Moto G 5G 2024 review: A slice of luxury for less

Buying a smartphone on a tight budget normally isn’t a fun time. Most phones at this price tag look nearly identical on paper, and may even be made by companies you’ve never heard of.

That’s where the Moto G 5G 2024 comes in. Motorola is a household name with a great Android UI and a better update record than the company has ever had. This year’s model has been upgraded with a vegan leather back, faster charging, faster 5G speeds, and NFC. Motorola certainly seems to be listening.

Some decisions are bizarre — a 2MP macro camera is useless and RAM boost does more harm than good — but the overall experience is one of the better ones you’ll find at this price. The processor is fast enough to do most things, and while 4GB of RAM is anemic even with a 720p display, a little bit of patience will go a long way. If you’ve only got $200 to spend on a new phone, this is a good choice.

Moto G 5G 2024: Price & availability

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

Motorola offers the Moto G 5G 2024 unlocked in the U.S. starting on March 21 at Amazon, Best Buy, and Motorola.com for $199.99 — that’s $50 less than last year. The Moto G 5G 2024 will be available in Canada on May 2 at motorola.ca and at select Canadian carriers in the coming months.

Alternatively, you can find it at your carrier of choice, including AT&T, Boost Infinite, Boost Mobile, Cox Mobile, Consumer Cellular, Google Fi Wireless, Metro by T-Mobile, Optimum Mobile, Simple Mobile, Straight Talk, T-Mobile, Total by Verizon, Tracfone, UScellular, Verizon, Visible, Walmart Family Mobile, Xfinity Mobile. Prices vary by carrier.

Moto G 5G 2024: What I like

The vegan leather back of the Moto G 5G 2024

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

It’s hard to believe, but design is the biggest differentiator between the Moto G 5G 2024 and basically every other Android phone under $200. The back isn’t some nasty, shiny plastic that’s going to attract fingerprints and dust every time you take it out of your pocket. Instead, it’s clad in a lovely vegan leather finish that looks as good as it feels.

Ironically, vegan leather is just another strange form of plastic that’s built in a way to resemble actual animal leather without using animal products. It doesn’t have exactly the same feel as DBrand leather phone skins, but it feels substantially better than plastic or glass, in my opinion.

Vegan leather is so much better than plastic back.

That puts the Moto G 5G 2024 in a strange middle ground of design aesthetics and build that other $200 phones can’t compete with. I love it, and it goes well with the new, stronger Gorilla Glass 3 on the front of the phone, which is more resistant to scratches and breaks than any previous generation of budget-minded Motorola phones.

The side rails of the phone are still slightly slippery plastic, but I don’t expect metal or a finer finish at this price tag. At least the fingerprint scanner is included inside of the power button, a favorite design of mine that I’d love to see extended to all Android phones, not just a select few models.

It’s faster, more accurate, and more comfortable to use than the awkward in-screen fingerprint scanners found in more expensive phones.

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Specs
Category Moto G 5G 2024
Display 6.6-inch HD+ (1612 x 720), LCD, 269 ppi, 120Hz refresh rate
Chipset Qualcomm Snapdragon 4 Gen 1
Storage 128GB, expandable
Memory 4GB
Software Android 14
Rear Camera 1 50MP, f/1.8, 1.28μm (via quad pixel binning)
Rear Camera 2 2MP macro, f/2.4, 1.75µm
Selfie Camera 8MP, f/2.0, 1.12μm
Water Resistance Water-repellent
Battery & Charging 5,000mAh, 18W wired charging
Connectivity 5G, Bluetooth 5.1, Wi-Fi 5, FM Radio, 3.5mm headphone jack
NFC
Dimensions 164.39 high x 74.96 wide x 8.23mm thin
Weight 194g
Colors Sage Green
Software updates One OS upgrade (to Android 15) and three years of bi-monthly security updates

Motorola listened to feedback and included important features like NFC in this year’s model.

It’s also well worth noting that Motorola listened to feedback and included NFC on the Moto G 5G 2024, an omission that bit Motorola with the Moto G 5G 2023 and its other budget-priced 2023 phone models. This means you can make contactless payments with Google Wallet.

Motorola launched the Moto G 5G 2024 with Android 14 aboard and guarantees the phone will get Android 15 along with three years of security updates. That’s great since the performance of this phone is lacking and likely will feel painfully sluggish in four years when support ends.

I also love Motorola’s gestures, such as double-chopping the phone to toggle the flashlight feature. These gestures have been on Motorola phones for a decade now and are still some of the best defining features of the Motorola experience.

