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Motorola Moto G Play 2024 home screen
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Motorola Moto G Play (2024) review: Should you buy it?


Published onApril 11, 2024

Motorola Moto G Play (2024)

There is such thing as too cheap when it comes to an Android phone, and the Motorola Moto G Play (2024) is it. It offers just one rear camera, one major software update (to Android 14), and a wired charging speed that falls behind just about everything else on the market, which is more than enough to weigh down the updated display, processor, and convenience of the headphone jack. Motorola's Moto G series is capable of good things, but the Moto G Play doesn't deliver them.

MSRP: $149.99

See price at Amazon

What we like

Upgraded camera
Sturdy plastic construction
Decent battery life

What we don't like

Terrible update promise
Slow wired charging
Limited to 4G
Only one rear camera
Dim display
Ad-laden weather app

Motorola Moto G Play (2024)

There is such thing as too cheap when it comes to an Android phone, and the Motorola Moto G Play (2024) is it. It offers just one rear camera, one major software update (to Android 14), and a wired charging speed that falls behind just about everything else on the market, which is more than enough to weigh down the updated display, processor, and convenience of the headphone jack. Motorola's Moto G series is capable of good things, but the Moto G Play doesn't deliver them.

Motorola Moto G Play (2024) review: At a glance

  • What is it? The Moto G Play (2024) is the most affordable member of Motorola's budget lineup, replacing the 2023 model of the same name. It swaps from three rear cameras to just one but offers a higher resolution, faster wired charging, and a more efficient processor than its predecessor.
  • What is the price? The Motorola Moto G Play (2024) costs $149 for the single configuration with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.
  • Where can you buy it? Motorola's Moto G Play (2024) is available directly from Motorola or through retailers like Amazon and Best Buy. It's also available through carriers like Boost Mobile and Consumer Cellular.
  • How did we test it? I tested the Motorola Moto G Play (2024) for seven days. Motorola supplied the review unit.
  • Is it worth it? At first, the Motorola Moto G Play (2024) appears to be a classic case of getting what you pay for, but it's actually far worse than that. It's more affordable than even some of the cheapest budget Android phones on the market, but you'll have to make do with only one rear camera, one major software update, no NFC, relatively limited wired charging speeds, and myriad other frustrations. You'll get much better value by spending a little more money on another phone from Motorola, Samsung, or OnePlus.

Should you buy the Motorola Moto G Play (2024)?

Motorola Moto G Play 2024 fingerprint reader
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

When I think of budget-friendly Android phones, I immediately go to Motorola’s Moto G series. That’s partly because my first smartphone reviews for Android Authority were of classic Moto G devices, but it’s also become one of the most consistently updated Android series over its decade of existence. And each time Motorola trots out its refreshes (outside of the year it tried to introduce the one-and-done Moto G Pure), the Moto G Play has been first in line. It’s the most affordable and modestly spec’d device in the lineup, and it’s hoping to prove that 4G-only devices still have a place in 2024. Let’s see if there’s any truth to the idea.

Although not a perfect copy, the Moto G Play (2024) takes most of its design cues from Motorola’s top-tier Edge lineup. Its large, corner-mounted camera bump melds seamlessly into the Sapphire Blue back panel, dotted by rings for the single 50MP camera and accompanying flash. I like the new shade of blue — it’s vibrant in a world where many budget offerings opt for dark blues and blacks, but I could have used a bit more texture. The smooth finish is much slicker in the hand than the relatively grippy vegan leather used on both the Moto G 5G (2024) and Moto G Power 5G (2024).

The Moto G Play (2024) pulls most of its design from the premium Edge series, but swaps to a slick blue finish.

