Moto G Stylus 5G (2024) review: The stylus isn't the star

A bright display and long battery life highlight this sub-$400 budget phone

Moto G 5G stylus review
(Image: © Future)

Tom's Guide Verdict

The Moto G Stylus 5G is the top offering among Motorola's G series, and the 2024 edition delivers a better screen, longer battery life, and a stylish design. Shoppers looking for more performance and better photos should turn to the Pixel 8a, stylus or not.


  • +

    Good for note taking

  • +

    Screen is brighter than 2023 version

  • +

    Long-lasting battery life

  • +

    Stylish vegan leather back


  • -

    Performance trails other midrange phones

  • -

    Only one year of guaranteed Android updates

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Samsung's S Pen isn't the only smartphone stylus in town — a fact Motorola looks to remind of us each year with its annual refresh of the Moto G Stylus 5G. This year's edition — appropriately called the Moto G Stylus 5G (2024) — continues to pack a stylus into an affordably priced phone, giving you the same kind of note-scribbling powers that Galaxy S24 Ultra owners enjoy for three times the price.

Then again, people contemplating a purchase of Samsung's premium phone probably aren't looking at a sub-$400 Motorola handset as a serious Galaxy S24 alternative. Rather, what would-be Moto G Stylus owners want to know is whether the 2024 model packs in enough features to help them be productive while also keeping their phone costs under budget.

In this Moto G Stylus 5G (2024) review, we'll look at what this year's edition has to offer and whether Motorola's packed in enough value to make this phone appealing to budget-minded users.

Motorola G Stylus 5G (2024) review: Specs

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Starting price$399
Screen size6.7-inch pOLED (2400x1080)
Refresh rate120Hz
CPUSnapdragon 6 Gen 1
Storage128GB, 256GB
Expandable?Yes, up to 2TB
Rear cameras50MP (f/1.8) main; 13MP (f/2.2) ultrawide
Front cameras32MP (f/2.4)
Battery size5,000 mAh
Battery life (Hrs:Mins)15:01
Charging speed30W wired; 15W wireless
Size6.4 x 2.9 x 0.33 inches / 162.56 x 74.75 x 8.295mm
Weight6.7 ounces / 190 grams
ColorsCaramel Latte, Scarlet Wave

Moto G Stylus 5G (2024) review: Price and availability

Like last year's model, the Moto G Stylus 5G (2024) costs $399, a price that puts it in the company of other midrange devices such as the Samsung Galaxy A35 ($399) and Google Pixel 8a ($499). Of course, those phones don't include their own stylus — a feature you'd normally find on phones like the $1,299 Galaxy S24 Ultra or $,1799 Galaxy Z Fold 5.

Motorola offers 128GB and 256GB versions of this phone with a microSD letting you expand storage by up to 2TB. You have a choice of two colors — Scarlet Wave or Caramel Latte. (Motorola supplied me with the latter option for this review.)

The Moto G Stylus 5G (2024) went on sale May 30, and you can currently buy it from Amazon and Best Buy as well as from Motorola. Walmart joins the mix shortly thereafter. A slew of carriers are on tap to offer the phone as well, Motorola says: Metro by T-Mobile, AT&T, Cricket, Boost Infinite, Boost Mobile, Consumer Cellular, UScellular, Spectrum, Xfinity Mobile, Google Fi, Optimum Mobile, Straight Talk, Total by Verizon and Visible.

Moto G Stylus 5G (2024) review: Design

Moto G 5G stylus review

(Image credit: Future)

This is the second Moto G phone I've tested that features a vegan leather backside — the $199 Moto G 5G (2024) was the first — and I really like this look for Motorola's budget line. The vegan leather masks the phones' low-cost roots, while also giving you something to grip on to. Like the Moto G 5G, the Moto G Stylus also features a subtle camera array that gradually rises out of the back of the phone instead of jutting out in separate block. That doesn't prevent the phone from wobbling if you set it on its back, though.

