A monster of a budget phone

Low cost telephones reduce corners. It is simply unavoidable, that is why they price much less cash. However every cellphone is its personal seasoned mixture of particular setbacks and drawbacks. Generally that is a exactly tuned mixture with a transparent purpose in thoughts, however it may well simply be a haphazard and hamfisted meeting loaded with gotchas. However the 2021 Moto G Play hits an nearly excellent mixture with good efficiency, unadulterated software program, stellar battery life, and a massive vivid display screen. It is an enormous cellphone, and ounce for ounce, fairly robust to beat for $170.

Design, {hardware}, what’s within the field

The 2021 Moto G Play is an enormous cellphone — not only for a price range cellphone, however objectively giant typically. It is really even greater than the flagship-grade OnePlus 8 Professional. I feel that is an excellent factor, because it offers house for issues like the massive 5,000mAh battery and a bigger display screen, however there are some drawbacks. For one, it is just a little on the thicker facet, and it weighs nearly as a lot as a Note20 Extremely, in order that does add as much as a brick-like feeling in your pocket. It additionally makes a dent in show high quality. This can be a 720p display screen, and at 6.5″ diagonally, that works out to 220 PPI, which is not particularly sharp.

For the reason that Moto G Play is simply $170, a 720p display screen isn’t the top of the world, however not everybody will agree. Exterior that downside, it is a fairly respectable show. I discovered it obtained vivid sufficient exterior and dim sufficient inside and at evening, although there have been some faint strains seen with sure colours or whereas in movement, as you typically see on cheaper LCD shows. It even presents some shade degree settings, which you do not all the time see on price range telephones. Although I think none are literally calibrated to a particular reference, you may no less than select between saturation ranges.

Although I neither babied it nor whaled on it, the display screen’s glass prime survived my evaluation with out getting scratched, and appears sturdy sufficient. It is also notched for the front-facing digicam and sports activities an enormous chin, two options which some people are certain to despise, however I do not suppose both is a deal-breaker.

The cellphone’s physique is beefy plastic in a semi-gloss end, however it would not really feel low-cost. Just like the display screen, it escaped any indicators of damage or harm throughout our evaluation, which is encouraging.  There is a sq. digicam plateau at prime heart, with the fingerprint sensor embedded simply beneath it and offset by a metallic ring. It is in simply the appropriate spot and proved to be each dependable and fast.

On the underside of the cellphone, you have obtained a USB Kind-C port — no derpy Micro USB as you get with the marginally cheaper Moto E. That costs at as much as a 10W velocity, and I’ve confirmed that at 5V 2A with fundamental USB energy, and there isn’t any USB Energy Supply or superior charging tech at work right here.  Subsequent to that’s the lone speaker, which delivers hole and tinny mono sound, with out the assistance of the earpiece. On the prime is a much-appreciated headphone jack, an incredible characteristic now relegated to mere price range telephones like this. Built-in into the nano SIM tray is a microSD card holder, which helps you to simply broaden past the bottom 32GB of storage, for those who want it.

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The field comes with the traditional smartphone paraphernalia: a SIM ejector device, a charger, a cable, and a handful of playing cards, manuals, and guides.

Software program, efficiency, and battery

The Moto G Play 2021 delivers a fairly naked Android expertise, however that is an excellent factor, particularly on a lower-end cellphone like this. There are not any pointless, inconsistent, or performance-draining modifications right here, only a largely inventory look with a handful of tasteful (and non-compulsory) tweaks, like Moto’s gestures for issues just like the flashlight or screenshot, and Peek Show for extra minimal notifications. Apart from that, it is the form of Android software program anybody can take pleasure in.


The one actual downside is the replace scenario. The G Play 2021 ships with Android 10, which places it one main model behind the present launch. It is also solely assured one system replace to Android 11 and two years of safety patches. If this cellphone price extra, I would be complaining, however that is acceptable for $170.

I did additionally discover a number of annoying bugs, like the continued name notification persevering with for a bit after you have hung up, the display screen not all the time waking throughout a name whenever you take it out of your ear aspiring to faucet the display screen to finish it, and a few points with computerized brightness. If you wake the display screen at evening, it is assured to blind you, ramping slowly down from what seems like most brightness to a extra comfy setting.

