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    Motorola Moto G 2nd Gen Review


    Mark Dearlove

    Introduction

    When the original Motorola Moto G was released almost a year ago it drew critical acclaim as the best low cost device around. It did so well in fact, that it became the best-selling smartphone Motorola have ever released. The initial first generation device lacked a few things, 4G and Micro SD slot to name but two, but on the whole was a great device for the price.

    31-Oct-2014_DSC04860.jpg

    Motorola fixed both the aforementioned issues with the subsequent release of the Moto G 4G version and between the two versions they have pretty much annihilated the budget competition since.

    So what of the second generation device? Well if you have a great device you don't need to start from scratch and the latest iteration keeps much of the DNA of the first device with some tweaks along the way.

    In the box

    Well the unboxing is pretty straight forward - a tiny box containing the phone, a getting started leaflet, and a white charging cable sans wall wart. Not sure why they went for a white cable with a black device but hey, I will just add it to the pile of cables I already have.

    That's it, no fuss, no frills, and very matter of fact.

    Hardware - Overview

    So who wants some specs? Not that they seem much to shout about at first glance:

    5” HD display (294ppi)

    2070 mAh Li-ion battery

    Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad-core processor with 1.2 GHz quad-core CPU

    1GB DDR3 RAM

    8GB/16GB Storage with micro SD slot

    Android 4.4, KitKat with guaranteed upgrade to Android L

    Dual SIM

    Rear-facing camera: 8 megapixels (3264x2448 px), autofocus, LED flash

    Front-facing camera: 2.0 megapixels (720p) HD video recording @ 30 fps

    Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, BT 4.0LE

    GSM/GPRS/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz) UMTS/HSPA+ up to 21 Mbps (850, 1700 (AWS), 1900 MHz)

    141.5mm x 70.7mm x 6.0-11.0mm (curved back)

    Initially you may look at the specs and think, hmmm. No change in the processor, ppi is down from 329 in the first gen device, same 1GB of memory, same capacity battery - what is the point? Well, continue reading and you will find out.

    Hardware - Around the device

    There is no getting away from the fact that the device is a black plastic slab, although a decent looking slab. The curved back has a soft touch feel to it, but for me it makes it a little slippery in the hand. There is the obligatory Motorola dimple logo, camera lens and flash on the rear, while the front has 2 speaker grilles in contrasting silver, and front facing 2MP camera. Completing the outward design are the silver volume and power buttons, a headphone jack on the top, and charging port on the bottom.

    The device has a nice feel in the hand due to the curved rear profile that is 6mm on either edge and contours up to 11mm at the thickest point.

    31-Oct-2014_DSC04862.jpg

    Motorola made a decision with this iteration to increase the screen size from the 4.5" of the first generation to a 5 incher this time round. This makes a lot of sense - smart phone screens are generally increasing in size due to consumer pressure. What I am not sold on though is the decision to keep the resolution the same 720p as the old device. This results in the second gen screen being less sharp than the old one, although the colour reproduction and brightness are pretty good. Others may prefer the way the colours pop a little more on the first gen. What I do have to remember though is that this is a device that sells for around £140 so there have to be compromises somewhere.

    I do have a bit of an issue with this screen that I have not experienced before though - I find it really had to type accurately using any of the swipe-to-type keyboards. Tapping away is fine, but my preferred method is swiping. The screen seems to have some kind of coating on it that means your finger kind of sticks, and then jumps rather than smoothly moving across the screen like on pretty much every device I have ever used. Maybe it is my finger but I don't experience the same issue on my G2, iPads, Hudls etc.

    The front facing speakers do a decent job - they are much better than my trusty LG G2 for instance. You are never going to get great sound out of any device this size so Moto have done a sterling job here to make the sound acceptable. My only issue here (and with headphones) is the lack of top end volume.

    30-Oct-2014_DSC04833.jpg

    Under the hood, one of the things Motorola have added is dual-SIM capabilities. This is one area I was keen to play with as I travel extensively and usually end up with 2 handsets in my pocket. Dual-SIM hasn't been seen a lot in Europe, unlike in Asia, due to the way our contracts tend to work. I stuffed my Three personal SIM in the left slot, and my work Vodafone card in the right. Being in a Three Feel at Home country when I was testing the device meant I could keep data switched on for the main SIM. I will cover the software aspect of the dual-SIM setup later.