Grip aside, Motorola’s experience with making plastic phones shines through on the Moto G Play (2024). It’s still unmistakably plastic but hefty enough to feel solid in the hand without any flex or give. The Moto G Play (2024) also offers creature comforts like a headphone jack on the top edge and expandable storage via a microSD slot shared with the single nano-SIM tray. Motorola’s latest capacitive fingerprint reader is good, too, responding faster and more reliably than the one on Samsung’s Galaxy A25 5G, though it’s a bit tougher to find the sensor on the Moto G Play without looking.

Unfortunately, though, there are other areas where the Moto G Play’s modest means are on full display. There’s a noticeable crease where the plastic frame meets the back panel, and the display itself seems to sit on top of the frame rather than within it, leading to another somewhat uncomfortable crease. While it doesn’t feel like you could get dust or debris in these creases, they do feel like potential weak points if you were to drop the Moto G Play on a hard surface. Also, while Motorola advertises that its Moto G Play has a water-resistant design, it does not have an official IP rating.

Motorola Moto G Play 2024 motorola apps
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Some of Motorola’s experience in the budget Android realm carries over to the Moto G Play (2024) display, too, for both better and worse. The 6.5-inch panel of Gorilla Glass 3 is outdated in the durability stakes considering the glass grade is now 11 years out of date, but it comes with a reasonably smooth 90Hz refresh rate, which isn’t bad for $149. It’s not adaptive — locking at 60 or 90Hz — but I didn’t notice issues when scrolling through the app drawer or browsing Google News. However, I noticed issues bringing the Moto G Play into bright sunlight. Motorola’s lowly LCD panel doesn’t feel bright or sharp enough on sunny days, often leaving me covering the display to check on photos right after I take them. The HD+ resolution (1,600 x 720) also leaves something to be desired, with most content shot in at least Full HD these days.

To make matters worse, Motorola’s My UX skin is no longer as light or smooth as it once was. Sure, it still looks and feels like stock Android at times, but it’s now bogged down by partnerships and integrations that are really just ads. We initially noticed Motorola’s shopping, gaming, and entertainment hubs on its 2023 Moto G updates, and they’re back again. They essentially serve you a list of recommended apps on a preselected checklist, and if you press “Done” to exit the hub rather than simply swipe out of it, the Moto G Play (2024) installs them all right away. It’s an alarmingly fast way to fill up your 64GB of base storage with apps you might never use.

Now, though, Motorola has found ways to make both its weather app and lock screen worse, too. It’s replaced the default AccuWeather forecasting with an alternative from 1Weather that can’t handle its own weight. The new weather app incorporates shorts and news, which take you to other weather sites in your browser, and scrolling up or down to check the forecast or upcoming radar is an exercise in lag. Oh, and each section of 1Weather is split up by an ad, in case you haven’t run into enough of them yet. Motorola’s lock screen experience is now powered by a partnership with Glance, which promises articles and information for any part of your day but instead comes up as random news articles that may or may not be of interest. For example, I was sent an article on the New York Yankees’ hot start to the season — not exactly helpful for a fairweather baseball fan with split loyalties to the Phillies and Orioles. Thankfully, you can uninstall 1Weather and opt out of Glance, but it’s easy to miss while setting up your phone.

On top of it all, the Moto G Play (2024) is only in line to receive one major Android update. The phone shipped with Android 13 right out of the box, too, meaning that its only update should be Android 14 — a version that’s already out and has already shipped on other Moto G devices. Two years of security patches soften the blow somewhat, but they’re still not in line with what Samsung, OnePlus, and others offer in terms of update policies, even for their cheapest devices.

With only an Android 14 update in the queue, the Moto G Play (2024) is already out of date.

