Review - Motorola Moto G7 Power Unlocked


I love Android mobile devices. Unlike Apple devices, Android ones are better suited with my tastes. What I like them the most, I can plug it into my PC and becomes a removable drive, and I can freely move files in and out. The other aspect I like about Android device is the price. The price range of these Android products are much more friendlier than the Apple devices. The last aspect I like about Android devices is that I don't need specific peripheral to interact with the device. That is, I can use any PC (Windows, Linux, or even Mac OS) to interact with the device. As now, there is a slight twist with Mac systems. It requires a special software to transfer files between an Android device and the Mac system. This is one of many reasons I find Mac system so hard to deal with. For cellphones, as long as Android options are available, I would never consider Apple devices. For large mobile devices, unless my Pixel C dies completely, I will not consider getting another.

Years ago, when I moved to Niles IL, I bought a Nexus 6P, then a Nexus 5. The Nexus 5 lasted for 3 and half years, and it was no good. The call reception is really bad. My wife complained that she was not getting calls, they went to the in-box immediately. When call did received, there were more static, voice blank. etc. Finally when it did die, it died quick. The battery wasn't charging and the phone cannot boot at all. From that moment on, I decided no more South Korean cell phones for the family. The Nexus 6P was a lot better. It was a very pretty phone. It met all my expectations. It was a very good MP3 player. It had a large spaces to store more than 350 MP3 files, and a lot of photos and videos. It was also a very good movie player as well. I had the phone for a year and didn't know it was made by Huawei. When I finally realized it was a Huawei phone, I suddenly realized China is able to produce high quality devices. It convinced me that maybe next phone I buy should be from Chinese maker. It wasn't another 4 years that my Nexus 6P finally died. And it is probably my fault. The most obvious reason it died is that the battery couldn't hold much charge any more. And I was abusing the phone's battery without realizing it. I was watching movies twice a day, listening to MP3 all the time, and the phone is always on the LTE network, with WIFI turned on. By the end of 3rd year, I was charging every night, and it lasted for another year, when it does not hold more than 35% of total battery. That is when I decided to get a new phone.

The Research I've Done to Buy a New Phone

Huawei Nexus 6P was a great phone. But its cost is too high. The phone's original cost is $500. It was a luxurious product, and I didn't want to get caught into buying high end devices. I am not that kind of person anymore. To get the new phone, I did some research. The research is based on a couple rules:

  • It will be an Android phone. And it will be recent enough so that I can get the Android updates.
  • No South Korean product because their design and hardware quality are so bad that they are not worthy of considering. Period.
  • Preferably Chinese, and must be high quality.
  • Low price! If the device got lost/stolen, damaged, or anything ridiculous happens to it, I can easily replace it.
  • I want a phone with a big battery.

When I started shopping, Huawei phones are no longer available, thanks to the trade war and tech ban. The first thing I was looking for was an alternative brand. At the time I am And it was very easy to find Motorola because I used to own a Razor phone. Then I had a Motorola smart phone when I was at a company in Illinois. I was no iPhone but was adequate. I thought I was going to settle with an American brand. Then I did a quick search of the real owner of Motorola, turned out Lenovo was the parent company to it. That is it. I decided to go with Motorola.

I use Google Fi as service provider. And not every unlocked phone will be compatible. On Google Fi's web site, it listed Motorola G7 series as compatible. So it was the series I was interested in buying. What is cool about Motorola's Products Page is that it listed all the products of the series and let you see compare the specs. I wasn't sure what I was looking for. And the word "Power" caught my eyes. And I checked the specs about G7 Power. It had a 5,000 mAh battery. I didn't know what it meant, so I dug more about battery. Again it turned out that there are not many other phones that have battery as big as 5,000 mAh. The lower level ones are at 4,500 mAh. I was impressed. And decided this is the phone I would get.

All the Motorola G7 phones have what I called the watermelon price, You can buy three of these phones with the price of a high-end Android smart phone. That is, if you buy a high-end smart phone, it will cost about $450 to $650. If you get an iPhone, you have to pay at least $600. The other option is to go with the monthly payment option which could cost even more. Anyways, you can buy two to three phones from Motorola if you don't mind the low price. I certainly don't mind. With such low price, I can replace it with another one in a month, only if it is needed.

It turned out I made a great choice. After I got the phone, I was completely surprised by its performance, especially with its battery capacity. The delivery is something I didn't enjoy. I bought the phone from Motorola's official site. Took almost a week to deliver. The phone was able to boot up without a SIM card, The Nexus 6P wasn't able to do it. I had to put the SIM card back into the Nexus 6P. Then have the G7 Power by itself powered on. I had to manually enter all the contacts. Luckily I only had like 32 contacts and the rest on my computer. So it took about 2 hours for me to transfer all the contacts. This is the worst part of the whole data transfer. The rest is about install the apps and login in. I had Lyft, Wechat, Monospace, Pocket Book, and VLC Media Player. My MP3 and movies are just file copying. Same with all the E-books. It was very smooth. Once the data transfer is done, the Nexus 6P is packed in a plastic bag and never being powered on again.