    Finally, the Moto G comes with a 2070mAh battery and a micro SD slot under the clip on cover too. It is a bit fiddly to get at the SIM slots, battery etc. unless you have decent nails, although it does become easier the more you take the cover off.

    One final thing of note that is missing is LTE. This was the same when the first Moto G was released into the wild but Motorola added a 4G option after a few months. Will we see them do the same with this generation? Maybe, but there is nothing out there to suggest this will happen just yet.

    Software

    The G comes with Android 4.4.4 out of the box and Motorola has promised that there will be an update to Android Lollipop soon after Google releases their launch devices. There are very few changes to the standard Android build, just a few extra apps that Motorola have bundled.

    Alert helps you notify friends/family in case of emergencies. Assist allows you to automatically silence your phone when in meetings or sleeping. You can also have the phone read your texts out loud when you are driving or get home. The functionality is available from other apps but it is nice to see baked in too. Finally Migrate assists you when you want to setup your new device from an existing device. Just install migrate on your old device and the software will take care of the rest.

    Another area that I played around with in the software was the dual-SIM settings. As previously mentioned I loaded mine up with 2 SIMs to test out the capabilities. The dual-SIM option is very straight forward - pop in your 2 SIM cards and you are ready to go. There are various settings that you can tweak as you can see in the screenshots below. Naming your SIMs is handy if you swap them around a lot as the names are remembered as you remove and re-insert them. You can also colour code each SIM to more easily distinguish them. You are able to quickly switch data capabilities from one card to the other - no fiddly swapping cards when you run out of data allowance on one card. I found this quite useful as I arrived and departed Hong Kong - the back stayed on and I just flicked the switch to allow my Three SIM to pick up the data network. It is all pretty intuitive stuff. You also have the option to decide how to handle whether voice or data take priority, and if you delve into the settings a bit further you can setup voicemail numbers, call forwarding, and a few other bits per SIM. I found a bit of a bug here - the naming of the SIMs on my device did not carry all the way through as you can see below. Other than that it all works seamlessly.

    30-Oct-2014_Screenshot_2014-10-29-16-00-52.jpg30-Oct-2014_Screenshot_2014-10-30-17-13-32.jpg

    Camera

    I had low expectations for the 8MP camera on the latest device, and I was sometimes happy with the results. It was never going to be a top level snapper but it is OK for a casual user in the right light and when the focus works as intended (more on that in a second). I got some good results when I was out and about on a brightish day, colours are fairly good, and images are pretty sharp. I did tend to see lens flare quite often but again, this is common with phone cameras. The Motorola camera app which is perfectly serviceable if lacking fine tweak options, however the addition of an Auto-HDR setting is a nice touch and it is not over the top as some HDR jiggery pokery can be. Although this is an 8MP unit, the default setting is for 6MP 16:9 snaps.

    Low light is hit and miss, but I think that is more to do with the focus issue I will touch on in a moment. If you use the manual focus option in mid to low light then you can get satisfactory result. Obviously, the worse the light, the poorer the picture gets and in very low light shots it is hard to make anything out at all. Comparing to some other devices I have handy, the G is definitely at the lower end of the low light performance list.

    The main bone of contention for me with the camera is the extremely random focussing. Sometimes it is spot on, other times it requires you to exit the app or take a picture to prompt the software to focus correctly. The focus point also seems to change every time you take a picture. Couple that with the pretty average low light performance and it becomes a bit of an issue. There is a manual focus mode you can activate but really this should work out of the box. If you only ever want to take pictures in bright, sunny conditions and have time to wait for the focus to sort itself out you will be happy with the G.

    Performance and Battery

    I have spent quite some time with the Moto G and have found it to be as quick as almost every other device I have used recently. The lack of bloatware, and the lower res screen means Motorola can extract maximum speed from the SD400 chip. I have not experienced any stutters from the software, nor any dropped frames during video playback of gaming. This is a perfectly usable device with no issues we see on other manufacturers devices associated with their Android overlays.

