Motorola’s G-series phones topped our ranking of the best inexpensive phones for years, but the company’s 2021 lineup fell short of expectations, while Samsung and TCL models caught up. The Moto G Power is the first model in Motorola’s 2022 portfolio, and it puts the business back on track. Starting at $199.99, the quick and cheap Moto G Power has a display with a 90Hz refresh rate and can easily last two days between charges. If you can stretch your budget a little further, the Samsung Galaxy A32 5G ($279.99) is a more future-proof option with 5G connectivity and additional software upgrades.
A High Refresh Rate and Low Resolution
With dimensions of 6.6 by 3.0 by 0.4 inches (HWD) and a weight of 7.2 ounces, the Moto G Power is a heavyweight. However, its weight is evenly distributed over its plastic chassis. Furthermore, the phone’s textured matte black rear is comfortable to hold, improves grip, and hides fingerprints and scratches.
The 2021 Moto G Power has a flat, 6.5-inch LCD with the same 1,600-by-720 resolution (269ppi), but with a quicker 90Hz refresh rate. Near the top of the display, in the center, is a little cutout for the 8MP selfie camera.
The 720p resolution is the most significant flaw here. Although the screen displays realistic colors, close inspection reveals considerable pixelation. While the viewing angles are good, we wish the panel was a touch brighter because direct sunlight makes it difficult to see.
The phone’s top edge has a headphone jack, while the bottom edge has a USB-C charging connector and a speaker. The single port on the left is a combined SIM and microSD slot, while the right has a volume rocker and textured power button. The buttons are easily identifiable by touch, however if you have little hands, you may have difficulty reaching them.
A slim module for the camera sensors resides in the upper left corner of the G Power’s back. And, while the power button on last year’s G Power doubled as a fingerprint sensor, it’s now on the back of the phone; it’s speedy and accurate, and it doesn’t require as fine a touch as in-display or side-mounted sensors.
The phone’s durability is comparable to that of other phones in this price range. Its plastic back and chassis should be able to withstand a fall without too much damage, but we can’t say the same for its reinforced glass panel. With an IP52 rating, it should be able to withstand rain, splashes, and perspiration without issue, but it won’t likely survive a dip in the pool or sink.
Competitive Battery Life, Middling Speakers
Motorola promises that the Moto G Power’s 5,000mAh battery will last three days between charges. We believe you’ll get approximately two days unless you’re a really conservative user, but that’s nothing to sneeze at.
The G Power lasted for 16 hours and 7 minutes in our battery rundown test, which streams HD video over Wi-Fi at maximum brightness. That’s slightly over three hours longer than the Samsung Galaxy A32 5G, which costs around the same. Unfortunately, charging takes a long time at 10W; by comparison, the Galaxy A32 5G allows 18W charging. The Moto G Power, like most phones in this price range, does not allow wireless charging.
The phone’s max level is 88 decibels, making it simple to hear in a busy area. Our test calls sounded crystal clear, and the noise cancellation was effective. On the other hand, the speaker quality is underwhelming. The phone’s single, bottom-firing speaker can reach a respectable 92dB, although high volumes should be avoided. We noted minor distortion at volumes beyond 70dB, and the soundstage is boxy and imbalanced. It’s fine for quick conversations or skimming through TikTok, but not so much for Netflix marathons.
Turn to the G Power’s Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity or the aforementioned headphone jack for greater audio.
The G Power comes in two flavors: one that’s geared for AT&T’s network and another that’s unlocked and compatible with all major US and Canadian carriers. Although neither variant has 5G, we have yet to test a US phone at this price that does. The Samsung Galaxy A32 5G delivers outstanding sub-6GHz 5G connectivity if you’re ready to spend a little more.
In Chicago, we put the phone through its paces on T-network Mobile’s and came away impressed. We averaged download and upload speeds of 68.2Mbps and 41.6Mbps, respectively.
The phone also has dual-band Wi-Fi, however it lacks NFC features.
A Better Budget Shooter
The primary sensor on the Moto G Power’s back camera module measures 50 megapixels and has an aperture of f/1.8. By default, quad-binning is enabled, and the camera generates 12.5MP images with a 1.3m pixel pitch. The camera module also includes the same 2MP macro and depth lenses with an f/2.4 aperture as the previous generation.
In bright light, the 50MP primary lens performs admirably. The test shots are clear, with accurate color and a natural depth of field. However, when viewed in full size, we observed some small noise around the margins.