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Moto G Stylus 5G review: One of the longest-lasting batteries in any phone

At $400, it has the unique combination of 5G, a stylus, a low price -- and ridiculously long battery life.

Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G

The new Moto G Stylus 5G is the first G-series phone from Motorola to get support for 5G connectivity.

Patrick Holland/CNET

If the new Moto G Stylus 5G from Motorola seems familiar, that's because it's the follow up to January's Moto G Stylus, which costs less and doesn't have 5G. The Stylus 5G comes with a redesigned stylus, Android 11, a new security layer from Motorola's parent company Lenovo, 256GB of storage, 6GB of RAM and a new processor. It includes those beloved Moto gestures for shortcuts like twisting your wrist to open the camera app. The Moto G Stylus 5G is a good phone and did pretty much everything I threw at it for a week. Best of all, it costs $400 (roughly £290 or AU$520 converted).

But the Moto G Stylus 5G is in an awkward position in Motorola's lineup. It's the most expensive G-series phone this year and yet offers a lot of value as a budget 5G phone. It's not for everyone, mainly because Motorola has other phones that might be a better fit and value.

If you don't care about 5G or improvements like a new stylus, then the $300 Moto G Stylus is the way to go, especially since it's on sale for $279 at the time I'm writing this review. If you're not interested in a stylus, and just want a solid 5G phone that won't break your budget, get the Motorola One 5G Ace. It costs the same and has a better processor.

7.7

Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G

Like

  • Long battery life
  • Comes with Android 11
  • Dual-capture video is perfect for social media

Don't Like

  • Display isn't bright
  • Ultrawide and macro cameras feel like add-ons
  • Performance is just OK

But if you're looking for a good budget phone that comes with a basic stylus and support for 5G, then the Moto G Stylus 5G is there for you. It has features more expensive phones lack, including a headphone jack, expandable storage (up to 1TB) and great battery life. It also comes with a charging cable and wall charger in the box.

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On the back are four cameras, the same ones on the Moto G Stylus, except for the macro camera which got a slight bump in resolution. The main 48-megapixel camera is actually pretty decent. Like other Moto phones it combines multiple pixels into one for less image noise, brighter photos and better detail. I took a lot of great shots with it.

Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G

The HDR helped capture the menacing color of the clouds in contrast to the soft white of the church.

Patrick Holland/CNET
Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G

The main camera can capture an impressive amount of detail. Look at the leaves in the trees and the texture of the bricks.

Patrick Holland/CNET
Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G

The main camera is impressive for a $400 phone.

Patrick Holland/CNET

The ultrawide camera is just OK. Details in photos are soft and pictures don't have the same image quality the main camera offers. The depth camera works with the main camera for portrait mode photos which are pretty good. The macro camera seems like a novelty. If the ultrawide and macro cameras had the same image quality as the main camera, that would be a different story.

On the front is a 16-megapixel camera which takes good photos. The Stylus 5G can record HD video (no 4K). Perhaps my favorite feature is Dual-Capture which records videos with the front and rear cameras simultaneously. It's a great way to see someone's reaction and the thing they're reacting to at the same time.

Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G

There are four rear cameras including a depth camera for portrait mode photos.

Patrick Holland/CNET

The Moto G Stylus 5G comes in Cosmic Emerald with a plastic back that unfortunately collects more fingerprints than Det. Sheehan in Mare of Easttown. It has a 6.8-inch FHD display that indoors looks decent, but didn't wow me. The display isn't bright and outside it's difficult to see.

It has a large battery, which I was reminded of every time I picked up the Stylus 5G. It's a heavy phone that gets its heft from the 5,000-mAh battery, meant to counter the extra drain from 5G connectivity. In daily use, it got through a day and a half, sometimes two days before I needed to charge it. Battery tests on the Moto G Stylus 5G for continuous video playback on Airplane mode clocked an average of 28 hours, 31 minutes. That's the second longest time out of all of the phones we tested this year. The only phone that lasted longer was the Motorola Moto G Play (2021), which lasted over 30 hours. One of the most obvious reasons both of these Motorola phones last so long on a single charge is because the screens on each are pretty dim.

I tested the Stylus 5G on T-Mobile's 5G network in South Carolina. Speeds weren't great and would frequently drop back to LTE, which is exactly what happened on other 5G phones I've tested here. If you want a 5G phone, do a little research first into your carrier's 5G network and whether it's good or not. For me, based on my time on T-Mobile's 5G network, I'd be just fine buying a non-5G Moto G Stylus and saving $130.

Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G

The stylus has a new cylindrical shape, making it easier to put back into the phone.

Patrick Holland/CNET

The stylus is rudimentary and akin to the one on the LG Stylo instead of the feature-packed S-Pen on the Galaxy Note line. The stylus is now completely round from top-to-bottom which makes it easier to put back into the phone. There is also a software notification that reminds you when it's removed. Using the stylus for handwriting was not an enjoyable experience. The lag is pretty bad. Doodling is fun, but isn't enough to sell me on getting the phone.

The Moto G Stylus 5G has a Snapdragon 480 5G processor which worked well for pretty much everything I did from playing games like PUBG Mobile and Alto's Adventure to watching Loki on Disney Plus to just scrolling through social media. In benchmark tests, the Moto G Stylus 5G scored lower in single-core tests than the January Moto G Stylus. But in multicore and gaming tests, the Stylus 5G did better. The similarly priced Motorola One 5G Ace scored even better. Check out the results below.

GEEKBENCH V.5.0 SINGLE-CORE

Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G
494
Motorola Moto G Stylus
521
Motorola One 5G Ace
651
Google Pixel 4A 5G
573

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

GEEKBENCH V.5.0 MULTICORE

Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G
1,596
Motorola Moto G Stylus
1,458
Motorola One 5G Ace
2,003
Google Pixel 4A 5G
1,567

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

3DMARK SLINGSHOT UNLIMITED

Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G
3,551
Motorola Moto G Stylus
2,077
Motorola One 5G Ace
4,146
Google Pixel 4A 5G
3,818

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G specs vs. Moto G Stylus, Motorola One 5G Ace, Google Pixel 4A 5G


Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G Motorola Moto G Stylus Motorola One 5G Ace Google Pixel 4A 5G
Display size, resolution 6.8-inch LCD FHD Plus; 2,400x1,080 pixels 6.8-inch FHDPlus LCD; 2,400x1,080 pixels 6.7-inch FHD Plus LCD, 2,400x1,080 pixels 6.2-inch FHD Plus OLED; 2,340x1,080 pixels
Pixel density 386ppi 386ppi 394ppi 413ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 6.67x3.05x0.39 in 6.7x3x0.35 in 6.54x3x0.39 in 6.1x2.9x0.3 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) 169.54x77.48x9.35 mm 169.8x77.9x9 mm 166.1x76.1x9.9mm 153.9x74x8.2 mm (Sub-6 only); 153.9x74x8.5 mm (mmWave + Sub-6)
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 7.67 oz; 217.5 g 7.51 oz; 213 g 7.49 oz; 212g 5.93 oz; 168g (Sub-6 only); 6.03 oz; 171g (mmWave + Sub-6)
Mobile software Android 11 Android 10 Android 10 Android 11
Camera 48-megapixel (wide-angle), 5-megapixel (macro), 8-megapixel (ultrawide angle), 2-megapixel (depth sensor) 48-megapixel wide-angle, 2-megapixel macro, 8-megapixel ultrawide angle, 2-megapixel depth sensor 48-megapixel wide-angle, 2-megapixel macro, 8-megapixel ultrawide angle 12.2-megapixel (standard), 16-megapixel (ultrawide)
Front-facing camera 16-megapixel 16-megapixel 16-megapixel 8-megapixel
Video capture 4K 4K 4K 4K
Processor Snapdragon 480 5G Snapdragon 678 Snapdragon 750G 5G Snapdragon 765G
Storage 256GB 128GB 128GB 128GB
RAM 6GB 4GB 6GB 6GB
Expandable storage Up to 1TB Up to 512GB Up to 1TB No
Battery 5,000 mAh 4,000 mAh 5,000 mAh 3,800 mAh
Fingerprint sensor Back Side Rear Rear
Connector USB-C USB-C USB-C USB-C
Headphone jack Yes Yes Yes Yes
Special features 5G-enabled, Stylus, 10W charging, Spot color selection for photos and videos, Dual-capture video simultaneously with front and rear cameras Stylus, 10W charging, Spot color selection for photos and videos 5G enabled, IP52 water and dust resistence, IP54 for T-Mobile 5G enabled; dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM); fast charging
Price off-contract (USD) $400 $300 $400 $499
Price (GBP) Converts to about £290 Converts to about £220 Converts to about £280 £499
Price (AUD) Converts to about AU$520 Converts to about AU$390 Converts to about AU$500 AU$799

First published June 14.