    The battery life is good - I achieved 15 hours during heavy use, with screen time during that stint of around 3.5 hours. This is very heavy for me and in normal use I managed around 30 hours between charges - not the best out there, but certainly not the worst.

    Conclusion

    If I could only ever use the 2nd gen Moto G, I wouldn't be unhappy. It is a fantastic device for the price. In fact it is a decent device at any price - why spend twice as much for something similar from another manufacturer? Indeed why would you ever want to buy one of the low cost Samsung devices available when you could have a Moto G that is fast, with a good screen, good battery, and no frustrating bloat or overlay (yes looking at you Touchwiz).

    My advice if you have 140 quid in your pocket and the need for a new phone, or a second device - don't even think about it, just press the buy button on your chosen stores website. You won't be disappointed.

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    I bought one for my wife (after she fell out of love with my old nexus 4) and agree with you - it's a really great phone. Hard to find fault with it plus lots of really neat features (water resistant, dual sim, removable sd, useful enhancements to Android - first device I've used with additional apps which add value). Makes me miss some of these features on my Nexus 5

    Can't recommend it highly enough!

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    Thank you for a superb review, Mark. I have had a Moto G 2st gen since March, and last week I excitedly took my £150 and bought the 2nd gen from Argos (useful to know that Argos stock it, if you're in a hurry for one: http://www.argos.co.uk/static/Product/partNumber/2583367.htm (stock code 258/3367- [8GB variant, black] ) ... well, maybe I was just an impatient geek :P). I have had the official Motorola "Flip Shell" (turquoise) on my 1st gen almost since day one, and I have just put an official "Flip Shell" ('Lemon and Lime') on my 2nd gen, too - VERY much worth the pittance that they cost (around £11 & free shipping) from "Kikatek" - they're around £18-22 elsewhere - just a bit too much. If you want to buy the 2nd gen Flip Shell from Kikatek, Google this phrase: "flip shell g5* kikatek"

    Cumulatively, I have owned three 1st gen Moto G (one review unit, which spurred a purchase which I then sold, and I then came into some money and immediately bought another one and the same flip shell) and the people who the other two went to were equally as impressed and delighted, and I'm talking about a friend who can often be overly picky and fussy over most tech things, and he's an Apple fan, to boot - a very high recommendation, from the years of knowing him. The 2nd gen is equally as impressive, if not more so, due to the incredible screen (who "needs" more than 720p? I think this is a poor argument from anyone owning a 5" phone with this resolution - you'd have to hover over it with a jeweller's loupe and a VERY critical mind, to find any fault with the screen whatsoever).

     

    As someone who shoots around 50-200 nature photos per day, I can say that the camera on the 2nd gen Moto G is *much* better than the 2st gen (which was in no way a horrible experience, but had a very blurry, over-post-processed look when zoomed in), but then, it's not up to the standard of shots expected from a Nokia Lumia, nor are the controls anywhere near as fine tunable (Nokia Camera allows EVERYTHING to be manually adjusted). In it's own right, without the tedious and endless comparisons to every single mobile phone camera that has ever been made, the camera is absolutely fine (good photography comes from a photographer who is adept enough to make the best out of any scene, it's not ALL hardware specs).

    Additionally, if you root your Moto G (or maybe root isn't needed? Not sure - I've only tried this on the rooted 2nd gen) and modify your "build.prop" as detailed in the tutorial linked under this paragraph, suddenly you'll see extended image controls available for the camera app, including the ability to turn off panoramaic AE lock, wavelet de-noise post-processing etc:

     

    http://forum.xda-developers.com/moto-g/general/how-to-unlock-advanced-camera-settings-t2884035


    Here's some of the options that appear in the camera app, once you've done the above mod:
     

    15508213159_074385fe37_o.png
     
    15694087405_7caed076dc_o.png

    Finally, just last night, I shot a comparison of the 1st and 2nd gen official Motorola "Flip Shell" covers, so I hope you find the video as helpful as this superb review from Mark was.

