The Moto G stylus for $ 300 and the Power G for $ 250 can take great photos. That's not a sentence I thought I would write when I started testing the latest Motorola budget phones. Both are able to take some of the most detailed, color-balanced photos I've seen from a device at these prices, while undercutting Google's Pixel 3A in the middle by $ 100.
In addition to the significantly improved camera performance, these new Motorola phones have a lot to offer in view of their price. They work with every U.S. carrier, including MVNOs like Google Fi. Both have large screens with pinhole camera systems and, above all, some extras for quality of life. Each has a 3.5mm headphone jack, excellent battery life, a fingerprint sensor and Motorola’s clever software improvements that make Android 10 feel more unique on these phones.
The below-average photo performance has been the biggest limitation of Motorola’s budget phones. But now that Google, Samsung, and Apple have capable phones in the $ 300- $ 400 price range, Motorola had no choice but to read the room and make some big improvements. It had to pack into its affordable phone even more than before, and this year it did.
- Big improvements in the camera department
- Good battery life
- No branding on the front
- Not a reliable shooter from the hip
- Bad palm rejection when using the pen
- Still no NFC or wireless charging
- No sealing
- Enormous battery life
- No branding on the front
- Decent camera with excellent color accuracy
- Not a reliable shooter from the hip
- Still no NFC or wireless charging
- Heavier than the Galaxy Note 10 Plus
- Slightly slower than the G stylus
Although they look almost identical in a photo, these two phones have some key differences. As you may have gathered from the name, the G-stylus contains a stylus that you can pull out from below. It is a soft-tip pen that you can use to draw or write notes on your phone. If you're feeling adventurous, you can edit photos when you need more precision than you would probably get with one finger. When you pull it out, a box appears on the edge of the screen with some customizable icons. You can select some apps or features that are there, e.g. B. Google Keep, the Moto note app or a quick screenshot button.
Unlike the one included in the latest Samsung Galaxy Note, the stylus does not connect via Bluetooth, so it lacks functions such as using it as a remote release. That's fine for me, but what I didn't like was the general lack of palm rejection on the screen. My handwriting looked worse than usual because it occasionally registered my palm as the one doing the writing. Still, this is one of the few Android phones that come with a stylus, and that it does for $ 300 is cool.
Overall, the G Stylus is a bit thinner than the G Power (9.2 mm versus 9.6 mm), just a little shorter (158.5 mm versus 159.8 mm, although the screen-to-body ratio is practically the same) and some Grams lighter (192 g compared to 199 g). It also has 128 GB of onboard memory compared to 64 GB. In addition, the 48-megapixel quad-pixel main camera lens outputs photos that are sharper than the 16-megapixel main lens of the G Power.
Finally, the G Stylus has an “action camera” lens that enables wide-angle video recordings at up to 60 frames per second. There is another little benefit you get when you pay an additional $ 50. The footage looks decent, although I don't think it is worth preferring one phone over the other. Oddly enough, the wide-angle lens cannot be used for photography here. On the other hand, the G Power has a wide-angle camera lens for taking photos and videos, although the videos are not taken at 60 frames per second.
I think all of these features make the G Stylus the better of the two phones for most people, but the G Power has some redeeming features that justify its extra thickness and weight. It's actually just one feature: a 5,000 mAh battery compared to the G Stylus' 4,000 mAh battery. Motorola claims to have three days of battery life, and in my experience, it reliably took more than two days per charge to go through my usual range of apps. So if you're just looking for a phone that lasts a long time, the G Power is the right choice.
That doesn't mean the $ 299 G-Stylus is a breeze in terms of battery life. She also usually made it past the two-day mark, if not much further. No matter which phone you work with, the battery life is excellent for the price and the respective standby life is very good. Inactivity drains the battery by a few percentage points at most overnight. Both Moto phones support 10W fast charging, although wireless charging support is still not available.
Motorola has mostly hit the design and hardware with every phone. They each have a fingerprint reader on the back, USB-C charging and a headphone jack. As for the technical data, both have the Snapdragon 665 processor in the middle and 4 GB RAM. They also support up to 512 GB microSD cards if you run out of space. These phones look clean and have no Motorola logo on the front. This is a break in tradition that many will surely appreciate.
The G Stylus and the G Power have the same 6.4-inch IPS display with an aspect ratio of 19: 9 (2300 x 1080, 399 pixels per inch). If you are someone who watches a lot of YouTube videos or media through video streaming services, you will likely be satisfied with what each phone offers. These are the first Moto phones to have a display with a pinhole camera system. As you can see in the pictures, they get a high quality look. Like any Moto G series phone before, I think this is a distillation of the biggest trends that are currently happening in the flagship market. However, Moto's design is not quite as seamless as with more expensive devices.
