Motorola’s latest Moto G Stylus gets it basically right

The 2022 edition of the Moto G Stylus has a clearance rack vibe as it is probably one of the latest new phones to be sold in the US without 5G. But if Motorola clears space for a new season of 5G devices, then that makes the 2022 G Stylus a bargain.

The G Stylus costs $ 299 in theory, but that’s on what appears to be a permanent reduction to $ 279. It’s just in line with last year’s version of the G Stylus, but Motorola has made some upgrades to this year’s edition, including a larger 5,000 mAh battery, a bump from 4GB to 6GB of RAM and a 90Hz screen for faster refresh.

It still features a huge 6.8-inch 1080p screen and of course its namesake built-in stylus. There’s another processor – a MediaTek Helio G88 – which replaces last year’s Snapdragon 678 chipset. A headphone jack, microSD card slot to increase 128 GB of storage and a built-in charger are all included, convenient features that are slowly being phased out by manufacturers starting with flagships and seeping down to the middle class. Get them while you can.

In general, it is a bit of a disadvantage not to include 5G. 5G networks in the US are starting to get much better and it will continue over the next few years. But depending on your provider, where you live and how you use your phone, having a 4G phone may not be a big deal at all. It is the value proposition of the sale rack; it is not the latest and greatest, but if it suits you, then it might be a winner.

Removing the pen opens Motorola’s basic note-taking app.
Photo by Allison Johnson / The Verge

For its namesake, the 2022 Moto G Stylus offers a solid screen: a 6.8-inch 1080p panel with a 90Hz refresh rate. It’s an LCD panel and it’s on the dark side. I used the phone indoors more than outdoors, but I still needed the brightness to be turned up to 80 or 90 percent all the time. Visibility is not good in direct sunlight, but it’s just good enough to see what you’re doing. The faster than standard refresh rate is good and you will notice a little extra smoothness as you scroll.

As you may have guessed, the huge screen makes the whole phone big. Really great. There is no chance of using this thing comfortably with one hand and it looks ridiculous to stick out of the pocket of my joggers. I got used to it in a few days and the big screen certainly fits a lot of content, but it’s definitely a lot of phone.

The stylus function set covers all the basics. There is a straightforward note app, which is the first thing you will see when you put the pen out of the silo at the bottom of the phone. There is also a coloring book and a shortcut to take a screenshot so you can take notes or doodle on the image. Nothing so fancy or as sophisticated as much, very more expensive Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra can only make a great tool to have when you want to write something down without unlocking your phone, even if you do not end up using it often. In fact, my own mother, a Motorola fan and G Stylus 2021 owner, sealed her with a case that completely covers the stylus silo. She is completely happy with her phone without stylus. To each their.

Motorola claims that the G Stylus’ 5,000 mAh battery lasts up to two days on a single charge, so I took that as a challenge. After the first day I spent testing the phone, the battery was down about 50 percent, but I did not recharge overnight and trusted that it lasted until the next day. It did, and in total I got about 6.5 hours of screen time and was down to 18 percent by the end of day two. I spent a lot of that time on Wi-Fi, which probably helped, but I raised the screen refresh rate to the highest setting to push it a bit. Either way, it’s impressive endurance, and even heavy users would probably get through an entire day without having to recharge their batteries.

Overall performance is also good. There are nicks and small hesitations here and there when I open apps and scroll through video and image-heavy screens, but nothing that affects my daily use. The phone’s 6GB of RAM keeps lots of apps running in the background, and I’m impressed with how easily I can switch back to an app I used hours ago and continue right where I left off. You able to run a graphics intensive game like Genshin impact, just expect to see some noticeable choppy images and lost frames. But that’s not really what this phone is for anyway.

Most new phones in 2022 will ship with Android 12 at this time of year, but the G Stylus is still preloaded with Android 11. Motorola says the phone will be upgraded to Android 12 – it will be its only upgrade to the OS version – but does not offer any details on timing. The company also promises three years of security updates on a schedule every two months, which is a year longer than it promised with last year’s model. It’s an improvement, but it’s still shorter than Samsung’s four-year commitment (and even five years for some of their A-Series budget phones).

It’s normal when I want to cover which 5G bands this phone can use, but in this case it’s an easy answer: none of them. Unlike a year or two ago, 5G connectivity is something you should consider when buying a new phone. T-Mobile’s 5G network is already quite strong; likewise, Verizon and AT & T’s network will improve over the next few years. For the most part, it will mean noticeably faster speeds compared to 4G, so that’s something the Moto G Stylus will not be able to take advantage of.

It’s a strike against the Moto G Stylus, but not a dealbreaker. The 5G expansion in the US will first be focused on larger cities, so if you live somewhere more rural, it is probably not a priority to have a 5G device now or in the near future. And if you’re otherwise happy with 4G speeds or still spend most of your time on Wi-Fi, then you’ll be fine with a 4G device for the next few years. Still, the Moto G Stylus is not designed to last much longer than that.

The Moto G Stylus includes a 50-megapixel main camera and an 8-megapixel ultrawide rear panel.

There appear to be three cameras on the G Stylus’ back panel, but one of them is a 2-megapixel depth sensor that you can ignore. There is a 50-megapixel f / 1.9 standard wide-angle camera and an 8-megapixel ultrawide, plus a 16-megapixel selfie camera. Last year’s model had a dedicated macro camera; this time ultrawide doubles as a macro sensor.

Overall, G Stylus’ cameras produce well-balanced images without going overboard with color saturation or HDR effects in high-contrast scenes. Both rear cameras do a good job in good lighting, but there is some noticeable noise in images from 8 megapixel ultrawide taken in moderately dim light. There is also some noticeable delay between when you press the shutter button and when it actually takes a picture, which is quite common for a budget phone. Night vision is useful in very dim light if your subject is not moving. It does not work miracles, but at least this budget phone has a night mode – unlike another one I recently reviewed.

Video recording is only available at 1080p, which is unusual. (Most phones these days can record 4K video.) There’s also a pretty aggressive crop, even if you turn off electronic stabilization. I do not imagine that the lack of video in 4K resolution will bother many who buy this phone, but 4K is more or less the new standard for high resolution video, so it’s something to note if video is important to you . Otherwise, 1080p clips are just fine, and the smaller file sizes are easier to share anyway.

If you can live without 5G over the next few years, then the Moto G Stylus is a bargain.

You will not find the Moto G Stylus on the shelves of a Verizon or T-Mobile store. The big companies are all too interested in getting 5G phones in the hands of their customers to waste some of the valuable retail space on a 4G device. And it’s not all that marketing bluster anymore; real 5G is really on the way and it will really be faster than 4G. But just because operators think it’s the right time to put a 5G device in your hand, does not mean you should definitely buy one. If you are fine with 4G and want to be it over the next few years, then the Moto G Stylus is a great deal.

For under $ 300, it offers good performance, a huge screen, competent enough cameras and excellent battery life. It does not even take into account its heading function: the pen. It is practical and even though it is not used very much, the phone is still well priced even without it.

If you want something a little more future-proof, the Samsung Galaxy A32 5G is a good option while still in stock. For the same price as the Moto G Stylus, it offers similar performance and just as good battery life. On the downside, its screen is smaller and lower resolution, it only comes with 64GB of storage, and of course there is no stylus.

If you are not worried about future-proofing for the next generation of wireless technology, and a large phone with a large screen is just your size, then the Moto G Stylus is the good deal for you.

Photograph by Allison Johnson / The Verge