    Motorola Moto G 1st and 2nd generation Flip Shells compared and reviewed:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jqCg80lTRc


    As for microSD card expansion, my SanDisk Ultra 64GB (the red and silver one - part No: "SDSDQUI-064G-U46") works perfectly in the Moto G. Just ensure you have it formatted to FAT32 (it comes as exFAT) and that the cluster size is 32KB; I use "Rufus" tool to format my cards, when using Windows: http://rufus.akeo.ie




    If there is one recommendation I would give to a Moto G owner, it is this; I *URGE* you to buy the *official* Motorola "Flip Shell" - there is no other case built to the same degree of fit and finish for the Moto G, and I can't imagine there being another case which protects it SO well, and which provides such a cheerful, colourful level of personalisation to the phone, AND which affords the fingers a HUGE amount more purchase on the otherwise rather slippery stock battery shell. Niggles in my video aside, you would be wise to get one.

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    Thanks Glossy White - it is a great device with a few small shortcomings but they are outweighed by the positives (and that price!). I will take a look at that camera option.

    It is a shame that Motorola haven't been able to nail their cameras - if they could sort out the small niggles then they would have an even better device.

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    Thanks Glossy White - it is a great device with a few small shortcomings but they are outweighed by the positives (and that price!). I will take a look at that camera option.

    It is a shame that Motorola haven't been able to nail their cameras - if they could sort out the small niggles then they would have an even better device.

    I'm sure Motorola will improve the camera as time goes on. They clearly listen to feedback, since they've now added front facing stereo speakers and a 5" screen, and on the new "Flip Shell" cases, they've improved the texture of the inside of the protective flap, from a grease-absorbing velour, flock type texture, to the texture of craft card (imagine the texture of a piece of smooth blotting paper) - this is much better.

    I am extremely impressed with Motorola customer service in the UK. When you call them, you get through to someone polite and calm (in their Edinburgh call centre) and willing to help, who resolves your issues politely and with utterly professional service. When my second first gen Moto G had a creaking battery shell, they immediately sent me a replacement within days, without any hassle or fuss. My new "Lemon and Lime" Flip Shell for the 2nd gen has a weak magnet and a slight warping of the protective flap (see the video in the previous post), and I called them this evening, and they are shipping me a replacement immediately. Now that is Apple-esque customer service. The fact I've bought three Motorola phones within 9 months, shows I am very impressed with them, as a customer - I'll go back and get the next gen Moto G (or whatever they call it, then) - I truly believe they are on top of their game, and I am very cautious giving that sort of praise to tech companies. Also, the fact that my handset will have seen AT LEAST THREE, *OFFICIAL* Android iterations - in updates, speaks volumes.

    Here's a recent Moto G / Moto X Google hangout event:

    Edited by glossywhite

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    Good to see a review of a dual sim device, although I understand that this is largely on the back of the first generation Moto G.  I am particularly interested in dual sim models as I currently have two phones, albeit with numbers on the same network, and wonder if anyone has experience of using two numbers in this country?

     

    I am still inclined towards the Sony Xperia M2 dual because it has NFC, but does this feature have any real practical use?

     

    At least if I ultimately decide on the Moto G 2, I can leg it down to my nearest Argos rather than buy online. 

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    Good to see a review of a dual sim device, although I understand that this is largely on the back of the first generation Moto G.  I am particularly interested in dual sim models as I currently have two phones, albeit with numbers on the same network, and wonder if anyone has experience of using two numbers in this country?

     

    I am still inclined towards the Sony Xperia M2 dual because it has NFC, but does this feature have any real practical use?

     

    At least if I ultimately decide on the Moto G 2, I can leg it down to my nearest Argos rather than buy online. 

     

    Hello.

    I have made a quick screencast for you, to show you the various options which the 2nd gen Moto G gives, as regards dual SIM settings. It really is VERY simple and VERY effective - I live in England, and I have a "Three" SIM and a "Virgin" SIM installed, and both work flawlessly.

    >> 

    As for choosing NFC as a "reason" to buy a phone? I can't comment much on NFC, as I've never needed to use it; is it a MUST have feature for what you do, or are you considering it just because it's what everyone who's obsessed with the novelty of having it, implies that it's useful and "vital" it is as part of a modern phone? If you have never missed it, you're very unlikely to. Let me make the decision slightly easier, hopefully:

    #1 Motorola support is TOP NOTCH. Motorola hardware is also, top notch.

