Moto G Stylus (2023)


  • Nice pictures for the value vary

  • Decent efficiency for many duties

  • Two-day battery

Don’t like

  • Stylus feels superfluous

  • Short replace timeline

  • Lacks 5G connectivity as equally priced telephones begin to embrace it

The Moto G Stylus is among the most succesful $200 telephones I’ve used to date. Unlike the $170 Moto G Play — which struggled on many fundamental duties — I discovered the Stylus to easily run most apps, video games and companies whereas additionally taking first rate pictures on its 50-megapixel major digicam and 8-megapixel front-facing digicam.

The Moto G Stylus has a 6.5-inch 720p show with a 90Hz refresh price, a sluggish however in any other case succesful MediaTek Helio G85 processor, 64GB of storage that is expandable with a microSD card slot, 4GB of RAM, a 5,000-mAh battery and — as per its identify — a stylus with a built-in slot. Stereo audio system, a fingerprint sensor and a headphone jack spherical out the cellphone’s {hardware} — all of that are welcome.

Moto G Stylus with stylus partially ejected

The Moto G Stylus has a menu that pops up when ejecting the stylus.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

Even although the stylus is among the cellphone’s promoting factors, its addition feels extra like a “good to have” perk than a necessity. When popping the stylus from its slot, you get a fast menu to entry a screenshot-editing instrument, a word utility, a handwriting calculator and Google Keep. You additionally get a handwriting keyboard that allows you to scribble into most textual content fields, which is good for fast phrases however is irritating to make use of for longer sentences. But if you’re a fan of stylus telephones, it is right here and is functionally high quality.

Motorola ships the Stylus with Android 13 onboard, and much like different Moto G telephones, will solely get one main software program replace (to Android 14, which launches this fall) and three years of safety updates. This timeline is pretty common for this value vary, and I want Motorola may provide one thing extra like 4 to 5 years of safety updates for individuals who wish to use their cellphone till it is damaged.

That brief replace lifespan, made worse by the cellphone’s lack of 5G connectivity, results in the most important downside with the Moto G Stylus. While I discovered the cellphone works nice with most duties, the cellphone’s lower-end processor, 4GB of RAM and lack of 5G could lead it to get left behind as apps and companies grow to be extra superior and make the most of sooner web speeds. 

That’s notably of word as 5G cellphone costs start to drop beneath $200, with Samsung already providing the Galaxy A14 5G and TCL beginning to carry its 40 sequence of telephones into the US market. However, in case you merely do not care about whether or not your cellphone has 5G, and also you simply want an affordable cellphone proper now, the Moto G Stylus does provide loads of consolation options to get pleasure from at its price range value.

Moto G Stylus with annotated screenshot

The Moto G Stylus supplies quick entry to taking after which modifying a screenshot.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

Moto G Stylus: Just sufficient specs to get you going

The Moto G Stylus has what I’d contemplate the minimal specs wanted to functionally run most apps and duties with out irritating lag or storage issues. The MediaTek Helio G85 processor paired up with the cellphone’s 4GB of RAM permits most apps to launch shortly whereas dealing with a bit of little bit of multitasking. It’s by far probably the most noticeable enchancment when evaluating the Stylus to the $170 Moto G Play, whose Helio G37 processor and 3GB of RAM created a stuttered cellphone expertise the place some apps would not even load.

The extra highly effective processor does seem to assist the display with its refresh price, which features at a noticeable 90Hz. Also not like the Moto G Play, which solely had an “auto” refresh price as much as 90Hz, you’ll be able to set the Moto G Stylus to run constantly at that increased refresh price. This permits for smoother scrolling via net pages, apps and in recreation animations.

The cellphone’s 64GB of storage is on the smaller facet by immediately’s requirements however ought to help you nonetheless retailer sufficient apps, pictures and movies earlier than reaching for a microSD card. 

Moto G Stylus notes app

When ejecting the stylus from the Moto G Stylus whereas locked, the notes app launches for fast notes.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

The cellphone’s 5,000-mAh battery lasts roughly two days underneath medium to heavy utilization. During my evaluation interval, I sometimes ran the cellphone via our benchmark checks whereas utilizing it for video calls, social media and pictures all through the day. These checks embrace monitoring the battery via roughly an hour of energetic use, consisting of 10 minutes of taking part in Marvel Snap, a 10-minute video name, a 20-minute voice name the place I additionally browsed a number of apps and rounded out with quarter-hour of YouTube movies. During that interval, the battery began at 78% and depleted right down to 69%.

As I discussed earlier than, the included stylus is a pleasant perk, however it’s additionally one which I’m confused by at this value vary. The cellphone’s lower-powered specs make it helpful for many duties, however a stylus implies that the machine is supposed for productiveness — like creating drawings or annotating PDF paperwork. Aside from taking just a few fast screenshots, circling or highlighting vital particulars and sending the annotated picture off in a textual content message, I’m not totally certain what extra to make of the included stylus. Instead, it will have been nice to see both NFC for contactless purchases or maybe wi-fi charging make its manner right down to the sub-$200 value, even in lieu of 5G connectivity. 

