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Moto G 5G (2022) review: How far the budget king has fallen

Battery life and the 90Hz display are great — not much else is

Moto G 5G (2022) display outside
(Image: © Tom's Guide)

Tom's Guide Verdict

The Moto G 5G (2022) is overpriced and disappointing. From the sluggish performance to weak cameras, this Moto is far from worth the $399 asking price. In a world where we have stronger budget phones such as the Nord N20 5G, the Moto G 5G (2022) isn’t worth your money.

Pros

  • +

    90Hz refresh rate

  • +

    Solid battery life

  • +

    Expandable storage

Cons

  • -

    Mediocre display

  • -

    Slow charging

  • -

    Sluggish performance

  • -

    Disappointing cameras

Moto G 5G: Specs

Price: $399
Android version: 12
Display: 6.5-inch LCD HD+
Refresh rate: 90Hz
CPU: Dimensity 700
RAM: 6GB
Storage / Expandable: 256GB / Yes
Rear cameras: 50MP main, 2MP depth, 2MP macro
Front camera: 13MP
Battery: 5,000 mAh
Charging: 10W wired, charger included
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 11:37 (Adaptive), 10:36 (90Hz), 11:59 (60Hz)
Size: 6.5 x 3.0 x 0.37 inches
Weight: 7.2 ounces
Colors: Moonlight Gray

The Moto G 5G (2022) is what happens when a phone maker forgets what makes a previous product great. The Moto G line has long stood as the hallmark budget Android phone, offering killer value, incredible battery life, and performance that meets many basic needs. But the newest version is a husk of Motorola’s once-great smartphone.

The shift to MediaTek for the processor has not done the Moto G 5G (2022) any favors. The phone struggles with more than the simplest of games. Overall system performance leaves much to be desired, too. As for the cameras, the Moto G 5G (2022) follows suit with other recent Motorola devices — you’ll be hard pressed to get photos that outmatch the likes of the iPhone SE (2022), Pixel 5a, or Galaxy A53.

It’s not all bad, since the Moto G 5G (2022) sports an LCD panel with a 90Hz refresh rate and very good battery life. There’s also expandable storage onboard, something you won’t find on much more expensive flagships. But instead of spending $399 on the Moto G 5G, you’d be better off either opting for the cheaper OnePlus Nord N20 5G or spending the extra $50 on the Galaxy A53. You could even wait for the $449 Pixel 6a that’s coming in July.

In this Moto G 5G (2022) review, I’ll explain why I think this phone is grossly disappointing and overpriced. 

Moto G 5G (2022) review: Price and availability

The Moto G 5G (2022) costs $399. You get 256GB of storage and 6GB of RAM. You also get expandable storage up to 1TB. You can buy the phone unlocked through Motorola (opens in new tab) directly, plus Best Buy, Amazon, and Walmart.

As for carriers, you can pick up the Moto G 5G (2022) from AT&T, Cricket, Dish, Boost Mobile, Republic Wireless, Xfinity Mobile, Spectrum Mobile, US Cellular, Consumer Cellular, Google Fi, and Optimum Mobile.

Moto G 5G (2022) review: Design

The Moto G 5G (2022) firmly fits into the boring plastic slab category of smartphone design. Nothing about this phone stands out. The build quality feels cheap with slippery plastic that holds onto fingerprint smudges. For $399, I don’t expect a super premium design, but when you consider that the $429 iPhone SE (2022) is a metal and glass device, it makes the Moto G 5G (2022) feel inferior.

Back view of Moto G 5G (2022)

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

I’m not a fan of the thin volume rocker, which feels squishy. The power button doubles as the fingerprint sensor, which I found to be good enough in my testing. It proved more accurate than not, though I wish it unlocked the phone a bit quicker.

Moto G 5G (2022) power button

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The triple rear camera array is pretty small and unobtrusive. It doesn’t hog a significant portion of the phone’s back unlike some flagships. There’s also a headphone jack onboard, too, which I really like to see. 

Moto G 5G (2022) review: Display

The Moto G 5G (2022) sports a good-sized 6.5-inch LCD with a 720p resolution. While I think it’s great that Motorola packed in a 90Hz refresh rate, this display disappoints in every other area. When phones that cost just $50 more like the Galaxy A53 and Pixel 5a (as well as the forthcoming Pixel 6a) have OLED 1080p displays, the Moto G 5G (2022)’s 720p LCD certainly falls short in comparison.

The disappointment continued into the Moto G 5G (2022)’s display benchmarks, which you can see below.