    #2 Motorola support is in Edinburgh, so no language barriers, and the staff are courteous and highly efficient (I speak from experience, having called them 10-12 times)

    #3 Motorola invented and conceived the mobile phone. Sony make phones which are known to be riddled with varying degress of hardware and software bugs, screen issues... I won't digress.

    #4 Motorola are owned by Google, and I am sure you know that this means that the phone gets Android updates almost as soon as Google release them to Nexus devices. Sony? I'm not so sure they care - you could be waiting many months, if they don't abandon your model altogether. Also, you don't get ugly, broken customised Android - you get virtually STOCK Android.

    #5 Motorola allow immediate bootloader unlocking (as long as you need this - it says unlocking bootloader will void your warranty, but I've unlocked ALL my Moto G's, and still had warranty support)

    #6 The battery on the Moto G *always* lasts me at least a day, if not a day and a half. Just make sure your Google account sync is OFF, apart from the vitals like contacts and Gmail, or that battery life will DRAIN.

    I can think of zero reasons to buy ANY Sony phone - their "support" is AWFUL.

    Google the phrase "Sony support awful", then sit back and enjoy a few hours reading all the complaints.

    I think this basically sums it up, and backs up what I've said:

    Sony:

     

    15548971579_7762944a4c_b.jpg

    Motorola:

    15550014750_78f567ab38_b.jpg

     

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    Thanks for the comprehensive reply.  It's reassuring to know that there are no dual sim usuage issues here in the UK.

     

    I had a Motorola phone about 10 years' ago, which cost a small fortune then, and was quite happy with it.  By the way, google sold Motorola to Lenovo.

     

    To be honest, all I know about NFC is that it stands for 'near field communication'.  I continue to hope that the 'smartphone' will actually be smart some day and that I can load credit direct to my handset and use it to pay for goods and services anywhere.  Google wallet and now Apple pay have their own facilities, but there is yet to be a universal version.  In the meantime, I have contactless and Oyster, though I don't use this so much now.

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    Good to see a review of a dual sim device, although I understand that this is largely on the back of the first generation Moto G.  I am particularly interested in dual sim models as I currently have two phones, albeit with numbers on the same network, and wonder if anyone has experience of using two numbers in this country?

     

    I am still inclined towards the Sony Xperia M2 dual because it has NFC, but does this feature have any real practical use?

     

    At least if I ultimately decide on the Moto G 2, I can leg it down to my nearest Argos rather than buy online.

    I am currently testing the Dual Sim Desire 820 - look out for a review coming in the near future. I have used both the Moto G and the Desire 820 in the UK in dual SIM mode with no issues.

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    I looked up the HTC Desire 820, but at over 5" it's far larger than anything I would consider.  However, I will be interested to read your review and think that there should be a lot more focus on dual sim models for use in the UK.  I suspect that there are millions of people who have more than one handset.

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    I have ditched the Blackberry and put the £75 I got for it towards the Moto g2. However, no three pin plug was in the box. Would it be unwise to use my iPod/phone plug?

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    I have been using my iPod plug to charge the phone, seemingly without problems.  However, I have a query about the external sd card which I have posted on the Moto g thread.

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    Honor 3C has got to be a realistic competitor for this device, and you get to keep 30 squids in your pocket. Seems as good or better in every way except for the front stereo speakers and android version. For my money it's better overall, on paper anyway.

    Edited by mrrog

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    Love the phone

    Until a couple of weeks back, just as it passed it's 4 week birthday, my wife forgot to put it on charge overnight and the battery must have run down completely

    It has since stubbornly refused to accept charge

    Or do anything at all, actually

    The internets tell me that this is a pretty common problem with both the G and the G-2nd ed and that there are various things you can do to get it to accept charge (eg, leave it to discharge fully then plug in and hold the power button and vol - for two mins. That didn't work.  Nor did 15 mins)

    Anyway, Amazon don't want to know since it's >28 days old

    Motorola have been fine about taking it back and replacing it.  Just a PITA as it's going to take a while

    Alledgedly this problem will be fixed in a firmware update

    The moral of the tale - don't run your battery down

    Edited by The Soup Thief

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    I cannot get data from my Co-Op sim card which is in slot 1 and has data enabled.  I have been back and forth with The Phone Coop with no success.  No problem with my Vodafone card whether in slot 1 or 2.  Does anybody have suggestions which does not involve rooting as I am  reluctant to jump through the fiery rings that this entails.

