Motorola’s Moto G line of smartphones has had some of the best budget phones on the market, and this year’s models — the Moto G Stylus and the Moto G Power — look to continue that reputation with bigger screens, faster processors, better cameras, and new features while staying under a $299 price point. The G Stylus, in particular, stands out as one of the few Android phones available in 2020 with a built-in stylus.
For this year’s Moto G phones, Motorola is dropping the numeric name scheme it’s used since the original Moto G launched in 2013. That said, the new phones are effectively the G8 successors to last year’s (very good) G7 lineup in all but name. (The $299 G Stylus replaces the G7, while the $249 G Power replaces the G7 Power.)
I had the chance to try both phones out, and they’re solid improvements over the previous models. The new screens look better than ever, and the switch to a hole-punch camera over a notch makes them look like more premium devices. Neither of the new Moto G phones will blow anyone away with specs or features (unless you really like styluses), but considering the price point they’re competing at, they’re impressive devices.
The two phones share a lot in common. On the front of both is a 6.4-inch, 19:9 FHD+ display with a 16-megapixel hole-punch camera (instead of the 6.2-inch, notched displays on last year’s models). Their processor has been bumped to a Snapdragon 665 chipset, which provides enough power for the new triple rear-camera systems on both phones. Both devices also feature 4GB of RAM, stereo speakers, and Android 10.
They share a similar design, with shiny plastic exteriors that house a 3.5mm headphone jack and a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor. The G Power is a bit thicker and heavier, thanks to its larger battery. Unfortunately, there’s still no NFC or wireless charging, which is frustrating, even considering the budget price tags here. The phones also feature a “water repellant” design, but are explicitly not waterproof.
The differences between the two phones lie mainly in their eponymous features. The G Stylus, as one might guess, has a stylus. It’s not quite as capable as the Galaxy Note 10 — Motorola’s stylus is completely analog, with none of the fancy Bluetooth linking or camera shutter buttons featured on the Note’s S Pen. But Motorola does have a few software tricks up its sleeve here, like Moto Note, a lightweight note-taking application that pops up when you pull out the stylus when the phone is locked. There’s also a customizable quick-launch menu that hovers in the corner of the screen.
Despite the lack of more advanced tech, the G Stylus feels pretty nice to use. It also costs a fraction of Samsung’s stylus-equipped flagship (normally priced at $950), which could make it a good option for those who prefer the pen-based approach without wanting to spend premium prices.
The G Power, on the other hand, offers a larger battery — 5,000 mAh, compared to the 4,000 mAh battery on the pricier G Stylus. With that massive battery combined with the mid-range processor, Motorola says that the G Power should last up to three days on a charge.
The other big difference between the phones is in their cameras. Both phones feature a triple camera setup on the back, but the specs are very different between the two. The more expensive G Stylus got more of Motorola’s love here. There’s a 48-megapixel main camera that shoots quad-pixel 12-megapixel stills and features a night vision mode, along with a 2-megapixel macro lens, which can focus in on objects that are just two centimeters (0.7 inches) away.
The G Stylus’ most interesting camera is the dedicated 117-degree ultrawide video camera, which Motorola debuted in last year’s Motorola One Action. Like the One Action, the 16-megapixel sensor here is physically rotated so that it shoots horizontally oriented video when the phone is held vertically, and it’s paired with software algorithms that promise to reduce shakiness during action shots. It’s not quite a substitute for a Go Pro, but it’s a fun camera to play around with.
The G Power is less exciting, with a 16-megapixel main camera, an 8-megapixel 118-degree ultrawide camera, and the same macro camera as the G Stylus. It also offers half the internal storage as the G Stylus, which has 128GB compared to the G Power’s 64GB. Both phones offered upgradable microSD card slots, though, should you need more space.
Both phones will be sold unlocked at a variety of retailers, including Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, and B&H Photo, when they come out later this spring.