The Moto G Power Proves a $200 Phone Has Its Perks

Illustration for article titled The Moto G Power Proves a $200 Phone Has Its Perks
Photo: Sam Rutherford

The latest Moto G Power isn’t very pretty, and it’s not that fancy either, but for a simple, well-built phone that starts at just $200, it’s got practically everything you need. And when it comes to its name, the G Power definitely delivers, with battery life that can actually last multiple days. Sure, this phone is incredibly basic, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

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The G Power was released alongside two other new Moto G phones this winter, the budget $170 Moto G Play and the slightly more sophisticated $300 Moto G Stylus. Inside it’s got a Snapdragon 662 chip that’s passable and doesn’t suffer from any major hiccups, but that’s about it. It’s not great, it’s not bad. It’s fine. The base $200 model comes with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, but if you have wiggle room in your budget, I’d recommend going with the $250 model with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of base storage. That extra 1GB of RAM might not sound like much, but it does make a noticeable impact, particularly if you like to play games or like to keep a lot of apps running in the background.

The G Power features a simple, straightforward design with an 8-MP hole-punch selfie camera in the top left corner, a smallish chin down below, and a plastic back (available in silver or gray). The centerpiece is a large, 6.8-inch LCD display with 1600 x 720 resolution. Now, it’s hard to get really upset about a $200 phone featuring a 720p display, but I still wish Moto had found room in the budget to go full HD. With a pixel density of around 266 PPI spread across a 6.8-inch display, people with decent eyesight will probably notice some jagged lines and things won’t look all that sharp. Thankfully, colors appear relatively bright and vivid, and while the G Power’s 500-nit screen can look a bit dim when viewed outside in direct sunlight, there’s not much else to complain about.

Like all good budget phones, the G Power comes with a standard 3.5mm headphone jack and a microSD card slot, so you can easily add on extra storage and hold onto your beloved wired headphones. And while the G Power doesn’t have an official water resistance rating, Moto says the phone does have a water-repellant design, which, as you can in one of the photos above, was able to withstand getting shoved into the snow port first.

Illustration for article titled The Moto G Power Proves a $200 Phone Has Its Perks
Photo: Sam Rutherford

The G Power has a couple of quirks that I don’t love. Instead of the rear-mounted fingerprint sensor you get on the G Play, Moto used a side-mounted reader built into its power button. In normal use, it’s just as fast and accurate as a rear-mounted version, but it could be annoying for lefties. The other, more troubling issue is that the G Power doesn’t have NFC, which means you can’t use a lot of payment apps, including Google Pay. If you’re planning to buy the G Power for a child or teenager, that might be a good thing. But I’m not really a fan of skimping on what has basically become an industry standard feature nowadays just to save a buck.

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The G Power sports a triple-lens rear camera module comprised of a 48-MP main cam, a 2-MP macro cam, and a 2-MP depth cam to help with portrait-style shots. To me, the 2-MP macro is a fun addition, but because it’s not something most people will use everyday, it feels a little gimmicky. I would have greatly preferred either an ultra-wide camera or something with a small zoom.

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As for the 48-MP main cam, in well-lit conditions, its photos are generally respectable, capturing photos with sharp details and bright colors, even if Moto’s white balance tends to skew a bit warm. However, as the amount of available light goes down, so does the G Power’s image quality. For example, even in a shot taken indoors near a window with lots of light, the G Power’s photo looks noticeably grainier than a similar shot taken with the Pixel 4a.

Granted, the Pixel 4a costs $100 to $150 more than the G Power (depending on the exact model), but it’s a good representation of the difference between a $200 phone and a $350 phone. And while Moto does have its own Night Vision mode for real dark conditions, it just doesn’t compare well to Google’s Night Sight mode, with the G Power’s pics often lacking a lot of detail and sharpness.

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Finally, when it comes to battery life, the G Power definitely lives up to its name, lasting 16 hours and 22 minutes on our video rundown test. That’s better than the standard version of the iPhone 12 (14:20) and the Galaxy S21 (12:36), and not far off the battery life offered from Apple and Samsung’s super expensive premium phones, the iPhone 12 Pro Max (16:31) and Galaxy S21 Ultra (16:45). And in more realistic conditions, I found that the G Power easily lasted two, sometimes almost three days on a charge, so depending on how much you use your phone, you may only have to charge it a couple times a week. However, the downside to the G Power’s huge 5,000 mAh battery is that it charges relatively slowly, as it’s limited to the 10-watt charging with the power brick that comes in the box. (Moto does make a 15-watt Turbo Power charger, but it’s sold separately.)

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Now at this point, it might sound like I’m a bit down on the G Power, and the lack of NFC and a 720p resolution on a 6.8-inch screen certainly aren’t ideal. But overall, for a $200 device, the G Power offers surprisingly smooth performance, a solid build, and pretty decent cameras during the day. If you try to spend less than $200 on a phone, you seriously risk running into lag or stutter. And unlike a lot of budget devices, the G Power is delightfully free of bloat and other pre-loaded nonsense, and comes with a clean build of near stock Android, though it is Android 10 instead of 11.

Illustration for article titled The Moto G Power Proves a $200 Phone Has Its Perks
Photo: Sam Rutherford
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If you can afford it, the Pixel 4a is definitely a better phone. It’s got an OLED screen, a more powerful processor, and way better camera quality. But at the same time, upgrading to the Pixel 4a (or even something like the Nord N10 5G) is a pretty hefty price jump, and that kind of increase just isn’t going to fit in everyone’s budget. So if you’re looking for an affordable phone with beaucoup battery, for just two Benjamins, the G Power is a solid pick.

README

  • The Moto G Power doesn’t support 5G, but you already knew that.
  • For a relatively large 6.8-inch display, 1600 x 720 looks a bit low-res, and if you have good eyesight, you can tell.
  • Moto didn’t include support for NFC, which means you can’t use payments apps like Google Pay.
  • Unlike a lot of phones, the G Power really can go days between charges.
  • The G Power is available unlocked, but should work on all the major U.S. carriers.
  • Sadly, Moto will only give the G Power one major software update to Android 11.
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Senior reporter at Gizmodo, formerly Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag. Was an archery instructor and a penguin trainer before that.

DISCUSSION

Who is driving this continual commentary about bezels being bad? Every review everywhere seems to make some sort of stink about having borders on phones. Is it really that much of a dealbreaker? This one was pretty much unnoticeable until its existence was highlighted.