The Motorola Moto G series deserves better

moto g stylus m logo

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Motorola is apparently a brand on the rise right now. LG’s exit from the smartphone game opened the door for Moto to climb up on the US market podium, just behind Apple and Samsung. It’s even more rosy in the budget market, where Motorola has risen to the undisputed number two.

However, the same budget market portfolio is starting to feel backward. Partnerships and low prices push sales instead of innovation or real excitement. For its presence on the timeline for everything Android, it’s hard not to feel that the Moto G series deserves better.

Also see: The best Motorola phones you can buy

Many side jumps, small progress

motorola moto g power 2022 google apps

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Motorola has clearly not forgotten the Moto G series – just the things that made it popular in the early days. In fact, Moto started pushing the 2022 versions of its budget-friendly devices just a few months after we finished reviewing the 2021 series. When the phones arrived at my doorstep, I could not let go of the feeling, “Oh, I’ve seen this before.”

For the most part, I had seen it before. Of course, I can give Motorola credit for uniting its design language, but that’s about the only visible change with the 2022 series. The camera bump has moved around a bit here, and there have been some new colors and textures, but that’s where the changes are slowing down. Motorola’s Moto G Series chooses to stay the same while its rivals bring features to the budget table.

Also see: Google and Samsung have heralded the golden age of budget phones

The Moto G Power (2022) is a perfect example of where Motorola is going wrong. It picks up an official IP52 rating, and the primary camera jumps from 48MP to 50MP, but the HD + panel is back for another year and it shrank a tenth of an inch. Regardless of your thoughts on the incremental changes, the transition from a Snapdragon 662 in 2021 to a MediaTek Helio G37 in 2022 is a serious downgrade. It delivers weaker numbers across the board, while its closest rival to the $ 250 price – the Galaxy A13 5G – adds faster network speeds to the mix. No, Samsung’s budget phone is not perfect, but it adds features year after year to stay relevant in a competitive market.

Motorola’s Moto G Stylus 5G received the most important upgrade in 2021 when it was launched with 5G support. However, that did not mean the end of the 4G LTE version – Motorola is updating them both now. Instead of bringing one budget-friendly stylus phone to market, Motorola is repeating the same flaws on two different models. They are awkwardly large and the 5G speeds do not do much to make you look past the otherwise underpowered processors. Especially 2021’s LTE version, which like the Moto G Power downgraded its chipset compared to its direct predecessor.

Motorola has clearly not forgotten the Moto G series – just the things that made it popular in the early days.

Other flaws extend across the Moto G series, and they only amplify how far behind the phones have fallen. You still will not find NFC support on a single Moto G device – not Play, Pure, Power or Stylus. That means no mobile payments at a time when cash is no longer king. Motorola’s low charging speeds have also been a constant problem for us. It boasts fast “TurboPower” charging, but pulls back the curtain to reveal only 10W of power.

All this does not mean that Motorola does everything wrong. We’ve had good things to say about the hardware. Motorola makes the plastic construction look and feel better than most others, and I appreciate that the Moto G Stylus has a round pen that fits in its opening in all directions. The Moto G series has even embraced that more is better, at least when it comes to RAM and storage. Its Moto G Power (2022) picked up extra concert RAM and doubled its base storage, while the Moto G Stylus (2022) moved from 4GB to 6GB of RAM.

Read more about the competition: The best budget phones you can buy

Stagnant software support

moto g clean cameras and buttons

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

When it comes to software updates, the power goes up. We are no longer in a world where people upgrade their phones every two years. As such, Google and Samsung now offer three or more years of Android updates and security fixes on their budget lineups. Motorola, on the other hand, is content to let its Moto G series drown.

It promises only a single Android version update with two years of security fixes. Some of Motorola’s flagship units come with the same sparse promise. This means that if you have downloaded Moto G Power (2022) or Moto G Stylus (2022), you will see Android 12 – and that’s it. Both phones were launched with Android 11 after the latest version was already available and they are not in a big hurry to update. Samsung’s Galaxy A13 5G is only slightly ahead with Android updates and offers two years instead of one, but its security promise is second to none. You look at four years of regular patches for Motorola’s two, yet the phones cost the same.

Motorola’s update commitment is fading at a time when competitors are offering four years of support.

While Motorola’s update commitment is largely lacking, we have almost all the good things to say about their Android skin. My UX is one of the lightest skins there is due to Motorola’s days of being owned by Google. It looks and feels a lot like the Pixel UI and offers plenty of room for customization.

Also see: What is my UX? Everything you need to know

One of the best features of My UX is perhaps also one of the most underrated: the Moto app. It is an entire app dedicated to guiding you through the software. It’s easy to overlook, but it’s a useful guide that few other phones try to match. It is a shame that this level of care and attention is not put into long-term support for its products.

Motorola once had plenty of innovation to go around. I remember spending hours on the Moto Maker side customizing a phone I had no reason to buy. Now partnerships with Verizon, T-Mobile and others keep Moto in the public eye instead of unique building materials or fun designs. Maybe Motorola just needs a new rival to keep it on its toes. It may not have the legs to catch up with Samsung’s budget-friendly innovations, but a real threat to Motorola’s positioning may be the only way to push the Moto G series forward.