Moto G 5G (2022) (Saturated / Natural)Galaxy A53 (Vivid / Natural)Nord N20 (Vivid / Gentle)
Display size6.5 inches6.5 inches6.4 inches
sRGB (%)102 / 104204 / 123179 / 103
DCI-P3 (%)72 / 74145 / 87127 / 73
Delta-E0.24 / 0.240.32 / 0.310.34 / 0.3
Peak brightness (nits)484693567

The Moto G 5G (2022) falls behind both the Galaxy A53 and OnePlus Nord n20 across the board. The one exception is the Delta-E score (where 0 is perfect) for color accuracy, where the Moto reproduced colors more accurately than the A53 and Nord N20. However, both the Galaxy and Nord displays are much brighter than the Moto’s.

Moto G 5G (2022) display

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

As for real-world testing, I think the Moto G 5G’s screen is fine, though just barely. Colors are pretty muted and the phone crushes blacks, such as the darkness in the Obi-Wan Kenobi trailer. The bright neons and oranges of Blade Runner 2049 didn’t translate very well to the Moto’s display. Games like the super saturated Genshin Impact also don’t look all that great.

Moto G 5G (2022) streaming

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The refresh rate is the only saving grace here, but phones that run just an extra $50 have much better displays (and a 120Hz refresh rate in the Galaxy A53’s case). Even the LCD on the iPhone SE (2022) fares better, even though it’s a lower resolution.

Moto G 5G (2022) review: Cameras

The Moto G 5G (2022) comes with a triple rear camera system, though two of those lenses are 2MP depth and macro sensors. Phone makers like to include these on their cheap phones so that they can advertise that the device has three or four cameras. In practice, sensors like depth, macro, and monochrome are effectively useless.

Moto G 5G (2022) camera

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

That leaves you with a 50MP main camera on the Moto G 5G (2022); up front,, you get a 13MP selfie cam.

I brought the Pixel 5a along to see how the Moto G 5G compared to one of the best camera phones on the market. Starting off with this photo of a bowl of fruit outside in the sun, you can see that the Moto G 5G (2022) struggled to compensate for the sunlight. The image looks overexposed. The Pixel 5a kept its photo toned down, making for a much better picture with stronger colors.

Looking at this photo of my nearby neighborhood pool, the Moto G 5G (2022) didn’t do too badly. The image looks a bit washed out, but the blue water and green umbrella both look decent. But when you look at the Pixel 5a’s shot, you see the warm beige of the concrete, the richer blues and greens, and less of a washed out appearance.

Heading inside, here’s that platter of fruit again. The Moto G 5G (2022) did a better job with handling exposure and color reproduction, though it has soft, almost fuzzy, focus. Overall, it’s not a terrible image, but it’s not great, either. The Pixel 5a, meanwhile, produced something vibrant, both in the foreground and background. The focus is also much sharper.

When looking at this portrait comparison, you can clearly see that the Pixel 5a is better. The Moto G 5G (2022) hardly has any blur (despite the depth sensor) and the image is dimmer than the Pixel’s. Google’s portrait prowess shines through here with accurate colors, good exposure, and a beautiful bokeh effect. The Moto’s focus is also a bit soft.

Checking out the platter of fruit once again, this time at night, the Moto G 5G (2022) put out a decent effort. You can clearly see the different fruits, but there’s one glaring problem: the focus. The Moto struggled with stabilization, which is true for a lot of cheap phones. The Pixel 5a has far less noise and fuzziness. The image is also brighter and the colors more vibrant. The picture is far from perfect (there’s still some noise), but Google’s Night Sight trumps Motorola’s Night Vision.

Turning things around to the front camera, the Moto G 5G (2022) produced a selfie that makes me look like a ghost. I’m naturally very white, but the Pixel 5a’s shot is much truer to life. The Moto tried to brighten up the image too much, making my shirt a paler red than it ought to be. The Moto 5G (2022) seemed to think the shadows in which I took these pictures were too dim, whereas the Pixel 5a fared much better, especially with my complexion.

As I mentioned earlier, the Moto G 5G (2022) includes a macro lens of dubious utility. Here’s the best shot I could manage with that lens, a fuzzy, flat image that looks just awful. I really want phone makers to stop including these, because I don’t think there will ever be a time where you’ll be happy with a photo from this macro lens.

Moto G 5G (2022) macro sample

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Admittedly, not many low-cost phones can compete with the Pixel 5a when it comes to photo quality. But the above comparisons show how big the gap is between what a good low-cost phone can shoot and what the Moto G 5G produces. Even against a less accomplished phone, the Moto G 5G’s cameras would have a hard time keeping up.

Moto G 5G (2022) review: Performance and 5G

The Moto G 5G (2022) continues Motorola’s partnership with MediaTek, as the phone uses a Dimensity 700 chip, a low mid-range octa-core processor. I have never been impressed with MediaTek chips, and that continues here with the Moto G 5G (2022) and its processor.

Here’s how the phone fared in our performance benchmarks.

