Moto G Play (2024) brings a 50MP camera to a sub-$150 budget phone

Moto G Play 2024
(Image credit: Motorola)

Motorola's latest budget phone puts a better camera in your hands for a cheaper price. But you'll still hav to sacrifice some features to take advantage of the new phone's $149 price tag.

Announced today (January 16), the Moto G Play (2024) is this year's edition of one of Motorola's cheaper phones. And it seems designed to address some of the complaints that dogged the 2023 version of the phone.

Moto G Play Specs

Price: $149
Screen: 6.5-inch LCD (1600 x 720; 90Hz)
CPU: Snapdragon 680 4G
Storage: 64GB
Expandable: Yes, up to 1TB
Rear camera: 50MP (f/1.8)
Front camera: 8MP (f/2.0)
Battery: 5,000 mAh
Charging speed: 15W wired
Size: 6.4 x 3 x 0.33 inches
Weight: 6.5 ounces

When we reviewed the Moto G Play (2023), we were put off by the phone's poor camera performance; its 16MP main lens took pictures that lacked color and dynamic range. A night mode was also missing from last year's phone, making low-light photos a quite literal shot in the dark.

The Moto G Play (2024) responds with a 50MP rear camera. And while the phone uses pixel binning to yield 12.5MP shots, you'd expect that the finished product should look sharper with more details than what the 2023 camera phone could produce. Even better, Motorola includes support for HDR and Phase Detection Autofocus, and there's now a Night Vision feature.

The improvements don't stop with the camera. The Helio G37 that turned in a rather lackluster performance in last year's Moto G Play makes way for Snapdragon 680 system on chip. We're hoping that translates to a better experience using the Moto G Play (2024).

There are a few other features of note in the Moto G Play, including a 90Hz refresh rate for the phone's 6.5-inch LCD screen. The Moto G Play can dynamically adjust between 60Hz and 90Hz when there's on-screen activity like scrolling that would benefit from a smoother look. Motorola is promising multi-day battery life from the 5,000 mAh battery powering the phone.

Even with these improvements, Motorola has managed to lop off $20 from the price of last year's model. The Moto G Play (2024) will cost $149 when it goes on sale February 8. Amazon and Best Buy will join Motorola in offering the phone initially, with a number of carriers (Consumer Cellular, Verizon, Xfinity Mobile, Visible, Cricket, AT&T, UScellular, and Cox Mobile) selling the Moto G Play after that.

The Moto G Play (2024) comes with 64GB of built-in storage, but a microSD slot lets you add up to 1TB of capacity. 

You don't get a sub-$150 phone without making some sacrifices, though. There's only one camera on the back of the phone, with Motorola dropping the macro and depth sensors from the 2023 version. The Moto G Play (2024) offers no 5G connectivity — a notable omission in this day and age. And the phone ships with Android 13, months after Android 14's release. Moto G phones typically only see one software update, which means no Android 15 when it comes out later this year.

Still, if those features aren't must-haves in your mind, the Moto G Play (2024) might be an intriguing option for less than $200. At least your camera experience should be better than it was a year ago.

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Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.