Every year, I getting more and more confused with Motorola’s Moto G series of smartphones. The company is pulling it out budget phones for a decade. Originally, there was a simple progression system: The Moto G was followed by a Moto G (2nd Gen), then by a Moto G (3rd Gen). Then the company started introducing variants, from a Moto G5 Plus to a Moto G6 Play, which still made sense.
Now the 2023 series consists of five devices: the Moto G Play, Moto G 5G, Moto G Stylus and the Moto G Power 5G. Oh, and don’t confuse any of those with the 2022 modelsof which many have the same name. I was in the middle of testing the new Moto G Power 5G ($300) when the company announced the new Moto G Stylus ($200) and Moto G 5G ($250), all launching this month. This puts this device at the top of the range. While the Power is more or less functional, there are some questionable choices that make it hard to recommend wholeheartedly, not to mention the other great options at this price.
The number one improvement in this phone over its predecessor is performance. Due to a flawed processor, the Moto G Power 2022 strangely delivered a more sluggish experience than the Power that came before, but the company has fixed that. The new Moto G Power 5G 2023 has the MediaTek Dimensity 930 with 6 gigabytes of RAM, and my benchmark tests show a jump – it’s one of the best Moto G phones to date.
I had no problems using this phone for almost all of my daily tasks, whether I was sending my partner a funny meme from Reddit, trying to keep up with my Duolingo streak minutes before midnight, or playing a quick game Dead cells on the train. That’s not to say you won’t see hiccups. They’re actually pretty common, but there’s no cripplingly frustrating performance here. It’s only when you have to juggle multiple apps quickly that you might feel a hint of annoyance.
Battery life is probably even better. I was able to eke out two full days of average use with the 5,000mAh cell, par for the course on most Moto G devices, though not as good as the three-day battery life on the 2020 model. But hey, I’ll take anything over a single day of juice.
There’s a 6.5-inch LCD screen here, and my big paws find it mostly OK to use with one hand, but it’s definitely a two-hander for most people. I didn’t find too many faults with the display. It’s sharp (1080p), fairly colorful and bright enough to read on sunny days (some squinting required). It gets a bit dim when viewed at an angle. Although it is nice that there is a 120-Hz screen refresh rate to make all interactions feel fluid, the everyday stuttering you’ll see when scrolling apps like Reddit or Twitter pretty much kills the effect.
I’m going to fire off some perks, even though there’s a good chance you might not care about them at all. First, there is a headphone jack for the anti-wireless crowd. There is sub-6 5G support, and I had no problems connecting to AT&T’s service in New York. There’s 256GB of internal storage—kudos to Motorola for actually increasing that; most flagship phones still start at 128 gigs—and a microSD card slot in case you want to expand it even more. There is a reliable capacitive fingerprint scanner built into the power button, and this phone has the latest Android 13 operating system. Oh, and there’s a charger included in the box.
The camera is not a strong point on this phone. There’s a primary 50-megapixel sensor that you’ll use for all your headshots. During the day it can take some decently sharp photos. Some images are oversaturated, and at other times the sensor can struggle with high contrast scenes, such as the sun rising behind a building. Low light is passable, even with Motorola’s Night Vision mode. My partner’s skin tone at a moody restaurant was a strange pinkish hue. I did manage to get a decent shot of my pup during his night walk. (Luckily he stopped!)
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