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This $200 Motorola nearly made me a budget phone believer. Here's why

The Moto G 5G (2024) is sleek, attractive, and affordable. Although it's not the most powerful hardware on the market, it's hard to beat at this price point.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
The Motorola Moto G 5G 2024 phone.

The Moto G 5G 2024 phone is quite the looker.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

ZDNET's key takeaways

  • The Motorola Moto G 5G phone is one of the company's latest budget phones, priced at $199.
  • It's a beautiful phone with a sleek design that includes a microSD card slot for expandable storage.
  • The performance doesn't come close to flagship devices, but it's sufficient enough to get most jobs done.

Once upon a time, my favorite phone was a Motorola Moto X. It was the perfect size, had enough power, and a battery that seemed to last forever. That phone wouldn't cut it in today's market, of course, but at the time I was absolutely convinced that no phone would ever be its rival.

Also: I switched to this $300 Motorola phone for two weeks and was pleasantly surprised

Since then, I've tried several Motorola phones and have tested countless inexpensive Android devices. And recently, my perspective on devices in the $300-$500 price range was blown to pieces by the NUU B30 Pro, which was far more powerful than a sub-$300 phone should be. However, given my history with Motorola phones, I was excited about getting my hands on the latest version of the Motorola Moto G 5G.

View at Motorola

When I unboxed the phone, my first impressions of the device piqued my excitement. The phone was sleek (with a slight resemblance to the iPhone) and promised good things to come. I fired it up, connected it to my wireless network, associated it with my Google account, and waited for it to update.

Also: How to FaceTime on Android with iPhone users

Motorola Moto G 5G specs

  • Processor: Snapdragon 4th Gen 1
  • RAM and storage: 8GB and 128GB
  • Biometrics: Fingerprint scan and face unlock
  • Battery: 5,000mAh capable of 18W charging
  • Display: 6.6-inch HD+ at 1612 x 720 resolution with a 120 Hz refresh rate
  • Camera: 50 MP sensor main camera with a 2MP macro lens. The front camera is 8MP.
  • Ports: 3.5mm headset jack and USB-C port
  • Connectivity: 5G NR band (n2/n5/n7/n12/n14/n25/n26/n29/n30/n41/n48/n66/n70/n71/n77/n78 | 4G: LTE band 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/13/14/17/18/20/25/26/28/29/30/38/39/40/41/48/66/71 | 3G: WCDMA band 1/2/4/5/8 | 2G: GSM band 2/3/5/8), Bluetooth 5.1, NFC, and Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/na/ac that supports both 2.4Hz and 5Hz.
  • Dual SIM and eSIM support.
  • Price: $199

Once the final update on the Moto G 2024 was complete, I dove in to see how it behaved and was initially disappointed with how it performed... until I remembered that this phone sold for $199. That's very affordable by today's standards and you certainly can't expect a phone under $200 to compete with, say, a Pixel 8 Pro

Yes, just about everything had a slight lag to it; pulling down the notification shade caused it to lag, as did swiping from screen to screen. The animations lacked smoothness, and apps were slow to launch. However, I did notice after using the device for a while, the lag became less constant and apps would open faster.

Also: I changed this Android setting to instantly double my phone speed

Once I knew the price of the Moto G 5G, I couldn't fault the performance. In fact, at that point, I was quite impressed with how it functioned. And given how elegant the chassis is, this phone is a bargain.

As for the performance, my guess is the slowdown isn't only attributed to the hardware but also the Moto App Launcher. Motorola would have been far better off sticking with a stock Android install, which would likely improve the device's performance significantly. I say this because the Moto App Launcher looks very similar to the stock Android home screen launcher, so why bother using one that doesn't perform nearly as well with Android?

I do have one beef with the Moto G 2024: Bloatware. I thought we'd finally evolved past the point of companies loading bloat to phones, but the Motorola G 2024 includes a bevy of redundant apps, such as T-Mobile Visual Voice Mail, T-Mobile Play, and a handful from Motorola itself. The good news is that the T-Mobile apps can be uninstalled from the device (unfortunately, the Moto apps cannot).

Also: I love everything about this budget Android tablet (especially the price)

The good news is that both biometrics work fairly well. The fingerprint scanner is on the power button and is almost instantaneous. The face unlock isn't quite as fast as my Pixel 8 Pro, but it does the job. Another plus is (as I've already stated) the phone is quite nice looking and the display is crisp and offers beautiful colors. On top of that, the camera is somewhat decent, as long as you temper your expectations. Yes, it does lag a bit when snapping a photo (so keep those hands steady after you shoot). But once you adjust, you can take some pretty sweet pictures in well-lit environments.

ZDNET's buying advice

All that is to say the Moto G 5G 2024 is not a bad phone. In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better phone at this price. If you're looking for a handset that looks sleek and attractive but you don't prioritize performance, this might be your device. Should the company be able to flesh out the software bugs via updates, this could be a real winner of a budget Android phone.

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