Moto G 5G (2024) review: The best phone under $200

 Moto G 5G 2024 review font of phone.
Moto G 5G 2024 review font of phone.

The Moto G 5G (2024) may have the most puzzling name of any phone I've ever reviewed. Of all the distinguishing features to call out with your phone's moniker, why focus on 5G connectivity — something nearly every phone offers nowadays? It's like saying "our phones can send and receive phone calls."

It's an even more puzzling name given that there's plenty of other highlights to the Moto G 5G, starting with its dirt-cheap price. The Moto G 5G can be yours for less than $200, and while that price necessitates some corner-cutting, you also get a big display, a surprisingly stylish design and very impressive battery life.

Do those considerable strengths make the Moto G 5G (2024) a sleeper hit when it comes to delivering a lot value for a comparatively little amount of money? Or are the compromises made to keep costs down too substantial to overlook? That's what this Moto G 5G (2024) review aims to find out.

Moto G 5G (2024) review: Specifications

Moto G 5G (2024) review: Price and availability

The Moto G 5G is available for $199, and you can currently pick up the phone at T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile. Other carriers — including AT&T, Verizon, Cricket, Visible, Google Fi, Xfinity Mobile, Consumer Cellular and more — will add the Moto G 5G later on. If you prefer to pick up the phone unlocked, Amazon and Best Buy will start offering it on May 2.

As far as smartphone pricing goes, $199 is very cheap. The OnePlus Nord N30 — our top pick as the best cheap phone under $300 — costs $100 more than the Moto G 5G. The Galaxy A15, Samsung's budget phone, costs $199 as well.

Moto G 5G (2024): free w/trade-in @ T-Mobile
Why spend a fortune when you just need a phone for the basic stuff? The Moto G 5G (2024) does have one of the lowest prices on a new Android phone, but it doesn't necessarily mean it's filled with compromises. It actually has a long battery life.View Deal

Moto G 5G (2024) review: Design

Moto G 5G 2024 review back of phone
Moto G 5G 2024 review back of phone

Cheap phones usually mean cheap designs, but the Moto G 5G (2024) bucks that trend. While no one will confuse Motorola's phone with the latest iPhone, you also aren't getting a hastily assembled phone housed in the flimsiest plastic that will fall apart the minute a stiff breeze hits it.

Instead, the Moto G 5G features a vegan leather back that makes the phone easier to grip; it also doesn't pick up finger prints and smudges the way a cheap plastic back might. Even the rear camera array blends subtly into the back of the phone instead of jutting out.

Motorola says the Moto G 5G can withstand spills and splashes, but don't expect the phone to survive a dunk in water. You will find a headphone jack on the bottom of the device, as a throwback to a time when all phones offered that feature.

Moto G 5G 2024 review side buttons
Moto G 5G 2024 review side buttons

The power button on the right side of the phone doubles as the fingerprint sensor for unlocking the Moto G 5G. In my testing, I found it fairly responsive, and I actually prefer this approach to under-display sensors which can be more temperamental in my experience.

There's just one color for the Moto G 5G (2024), which Motorola calls Sage Green. It looks more gray to my eye, but whatever you call it, the drab color certainly won't turn heads.

Moto G 5G (2024) review: Display

Moto G 5G 2024 review holdovers streaming on display
Moto G 5G 2024 review holdovers streaming on display

Motorola doesn't skimp on screen size with the Moto G 5G (2024) opting for a 6.6-inch panel. It's not quite an edge-to-edge display — there's an especially prominent bezel at the bottom of the phone. But you still have more than enough space for playing games and watching videos.

Even better, Motorola recognizes that fast-refreshing displays belong on mobile devices, whether they're pricey or not. The Moto G 5G can adjust between 60Hz and 120Hz for times when you'll benefit from smoother scrolling and more immersive graphics.

Budget phones have to scale back somewhere, though, and for the Moto G 5G that means using an LCD panel instead of an OLED. Blacker colors won't be as rich on the Moto G 5G's panel, as I learned when streaming The Holdovers on the phone, as the scene shifted to night.

Our display testing results back up the relative lack of colors on the Moto G 5G's screen, which recreated 108.5% of the sRGB color spectrum and 76.8% of the more demanding DCI-P3 spectrum. The OnePlus Nord N30, another LCD-equipped phone, turned in percentages of 152.7% and 108.2% on the same respective spectrums. The Nord's colors were more accurate, too, with a better Delta-E score. (The closer to zero, the more accurate the colors.)

