Moto Hopes To Retake The Budget Phone Crown With Two New Flavours Of The Moto G

Photo: Sam Rutherford, Gizmodo

Last year, thanks to phones like the Google Pixel 3a and Samsung Galaxy A50, Motorola lost its long-held title as the king of budgets phones. So for its next batch of budget handsets, Motorola is ditching its traditional numbering system and instead its making two different versions of the Moto G for 2020: the Moto G Power and the Moto G Stylus.

Both phones start out with a similar design: plastic backs, 6.4-inch FHD+ screens, dual speakers, rear fingerprint sensors, and 16-MP selfie cams. Both ship with Android 10. And unlike a lot of expensive phones nowadays, both phones also have headphone jacks (yay). But from there, things start to diverge.

Starting at $US250 ($371), the Moto G Power is the cheaper and more straightforward of the two, offering 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage (plus a microSD card slot), and triple rear cameras. On the Moto G Power, Motorola is going with a 16-MP main camera, complemented by an 8-MP ultra-wide-angle camera and a 2-MP macro cam.

The main camera comes with a relatively wide aperture of f/1.7, while the new macro cam features a minimum focusing distance of less than an inch, which allows you to capture fine details on things like flowers or insects. However, as its name implies, the Moto G’s defining characteristic is its massive 5,000 mAh battery that Motorola claims can last up to three days on a single charge.

Elsewhere, like Moto’s previous phones, the Moto G Power features a near stock take on Android 10 (with a few additions like the Moto Action gestures seen on previous phones). But between its $US250 ($371) price tag (which is actually $US50 ($74) less than last year’s Moto G7) and its massive battery, the Moto G Power is shaping up like a nice pick for anyone who just wants a simple Android phone with what shroud be incredible battery life.

The Moto G Power and Moto G Stylus even have a pop up that suggests you switch to macro mode under the right conditions. (Photo: Sam Rutherford, Gizmodo)

With the slightly more expensive $US300 ($445) Moto G Stylus, Motorola has created its first ever phone that comes with its own pen, similar to Samsung’s iconic Galaxy Note line, but for a third of that phone’s starting price. However, in order to hit that price, Moto had to make some sacrifices. Instead of a fancy stylus with buttons or Bluetooth connectivity, the Moto G Stylus gets a simple stick with a capacitive touch tip that you can use to jot down notes or sketch pictures.

Like a Galaxy Note, the Moto G Stylus comes with a built-in slot for stashing its pen when not in use. When you remove the pen, the phone launches right into the Moto Note app, so you can use the stylus without even needing to unlock the phone. And in another similarity to Samsung’s Galaxy Note phones, the Moto G Stylus also has a pop-up menu for quickly taking screenshots and a few other stylus-related activities. In short, Moto is really trying hard to make a budget version of a Galaxy Note.

However, during a brief hands-on preview, I did notice that the Moto G Stylus didn’t have the best hand and palm rejection, which led to the occasional errant stroke or phantom blob. In fact, if you want, you can just use your fingers to make a note or draw a picture—the stylus isn’t even required. Despite Motorola’s best efforts, the Moto G Stylus functions like a budget Galaxy Note.

Thankfully, a pen isn’t the only thing the Moto G Stylus has going for it, as it also comes with twice as much storage (128GB) as the Moto G Power. And just like on the Moto One Action from last fall, one of the Moto G Stylus’ three cameras is an Action Cam, which allows you to film videos in landscape orientation while actually holding the phone in portrait mode.

Hopefully, the Moto G Stylus’ Action cam prevents people from recording annoying vertical videos. (Photo: Sam Rutherford, Gizmodo)

Additionally, the Moto G Stylus comes with the same 2-MP Macro Vision camera you get on the Moto G Power, and a higher resolution 64-MP main cam that uses pixel binning (which combines multiple camera pixels into a single larger pixel) to deliver a special Night Vision mode for improved low-light photos.

The one small trade-off the Moto G Stylus makes compared to the G Power (aside from price) is that it only comes with a 4,000 mAh battery instead of 5,000 mAh power pack. And in a move that may annoy some folks, neither the Moto G Power nor the Moto G stylus have built-in NFC. Still, for anyone who’s ever wanted a phone that comes with a stylus but didn’t want to pay flagship phone prices for a Galaxy Note, the Moto G Stylus is definitely a welcome option.

Both the Moto G Power and Moto G Stylus are expected to be available sometime this autumn in the U.S. as unlocked devices from major retailers, with carrier availability slated for some time after that.

Editor's Note: Australian availability is yet to be confirmed.

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