Behind it all is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 680 — a 4G-only chipset from 2021. It’s backed by 4GB of RAM and 64GB of expandable storage and can repurpose 2GB of storage as virtual RAM when needed. The updated chipset is more efficient than its predecessor, moving from a 12nm to a 6nm process, but it’s still no match for spending even a little bit more money on a more powerful device. The Moto G Play (2024) came up more than 30% short of its closest in-house competitors, the Moto G 5G and Moto G Power 5G, and fell even further behind others like Samsung’s Galaxy A25 5G throughout our slate of benchmarks.

moto g play 2024 vs moto g 5g 204 vs galaxy a25 5g 3dmark wild life stress test

Unfortunately, this isn’t a case of the benchmarks betraying decent daily performance, either. The Moto G Play (2024) is quick to throw in the towel, even when it’s not working all that hard. It struggled immensely the first time I opened Motorola’s default camera app, suffering a few seconds of lag as I moved the camera around my apartment. Worse, the app crashed completely when I tried to grab a portrait-mode photo of one of my cats — and no, it didn’t save the image. The Moto G Play (2024) lags when scrolling through 1Weather and opening the unwanted hubs, too, as if the phone doesn’t want them there any more than I do.

Thankfully, the Moto G Play doesn’t seem to have the same trouble when launching games. I could dip into Miniclip’s Golf Battle and play a round of Monopoly Go! without issue. I would probably stick to games over streaming on the Moto G Play (2024), as YouTube defaults to just 360p streaming on the LCD panel, which doesn’t look very good — though the speakers are decently loud once you crank them up a bit.

Motorola Moto G Play 2024 cameras close
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

The Motorola Moto G Play (2024) also makes the unusual move of ditching a rear camera — two, in fact. It carries only a 50MP wide sensor, eliminating the macro and depth sensors of its predecessor. The new sensor seems to be standard across all Moto G models and has some decent qualities in line with the best budget camera phones. It bins down to 12.5MP images by default for more manageable files, and the reasonably shallow maximum aperture of f/1.8 offers a shallow depth of field for portrait shots.

However, there’s a reason that most smartphones have two or even three sensors these days. The Moto G Play (2024) simply doesn’t have the muscle to keep up as soon as you try to go beyond 2x zoom. It can technically punch into 8x zoom, but the results are barely useful at that point, losing finer details left and right and often missing exposure unless I tap on a subject. For example, the flag on top of Federal Hill correctly exposes the grass in my 1x zoom and 2x zoom samples before almost blacking it out on the 4x zoom image — not great, Moto.

Portrait mode is dodgy, too, seldom outlining the entire subject, no matter the zoom length. The Moto G Play (2024) missed parts of the glass tree, the tractor, and my cats, even in good lighting. If there’s one silver lining to the Moto G Play’s camera setup, the 8MP selfie camera is decent. It doesn’t bin by default, and actually picked up on my hair and jacket fairly well in portrait mode.

Oh, and if you were hoping for decent video specs, the Moto G Play (2024) tops out at 1080p resolution at 30fps from both the front and rear cameras, so no dice there. If you want to check out full-size versions of the images above and several more, you can do so at this Google Drive link.

Rounding things out, the Moto G Play (2024) has a sizable 5,000mAh battery inside its plastic shell. It matches the rest of Motorola’s Moto G series regarding capacity but comes up a bit short on charging options. The Moto G Play (2024) is only capable of 15W wired speeds, and Motorola no longer includes a charger in the box in all markets, but there are several options that we recommend. Thankfully, the 4G-only limitation keeps the Snapdragon 680 from drawing too much power, meaning that I could go through about two days of use before reaching for a charger. When I did need some juice, the Moto G Play (2024) took 115 minutes to go from empty to full, so be ready to spend a while tethered to a wall.


Don’t get me wrong, I see what Motorola is aiming for with the Moto G Play (2024). It’s as affordably priced as an Android phone can be and manages to hang onto several features like a headphone jack and expandable storage that other devices have left behind. However, it’s trying to exist as a rock-bottom option in a world where phones become exponentially better as soon as you reach just a bit higher than the baseline. The Moto G Play (2024) has one inflexible camera, one slow charging speed, and one measly software update, none of which is enough to be competitive against entry-level models from Samsung, OnePlus, or other Android rivals.