I don't want to give the impression that watching videos on the Moto G 5G is unbearable. The display managed to recreate the worn '70s film-stock look used in The Holdovers, and The Fall Guy trailer streamed on YouTube was plenty colorful. Also, Dolby Atmos support on the Moto G 5G means you'll hear everything loud and clear. But the Moto G 5G's budget origins really come across here.

Moto G 5G 2024 review fall guy streaming on youtube
Moto G 5G 2024 review fall guy streaming on youtube

This is also a fairly dim display, with the Moto G 5G recording a reading of 531 nits in SDR. The Pixel 7a, an admittedly more expensive phone, measured 927 nits in similar conditions. You can see the Moto G 5G screen in direct sunlight, but you'll need to push that display brightness slider upward.

Moto G 5G (2024) review: Cameras

Moto G 5G 2024 review rear cameras
Moto G 5G 2024 review rear cameras

The Moto G 5G's camera setup is about as basic as it comes — a 50MP main camera is joined by a 2MP macro lens. An ultrawide camera, included on many cheap phones, is missing in action here. Up front, an 8MP shooter is there for your selfie needs.

I'm less concerned with camera specs on a budget phone and more interested in seeing what kind of images those cameras produce. For reference I took some pictures with the Moto G 5G to compare to similar shots from the Google Pixel 7a, which is currently the best camera phone for less than $500. I wouldn't have expected a sub-$200 phone to challenge the Pixel 7a, but it is a good yardstick to see what kind of photos you can expect from the cheaper phone.

The Moto G 5G starts off well at this fruit stand. Yes, the Pixel 7a does a better job highlighting details like the stripes on those watermelons, while the textures of cantaloupe rind are also far more visible. Finer details get washed in the Motorola picture, but at least the colors are all there in a pretty bright, vibrant shot.

Likewise, there's nothing really separating the different photos of San Francisco's top eatery.  You could argue that the clouds don't appear as flat in the Pixel 7a shot, and the sign stands out a little bit more against the gray sky. But you really have to drill down to find ways that the Pixel 7a shot is better than what the Moto G produces here. Motorola more than holds its own.

The Cupid's Span sculpture offers one other photo where the Moto G 5G keeps pace with the Pixel 7a. Because Google's phone tends to emphasize darker colors, its photo took on a more blue cast on the rainy day I went out and shot photos.

Motorola's phone goes brighter — some might argue too bright, given that the lawn in front of the sculpture is dangerously close to being over-saturated. But I like the patches of blue in the sky that the Moto G teased out, and the red of the arrow and yellow of the bow are a bit more true-to-life.

So far, our only really complaint with the Moto G's cameras has centered around their tendency not to call out smaller details. That's on full effect here outside the Oracle Park left field gate, and it proves to be a fatal flaw for Motorola's phone.

You can't easily make out the lettering at the top of the gate the way that it's crisply detailed by the Pixel 7a. The brickwork looks too glossy in the Motorola photo as well.

I have mixed feelings about this portrait shot of my daughter by the Moto G 5G. On the one hand, there's not much of a background blur, and the phone seemed to have a hard time separating my daughter from the background, particularly around her hair. But her skin tone is much better in the Motorola shot, as the Pixel 7a has left her looking unhealthily pale. Her reddish hair and freckles also come through more clearly in the Moto G 5G shot.

For low-light and night photos, the Moto G is overmatched. A close-up of a skeleton holding party balloons in my basement looks like a dark, murky mess. You can't even make out the Hawaiian shirt I hung in the frame to see how the Moto G 5G handles colors in the dark. (My answer: Not very well.) Everything's clear and visible in the Pixel 7a shot, with the skeleton's head perfectly illuminated.

Moto G 5G 2024 macro camera sample featuring a close-up of an impatiens
Moto G 5G 2024 macro camera sample featuring a close-up of an impatiens

As noted, the Moto G 5G replaces the usual ultrawide lens found on most camera phones with a dedicated macros lens. If the results look like this close-up of the impatiens growing in my backyard, I suppose that's a fair trade-off, as the Moto G produced a clean, focused shot that captures plenty of detail on the flower. Unless you find yourself routinely jumping into macro mode, though, I don't feel like this lens is going to sway you one way or the other about the Moto G 5G (2024).

Finally, the 8MP front camera on the Moto G 5G does a credible job with this selfie, giving me a warm skin tone even if it does get a little over-aggressive with smoothing out the texture of my face. The Pixel 7a once again skews a little bit more toward the pale side of things (though not as severely as it did in portrait mode).

