into troubles. Try using a different SIM to make sure that the card is the problem. If it is then request a new SIM from your carrier, or, if you’re using a Nano SIM then try another adapter.
Bug: Camera error
A lot of Moto G owners have encountered a camera error upon trying to launch the camera. It simply won’t start up at all. For some people this seems to have popped up after the update to Android 4.4 KitKat.
- Try holding down the power button until your phone reboots and it might be temporarily fixed.
- Try going to Settings > Apps > Camera and tap Force stop, Clear data, and Clear cache.
- There’s a possibility this is caused by a third-party app. Flashlight apps can use the flash, apps like Skype can use the camera. Tap the multitasking button at the bottom right and swipe away any open apps. If that doesn’t work then try removing any apps that may use the camera or flash, and test it until you find the culprit.
Bug: LED notification not working
A number of people have run into a bug with the notification LED on the Moto G. Their notification light won’t ever turn on, regardless of incoming texts, emails, and calls. As best we can tell, this is caused by restoring settings from a Google account, which could include an instruction from an older phone where the LED was disabled, or nonexistent.
- Motorola released a widget called Notification Light Widget. Stick it on your home screen, use it to enable the LED, and then you can get rid of it.
Annoyance: It makes a rattling noise
We’re seeing this complaint popping up a lot more nowadays for a range of phones. The problem is perceived as an excessive rattling sound when the vibration motor goes off or when the phone is shaken. Some people link it to haptic feedback on the keyboard. For the most part this is harmless; it doesn’t affect the functioning of the device at all, but it may annoy you. The most likely cause is a loose button. You have a couple of options.
- Go to Settings > Sound and you can turn Vibrate on touch off under Keys. You can also turn off Vibrate when ringing. You can also go to Settings > Language & input > Google Keyboard Settings and turn Vibrate on keypress off.
- Try putting a case on your Moto G, some cases will reduce or completely prevent the rattle.
- You could open up the back cover and put a small piece of paper or tape in the space between the buttons and the back cover. This should prevent any excessive rattling.
- If it is really bothering you, contact your retailer and try to arrange a replacement phone. You may get a Moto G with no audible rattle, or you might find the same problem again.
Problem: Poor audio quality
The Moto G offers good sound quality for the price, and you never expect much from the speakers, but some people have been disappointed with the quality of the audio when using headphones or earphones to listen to music.
- Go to Settings > Sound > Audio Effects and you can tweak the equalizer settings for the Wired Stereo and Speaker separately. Try playing with the settings and change the profile to see if you can get a sound that’s more to your liking.
Glitch: Moto G reboots when charging, or won’t charge
To keep costs down, Motorola shipped the Moto G without a charger; you just get the standard USB cable. It will work with pretty much any standard charger you may have lying around, but some people have reported problems with the phone rebooting when they plug it in, or refusing to charge when the battery runs down. There have also been reports of the Moto G just turning itself off and not charging.
- This is probably down to the specific charger that you’re using. Try another one and you likely won’t encounter this problem. Ideally, you want a charger rated between 500mA and 1.5A – the higher the rating, the faster it will charge (within these parameters, higher than 1.5A and the Moto G will restrict it anyway).
- If you let your Moto G hit zero and it won’t come back to life, try letting it cool down for a while, then plug in a charger (ideally a different one) and leave it for 20 minutes or so before holding down the power key for 20 seconds.
Bug: Problem parsing the package
If you want to install an app from an alternative app store, or anywhere but Google Play (or side-load something), you usually start by going to Settings > Security and scroll down to tick the box next to Unknown sources. However, you may also need to untick the Verify apps box. With the Moto G there have been a lot of people reporting that, even after doing that, when trying to install an app they get a parse error message.
- If you upload the APK into Google Drive and then install from there on your Moto G then it should work.
- If your Moto G is rooted, you can use ES File Explorer. Go into the app Settings > App manager and tick install APK automatically and the app will handle it for you.
- Make sure that all of your important data is backed up and factory reset the phone. You can do this via Settings > Backup & reset > factory Data Reset > Reset Phone. Now uncheck the security options when you are setting the device up again.
Glitch: Wi-Fi won’t connect or drops inexplicably
It’s very common to run into Wi-Fi issues with any new phone. Some Moto G owners have encountered issues with connecting to various routers. There are some reports of excessive battery drain when changing between routers. Some people can’t get it to connect to their network at all. There are also several reports of the connection just dropping, even at close proximity to the router. There are an awful lot of potential causes for Wi-Fi problems, so try working through the suggestions below and hopefully you’ll find a fix that works for you.
- That old IT support favorite – turn it off and on again. Try turning the Moto G off and the router off and then switch them both back on again. That will often solve your issues.
- If it still won’t connect at all, start by going to Settings > Wi-Fi and long press on your router, then choose Forget network. Scan again and re-enter all your details.
- If the connection keeps dropping, go to Settings > Wi-Fi > Advanced and consider changing two settings. Make sure Keep Wi-Fi on during sleep is set to Always. Make sure Avoid poor connections is not ticked.
- If battery drain is the problem, try Settings > Wi-Fi > Advanced and set Scanning always available to off.
- Make sure that your router firmware is up to date.
- To assess whether you need to change channels you can download the Wi-Fi Analyzer app and take a look how crowded it is.
- You could try changing the other settings on your router. You might want to make sure that MAC filtering is off, or add your Moto G’s MAC address (you’ll find it in Settings > Wi-Fi > Advanced). You could also try setting a static IP.
One last problem that’s easy to avoid is scratches or cracks, so check our suggestions for the best Moto G cases before you go.
That’s it for Moto G problems and fixes, but we will add more as they crop up. Feel free to post problems you have encountered, and please do share solutions in the comments below.
Updated on 3-21-2014 by Simon Hill: Added problem with freezing and rebooting, battery life glitch, can’t detect SIM card, and camera error.
Article originally published 1-5-2014.