Motorola has proven itself the master of mid-range phones in recent years, with its Moto G series scoring big with smartphone shoppers who want lower-cost devices with long battery life and solid photography. The phone maker is hoping that a new year brings more of that success.
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While the Moto G Power (2021) and Moto G Play (2021) put the emphasis on longer battery life and better cameras, the Moto G Stylus (2021) is adding some new features for its built-in stylus, although the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 and its S Pen still have nothing to fear from Motorola.
Those three phones remain LTE-only devices, but Motorola's not forgetting about 5G. Last year's Motorola One 5G is getting a refresh, too, with the the new version — the Motorola One 5G Ace — debuting at one of the lowest prices ever for a Motorola 5G device.
Here's a closer look at each of the new phones Motorola is shipping this month, including their prices and availability.
Moto G Series (2021) phones: Specs compared
|Moto G Play||Moto G Power||Moto G Stylus|
|Screen size||6.5 inches (1600 x 720)||6.6 inches (1600 x 720)||6.8 inches (FHD+ resolution)|
|CPU||Snapdragon 460||Snapdragon 662||Snapdragon 678|
|Rear cameras||13 MP (f/2.0) main; 2MP (f/2.4) depth||48MP (f/1.7) main; 2MP (f/2.4) macro; 2MP (f/2.4) depth||48MP (f/1.7) main; 8MP (f/2.2) ultrawide; 2MP (f/2.4) macro; 2MP depth sensor|
|Front cameras||5MP (f/2.2)||8MP (f/2.0)||16MP (f/2.2)|
|Battery size||5,000 mAh||5,000 mAh||4,000 mAh|
|Size||6.6 x 3 x 0.37 inches||6.5 x 3 x 0.37 inches||6.7 x 3.1 x 0.35 inches|
|Weight||7.2 ounces||7.3 ounces||7.5 ounces|
Moto G Series (2021) and Motorola One 5G Ace price and availability
All the phones unveiled today by Motorola are now available for pre-order, with each going on sale next Thursday (Jan. 14). All models will be universally unlocked at Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, Walmart and Motorola.com. Wireless carriers will offer its own models in the coming months.
The Moto G Stylus (2021) remains the most expensive model in the Moto G series, with a $299 price. It's coming to Boost Mobile, Cricket, Consumer Cellular and Republic Wireless in future months.
You'll have two versions of the Moto G Power (2021) from which to pick — a $249 version with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage in addition to a $199 model that offers just 3GB of memory and 32GB of capacity.
That's a pretty meager amount of storage these days, but it's significant that there's now a long-lasting Moto G Power model available for less than $200. Boost Mobile, Cricket, Consumer Cellular, Google Fi, Republic Wireless, US Cellular, Verizon and Xfinity Mobile will all offer the new Moto G Power.
As for the Moto G Play, it's the cheapest model available here, with a price of $169. The phone is coming to AT&T, Cricket, Boost Mobile, Consumer Cellular, Google Fi, Metro by T-Mobile, T-Mobile, Republic Wireless, Verizon and Xfinity Mobile soon.
If 5G's more your thing, the Motorola One 5G Ace will cost $399 — the first time a 5G Motorola phone is available for less than $400. In addition to the unlocked version, you'll be able to buy the new Motorola One from AT&T, Consumer Cellular, Google Fi, Metro by T-Mobile, T-Mobile, Republic Wireless, Verizon and Xfinity Mobile.
Moto G Power (2021) specs and features
The Moto G Power remains the most intriguing model in Motorola's Moto G lineup, thanks to its promise of multiday battery life. The most recent version tops our best phone battery life list, having lasted for a pace-setting 16 hours and 10 minutes of continuous web surfing over LTE.
That phone relied on a 5,000-mAh battery, and that massive power pack returns in the Moto G Power 2021 model. As before, Motorola promises three days of battery life, and while we won't know for certain how this version compares to previous models until we get a chance to test it, we have every reason to believe the Moto G Power (2021) is going to keep the long-lasting phone crown.
The Moto G Power's battery will have to keep a larger screen powered up, as this year's model features a 6.6-inch LCD panel with HD+ resolution, up slightly from the 6.4-inch screen on last year's phone.
Memory and storage remain unchanged from last year's 4GB and 64GB figures — at least in the $249 version — but Motorola is going with a Snapdragon 662 system-on-chip instead of the Snapdragon 665 in last year's phone. The performance difference shouldn't be noticeable, though.
The other big change with the Moto G Power involves the camera. The ultrawide angle lens from last year's model is gone, but the main camera has been bumped up from a 16MP sensor to a 48MP one, and the quad-pixel setup should improve performance in low light. Dedicated depth and macro sensors make up the other two lenses in the Moto G Power's new rear-camera array.