The titular stylus of the Moto 5G stylus tucks neatly into the bottom of the phone. Press it, and the stylus pops out ever so slightly, inviting you to pull it the rest of the way out of its slot. When you do and the phone is locked, it will automatically launch a screen for scribbling notes; pull out the stylus when the phone is unlocked and a pop=up menu with shortcuts to stylus functions appears.

The stylus lives on the bottom right side of the Moto G Stylus. Across the bottom of the phone on the left, you'll find a 3.5mm headphone jack, a rarity among phones these days.

Moto G 5G stylus review bottom of phone

(Image credit: Future)

At 6.4 inches, the Moto G Stylus is 0.3 inches taller than the Pixel 8a, though that allows Motorola's phone to accomodate a 6.7-inch screen. Surprisingly, the Moto G Stylus is a little lighter than the Pixel 8a — 6.7 ounces compared to 6.8 ounces

Motorola uses Corning Gorilla Glass 3 on the display, which also feature a very responsive fingerprint reader. You get IP52 water resistance with this phone, which protects you from splashes, but not submersion.

Moto G Stylus 5G (2024) review: Display

Moto G 5G stylus review

(Image credit: Future)

One of our biggest complaints with the Moto G Stylus (2023) was how dim its 6.6-inch display was — just 564 nits of peak brightness in SDR. The 2024 version of the Moto G Stylus tackles that problem head-on, hitting 1,142 nits under the same conditions. Switch over to HDR, and the screen gets as bright as 1,359 nits in our testing.

Mind you, the Pixel 8a gets slightly brighter, reaching 1,378 nits. But certainly, while shooting photographs with the new Moto G Stylus on a bright day, I had no problem seeing the details or the controls on the phone's touch screen.

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Row 0 - Cell 0 Moto G Stylus 5G 2024Google Pixel 8a
Peak brightness (nits)1,3591,378
sRGB %203 (Vivid) / 114.8 (Natural)126.5 (Adaptive) / 108.9 (Natural)
DCI-P3 %143.8 (Vivid) / 81.3 (Natural)89.6 (Adaptive) / 77.2 (Natural)
Delta-E rating0.32 (Vivid) / 0.20 (Natural)0.24 (Adaptive) / 0.29 (Natural)

The Moto G Stylus panel shows off a lot of colors, display 203% of the sRGB color spectrum in its Vivid mode and 114.8% in Natural. Both those numbers are ahead of the respective 126.5% and 108.9% results that the Pixel 8a turned in for Adaptive and Natural modes. The Moto G Stylus colors are also more accurate the the Pixel 8a's in Natural mode, where the Motorola phone has the lower Delta-E rating. (Numbers closer to zero are more accurate in this test.) The Pixel 8a's adaptive mode is more accurate than the saturated look of the Vivid mode on the Moto G Stylus, though.

Still, I couldn't complain about colors while catching up on Season 1 of We Are Lady Parts on Peacock. Even in a concert scene at night, the members of the band stood out in the dim lighting, with the colors of their clothes and instruments looking particularly vibrant on the Moto G Stylus screen.

Moto G Stylus 5G (2024) review: Cameras

Moto G 5G stylus review cameras

(Image credit: Future)

Moto G phones aren't renowned for their photographic chops, with the best-case scenario being that the on-board cameras can capture good-enough shots you're happy to share with friends and family. To pull that off, the Moto G Stylus 5G uses a 50MP main sensor which also supports 2x zooms by cropping in for a close-up. A 13MP ultrawide camera that also doubles as a macro lens completes the rear camera array.

The Pixel 8a is the best camera phone under $500 right now, so I used the Pixel 7a I have on hand in my comparisons, as those two Google devices share the same camera specs. Measure up well against the Pixel 7a, and you can assume the Moto G Stylus would be able to hold its own against the more recent budget Pixel, too.

This shot of a fajita platter looks pretty when captured by the Moto G Stylus. The peppers and onions look particularly vibrant as does the rice toward the back of the plate. I think the Pixel 7a's shot has richer tones — check out the sear marks on the steak strips, as well as the sharp edges on the constituent parts of the pico de gallo. Still, I'm pretty pleased with the Moto G Stylus' work there.