Moto G Stylus cameras

The Moto G Stylus has a 50-megapixel major digicam and a 2-megapixel macro digicam.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

Moto G Stylus pictures is kind of good

The Moto G Stylus has one of many higher digicam techniques I’ve used within the $200-and-under cellphone house. The cellphone’s 50-megapixel major digicam captures a number of element, particularly when open air or in well-lit areas. As is typical on this value vary, pictures taken in indoor areas get a bit of noisy, leading to barely less-details, however I used to be fairly proud of a number of pictures I took over a Sunday afternoon brunch at Comfortland in Astoria, Queens.

Group photo in Comfortland restaurant

This indoor group photograph taken within the Comfortland restaurant has barely extra noise and fewer particulars than the close-ups or the outside pictures.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

The photograph of the crab cake benedict notably highlights the digicam’s functionality for meals pictures, sharply capturing each the primary portion of the dish together with the tomatoes on the plate.

Crab cake benedict

Crab cake benedict dish at Comfortland, taken on the Moto G Stylus.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

The 50-megapixel major digicam is paired up with a 2-megapixel macro lens, that are used collectively to offer a blurred background bokeh impact in portrait mode. In different cheaper telephones that I take a look at with portrait mode, outcomes are often someplace between unnoticeable to badly rendered. However these pictures of my good friend Cole taken on the patio at Diamond Dogs in Astoria accurately preserve him and his flowing hair in focus, whereas blurring out the folks behind him.

Photo of Cole at Diamond Dogs in Portrait Mode

Portrait mode photograph of Cole at Diamond Dogs in Astoria, Queens.

Courtesy of Kevin Brown

Kevin took a portrait mode photograph of himself on the Moto G Stylus, and though it is an 8-megapixel digicam the picture got here out good.

Courtesy of Kevin Brown

Even extra shocking is the portrait mode additionally working effectively with the 8-megapixel front-facing digicam, which my good friend Kevin examined out whereas we frolicked within the bar’s yard.

Indoor selfies had extra picture noise however in any other case work for a fast photograph. I additionally discovered the front-facing digicam acceptable for a bunch chat, with colours being extra muted typically whereas indoors. Again, it is pretty typical for telephones on this value vary to wrestle extra whereas in darker settings.

The cameras shoot 720p-resolution video at 30 frames per second, leading to footage that’s high quality for a fast clip, however I would not use it for any particular events. This is not a cellphone for taking pictures a dramatic movie, however it is going to work for grabbing fast pictures of surroundings or of a pet.

Indoor front-facing camera photo taken on Moto G Stylus.

An indoor front-facing digicam photograph taken on the Moto G Stylus.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

Outdoor photo of Mike Sorrentino taken in Astor Place

An outside selfie photograph taken on the Moto G Stylus.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

Compared with my present favourite under-$200 cellphone, final yr’s $160 Samsung Galaxy A03S, the Moto G Stylus captures extra element with its digicam. Sections of the CNET workplace plant wall which can be blurry when taken by the A03S are visibly clearer within the photograph taken by the Stylus.

Plant wall taken on the Moto G Stylus

The plant wall in CNET’s workplace, taken on the Moto G Stylus.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

Plant wall taken on the Galaxy A03S

The plant wall taken on the Samsung Galaxy A03S.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

Moto G Stylus: Bottom line

While the Moto G Stylus is kind of useful proper now, it is price noting all of the ways in which this cellphone may wrestle after its first yr of use. Aside from the Motorola-imposed restrict of solely getting a bump to Android 14 someday subsequent yr, the cellphone’s lack of 5G connectivity may grow to be extra noticeable as new telephones proceed to reach within the $200 and fewer value vary. The cellphone’s present processor and reminiscence are in a position to run any of immediately’s apps simply, however these much less highly effective specs may hit a wall after two or three years with the cellphone.

While we’ve not but examined the $200 Galaxy A14 5G, potential consumers who do not contemplate the stylus essential ought to preserve it in thoughts, just because that connectivity may assist it adapt higher as apps and companies start to make the most of these sooner information speeds.

However, if what you want is a cellphone for proper now that features the stylus, is as low-cost as potential whereas being succesful sufficient to run your favourite apps and also you’d prefer to have it take first rate pictures, the Moto G Stylus does provide a number of good options for its $200 value. Just bear in mind its limitations and the chance that you simply would possibly end up wanting to leap to a extra succesful cellphone in a yr or two.

How we take a look at telephones

Every cellphone examined by CNET’s evaluations group was really utilized in the true world. We take a look at a cellphone’s options, play video games and take pictures. We look at the show to see if it is brilliant, sharp and vibrant. We analyze the design and construct to see how it’s to carry and whether or not it has an IP-rating for water resistance. We push the processor’s efficiency to the extremes utilizing each standardized benchmark instruments like GeekBench and 3DMark, together with our personal anecdotal observations navigating the interface, recording high-resolution movies and taking part in graphically intense video games at excessive refresh charges.

All the cameras are examined in a wide range of situations from brilliant daylight to darkish indoor scenes. We check out particular options like night time mode and portrait mode and evaluate our findings in opposition to equally priced competing telephones. We additionally take a look at the battery life through the use of it each day in addition to operating a sequence of battery drain checks.

We bear in mind further options like help for 5G, satellite tv for pc connectivity, fingerprint and face sensors, stylus help, quick charging speeds, foldable shows amongst others that may be helpful. And we steadiness all of this in opposition to the value to provide the verdict on whether or not that cellphone, no matter value it’s, really represents good worth.

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