Moto G 5G (2022)Galaxy A53Nord N20
CPUDimensity 700Exynos 1280Snapdragon 695
Geekbench 5 (single-core / multicore)542 / 1659745 / 1888696 / 1995
3DMark Wild Life Unlimited (FPS)7147
3DMark Wild Life Extreme Unlimited (FPS)242

As you can see, the Moto G 5G (2022) struggles to keep up with the Galaxy A53 and Nord N20 in all of the tests. If you want the best performance for your money, then the iPhone SE (2022) is the way to go and it’s only $30 more.

In practice, the Moto G 5G (2022) is OK. I found the gaming performance quite lacking and I also noticed some slight hiccups when launching some apps, like the camera (a problem common with recent Moto G handsets). Snapping quick photos proved too much for the Dimensity 700, however, where capturing more than three or four in a row caused the phone to noticeably hang for a brief period. You won’t have that problem on the iPhone SE (2022).

Moto G 5G (2022) camera app

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

With the Tensor-powered Pixel 6a just a couple of months away, the Moto G 5G (2022)’s performance will prove even more disappointing as far as cheap Android phones go. Even the Exynos 1280 in the Galaxy A53 offers a better experience with far fewer hang-ups and less lag.

Moto G 5G (2022) web browser page

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

As for 5G, the Moto G 5G (2022) supports sub-6GHz and C-band networks. You will not find a mmWave version that works with Verizon’s Ultra Wideband network.

Moto G 5G (2022) review: Battery life and charging

The Moto G 5G (2022) almost redeems itself when it comes to battery life. Like most budget-friendly Motorola handsets, this phone lasts quite a while on a charge. If you need your smartphone to go as long as possible — and you’re not as concerned with the display quality or performance — Motorola is usually a safe bet.

Moto G 5G (2022) charge port

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

In the Tom’s Guide battery life test, we set a phone’s display to 150 nits of brightness and then task the device to endlessly reload web pages over a cellular connection until it dies. Here’s how the Moto G 5G (2022) did.

Moto G 5G (2022)Galaxy A53Nord N20
Battery size5,000 mAh5,000 mAh4,500 mAh
Battery life (Hrs:Mins)11:37 (Adaptive) / 10:36 (90Hz) / 11:59 (60Hz)9:49 (120Hz) / 10:39 (60Hz) 11:20
Recharge percentage (15 mins)102531
Recharge percentage (30 mins)214656

The Moto G 5G (2022) goes well over the 10-hour mark we like to see from phones in this test. The Moto easily outpaces the Galaxy A53, even with its adaptive refresh rate. You might even see this device join our best phone battery life list. If you compare 60Hz to 60Hz, the Moto also outdoes the OnePlus Nord N20.

It’s a good thing the Moto G 5G (2022) goes for so long, because it charges incredibly slow, only getting to a 21% charge after 30 minutes. You might be able to use a faster charger if you have one laying around, but the included charger with the Moto tops out at 10W.

Moto G 5G (2022) review: Software

Surprisingly, the Moto G 5G (2022) comes equipped with Android 12 out of the box. You get a minimal system setup that looks a lot like what you get on a Pixel. There are some Motorola tweaks inserted here and there, like the Moto app for unlocking more customization, gestures, and the game space.

Moto G 5G (2022) settings menu

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

It’s an inoffensive implementation of Android and it’s the first Motorola phone I’ve used with Android 12 installed. Of course, since this is Motorola, you get just one platform update (namely, the Android 13 update coming later this year). For some reason, Motorola thinks that this is an acceptable policy, even though other budget phones like the Pixel 5a, Galaxy A53 and iPhone SE (2022) enjoy several years of updates.

Moto G 5G (2022) review: Verdict

The Moto G 5G (2022) is a letdown and it certainly will not count among the ranks of the best cheap phones. Whether we’re talking about the underwhelming display, the subpar cameras, or the wishy-washy performance, this phone is not one that I’d recommend.

I understand the appeal of a phone for $399, but you can get so much more for an extra $50 if you want to stick with Android. The Galaxy A53 is a stellar mid-range device at $449 and the Pixel 6a looks like it’ll shake things up when it launches in late July. (Google is keeping the same $449 price point as the Pixel 5a.) And then there’s the iPhone SE (2022), which is just $30 more and better in almost every way.

Even if you can’t swing the extra money for those phones, the OnePlus Nord N20 is a better option than the Moto G (2022). It’s got a beautiful design, a long-lasting battery of its own and a much better display than what you get from Motorola.

The Moto G 5G (2022) definitely has good battery life, but I don’t think there’s anything else good about this phone. You’re safe skipping this one.

Jordan Palmer
Jordan Palmer

Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He's written about phones for over five years and plans to continue for a long while to come. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. Jordan likes finding new things to dive into, from books and games to new mechanical keyboard switches and fun keycap sets. Outside of work, you can find him poring over open-source software and his studies.