The smartphone market is no doubt saturated, but many people forget about budget-friendly phones like the Microsoft Lumia 540 and the Motorola Moto G 2014. That’s because the media usually feeds us all the great news about high-end devices that cost more than a month’s pay, because let’s face it, companies are after the money and we are willing to pay them for a good product. But what happens when we can’t afford high-end devices like the Lumia 1020, Lumia 930, Nexus 6, Galaxy S6 and HTC One M9? What happens when a budget-friendly, low-end Microsoft Lumia 540 is more appealing to us because we don’t need all the features that flagships offer? What happens if we just don’t see the point of spending close to a fortune on a phone that we will eventually replace, often times in less than a year? Budget-friendly phones like the Microsoft Lumia 540 and Moto G 2nd generation are frowned upon by many for their lack of features. Bang for buck is what we’re forgetting about.
All smartphones can do everything that we need them to do nowadays. The keyword in that sentence is “need” not “want” and you should remember that while reading this article. Neither the Microsoft Lumia 540 or the Moto G 2014 can do everything we want them to do, but they can do everything we need them to do, and I’m referring to the average user. What do we need from a smartphone? We need updated content, email, social media, news, communication, data connection, good speakers, a legible display, an easy-to-use user interface and smooth performance. These two low-end / mid-range devices can do all these things. They can’t run Asphalt 8 as flawlessly as a Galaxy Note 4 can, but they will let you enjoy Candy Crush, Angry Birds, Words with Friends, Sudoku, Scrabble, Temple Run, GT Racing, Lumosity, Duolingo, Evernote, Facebook, Messenger, Google+, Gmail, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and any other mainstream app you can think about.
Even though the Microsoft Lumia 540 vs Moto G 2014 comparison will not convince you that these phones are superior, it might convince you that mid-range and budget-smartphones aren’t just cheap. They’re also powerful and suitable for those of us who prefer to do more intensive things on a larger screen, such as a tablet. As daily drivers, the Microsoft Lumia 540 and Moto G 2014 are both excellent for multiple reasons. The first reason that comes to mind would be battery life, as both of thee can last the average user about two days, which is quite admirable.
Moreover, both the Microsoft Lumia 540 and Moto G 2nd generation will be smooth as butter when running the average social apps and video apps. They rarely stutter, and when they do, they bounce right back after a cool-off. Although their cameras are just average, they’re still good for updating Instagram. Although their low-end phones, they both get the latest when it comes to software, which is a massive plus. The best part about these two is that they’re cheap and implicitly, affordable. The Motorola Moto G 2014 price is currently set at $170, while the Microsoft Lumia 540 Dual SIM price will be around $175 once it is launched globally.
Although these two smartphones are decidedly good choices for daily drivers if you’re not a power user who needs tons of apps, one is better than the other. At a first glance, the Moto G 2nd generation is the winner for its lower price point, but on the other hand, the Microsoft Lumia 540 does have Windows 8.1 and will get Windows 10 eventually, which is something we’re excited about. To make a relatively educated decision, we need to review other specs, too. We already know that two of the main differences between the Lumia 540 and Moto G 2nd generation are price and software. But what else?
Since we’re talking about the base models, the first thing we need to note about both the Microsoft Lumia 540 and Moto G 2014 is that they don’t have LTE. The Moto G 2014 does have an LTE version, which is a bit more expensive at about $185 unlocked, but that’s a variant and feature that is not yet available for the Lumia 540. The base models of these phones are 3G and Wi-Fi ready, which in my mind is sufficient for a daily driver, for someone who doesn’t use their data connection that much. For example, if you do office work and have Wi-Fi in your office, 4G might be useful on your commute, but trains nowadays also have Wi-Fi. Not everywhere and not every train, but it’s becoming quite common to get free Wi-Fi on public transport.
Regardless of the data connection, the Microsoft Lumia 540 and Moto G 2014 can pride themselves with good battery life even while 3G is in use in our experience, which is a plus. Of course they won’t last two days while using 3G, but they will last until the day comes to an end, which is enough in my mind for a budget-friendly phone. The Microsoft Lumia 540 is a bit larger than the Moto G 2014, even though it has the same 5 inch display with a 720*1280 resolution. The resolution is extremely good on both phones, even in bright light, and the touchscreen issues users had experienced with previous budget-friendly Lumia phones has been fixed, so that’s a plus once again. The minus here is that even though the screen is of the same size on the Microsoft Lumia 540 as on the Moto G 2014, the screen to body ratio is lower a bit and bezels are thicker. The difference is minor, but you can still notice.
Moving on to processing power, we hit a bit of a bump. The Microsoft Lumia 540 comes with an older Snapdragon 200 CPU clocked at 1.2 GHz, backed by 1 GB RAM and 8 GB internal storage, with a microSD card slot available that supports cards up to 128 GB. The Moto G 2014 gets a newer, more powerful Snapdragon 400 CPU, backed by 1 GB RAM and 8 GB internal storage, with a microSD card slot which supports cards up to 32 GB. Although on paper the Lumia 540 seems inferior when it comes to performance, you would be surprised at how well both of these phones did in our tests. We got very very similar results in real life use, employing apps like Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, Snapchat, Twitter, Reddit and various games. Although the Microsoft Lumia 540 performance was smooth, we did feel like the Moto G 2014 did a better job and stuttered less when transitioning from one app to the other, so we’ve a winner in performance.
Still, Windows 8.1 and Android 5.0.2 Lollipop are very different. Trying to establish how well a phone performs with different specs on different software is very difficult, because each phone is optimized for its respective software. As such, the Microsoft Lumia 540 with Windows 8.1 performed very well, but the Moto G 2014 with Lollipop managed the same. It comes down to preference, really. I’m an Android person, but I could actually seem myself getting good use out of the latest Microsoft mid-range smartphone. Windows is inherently different from Android, and it takes some getting used to if you’re coming from Android or iOS, so keep that in mind.
The camera setup is once again very similar. The Microsoft Lumia 540 gets an 8 MP sensor on the rear with LED flash and autofocus, and a 5 MP camera on the front. The Moto G 2014 gets the same 8 MP sensor with autofocus and LED flash on the rear, but a smaller 2 MP shooter on the front. Since we’re talking Lumia, you could have guessed which I picked as the winner in the camera department. It might be bias, it might be placebo, but I though the cameras on the Lumia 540 were much better than those on the Moto G.
Although both the Microsoft Lumia 540 and Moto G 2014 are great performers, have good features and performance and admirable battery lives, we have to pick a winner, and it’s a difficult one. Performance is exemplary with both phones, battery life is about the same, connectivity is the same, user interface cannot be quantified because it’s based on preference and the Microsoft Lumia 540 wins in the camera department, but it is a tad more expensive. I will pick the Moto G 2014 as the winner because: I’m an Android person and I don’t use smartphone cameras. But that’s a subjective pick and doesn’t reflect the fact that these two smartphones are pretty equal and I would recommend either of them as daily drivers for any average smartphone user. You need to decide for yourself whether you prefer Windows 8.1 or Android Lollipop.