The Moto G Stylus cameras are on less steady footing in unfavorable lighting. I tried to grab a photo of my daughter posing at one of the more puzzling obstacles at a miniature golf course, but her bemused expression is almost totally lost in the shadows. The Pixel 7a does a better job of balancing out the shot, lightening some of the shadows so you can make out her face. The homunculus she's posing next to is a more eye-catching shade of yellow in the Pixel photo, too.

Lighting also had an impact when I tested out the zoom feature on the Moto G Stylus, and not in a positive way. This shot of a fountain is severely over-exposed in the Moto G photo, with a particularly unpleasant glare right in the center of the shot. It's so distracting, in fact, it bleaches out the stream of water coming out of the wall. That effect is much more visible in the Pixel 7a's balanced image, which may be darker, but that calls out the contrast in the different colored tiles.

Things improve for the Moto G Stylus when we shoot that same fountain with the phone's ultrawide lens. Again, I find the darker tone of the Pixel 7a shot more pleasant to look at, but the Moto G Stylus' effort is certainly strong here, as there's minimal glare distracting from mosaic in the background.

If there's one area where the Moto G Stylus surpasses the Pixel 7a, it's this portrait shot of my daughter, which is surprising given Google's reputation for computational photography. But the Pixel 7a make her look too pale — the Moto G Stylus, on the other hand, adds some color to her skin for a warmer shot.

I think Google's background blur is more sophisticated, and the Moto G Stylus background runs the risk of becoming overly saturated to the point where the trees behind my daughter almost start to look unreal. But if you focus on just the subject, the  Moto Stylus is the better performer with portraits.

macro shot sample of rose from Motr G Stylus 5G (2024)

(Image credit: Future)

While we're talking strengths, let's look at the macro mode on the Moto G Stylus, which produced a rather striking close-up on a rose. I'm especially impressed at the tight focus, given that it was a windy day with the flower swaying in the breeze. I expected a lot of blur, but that's a crystal-clear close-up with a lot of detail.

That's the good news, now let's look at the bad. Specifically, the night mode on the Moto G Stylus is nothing to write home about. Yes, it manages to photograph the neon sign in focus, and you can even make out the sky in the background. But the glow around the sign is more stylized in the Pixel 7a shot and the green arrow looks sharper. It's more proof that the Moto G Stylus cameras work best when there's plenty of light around.

Remember how the Moto G Stylus handled skin tones much better in the portrait shot of my daughter? It's a little bit of the opposite when I used the phone's 32MP front camera to take a selfie.

The Moto G Stylus sample looks OK, but the Pixel 7a's tendency to emphasize dark tones makes me look a little less ashen in that image. Plus, I feel like Google's phone did a better job keeping the focus tight on the right edge of my hair. You'll get decent selfies from the Moto G Stylus, but not anything that's best in class.

Moto G Stylus 5G (2024) review: Performance

Moto G 5G stylus review

(Image credit: Future)

For reasons probably relating to cost, Motorola kept the same Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 chipset used in the 2023 edition of the Moto G Stylus in this year's model. While the 2024 version features more RAM — 8GB compared to 16GB — you wouldn't expect to see a big performance boost in Motorola's latest handset.

Indeed, the Tensor G3-powered Pixel 8a — a phone not exactly known for its performance muscle — handily beats the Moto G Stylus 5G on both the single and multicore Geekbench 6 tests, with the latter result besting the Moto device score of 2,796 by 46%. The Galaxy A55, another midrange phone, outperforms the Moto G Stylus 5G as well.

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Row 0 - Cell 0 Moto G Stylus 5G (2024)Google Pixel 8a
ProcessorSnapdragon 6 Gen 1Tensor G3
Geekbench 6 (single/multicore)936 /27961581 / 4093
3DMark Wild Life Unlimited (fps)14.353.8
Adobe Premiere Rush transcoding (Mins:Secs)1:510:56

On graphics, it's the same story. The Moto G Stylus (2024) puts up a 14.3 frames per second score on 3DMark's Wild Life Unlimited test, essentially matching the 2023 phone's performance. But the Pixel 8a hasn't stood in place, turning in a 53.8 fps result. Even on our video transcoding test in which we time how long it takes phones to convert a video t0 1080p using Adobe Premiere Rush, the Moto G Stylus finishes nearly a minute behind the Pixel 8a's 56 second time. A powerhouse, Motorola's phone is not.

