The Moto G Play for 2023 prices $170 (or even much less at Amazon), making it one of many least expensive new telephones you will get proper now, and with out the bloatware or wi-fi provider restrictions we typically see on lower-priced units. With a good set of specs for the worth — together with a triple digicam system with a 16-megapixel important digicam, a 6.5-inch show with a 90Hz refresh charge and a 5,000-mAh battery that gives practically three days of battery life — this could have been a gorgeous choice for anybody searching for a good, no-frills cellphone.

However, this cellphone has quite a lot of efficiency points that make it irritating to make use of. And on high of that, Motorola selected to drop one in every of its finest Moto gestures: twisting the cellphone to shortly open its digicam. While some may take into account these gestures a gimmick, they’ve been a signature factor of Motorola’s telephones for practically a decade. Other gestures like “chop to activate flashlight” are nonetheless right here, making the absence of the digicam gesture much more evident.

Despite these vital drawbacks, the 2023 Moto G Play does have some optimistic attributes. The battery life is nice, the software program is a reasonably clear model of Android 12 and you will find uncommon ports like a headphone jack and microSD card slot for storage growth. But the cellphone will solely get one main software program replace to Android 13, which is lower than I’d prefer to see however typical for this value vary, in addition to three years of safety updates. 

Yet each perk I listing comes with one other downside, which is vital to contemplate in case you’re tempted by the Moto G Play due to its low value. 


  • Long battery life
  • Clean model of Android 12
  • Three years of safety updates

Don’t Like

  • Frequent lag, points loading software program
  • Questionable refresh charge
  • No “twist to open digicam” gesture

Moto G Play design and efficiency

The Moto G Play seems to be good for a cellphone that prices simply $170. The Navy Blue shade of its plastic physique offers a touch of persona, whereas the cellphone’s low-resolution 720p show features a display screen cutout for the 5-megapixel front-facing digicam. The fingerprint sensor is situated in my favourite spot on an Android cellphone — the again. 

But the issues start when you begin utilizing the cellphone. The cellphone’s MediaTek Helio G37 processor and 3GB of RAM weren’t highly effective sufficient to juggle a number of apps simply. In some circumstances, it would not even load sure apps. This was notably weird contemplating it loaded a 3D sport like Crazy Taxi (admittedly an oldie however nonetheless a goodie), however could not run different trendy 2D video games like Exploding Kittens. With the cellphone’s tiny 32GB of storage, I’m fortunate to even match a pair video games onto the Moto G Play, though there’s a microSD card slot for storage growth.

Geekbench V.5.0 single-core


Longer bars point out higher efficiency

Geekbench V.5.0 multicore


Longer bars point out higher efficiency

Email, information and video-streaming apps fared higher when it comes to efficiency, however not by a lot. Even although the Moto G Play touts a 90Hz refresh charge, which ought to easy out animations, there’s plenty of noticeable lag. I could not even inform when the refresh charge reached 90Hz. The Settings menu helps you to select between “Auto” and “60 Hz,” with the previous dynamically altering the refresh charge primarily based on what you’re doing. Having an auto setting does make sense, however plenty of the cheaper Android telephones I’ve used additionally embody the choice to set the cellphone to a constant 90Hz, alongside a 60Hz choice for preserving battery life.

This brings me again to the cellphone’s 5,000-mAh battery — a shiny spot contemplating it simply lasted two days on a full cost throughout my testing. I believe it is potential for the battery to make it to a 3rd day, principally due to how underpowered this machine is. I usually bought round three hours of display screen time per day on the machine throughout my testing, which included streaming, taking pictures pictures and making an attempt to play video games for this evaluation.

During a extra lively session on the cellphone, during which I streamed 22 minutes of a TV present at 100% brightness after which took a 24-minute video name, the battery dropped from 59% to 46%. On much less lively days, during which the cellphone was used primarily for listening to music whereas commuting, studying information articles and light-weight texting, I may finish the day with simply over 50% remaining.

Charging occasions for the cellphone are usually much less spectacular than battery life. With the included 10-watt charger, it usually took simply over an hour to cost from zero to 50%. Getting to 100% would take simply over 2 hours, half-hour. When I examined charging speeds with my 18-watt charger, the outcomes have been barely sooner. The cellphone would get from zero to 66% after an hour and end charging simply previous the two-hour mark.

Moto G Play cameras

The Moto G Play has three cameras, anchored by a 16-megapixel important digicam.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

Moto G Play cameras

The Moto G Play has a triple-camera system anchored by a important 16-megapixel digicam, which is accompanied by a 2-megapixel macro digicam and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. But pictures are constantly fuzzy, whether or not I took them indoors, outdoor, in shiny environments or in the dead of night.

Foggy day, outdoor photo taken on Moto G Play

A foggy day in New York, taken on the Moto G Play.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

While it was good to see Portrait mode on a cellphone at this value, I can barely see a lot of a bokeh impact in my pictures. This is particularly true when utilizing the 5-megapixel front-facing digicam, during which my pictures seemed constantly muddy.

Portrait mode photo of Mike Sorrentino holding beer in a Taco Bell

My good friend took a photograph of me on the Taco Bell in Times Square utilizing Portrait Mode, but it surely’s difficult to see if it made a distinction.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

Selfie photo with beer taken on the Moto G Play

The Moto G Play’s front-facing digicam had a troublesome time retaining me in focus, even in a restaurant with first rate lighting.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

I took the Moto G Play with me to Taco Bell — as a result of sure, I’m going to go eat low-cost meals whereas reviewing an inexpensive cellphone. I had my good friend take pictures of me utilizing the cellphone’s Portrait setting. You can type of see a lightweight blurring impact within the background, but it surely’s exhausting to understand. 

