Moto G Stylus 5G review: A good phone, but Motorola sells better ones - CNET
If the new Moto G Stylus 5G from Motorola seems familiar, that’s because it’s the follow up to January’s Moto G Stylus, which costs less and doesn’t have 5G. The Stylus 5G comes with a redesigned stylus, Android 11, a new security layer from Motorola’s parent company Lenovo, 256GB of storage, 6GB of RAM and a new processor. It includes those beloved Moto gestures for shortcuts like twisting your wrist to open the camera app. The Moto G Stylus 5G is a good phone and did pretty much everything I threw at it for a week. Best of all, it costs $400 (converts roughly to £290, AU$520).
But the Moto G Stylus 5G is in an awkward position in Motorola’s lineup. It’s the most expensive G-series phone this year and yet offers a lot of value as a budget 5G phone. It’s not for everyone, mainly because Motorola has other phones that might be a better fit and value.
If you don’t care about 5G or improvements like a new stylus, then the $300 Moto G Stylus is the way to go, especially since it’s on sale for $279 at the time I’m writing this review. If you’re not interested in a stylus, and just want a solid 5G phone that won’t break your budget, get the Motorola One 5G Ace. It costs the same and has a better processor.
Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G
- Long battery life
- Comes with Android 11
- Dual-capture video is perfect for social media
- Display isn’t bright
- Ultrawide and macro cameras feel like add-ons
- Performance is just OK
But if you’re looking for a good budget phone that comes with a basic stylus and support for 5G, then the Moto G Stylus 5G is there for you. It has features more expensive phones lack, including a headphone jack, expandable storage (up to 1TB) and great battery life. It also comes with a charging cable and wall charger in the box.
On the back are four cameras, the same ones on the Moto G Stylus, except for the macro camera which got a slight bump in resolution. The main 48-megapixel camera is actually pretty decent. Like other Moto phones it combines multiple pixels into one for less image noise, brighter photos and better detail. I took a lot of great shots with it.
The ultrawide camera is just OK. Details in photos are soft and pictures don’t have the same image quality the main camera offers. The depth camera works with the main camera for portrait mode photos which are pretty good. The macro camera seems like a novelty. If the ultrawide and macro cameras had the same image quality as the main camera, that would be a different story.
On the front is a 16-megapixel camera which takes good photos. The Stylus 5G can record HD video (no 4K). Perhaps my favorite feature is Dual-Capture which records videos with the front and rear cameras simultaneously. It’s a great way to see someone’s reaction and the thing they’re reacting to at the same time.
The Moto G Stylus 5G comes in Cosmic Emerald with a plastic back that unfortunately collects more fingerprints than Det. Sheehan in Mare of Easttown. It has a 6.8-inch FHD display that indoors looks decent, but didn’t wow me. The display isn’t bright and outside it’s difficult to see.
It has a large battery which I was reminded of every time I picked up the Stylus 5G. It’s a heavy phone that gets its heft from the 5,000-mAh battery meant to counter the extra drain from 5G connectivity. In daily use, it got through a day and a half, sometimes two days before I needed to charge it. I’m still running more battery tests and will update this review with my results.
I tested the Stylus 5G on T-Mobile’s 5G network in South Carolina. Speeds weren’t great and would frequently drop back to LTE, which is exactly what happened on other 5G phones I’ve tested here. If you want a 5G phone, do a little research first into your carrier’s 5G network and whether it’s good or not. For me, based on my time on T-Mobile’s 5G network, I’d be just fine buying a non-5G Moto G Stylus and saving $130.
The stylus is rudimentary and akin to the one on the LG Stylo instead of the feature-packed S-Pen on the Galaxy Note line. The stylus is now completely round from top-to-bottom which makes it easier to put back into the phone. There is also a software notification that reminds you when it’s removed. Using the stylus for handwriting was not an enjoyable experience. The lag is pretty bad. Doodling is fun, but isn’t enough to sell me on getting the phone.
The Moto G Stylus 5G has a Snapdragon 480 5G processor which worked well for pretty much everything I did from playing games like PUBG Mobile and Alto’s Adventure to watching Loki on Disney Plus to just scrolling through social media. In benchmark tests, the Moto G Stylus 5G scored lower in single-core tests than the January Moto G Stylus. But in multicore and gaming tests, the Stylus 5G did better. The similarly priced Motorola One 5G Ace scored even better. Check out the results below.