Perhaps the biggest indicator of how far behind the curve the Moto G Play (2024) is is the continued lack of NFC support. That means no Google Play, so no contactless payments. This has been a long-running point of ridicule for the Moto G series at large, but as of this year, all models except the Play will let you pay for a coffee with your phone. This is tech that’s been ubiquitous for about a decade and increasingly an accepted thing across all user demographics; it’s a table stakes feature for even the cheapest phones. It is beyond baffling that the Moto G Play (2024) has no NFC chip, and a final reminder that while it’s well-priced at just $149, you’re not even really getting what you pay for here.

Motorola Moto G Play (2024)Motorola Moto G Play (2024)
Motorola Moto G Play (2024)
Great battery life • Solid refresh rate • Headphone jack
MSRP: $149.99
The cheapest Moto G phone for 2024.
The Moto G Play (2024) is the most affordable member of Motorola's budget lineup, replacing the 2023 model of the same name. It swaps from three rear cameras to just one but offers a higher resolution, faster wired charging, and a more efficient processor than its predecessor.

What are the best Motorola Moto G Play (2024) alternatives?

Motorola Moto G Play 2024 alternatives in hand
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Once you decide that the Moto G Play (2024) probably isn’t the right device for you, it’s time to start looking at some other options. We’ve rounded up a few of the best affordable Android phones for you to consider, including one from Motorola itself. Here are a few picks:

  • Motorola Moto G 5G (2024) (on the product’s website): The Moto G 5G (2024) is an excellent example of how a little goes a long way. It costs just $50 more than the Moto G Play but adds 5G, faster wired charging, an additional rear camera, and an improved 120Hz refresh rate.
  • Motorola Moto G Power 5G (2024) ($299.99 at Amazon): If you want to bump up even further within the Moto G series, the Moto G Power 5G (2024) is your best bet. It picks up wireless charging for the first time, along with 30W wired charging — though there’s no charger in the box. The Moto G Power 5G also dumps the dedicated macro sensor in favor of an ultrawide camera with software-based Macro Vision.
  • Samsung Galaxy A15 5G ($174.8 at Amazon): Branching outside of the Motorola umbrella, Samsung’s Galaxy A15 5G is a solid Android entry point. It’s styled after the Galaxy S24 series and packs three rear cameras and 25W wired charging. Oh, and it offers a much better software update commitment than Motorola can match. It’s an extra $50 again, but it’s worth every cent extra.
  • OnePlus Nord N300 ($228 at OnePlus): One more option worth considering is the OnePlus Nord N300. It’s the most affordable of the Nord models, yet finds space for 33W wired charging and a Full HD display. It’s only available on T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile, so your network options are somewhat limited.

Motorola Moto G Play (2024) specs

Motorola Moto G Play (2024)
6.5-inch LCD
1,600 x 720 resolution (HD+)
90Hz refresh rate
Qualcomm Snapdragon 680 4G
5,000mAh battery
15W wired charging
No wireless charging
- 50MP wide, f/1.8

- 8MP, f/2.0
Stereo speakers
Headphone jack
Dolby Atmos

Plastic frame
Plastic back
Gorilla Glass 3 display
Wi-Fi 5
Bluetooth 5.1
Side-mounted fingerprint reader
Ports and switches
USB 2.0 via USB-C
Android 13
Dimensions and weight
163.8 x 74.9 x 8.3mm
Sapphire Blue

Motorola Moto G Play (2024) review: FAQ

No, the Moto G Play (2024) does not support NFC.

No, the Moto G Play (2024) is limited to 15W wired charging.

No, the Moto G Play (2024) is limited to 4G speeds.

Yes, the Moto G Play (2024) shares its expandable storage slot with the nano-SIM tray.

No, the Moto G Play (2024) only supports one physical SIM card in its nano-SIM tray.

The Moto G Play (2024) comes with a water-resistant treatment, but it does not have an official IP rating against water or dust.

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