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This $250 Motorola is my sleeper pick for best budget phone of 2023

The Moto G Power 5G provides multiple days of battery life, an improved display, and 5G support at a price many can afford.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer
Matthew Miller/ZDNET

While smartphones that cost upwards of $1,200 get all the rave, there are still many people looking for more budget-friendly options, phones that can serve as check-in devices for students and aging family members -- or just personal handsets that don't cost an arm and a leg. 

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Motorola has been in the business of providing low to mid-range phones for years, and its latest device, the Moto G Power 5G, may be its best offering yet. There are clear improvements with the Moto G Power 5G over its 2022 predecessor, including a newer processor, 5G network support, and an improved display. It's also on sale, as we speak, with a solid $250 price tag that should entice many.

Below I break down the key features of the device so you know exactly what you get (and don't get) for the money.



Moto G Power 5G

For those looking for an inexpensive phone that gets the job done, the Moto G Power 5G is a great option that will last you up to two days per charge.

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The word "Power" in the Moto G name refers to the focus on long battery life, which, for a device with a 5,000mAh, easily gets you more than a day's worth of endurance. The phone's powered by a MediaTek Dimensity 930 processor with a large 6.5-inch display, capable of 120Hz refresh rate. Those are all great specs to have on a budget device, and the display is something you'll certainly appreciate.

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Given the specs, the Moto G Power 5G performed well throughout all of my daily routine tasks, connected to 5G with T-Mobile and Verizon, and served as a great movie-watching platform as I was committing back and forth. 

While 5G is present on the device, its limited band support means that your cellular coverage may vary. I'd recommend checking with your carrier before purchasing to see if your local bands are supported.   

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Generally speaking, the Moto G Power 5G is a fairly plain phone that is unlikely to generate much excitement as you pull it out from its tan recycled packaging. I tested the Mineral Black color, and while the matte black plastic finish looks professional, it is quite slippery to wield. 

Motorola includes an ample amount of RAM (6GB) and internal storage (256GB), so downloading too many apps and games or taking too many photos may be the last of your worries. It also has a solid right-side fingerprint sensor/power button and a 3.5mm audio port, two staples across phones in this price category. And much like phones in this category, the triple camera system is passable at best, with most of its struggles happening in low-light conditions.

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Unfortunately, there is no NFC on the device, so you cannot use the phone on tap-to-pay terminals. Also worth noting is that the phone supports wired charging up to 15W but comes with a 10W charge in the box. Motorola is still courteous enough to provide one for free, so I'll take that over nothing.

Motorola also promises three years of security updates and a measly one Android OS upgrade for the Moto G Power, much like how it does with its other budget-oriented phones, so don't expect it to receive the latest Android features.

Also: 3 reasons why I prefer this $300 Android over Google's Pixel 6a

Motorola phones are great if you prefer a fairly stock Android experience. There are some add-ons, such as the handy Moto gestures and utilities, but those are features many should come to appreciate. Even the "bloatware" apps can be uninstalled, which is great if you don't need the games and services that carriers push for.

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

ZDNET's buying advice

A few years ago, affordable Android phones were not the most reliable, and performance was often laggy. That's why it's amazing what you can now purchase for just $250. 

The Moto G Power 5G gets a lot right, including a large, smooth-viewing display with minimal bezels, reliable battery life, and a processor to keep it powered for days. If you don't use your phone for mobile payments and are not a serious gamer, the Moto G Power 5G may be the perfect budget phone for you.

If you need NFC, more RAM that supports a better gaming experience, faster wired charging, and desire the assurance of an IP54 dust/water resistant rating, the OnePlus Nord N30 is a better choice at a similar price point.

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