Lastly, I’d like to commend Motorola for including an LCD with no noticeable PWM dimming flicker. While phones like the Samsung Galaxy A15 offer better-looking AMOLED panels, Samsung’s displays flicker like no other displays on the market. Most people aren’t negatively affected by this, but if you’re like me, just a few minutes of looking at a flickering display like that could give you hours of headaches or eye aches.

The Moto G 5G 2024’s LCD has no perceivable PWM flicker, and my Opple Light Master IV tells me it has a frequency between 28,000Hz and 40,000Hz with extremely low modulation. This is the most friendly kind of display you’ll find on any modern phone, full stop.

Moto G 5G 2024: What isn’t great

The back of the vegan leather Moto G 5G 2024

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

First thing’s first. If you end up buying a Moto G 5G 2024, turn off the RAM boost feature. Motorola included this to “virtually” expand the phone’s RAM beyond the anemic 4GB included, but it ends up creating a worse overall experience. In my time with the phone, I found that RAM boost made switching between apps unreliable and, at worst, unstable.

Once I turned RAM boost off, the phone was notably more usable even if it’s not the fastest device I’ve ever used. You’re not going to be playing Fortnite on the Moto G 5G 2024, but it’ll do all your other daily tasks like web browsing, messaging, and phone calling just fine.

RAM boost makes things worse, not better. Turn it off right away.

Beyond that, it’s clear that Motorola had to skimp a bit on the camera quality to include a processor that could actually do something without needing the patience of a saint. Motorola highly oversells the camera in its marketing, saying you can “snap a flawless shot day or night” with the Moto G 5G 2024’s main camera.

That’s not true, although the camera isn’t entirely useless, either. Every photo I took with the phone was quite soft, even during broad daylight.

I don’t expect a $200 phone to take pictures I’d be proud to print and hang on a wall, but this one doesn’t quite live up to the hype Motorola tries to sell it with. The flower picture above is by far the best picture I took with the phone. Most others didn’t even come close.

Additionally, the 2MP macro camera is entirely useless. I wish companies like Motorola would just get rid of these silly gimmicks and put the extra savings into a better main camera.

Likewise, the selfie camera is quite weak, delivering soft images at all times of the day or night. I thought this was just because the low-resolution 720P made captured images appear soft after taking them, but closer inspection on a monitor shows that this is just the way it is. It’s fine, but don’t expect much from this phone’s camera.

Moto G 5G 2024: Competition

A Samsung Galaxy A15 5G on a table.

(Image credit: Brady Snyder / Android Central)

I’d pick this phone over Samsung’s similarly-priced model for two main reasons: display, and performance. While AMOLED “looks” better, it flickers and hurts my head.

Samsung’s choice of a lower-performance processor also means day-to-day use is pretty miserable on the Galaxy A15, while the Snapdragon 4 Gen 1 in the Moto G 5G 2024 is a far more usable choice. Aside from that, Motorola’s phone build is superior, even if it’s not getting as many software updates.

If you can wait to buy a phone, the OnePlus Nord N30 often goes on sale for $229 and is well worth the extra $30 over the Moto G 5G 2024. It’s got a much faster processor, better cameras, and faster charging. I hate the shiny plastic back, but at least the screen is also PWM-free and is easy to look at.

Moto G 5G 2024: Should you buy it?

The display of the Moto G 5G 2024

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

You should buy this if…

  • You need a good phone for $200.
  • You like Motorola gestures and MyUX features.
  • You’re tired of phones with nasty slippery plastic backs.
  • You need a display that’s PWM-free.

You shouldn’t buy this if…

  • You need great camera quality.
  • You like graphics-intense mobile games.
  • You need a waterproof phone.

Building a quality phone for $200 is difficult, as companies have to balance components that don’t cost much but still offer a “good enough” experience to feel worth the purchase. For the most part, the Moto G 5G 2024 fits the bill but it has a few shortcomings to be aware of.

Performance requires some patience, but it’s nowhere near the disastrous level that we saw from budget Moto phones in 2022. Unfortunately, the faster performance meant Motorola had to make concessions on the camera quality. It’s not awful, but it’s (ironically) not as good as we saw from Moto in 2022.

Thankfully, though, daily use is just fine so long as you turn off the silly RAM boost feature. The inclusion of NFC means this can be used for mobile payments and other important modern features, plus a 3.5mm headset jack, all-day battery life, and fast 18W charging means you won’t get annoyed by the little things that some other phones skimp on. All in all, it’s a solid $200 buy if that’s the top of your budget for a new phone.

Via: Androidcentral

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