Motorola is becoming known for its budget phones that don't scrimp on specifications, and the Moto G Stylus, which is now available, is no exception. In fact, the Moto G Stylus in addition to LG's Stylo 5 may wind up squeezing Samsung's Galaxy Note franchise, with good enough features under $300 for those of us that like using a stylus.
Confessional: I'm a loyal Samsung Galaxy Note customer and have had one for the last three smartphone cycles. I like the finish, having a reporter's notebook handy always, and an easy way to write things down. Samsung's S Pen is a nice perk, but premium specs are also a draw. What isn't the best is pricing that starts at about $950.
Needless to say, the Moto G Stylus, launched in February, was enticing because it was $299.99 and had two key perks the Galaxy Note has: An SD card expansion option and a built-in stylus that opens note-taking tools automatically. Toss in Android 10, Moto's bloat-free software approach, a decent camera, and A 4000mAh battery, the Moto G Stylus is worth consideration as a small business, consumer, and enterprise device for field workers.
- Motorola launches Moto G Stylus for $300 and Moto G Power for $250
- The best cheap phones you can buy in 2020: Flagship features for any budget
- Samsung launched the Galaxy Note 10 Lite at CES
The mid-tier and budget segment of the smartphone market is most interesting and becoming more so amid a rocky economic climate.
Of course, the fit and finish of the Moto G Stylus isn't as premium as the Note 10, but every time I had a gripe, I quickly remembered that the device was $299.99. In other words, the Moto G Stylus is a nice blend of trade-offs between price and features you need. The most significant gripe I had is that the stylus is a bit rudimentary and hard to pull out. The stylus in the Moto G Stylus is no Samsung S Pen, but in most use cases, it doesn't have to be.
- Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus review: Best business phone improves in speed and S Pen capability
- The 10 best smartphones of 2020: 5G powers the top contenders
It's unclear whether the Moto G Stylus, LG Stylo and discounted Samsung Galaxy Notes will bring the stylus to the masses, but the category is covering more price points. If the stylus is going to be a real smartphone companion, we're going to need more devices like the Moto G Stylus.
Bottom line: The Moto G Stylus is worth consideration for anyone who thought about a Samsung Galaxy Note but didn't want to spend the cash. There's also an argument to be made that Moto G Stylus could be a secondary device. What's needed is a mid-tier entry in the stylus category. Matthew Miller noted LG's $900 V90 can be a stylus contender when paired with the Bamboo Ink stylus.
What I liked about the Moto G Stylus:
- The Moto G Stylus reacted well and the pop-up apps to go with note-taking were a familiar workflow
- For the price, the Moto G Stylus 48MP triple camera system performed well
- SD card expansion option to 512GB with 128GB of storage built-in
- A bloat-free version of Android 10
- The battery size of 4000mAh was ample
- Display of 6.4-inch was big enough without feeling small and the screen was easily read in daylight; the resolution is HD+ (2300 x 1080) with 339ppi
- The design was solid for a budget device with aluminum body and weight of 192g; Type-C port and 3.5mm headset jack also handy
What I didn't like*:
- The stylus was hard to pull out of the phone at times
- The rear fingerprint reader was hard to reach in the back
- 4GB of memory may not be enough, but it's a tradeoff necessary to keep the price down
- 4G LTE capable but note future proof for 5G. Next year's version may have 5G
*Everything I didn't like was outweighed by the price tag.