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Motorola Moto G Pure review: Affordable déjà vu
Motorola Moto G Pure
Retail price: $159.99$159.99 at Amazon
What we like
What we don't like
Motorola’s G series has become synonymous with quality, affordable phones. Its Moto G Power, Play, and Stylus are among the most popular options across carriers in the US, especially MVNOs. Now, the king of budget power has a new name to add to the list. It’s called the Moto G Pure, and it slots in as the most affordable of the bunch. Let’s see if this new face can live up to the Moto G family legacy in our Moto G Pure review.
See also: The best Motorola phones you can buy
What you need to know about the Motorola Moto G Pure
- Motorola Moto G Pure (3GB/32GB): $159.99
The Moto G Pure is now the most affordable game in Moto-town. It slots in just $10 below the Moto G Play, though you might have trouble telling the two devices apart if you look at specs sheets. The Moto G Pure went on sale on Motorola’s own site, along with Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, and B&H Photo on October 14. It’s unavailable in the UK or the rest of Europe with seemingly no plans for a wider global launch, though is expected to hit Canada at a later date.
Motorola packed its Moto G Pure with Android 11 right out of the box — one of the key advantages over the Moto G Play. It should also receive one major Android update and two years of security patches, which would carry the phone through to late 2023.
Check out: The best budget phones you can currently buy
Under the hood, you’ll find a MediaTek Helio G25 powering the Moto G Pure. The entry-level processor doesn’t offer 5G support, though that’s not a surprise at this price point. It’s backed by 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, though you lose about 8GB of that to the system and a further 3GB to preinstalled apps. On the bright side, you can add a microSD card to boost your storage. The Moto G Pure runs on a 4,000mAh battery that should be able to last up to two days before you need a charger. A 6.5-inch HD+ display ties everything together, complete with a v-shaped notch for the 5MP selfie camera.
Motorola hasn’t abandoned chargers in boxes quite yet — the Moto G Pure comes with a 10W block and a USB-A to USB-C cable. You get a SIM ejector tool and some essential paperwork, but that’s about it.
The Motorola Moto G Pure is impressively affordable at $159, but it’s not alone in the budget sphere. Its closest rival is Motorola’s own Moto G Play, but it’s also in competition with the Samsung Galaxy A12. Both of these alternatives offer larger 5,000mAh batteries, as well as fractionally more powerful processors.
The Moto G Pure is nearly identical to the Moto G Play on paper, which means that many of the same positives carry over. For starters, Motorola offers one of the best near-stock Android experiences on the market. It’s light, smooth, and relies heavily on Google’s first-party apps. That said, my Moto G Pure arrived with a Verizon SIM inside, so I had a suite of preinstalled bloatware — most of which you can delete (but not all).
Motorola also got the overall design right once again. The Deep Indigo finish (the only colorway on offer) is eye-catching, and the raised ridges all along the back panel are easy to hold. The textured power button helps you find it without looking. The plastic construction doesn’t necessarily feel premium, though it does feel like you could drop the Moto G Pure a few times with no harm done. Motorola doesn’t note any strengthened glass protection, but it does have an IP52 rating for repelling water. It’s not a lot, but it’s more than you get with most super-cheap phones.
The Deep Indigo finish and Motorola's My UX combine for an experience well above the $159 price tag.
Also like the Moto G Play, you’ll find a mono speaker next to the USB-C port on the bottom edge. It delivers clear output almost up to full volume, though you may sometimes run into some distortion when you crank it up. The Moto G Pure still offers a headphone jack, located on the top edge right near the earpiece. Whether you prefer wired earbuds or a Bluetooth set, the variety of connections on offer — plus the large display — make Netflix and Disney Plus more tolerable as preinstalled apps. It’s a fine phone for streaming media on a budget.
The phone’s Helio G25 chipset had no real issues keeping up with basic tasks, though it’s obviously no powerhouse. I could bounce between apps, though it did slow a bit if I jumped into a game and then right back out again. Motorola’s 4,000mAh battery delivered the goods, though. I regularly pushed through two days of usage.
What’s not so good?
Although the battery performs reasonably well, the charging experience comes up short. The Moto G Pure tops out at just 10W, so you’ll have to bunker down at an outlet for quite a while before you’re back to full speed. It took half an hour to rise from a dead battery to 23%, and slightly longer than two hours to fill the 4,000mAh cell.
Motorola also kept the same camera setup from the Moto G Play, which isn’t always good. While there are some fun features like the Color Picker and Cutout mode, the pairing of a 13MP wide lens and a 2MP depth sensor comes up short. Many other affordable phones add a third lens to the mix for better zoom or ultra-wide capabilities. The primary lens still offers decent results in good lighting, but low light and zoom fall off almost immediately. You might also notice that the standard selfie below gives up on background details very quickly — almost to the point of looking like portrait mode.
Motorola kept the same Moto G Play camera, which underwhelms in all but the best conditions.
I appreciate that the Moto G Pure arrived with Android 11 onboard, but it has limited long-term support. The phone will only receive one major update to Android 12, with no promise of security updates after two years. Motorola’s promise of Android 12 is one of the few advantages over the Moto G Play overall, though the similarly-priced Galaxy A12 will also hit at least Android 12 and be supported for four years of security updates.
The Moto G Pure may look great, but Motorola didn’t go to any lengths to disguise the plastic construction. Some OEMs will give their plastic more weight and durability, but the Moto G Pure doesn’t have this benefit. It also sports chunky bezels at both the top and bottom, making the Moto G Pure feel unnecessarily tall.
Motorola Moto G Pure camera samples
Motorola Moto G Pure specs
|Motorola Moto G Pure|
1,600 x 720 (20:9)
|Processor||MediaTek Helio G25|
13MP wide (f/2.2)
2MP depth (f/2.4)
10W wired charging
|Dimensions||167.4 x 75.6 x 8.8mm|
|Security||Rear-mounted fingerprint reader|
Motorola Moto G Pure review: Should I buy it?
The Motorola G Pure offers decent value for shoppers on a tight budget. It packs a nice, large display, and Motorola’s My UX is as light and smooth as they come. The Deep Indigo finish is eye-catching, performance isn’t great but is acceptable for the price, and it even has a basic IP rating. Ultimately, though, it’s a challenge to recommend the Moto G Pure over the Moto G Play, which offers slightly more power and a much larger battery for just $10 more.
See also: The best budget phones you can buy
If you’re looking beyond the Moto G series, the Nokia 3.4 ($179) is worth consideration. It packs a Snapdragon 460 processor, a punch-hole selfie camera, and double the onboard storage. We also mentioned the Samsung Galaxy A12 ($179) which continues to be a popular choice in this price tier for a reason thanks to its large battery and surprisingly solid camera package. Another Motorola device worth checking out is the Moto E ($149). It’s an even more affordable option with a slightly smaller display and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 632 chipset.