All told, I wouldn't rank the Moto G 5G among the best camera phones out there, but it performs well for a handheld at this price. The photos it produces have enough quality to where you wouldn't mind posting them on a site like Instagram even if you're not necessarily going to want to frame the results.

Moto G 5G (2024) review: Performance

Moto G 5G 2024 review camera app
Moto G 5G 2024 review camera app

You don't buy a budget phone expecting blazing performance, and in that sense, the Moto G 5G doesn't disappoint. The phone features a Snapdragon 4 Gen 1 system-on-chip — an older chipset which provides the titular 5G connectivity but not the kind of pep you get from Qualcomm's more advance silicon.

On Geekbench 6, the Moto G (2024) posted single- and multicore scores of 841 and 1,791, respectively. Both results trailed the OnePlus Nord N30, which runs on a Snapdragon 695. The Pixel 7a far outpaced both phones with respective scores of 1,401 and 3,368, and its Tensor G2 chipset is not exactly known as a speed demon.

Results of graphics tests were also not terribly encouraging. On 3DMark's Wild Life Unlimited, the Moto G 5G hit 6.2 frames per second, which was in the same ballpark as the OnePlus Nord N30's 7.3 fps result. To put that result in context, though, note that the midrange Pixel 7a hit 41.1 fps on the same test.

I was able to play PUBG Mobile on the Moto G 5G, though with a few more hiccups than I'm used to. The phone can handle most apps the average user will throw at it. But graphically intense games are going to test this device.

You get 128GB of storage with the Moto G 5G, which is good to see in a world where some low-cost phones still pretend that 64GB is an adequate amount of storage. There's a microSD slot on Motorola's phone, so you can add up to 1TB of capacity if you need to.

Moto G 5G (2024) review: Battery life and charging

Moto G 5G 2024 review USB port
Moto G 5G 2024 review USB port

The Moto G series typically packs in big batteries that last a long time on a charge, and I'm happy to discover that the Moto G 5G (2024) doesn't stray from that script. With the help of a 5,000 mAh battery, the Moto G 5G lasted an average of 14 hours and 36 minutes on our battery test, in which phones are left to surf the web continuously until they run out of power.

An average smartphone lasts around 10 hours on our test, so the Moto G 5G's time is very impressive. It's the least expensive phone to land a spot on our best phone battery life list.

We recorded that 14.5-hour time with the Moto G 5G's display set to an automatic refresh rate, which can ramp things up to 120Hz when there's a lot of on-screen activity. Locking the refresh rate at 120Hz dropped the Moto G 5G's battery test time to 12 hours and 23 minutes, so our advice is to stick with that auto setting if you want better battery life from this phone.

You can expect 18W wired charging from the Moto G 5G (2024). (Forget about wireless charging on a phone this cheap.) Our review unit came with a charging cable but no charger — Motorola says that some carriers will include a 10W charger with the phone. Regardless, when we charged our drained Moto G 5G, the phone got back to a 38% charge — a so-so result.

Moto G 5G (2024) review: Software

Moto G 5G 2024 review software interface
Moto G 5G 2024 review software interface

I have no complaints with Motorola's My UX interface, which runs on top of Android 14. It offers plenty of ways to customize the look of the Moto G 5G, and I appreciate the helpful gestures that let you do things like turn on the phone's flashlight, take a screenshot or launch the camera app.

I'm a bit more miffed by all the bloatware that comes pre-installed on the Moto G 5G. Besides a folder of Motorola apps, my review unit also came with assorted T-Mobile apps, along with preinstalled versions of, Amazon Shopping, LinkedIn, Temu, Yelp and a couple of games. It's a lot to sort through.

Even more regrettable is Motorola's update policy for its budget phones. You can expect a single Android update for the Moto G 5G (2024), meaning that once Android 15 shows up on your phone, that's it. You will get three years of security support from Motorola. While Motorola is hardly the only phone maker to limit the support given to lower-cost Android phones, it's still something to keep in mind when weighing a purchase.

Moto G 5G (2024) review: Verdict

When evaluating the Moto G 5G (2024), you can take one of two tacks — you can focus on what this budget phone can't do or you can appreciate what it manages to offer while keeping its starting price at $200. I lean toward the latter.

No, the phone has some performance hiccups and it's not going to wow anyone with the photos it produces. I also wish the screen were a bit brighter. But for someone with a limited budget, the Moto G 5G does exactly the things you need it to, while also surprising with its long battery life and pleasing design.

The only real note of caution I would have is about the limited update policy, which may prevent you from holding on to the Moto G 5G for more than a couple years. But other than that, the phone delivers good value for its price, which will satisfy budget-minded shoppers.