Moto G Play (2021) specs and features
The Moto G Power isn't the only Motorola phone to support a massive battery. The Moto G Play (2021) is getting a 5,000-mAh power pack, too, which means the promise of multi-day battery support.
Other Moto G Play specs are more modest compared to the Moto G Power. There's only a single configuration with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. (As with the Moto G Power, you can expand the phone's capacity with a microSD card.)
A modest Snapdragon 460 chipset powers things along and probably explains that sub-$200 price. You'll get a 6.5-inch display with HD+ resolution on which to enjoy games and videos, though a teardrop notch cuts into the screen at the top. (Other Moto G phones feature a punch-hole cutout for the front camera.)
This may be a budget phone, as its plastic body will quickly reveal, but the Misty Blue color option is catchy, based on my hands-on time with the device. There's also a Flash Gray option.
There are just two sensors on the back of the Moto G Play — a 13MP main shooter and a 2MP depth sensor. The Moto G Play's cameras support photo features found in other Moto G phones, such as spot color (you preserve one color in a photo and now video, turning everything else black and white) and automatic smile capture. There doesn't appear to be a Night Vision mode on the Moto G Play, though, for low-light images.
Moto G Stylus (2021) specs and features
The Moto G Stylus debuted last year with a stylus that tucks into the phone's frame. Popping it out gave you a tool for editing photos, marking up documents or sketching out drawings. It's nowhere near as sophisticated as Samsung's S Pen, but it was a nice productivity tool for a sub-$300 handset.
The stylus returns in the Moto G Stylus (2021), and you've got a lot more screen real estate with which to work — 6.8 inches as opposed to the 6.4-inch screen from last year's model. Motorola says the stylus has new features as well since you can customize color, input, images and text in the Moto Notes app.
Motorola is bumping the processor to a Snapdragon 678 system-on-chip, a step up from last year's Snapdragon 665. Other specs like memory (4GB), storage (128GB) and battery size (4,000 mAh) haven't changed from year to year.
The main camera is still a 48MP shooter, and the Moto G Stylus has gained the ultrawide angle lens that's gone missing from this year's Moto G Power — an 8MP sensor with a 118-degree field of view. A macro lens and depth sensor round out the rear cameras.
Other Moto G phone features
Some features are the same across the Moto G lineup, such as the unobtrusive My UX interface and Moto Actions where gestures can trigger shortcuts. One such Action that's sure to impress is the ability to split the screen of any Moto G phone, by dragging your finger horizontally back and forth, so that you can run two apps at once.
The three Moto G phones include a power button that doubles as a fingerprint sensor. Tap the button twice and you can even launch apps or shortcuts via a quick menu that pops up on the screen.
Moto G series users may be less impressed by the fact that these phones ship with Android 10, and that Android 11 will be the only major update they'll receive. Motorola is promising two years of software patches.
Motorola One 5G Ace specs and features
Starting price: $399
Screen size: 6.7 inches (2400 x 1080)
CPU: Snapdragon 750
RAM: 4GB, 6GB
Storage/Expandable?: 64GB, 128GB/Yes
Rear cameras: 48MP (f/1.7) main; 8MP (f/2.2) ultrawide; 2MP (f/2.4) macro
Front camera: 16MP (f/2.2)
Battery size: 5,000 mAh
Size: 6.5 x 3 x 0.39 inches
Weight: 7.5 ounces
As for the 5G device unveiled by Motorola today, the Motorola One 5G Ace looks to improve upon last year's Motorola One 5G by offering a more affordable phone. That could explain why the new model features a Snapdragon 750 chipset, as opposed to the older phone's Snapdragon 765 silicon. Motorola says the chipset in the 5G Ace supports Snapdragon Elite Gaming, which promises desktop quality gaming for mobile devices.
A 5,000-mAh battery should keep the Motorola One 5G Ace running for two days, Motorola figures. The 6.7-inch FHD+ display provides ample screen real estate, especially since the punch-hole cutout means there's only minimal bezel at the top of the screen.
Like the Moto G Stylus, the Motorola One has a 48MP main camera and an 8MP ultra-wide lens. There's just a macro camera on the back of the 5G phone, though.
When looking at the Motorola One 5G Ace, it's hard not to focus on the $399 price, especially since last year's phone was more expensive at $445. Motorola's new model costs $100 less than the Pixel 4a 5G, one of the better mid-range 5G phones. But Motorola will have to contend with cheaper models like the OnePlus Nord N10 5G, which is $100 less than the new Motorola One 5G.
Moto G models and Motorola One 5G Ace outlook
We plan on reviewing all four phones introduced by Motorola to kick off the new year. Come back to find out what we think of the 2021 versions of the Moto G Stylus, Moto G Play and Moto G Power, along with the new Motorola One 5G Ace.