The Feel

Disk space small, But can add more.

The phone has blue case, it is not very pretty. In fact a bit ugly. I think this is good because no one wants to steal it. The SIM card holder has a extra slot to put in extra hard drive space. And it can be up to 512 GB. The phone itself has only 16 GB (kinda small), This extra slot is just awesome, a good supplement to the limited hard disk space. This is something I like.

The operating system is crap. It is Motorola wrapper of the Android system. It is not as stable as the Android system from Google. For the first couple months I was happy that VLC works. MP3 and Movies all works. I was able to pair the audio with my Audi so the MP3 can be relayed in the car, which was really cool. But I only used it once, then never again. As Bluetooth can suck all the battery juice. It is not something I like to do frequently. The OS does not come with frequent security updates. And at one time, the security update screwed up the power usage. At other times, I was recording video and the video recording crashed and nothing was saved. It was a bummer. Crashing is not a frequent occurrence. Still, when it happens, it is a bummer.

Great Battery Holder.

The battery was great! When I first got the phone, the first battery run lasted about 5 days. And when I decided to charge it, the battery had 50% in it. I almost feel bad that I had to charge it. The first couple charges all happened like it, 4 days in, still have 45% to 50%. To get such battery performance, I had to make a lot of configuration changes to the phone. The first thing I did was turn off all notifications except the call and the text messages. I also turn off all the data sync, and all the unnecessary background mobile data transfer.

Yet, it was not enough. In a few rare cases, I have noticed I went to bed and woke up with the phone lost 10% of battery charge. Why is that? When I slept, I am not using the phone, how can it lost 10% battery charge? I suspect, it is the ugly side of Android devices. Something in the Android system that was draining the battery. After digging deep into the issue, I think it was the WIFI connection that was wasting the battery charge. The section where I sleep, the phone was far from the WIFI source so there were connection drop and reconnect, which wastes all the battery charge. So I decided to turn of WIFI for most of the time. This improved the battery life, but still not enough.

Another configuration I discovered which actually did the trick was turning off the 4G LTE mobile data service. This is as ridiculous as it sounds, but is not not as crazy as it seems. Even I turned off both, I can still get text messages and phone calls. And most of the calls are spam. And with this configuration change. I was able to stretch the battery to 9 days (in rare occasion 11 days) without charge, at the end I think there were 25% charges left. While with the pandemic that was out there, I was at home with no WIFI and mobile data for almost 2 months. My phone bill was about $23.

The real challenge came when we were moving from MI to PA. Originally, we were planned to camp at a state park in PA. Then on the day, it rained at the state park. We decided to drive all the way to the new home. For 11 hours straight, my phone was on and mobile data turned on. We drove all the 635 miles to the new home, and when I got there the phone still had 23% charge. I didn't expect a phone can last this long without a car charger. This is why I claim this phone is a great phone.

Behavioral Change

With the WIFI and mobile data turned off, there is not much I can do with the phone. I have stopped reading news with my phone. Turned out that reading news using browser on Android phone is a big drain of battery drain, Especially with the news sites, these sites had video auto play, crazy flashy ads. No news is worthy of the battery drain and the data drain (not all the data exchanges are the news content you are reading). Instead, I got lots of E-books, and the reading of the E-books does not drain much battery. Since such a change, I have read at least ten books in the past few months. I forgot to mention, another change I made to the phone is dimming the brightness of the screen to about 20%. It is terrible when I have to use the phone under the summer sun. But I am OK with this. The phone is not a toy, it is a tool that should be configured to serve my needs.

Why am I Doing This

The way I used my phone is so far out there. My colleague used to say, I am living off the digital grid. There was a book called "Digital Minimulism" The way I have used my cellphone is almost twice as hard core than what is described in this book. I read about 60 pages and stopped reading it. That book is a joke. What I am doing with my digital life is almost digital starvation. But I don't feel starved, reading books are as fun as keeping up with digital social life. I am grateful that I can fit myself into such a lifestyle with my phone.

This is not the true reason why I am so obsessed with my phone's battery charges. The true reason is conservation. I like to keep my phone as long as I can. It is madness that I have to change a phone every three years or every year. I just don't have the monetary resource to do this. And the phone battery can be charged about 300 times, then the battery will be rapidly degrading. Even if the rest of the phone, one can't easily replace the battery. And why would one does such thing, when battery dies, time to upgrade to a better phone, This is for the good of the economy. I don't buy this. A mobile phone is a tool. It should last as long as it physically could. So this is why I tried to make sure the battery can stretch as long as it can and charge as infrequent as possible, then the life time of this phone can last maybe 7 years instead of 6. Although I doubt this could stretch for 7 years. Even if the phone only last 5 years instead of 7 years, It is still worthy. The cost of yearly wear and tear is only $40. This is what I intended to do, stretch the use of the phone to at least 5 years. I really just want to minimize the cost I have to spend on mobile phones. Money can be spent on something else.

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