In one other selfie taken at a restaurant with higher lighting than the Taco Bell, I discovered the selfie digicam to have a troublesome time retaining me in focus.

And when taking pictures of my good friend’s canine Daisy, the rear cameras struggled to seize a lot element of her fur, even when she sat nonetheless. In the perfect of situations, the cellphone’s cameras battle to take sharp pictures.

Daisy the dog in a winter sweater, photo taken on Moto G Play

Daisy the canine sat comparatively nonetheless for this picture, however the Moto G Play’s digicam captures minimal element.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

I in contrast the pictures taken on the Moto G Play in opposition to the identical photographs taken on the $160 Samsung Galaxy A03S, and located the image high quality to be roughly comparable for easy static photographs. When taking pictures a bookshelf at CNET’s workplace, the Moto G Play bought barely extra element of the e-book covers than the Galaxy A03S, with the latter cellphone’s picture showing a bit darker. 

However, with regards to a photograph with numerous element and shade, comparable to with this plant wall, the Moto G Play struggles to discern between the completely different shades of inexperienced. Meanwhile the Galaxy A03S performs significantly better with discerning the darker inexperienced shades from the lighter ones, making for a dramatically completely different picture.

Neither cellphone’s digicam performs particularly nicely, which is a typical theme amongst telephones that value below $200. For me, this locations the Moto G Play’s digicam pictures squarely into the class of being acceptable for group chats, however not a lot else. It’s going to take plenty of actually good lighting and regular fingers so as to benefit from these cameras, and that is extra effort than most individuals are going to need to make.

There are higher choices, even whenever you need to lower your expenses

Even whenever you’re searching for the most cost effective potential cellphone, your machine nonetheless must run most apps with out situation and take decent-looking pictures. I would not count on a cellphone that prices lower than $200 to run Fortnite on the highest graphics settings, however I’m anticipating to make use of apps with minimal lag. While telephones at this value are additionally usually lighter on options, the perks which can be accessible ought to deliver noticeable worth to the expertise. The Moto G Play’s Portrait mode and excessive refresh charge do not succeed on this regard.  

Instead of shopping for the Moto G Play at $170, you are in all probability higher off saving $10 and getting the $160 Samsung Galaxy A03S. While that cellphone additionally has unimpressive cameras, it was not less than in a position to multitask extra simply.

Although I have never reviewed it but, you may also take into account the $199 Samsung Galaxy A14 5G, because it has 64GB of storage and 5G connectivity. Later this yr, quite a lot of TCL 40 telephones will arrive within the US, which is able to embody 5G and 128GB of storage for below $200. Those units is perhaps value ready for in case you aren’t in dire want of an inexpensive cellphone proper now.

Moto G Play (2023) vs. Samsung Galaxy A03S, TCL Stylus 5G, OnePlus Nord N300 5G

Moto G Play (2023) Samsung Galaxy A03S TCL Stylus 5G OnePlus Nord N300 5G
Display dimension, kind decision, refresh charge 6.5-inch IPS TFT LCD; 1,600×720 pixels; 90Hz refresh charge 6.5-inch LCD; 1,600×720 pixels 6.81-inch; 2,400×1,080 pixels 6.56-inch IPS LCD show; 720p decision; 90Hz refresh charge
Pixel density 269ppi 269ppi 395ppi 269ppi
Dimensions (inches) 6.58 x 2.95 x 0.36 in 6.5 x 2.9 x 0.3 in 6.67 x 3.01 x 0.35 in 6.4 x 2.9 x 0.3 in
Dimensions (millimeters) 167 x 77 x 9.4 mm 165.8 x 75.9 x 9.1 mm 169.6 x 76.5 x 8.9 mm 163.8 x 75.1 x 7.99 mm
Weight (ounces, grams) 203 g (7.16 oz) 202g (7.13 oz) 213g (7.51 oz) 190g (6.7 oz)
Mobile software program Android 12 Android 11 Android 12 Android 12
Camera 16-megapixel (important), 2-megapixel (macro), 2-megapixel (depth sensor) 13-megapixel (important), 2-megapixel (depth), 2-megapixel (macro) 50-megapixel (important), 5-megapixel (large), 2-megapixel (macro), 2-megapixel (depth sensor) 48-megapixel (important), 2-megapixel (depth lens)
Front-facing digicam 5-megapixel 5-megapixel 13-megapixel 16-megapixel
Video seize 720p at 30 fps 1080p at 30fps 1080p at 30fps 1080p at 30fps
Processor MediaTek Helio G37 Octa-core processor MediaTek Dimensity 700 5G MediaTek Dimensity 810
RAM, storage 3GB + 32GB 3GB/32GB 4GB/128GB 4GB/64GB
Expandable storage Up to 512GB Up to 1TB Up to 2TB Up to 1TB
Battery, charger 5,000 mAh; 10W charging 5,000mAh; charger not included, doesn’t assist wi-fi charging 4,000mAh; 18W charging 5,000mAh; 33W charging
Fingerprint sensor Rear Side Side Side
Headphone jack Yes Yes Yes Yes
Special options 3-day battery life, Moto Gestures, Auto Smile Capture, Portait Mode Stylus with built-in storage, producitivity software program, NxtVision HDR mode Dual audio system, NFC, Face Unlock, HDR, Portrait, Face retouching
Price off-contract (USD) $170 $160 $258 $228

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