     

    Thanks, people.

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    I cannot get data from my Co-Op sim card which is in slot 1 and has data enabled.  I have been back and forth with The Phone Coop with no success.  No problem with my Vodafone card whether in slot 1 or 2.  Does anybody have suggestions which does not involve rooting as I am  reluctant to jump through the fiery rings that this entails.

     

    Thanks, people.

    Go straight to the horse's mouth - Motorola Support. The CO-OP know about their many CO-OP products, whereas Motorola agents are highly trained with regards to your specific handset - CO-OP will just offer you generic answers, and they don't even sell the phone. I've dealt with Motorola UK many times, and they are absolutely superb, VERY polite and patient and infintely helpful:

    Motorola Mobility UK Ltd.

    0870 901 0555

    Edited by glossywhite

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    After writing a strongly worded letter to Co-Op phone customer services and without bothering to tell me, the data problem has now been fixed.  The data charge may be half that of Vodafone, which is why I switched in the first place, but I really cannot recommend Co-Op phone.

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    • I have won this item as a prize in an online Facebook competition directly from Nokia but I do not really need it. 
        
      I am offering you the WHITE watch/tracker, never used as it is still Brad New In Sealed Box (unopened and sealed, as can be seen in the pictures below) alongside the original receipt (in electronic form for warranty purposes) for a very reasonable price considering its brand new condition (almost half price compared to the retail price). The warranty from the manufactures is 2 years. My partner has this same watch and is great, has a long lasting battery of 8 months and is the best looking fitness tracker you can find nowadays. It would fit well a man or a woman. Connectivity via Bluetooth low energy with Android (5.0 and higher) and IOS (8.0 and higher). It tracks your steps, distance, calories, running*, swimming* (Water resistant up to 165 feet deep) and sleep cycles* (* = automatically detected). A great feature that I love is the silent alarm (by vibration) so that my partner's alarm goes off without bothering me at all O:) Full details, specifications, compatibility, etc of this item can be seen at http://health.nokia.com/uk/en/steel and you can watch a short video review in YouTube Price stated above now includes RMSD postage. If local collection was possible (Northwich, North West)  I would take £5 off the price shown to reflect savings on postage costs. Payment via BACS; Monzo.me or Revolut Transfer (See below) unless local collection, where cash in hand is a possibility. With Monzo.me money is sent instantly, with no fees for the sender or the receiver; you don’t need to create an account to send money via Monzo.me; and can use any card for the payment. My monzo.me address is https://monzo.me/jesusgarciatorre For payment using Revolut, simply ask me for a request of payment link Rev.me. Payment in crypto also welcome. Ask me if interested %) Even though I live in Northwich I travel frequently back and forth to Warrington / Manchester / Leeds areas so, I could potentially deliver in person given the right location / conditions so don't be afraid to ask. Feel free to contact me via private message for any queries you may have. Please be aware this is also being advertised on eBay and other sites, so it may become unavailable at any time. Thanks for watching 🙂
    • Regular readers will know that I love a good bargain and love a good freebie even more! Your phone is a great tool for getting free or discounted stuff when you're out and about, so here's some of our favourite apps and how you can use them to save money! If there's any we've missed but you use, let us know.    Wuntu Wuntu is the loyalty application for Three customers. It has some great deals such as free Costa Coffees, discount food at Bella Italia and Cafe Rouge, free sweets and much more. Deals typically arrive at 8:30 am on a Wednesday, so you want to be checking the app then as some offers are limited in number. If you're not a Three customer, pick up a 3 PAYG SIM to get started. You can pick them up for 99p in most supermarkets or for free from the Three website. You'll need an unlocked or dual SIM phone to activate of course, but once you've set up the app, you can take the SIM back out. Since you're getting cool free stuff from 3, it might be nice to give a little back by topping up or using as your secondary network. O2 Priority O2's Priority is similar to Wuntu but it was 'the original' app of this type. As with Wuntu deals come and go, but the headline offer from Priority is a free Caffe Nero drink every Tuesday! As