Efficiency for the Moto G Play 2021 was sort of shocking. On paper, you may take a look at the Snapdragon 460 and assume it is a downgrade from the Snapdragon 632 within the Moto G7 Play. In spite of everything, it is in a decrease chip collection and numerically like 172 much less, proper? Effectively, it is not so clear reduce. Qualcomm’s 460 is a a lot newer chip, and it was notable for inheriting some comparatively “premium” options from the 600 collection, like Kryo-based CPU cores. On prime of that, the 460 has the identical GPU because the Snapdragon 665 (the Adreno 610), and it is constructed at a smaller node, which brings varied thermal, effectivity, and efficiency good points as properly. Briefly, there’s extra to hurry than simply mannequin numbers, and it is a fairly respectable chip.

Now, I say “respectable,” however this is not competing with flagships, and you are not going to be beating your buddy’s new Galaxy S21 in any benchmarks. You’ll discover stutters, dropped frames, and a few basic jank. However that jank is constant to the purpose you may anticipate it, anticipate it, and finally barely discover it. It is not all the time a easy expertise, and extra demanding apps make it chug just a little. However in regular use, it is solely wonderful, and truthfully much better than I anticipated for the value.

The one actual subject you may run into ais an absence of storage. I am at 73% full with simply my regular apps and some photographs, and 32GB is not going to be sufficient long-term. It’s microSD expandable, however that is not the identical.

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Battery life was gorgeous. I used to be often on the cusp of breaking ten hours of screen-on time over three days earlier than it died. That is actually as a result of power-sipping nature of the Snapdragon 460, the 720p display screen, and the massive 5,000mAh battery powering the cellphone — and it is unbelievable. This may final greater than lengthy sufficient for anybody.


I haven’t got a lot reward for the G Play 2021’s digicam. It is unhealthy, with outcomes that appear about equal to the 2020 Moto E to my eye. Admittedly, it is more durable to get out and take photographs throughout the pandemic winter season, however what I’ve seen to this point leaves me very unimpressed. That is good for receipts and never a lot else.

Dynamic vary is unhealthy, every thing is muddy (even in ultimate gentle), low-light efficiency is abysmal, and solely one of many two cameras really does something. Out of all of the options, that is the one which’s certain to remind you that you simply’re utilizing a $170 cellphone. If there’s a single takeaway you get from this evaluation it needs to be: Do not buy this for the digicam.

Do you have to purchase it?

Sure. There’s not an entire lot to say in regards to the 2021 Moto G Play, and that is a very actually good factor. Coming from a few of final 12 months’s greatest telephones, I anticipated to have extra complaints, however I used to be fairly happy exterior the anticipated points like a foul digicam and merely acceptable efficiency. I did not must put up with a Micro USB port, unhealthy software program, a horrible display screen, unhealthy battery life, or any actual points. If I used to be in a good spot and wanted one thing low-cost and respectable to tide me over for some time, this could be proper up on the prime of the record. Though I favored the $150 2020 Moto E fairly a bit, this cellphone is simply $20 extra and even simpler to suggest.

It is true, Motorola’s software program replace coverage is not nice, there isn’t any NFC for contactless funds, and the corporate solely guarantees one replace to Android 11 and safety updates for 2 years in whole. The digicam can also be legitimately potato, with middling outcomes even in daylight and down-right unhealthy efficiency in comparison with modern flagships or mid-range telephones. There is no NFC for contactless funds. The shortage of storage will imply some micromanaging, a microSD card, or robust selections. And sure, the display screen is simply 720p. However at $170, these limitations hardly matter.

Battery life right here is stellar; the display screen is massive, vivid sufficient, and sharp sufficient; and Moto’s light-touch software program is straightforward to love. It even comes with Googly options like name screening constructed proper in — that is an enormous time and a focus saver with spam calls as unhealthy as they’re lately.

Fashionable Motorola does plenty of bizarre and complicated issues, and never all of its telephones are objectively “good,” however this one completely is, particularly at simply $170.

Purchase it if:

  • You are on a strict price range.
  • Battery life is a precedence.
  • You desire a massive cellphone.

Do not buy it if:

  • You want an excellent digicam. This actually, actually, actually is not one.
  • You will miss NFC for contactless funds.

The place to purchase:

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