For example, the small area of the screen between the front bezel and the selfie camera appears slightly darker than the rest of the screen. It gets worse if you use a light background. In addition, the glass that covers the display does not merge perfectly into the rounded edges. It protrudes a few millimeters from the phone. Both are understandable concessions on the price, and although they make themselves felt, they haven't affected my experience with the phones.
Despite its similarities in terms of specs, the Moto G stylus feels faster, and I enjoyed using it again. The G Stylus seems to have a warmer screen temperature than the G Power by default, although the degree of saturation of the displays can be adjusted in the settings according to your wishes. It was also a little faster to load into the camera app and take photos than with the G Power. For me, the G Stylus has a leg in front of the other model because it simply takes better photos.
As I mentioned earlier, these phones can take incredibly detailed photos. Even when I zoom in, these details do not look glaring or full of artifacts, as I am used to when looking at photos – especially with inexpensive phones. What I also noticed is whether I'm using the 16-megapixel lens (1: 1.7 aperture with 1.12 µm pixels) on the G Power or the 48-megapixel lens (also 1: 1.7 aperture , with larger pixels at 1.6 µm) Each image is limited to a single 12-megapixel G Stylus lens. Both phones take photos with good color balance and accuracy.
Another thing that I liked is that Motorola's pictures are not blue or yellow in color. I took a couple of photos of a bibimbap brunch we made (see picture above) and the G Stylus took a cheaper photo than my Pixel 3. The egg was white as it should be, rather than light yellow, as it appears in the Pixel 3 shot. The kimchi looks as lively and flavorful in the picture as it tastes. It was the photo I wanted to share on social media.
It is of course not fair to expect that the new Moto G series will reach Pixel 3 with every photo. But it is my benchmark for a phone that can reliably take good photos. I also think it's great that the software can help my badly framed and poorly lit photos look good. I humbly admit that I rely on Google's software to find the ideal shooting conditions for me.
Recording with the Moto G Stylus and G Power is a different story. I mentioned earlier that these phones can take great photos, but they don't always take the photo you want after the first try. Some are blurry, either because the camera app is slower than I want to boot or because the camera itself is slow to capture. The post-processing software from Moto does not compensate nearly as much as that from Google for unfavorable shooting conditions. Recording my favorite results from Moto's cell phones took a lot more effort, but required a lot of natural light and relative silence. Do this twice if you try to shoot at night. I got some good results, but even if I thought I had a good angle or kept things calm enough, my camera roll usually showed something else.
Because of my few weeks of experience with both phones, it usually takes a few tries to get the photo you were looking for. In other cases, however, it works fine. It's impressive that it is even possible to get the photo you want from a $ 300 phone. I wish it would work perfectly every time, but I don't think those few hiccups bother too much.
The G Stylus and the G Power both use the same 16 megapixel selfie camera system (1: 2.0 aperture, quad pixel). Predictably, the detail of this lens isn't as sharp as on the rear camera array, but it's better than I expected. It maintains Motorola's new advances in color balance and accuracy that I have seen with the rear camera array. And after switching off the intensive facial smoothing, which was activated by default, I was pleasantly surprised by the results. The photos look sharp, but not so sharp that I feel like the phone is enjoying pointing out my imperfections.
Other supplements are not quite as good. Motorola promotes macro mode in every phone you should use if you want to take close-up pictures of flowers or food, for example. I found this to be the most disappointing aspect of the Motorola camera system. Both phones use a 2 megapixel macro lens with the impressive claim to find the focus at just 2 centimeters. In fact, both phone displays showed clear details when pointed at objects, although I always found these photos looked much worse than what I had seen through the viewfinder.
These lenses have a higher aperture (read: they let in less light) so the lighting just doesn't look quite right. The difference in color balance between this and the main lens on both phones is day and night. If Motorola doesn't fix a miracle, I wouldn't recommend relying on it. In my tests, each phone's standard lens was more than able to take close-up pictures, and especially with the megapixel elevation in the G-Stylus, you get a much sharper picture at the expense of the fact that you're unable to super get close to the topic.
As much as I liked last year's Moto G7, I paid careful attention to who I recommend it to. The numerous functions are not worth it if you want to take really good photos. Given that, I wouldn't have been surprised or really upset if Motorola had brought out a phone again that was good in everything except photos.
The new Moto G Stylus and Moto G Power are significant advances thanks to the increase in camera performance. In keeping with tradition, it also oozes functions and a well-known low price. Despite the many improvements, I will still be careful who I recommend this phone to. It is not as reliable to take excellent photos with every single shot as the Pixel 3A (which has the same camera system as the Pixel 3 with which I compared these models directly). If you haven't set your budget for a $ 300 phone, I would still recommend spending a little more on that phone. However, if you can't spend more than the cost of the Moto G Stylus or G Power, or just don't want to spend anymore, you can't find a more rounded phone at this price right now.
Photography by Cameron Faulkner / The Verge
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