Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Motorola Moto G Power 2024 review: A good phone spoiled by bloatware

Few phones are a joy to pick up, and the 2024 Moto G Power is one of them. It's sitting on my desk, and even though I don't need to do anything with it right now, I'll take it anyway. That soft-touch bag! Flatter-yet-slight edges! I turn it over to remind myself that there is a headphone jack on the bottom edge. If the battery is even a little low, I set it up on my wireless charging stand for the thrill. All this in a $300 phone! Just imagine!

But after spending some time with the Moto G Power, I was brought back to reality. An LCD panel isn't as beautiful and colorful as an OLED (and that's forgivable). The camera is underwhelming and suffers from Motorola's unusual image processing tendencies (less apologetic). But then again, this is a $300 phone in a world where $1,000 is the standard price for a high-end flagship. A lot can be forgiven!

Except for one thing: bloatware.

If you turn on the notifications panel in a shopping app, you'll come face-to-face with this user privacy nightmare.

Scroll through the app drawer and you'll see some auto-downloaded “folders”. They are not folders; They are applications. I first encountered them last year on the Moto G Stylus 5G and I really hate them.

There are three main culprits – Shopping, Entertainment and GamesHub – and each of these apps acts as a small hub. Icons for apps you've legally downloaded will appear in the corresponding “folder”. You'll also find tons of recommended apps to download — pages and pages of them! Apps as far as the eye can see!

Rejecting the Recommended Apps section will replace it with a “Discover” section. The shopping app invites you to “unlock the power of shopping” with links to buy things like kitschy Easter decorations from TJ Maxx. Mercifully, there is An alternative is to hide this part.

Moto hardware is fine. Software is another story.

All these applications Developed by a company called Swish, you can't avoid downloading them during the setup process. you can (And should!) Avoid downloading a third-party lock screen from another service called Glance.

The more I dig into the software on this phone, the more I hate it. The pre-installed weather app is festooned with ads and even more recommended apps and pesky insights like “must love air conditioning in this high humidity.” If you tap the option to remove ads, a pop-up will ask you to pay $4 for 1Weather Pro.

Ad-free weather forecasts cost $4, apparently.

Honestly, I'm fine with personal recommendations.

What's particularly nasty is that all of these services are absolutely hungry for your data — they want to send you notifications, track your whereabouts, and download apps on your behalf — and it's hard to tell exactly which company is behind it. It is. The “About” section in the Weather app says it's here A service called OneLouder. OneLouder, it turns out Owned by Pinside MediaIt was previously owned by and is now owned by Sprint A company called InMobi. To be clear, this app asks Constant access to your location. At the very least, it should be clear to which organization you are giving that permission!

You can uninstall all this junk — if you happen to buy this phone, I beg you. You can download another weather app from your trusted source, or at least one that you recognize. You can also create your own bad use folders. But if you are not technically inclined, you will not realize that you can do all this. It's a shame, because underneath this nonsense is a really good budget phone.

Photo by Alison Johnson/The Verge

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