That said, I had no issue jumping between apps. And when I played PUBG Mobile, the graphics may not have been crisp but the responsiveness was good enough for me to rack up some impressive wins in firefights. I think you get enough processing oomph to handle the basics with the Moto G Stylus, but not much more than that.

Moto G Stylus 5G (2024) review: Battery life and charging

Moto G 5G stylus review

(Image credit: Future)

If the Moto G Stylus 5G (2024) doesn't offer blazing performance, at least you can count on it to last a very long time on a charge. In our standard battery test, in which we have devices surf the web with their display set to 150 nits until they run out of power, Motorola's phone lasted an average of 15 hours and 1 minute. We got that result with the Moto G Stylus display set to an Auto refresh, where it jumps between 60Hz and 120Hz as on-screen activity warrants.

That's an impressive result, improving upon last year's Moto G Stylus result by nearly 3 hours. It also happens to be 5 hours ahead of the average smartphone, and it lands the 2024 version of the Moto G Stylus on our rankings for the best phone battery life.

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Row 0 - Cell 0 Moto G Stylus 5G (2024)Google Pixel 8aMoto G Power 5G (2024)
Battery size5,000 mAh4,492 mAh5,000 mAh
Battery life (Hrs:Mins)15:0111:2113:16
Recharge % (15 mins)30%16%28%
Rechrge $ (30 mins)54%33%53%

You can expect 30W charging speeds with the Moto G Stylus, the same as the battery-focused Moto G Power 5G (2024). That helps the Moto G Stylus get to  54% charge after half-an-hour. The phone also offers wireless charging, which is nice to see in a sub-$400 handset.

Moto G Stylus 5G (2024) review: Stylus and software

Moto G 5G stylus review

(Image credit: Future)

Obviously, the star of the show when it comes to Moto G Stylus special features is the stylus itself. You'll get the most out of this feature if you're an unrepentant note taker, Writing feels natural, especially if you're used to using slender notebooks to quickly jot down features, and there are tools to adjust color and thickness, add images and even convert handwriting into text that you can edit with a keyboard.

The value of other stylus-related tools will depend on how much use you get out of them. The menu of stylus tools includes a shortcut for taking screenshot, which you can then markup with the help of the stylus. A free-form cropping tool lets you draw around the subjects you want to capture in photos, though the actual cropping isn't as precise as I would like. Students will apreciate a handwriting calculator where you can draw mathematical formulas on the screen with the stylus to get a result. The stylus enables a GIF-making tool as well.

Don't expect the sophistication of the S Pen with its Bluetooth connectivity. The Moto G Stylus input device is very simple, but it gets the job done if all you're looking for is a note-taker with some added functionality.

The stylus is a nice addition to this phone; Motorola's stingy software support policy is not. Like other devices in the Moto G series, you only count on one Android update with the Moto G Stylus, plus three years of security support. That means once Android 15 arrives, your chances of seeing additional Android versions are practically nil. 

That's irritating enough with one of the less expensive Moto G phones — it's downright infuriating with the $399 Moto G Stylus. The Galaxy A35, priced the same as the Moto G Stylus, offers four years of Android updates with an additional year of security support.

Moto G Stylus 5G (2024) review: Verdict

The Moto G Stylus is clearly the best of the Moto G series, packing in features like a 120Hz display, a stylish design and a long battery life that make sure you get your money's worth. The brighter display on this model addresses one of our biggest complaints with past versions, and the stylus — while a bit of a gimmick for a feature that's part of this phone's name — can be useful for note-takers who don't want or can't afford the Galaxy S24 Ultra.

It would be better if the Moto G Stylus cameras were more consistent in lower light, and the productivity fiends who might be attracted to a phone with its own stylus could be put off by the lack of performance muscle. Accept those shortcomings, though, land you've got a perfectly fine phone at a reasonable price.

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.