an added bonus, you still get a free loyalty stamp in the Nero app and even large size drinks are covered. Nice! The best offers tend to be around 'occasions' (chocolates for mothers day, for example) but it's worth having installed and checking in frequently. As with Wuntu, pick up a cheap SIM or get one free from the O2 website. Note that O2's policy has changed recently, and Priority can only be activated using SIM cards with credit, so it's going to cost you 10 quid to get up and running (that's the minimum top up). It's probably worth it though, you could make that back in less than a month in free coffees alone. Again, you'll need an unlocked or dual SIM phone and you don't need to keep the SIM in it post activation. Curve Now for something completely different. Curve is a debit card that aggregates all your other cards. It works like this - sign up to Curve, get your free card in the post, install the app, associate all your other cards and you're ready to go. You can spend out and about with the contactless card and choose which one it maps to instantly in the app. Paid for something on the wrong card? You can use the 'back in time' feature to change it post-payment. The app has a reward card built in where you can earn credit by spending at certain merchants or by referring friends. There are lots of other features such as purchase insights, instant card lock, super cheap currency exchange, fee free cash withdrawal from credit cards and much more. Google Pay support will be coming soon too, which will really make it amazing. I love Curve and use it all the time. You can order your free card via the Curve app and even better, if you use the referral code 'TBXZH' you'll get a free fiver on your reward card. Free money! Quidco Quidco is one of the two major 'cashback' players in the UK. If you ever buy anything online, you should always check Quidco and its rival TopCashback to see if cashback is available. The way it works is like this - you start at the cashback site, sign in, complete your purchase and then you receive a percentage of your purchase back as 'credit' (this varies per merchant and is listed on the cashback site). This can then be withdrawn when it reaches a certain threshold to your bank account or to gift vouchers for other merchants with a percentage bonus. It works really well and is absolutely a no-brainer, as you're going to earn money on things you'd be buying anyway! Sign up at the Quidco website and you'll earn £5 straight away, refer friends and family and you can earn free credit too. Quidco ClickSnap Quidco ClickSnap is a Quidco specific service designed for use in-store. It has its own app, but shares the account with the main Quidco site. ClickSnap works by showing you a list of offers at the main supermarkets. A recent one was 'get a free bar of Galaxy chocolate' for example. In order to redeem, you buy the item at the designated supermarket, snap a picture of the receipt, upload it in the app then the cost is returned to you as credit. This works particularly well as often the credited amount is more than what you actually paid (if, for example, the item was on a special offer), so you can get the goods and end up in profit! Sign up at the Quidco website in the same way as above. TopCashBack TopCashBack is a Quidco rival and works in exactly the same way. It has its own Clicksnap like service (although it doesn't have a dedicated app for this) and quite often offers differ between the two services - it's worth being signed up to both. Sign up at the TopCashBack website and try and remember to use it! Vouchercloud Now for something a little bit different. VoucherCloud is all about saving money, although the app does occasionally have freebies too. Codes are broken down into categories and also displayed on a map so you can spot local deals. Alerting functionality is available, although I've found this to be a bit of a battery drain. Vouchercloud is particularly good for discounts on restaurants, although you need to be careful as many deals don't apply at the weekend. There is also a 'competitions' section. Vouchercodes Vouchercodes works in exactly the same way as Vouchercloud, but has a slightly different set of deals, so if you're on the hunt for a bargain, it's worth having both installed.   Caffè Nero As well as being included in the O2 Priority offer above, Caffe Nero have their own app. After installation you can get a free coffee straight away by entering the code 'WELCOMETONERO2018' and each time you buy a drink, you'll earn one stamp (10 gets you a free drink). Nero is particularly good as there are frequently offers and promotions for freebies or extra stamps, it seems to be the most generous of the coffee chains (and my favourite). Friends of Krispy Kreme Krispy Kreme donuts are the most ridiculously sweet, unhealthy and tasty donuts. Their app is particularly good for freebies too! Aside from offering very frequent discount promotions (e.g. 'buy a dozen original glazed get a dozen free' or this week 'get a free cold drink when you buy one if temperature is above 20 degrees'), after you enter your date of birth, anniversary, partner's and children's birthdays, you'll generally get a free donut on each of those occasions every year. Excellent! There are also occasional other giveaways such as free drinks. Calories ahoy! Greggs The Greggs app is surprisingly good for freebies. As with most chains it has a loyalty programme built in, but it also has very frequent free promotions - in recent months I've had Lucozade, coffee, crisps, donuts, all via in app notifications that a promotion is available to be redeemed. Healthy. :-) If you live near a Greggs (by the way, apparently there are 29 in Newcastle, how crazy is that?!), then it's worth an install. Unidays Despite the name, Unidays isn't just for university students, it's for all students. If you can validate your educational status with a school / college / uni email address, you can activate Unidays and receive discounts and promotions both online and in physical stores. The list of merchants is pretty extensive, so it's definitely worth doing, Student Beans Student Beans is very similar to Unidays but has a slightly different list of merchants, so it is worth installing both. Freebies are rare in these apps, but discounts are pretty healthy, particularly in the stores in which young people like to shop, so whether you're installing for yourself or for your kids, the app is worth having to hand, Airtime Rewards Airtime Rewards is a new concept which works because it's zero effort yet potentially saves a bit of money. Upon signup, the app will confirm which mobile network you are on, whether you are on a contract or PAYG and then link to your debit or credit cards. From then on, when you make purchases at certain retailers, you'll earn a percentage back which is then deducted from your phone bill. Pretty neat! The list of supported merchants is pretty small right now, but it's a bit of a no brainer given how easy it is to set up. Redeem code 'FWMLFWQW' to get 30p credit straight away. Worth nothing is that you can link your Curve to Airtime Rewards for double cashback! Groupon It's easy to discount Groupon as being useful simply because quite often the offers aren't that great compared to what you can get going direct. In reality however, there are always discount vouchers for Groupon floating around, such that I don't think I've ever paid full price! If I'm out and about with family visiting and I want to take them for a meal or an afternoon tea, Groupon rarely lets me down on the bargain front. Get started on the Groupon website. Google Opinion Rewards Google Opinion Rewards is a great way to earn free Google Play credit. After installation. the app will pop up optional surveys about places you've been, demographically relevant merchants etc. and after completing them, you will earn a small amount of play credit. The surveys are very easy, very short and non-intrusive - it's a great way to gradually build credit for your next Play Store purchase. Barclays Premier Rewards OK, so this isn't for everyone, but if you happen to bank with Barclays and your household income is eligible for a Barclays Premier Banking account, then consider switching and installing the app. Doing so will net you a host of benefits including a free Patisserie Valerie hot drink every day (!), free entry to English Heritage sites, discounts at a whole host of restaurants and much more. HotUKDeals I suspect nearly everybody is aware of HotUKDeals, but just in case, the site is an hot, UK based, deal aggregator, as the name suggests! It's dangerous, as there's plenty of scope for picking up 'bargains' that you don't really need, but if you're planning to buy something specific you can use its alerting functionality to let you know if a deal crops up. The app is pretty nice for browsing offers too. Google Pay Finally, Google Pay. While Google Pay won't really save you much money or offer you much in the way of freebies, it doesn't occasionally pop up a deal and is a winner when it comes to convenience if you a) have a NFC enabled phone and b) your bank is supported. One way you can earn is by referring friends - you'll both earn £20 credit when they sign up. Follow this link and enter code '' for your own signup bonus. 🙂 Zeek Zeek is a really cool site for buying and selling gift cards. From a bargain hunting perspective it's most of interest for buying cards and the discounts can be considerable. As an added bonus, you can save further on Zeek cards by going via TopCashback! Even better, when you sign up using this link you'll get £5 back from them when you make your first purchase!
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