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Moto G Stylus 5G (2023)
What we like
What we don't like
Moto G Stylus 5G (2023)
Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G (2023) review: At a glance
- What is it? The Moto G Stylus 5G (2023) is a budget Android smartphone from Motorola, not to be confused with the very similar non-5G Stylus. It has a 6.6-inch 1080p LCD, a Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 processor, 6GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage. The capacitive stylus that gives the phone its name slots into the bottom.
- What is the price? The Moto G Stylus 5G (2023) is available for $399.99, which is $100 less than last year's model.
- Where can you buy it? Cricket began offering the Moto G Stylus 5G (2023) on June 2, and Motorola launched the unlocked version on June 15.
- How did we test it? I tested the Moto G Stylus 5G (2023) for two weeks. The review unit was supplied by Motorola.
- Is it worth it? If you want a stylus-equipped phone with 5G without the hefty price tag of the Samsung Galaxy S Ultra series, the Moto G Stylus 5G (2023) is a great option. Otherwise, there are better budget phone values.
Should you buy the Moto G Stylus 5G (2023)?
Motorola has had a tough couple of years, but it’s riding high in 2023 with a fantastic flagship phone and stunning foldables. It’s budget phones in the G series that kept Moto going through it all, though, and there are new releases there as well. The 2023 model of the Moto G Stylus 5G starts with the established Moto G formula, upgrades a few specs, and slots in a stylus. The result is a solid phone for doodling and note-taking at a much lower price than Samsung’s stylus-equipped phones. However, the shadow of the very best cheap phones — especially the Pixel 7a — looms large over Moto’s most premium G phone.
The latest Moto G Stylus 5G looks almost identical to the non-5G version of the phone, but it gets a few notable upgrades that make it a much better device. Front and center on the Moto G Stylus 5G (2023) is a 6.6-inch 1080p LCD, a solid upgrade from the 720p screen on the non-5G version we previously reviewed. This panel has a maximum refresh of 120Hz for smoother animations than you usually see on phones in this price range. The brightness is also impressive, ensuring visibility even in direct sunlight. The colors get a bit washed out, but we can forgive that for the price point.
The shaper, faster display takes a toll, though. We expected to easily hit two days of battery life with this device, but it’s more like a day and change. Meanwhile, the non-5G version of this phone, and most other Moto G phones, can eke out two days with its more modest hardware.
Front and center on the Moto G Stylus 5G (2023) is a 6.6-inch 1080p LCD, a solid upgrade from the 720p screen on the non-5G version.
This phone doesn’t have a glass back like more expensive devices, but the plastic frame and back are thick and sturdy. I also like the matte finish on the Moto G Stylus 5G, which repels fingerprints and looks similar to the matte glass on Samsung phones. The decision to keep the headphone jack is also appreciated. While we’ve all largely gotten over the lack of a 3.5mm port on flagship phones, it’s good there’s still an option for wired headphone folks on a budget. There’s a fingerprint sensor in the power button on the right edge. It gets the job done, but it’s not particularly fast or accurate.
Inside, the Moto G Stylus 5G (2023) has a Snapdragon 6 Gen 1, making it one of the first phones to launch in the US with Qualcomm’s budget chip. It’s a step down from the Snapdragon 8 and 7 families, but it has a newer process node (4nm) and components than last year’s Snapdragon 600 chips. The Moto G Stylus 5G (2023) performs well, opening apps quickly and scrolling smoothly through the web. It can even handle games reasonably well. A Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 phone unsurprisingly still roughly doubles the graphical performance of this chip and it can’t match the flagship-grade power of the Pixel 7a’s custom Tensor processor, but the Moto G Stylus 5G is more than fast enough for daily use.
This wouldn’t be a Moto G Stylus 5G without the stylus slotted in the bottom of the frame. It has a push-push mechanism, making it easy to remove. The capacitive nub is fine enough for writing or tapping small UI elements, and Motorola apes Samsung with a handy floating menu of stylus-optimized tools. Keep in mind, there is no pressure sensitivity like you’d get with a more expensive inductive or Bluetooth stylus. Even without that, the stylus is good for accessibility and writing quick notes, but narrow pens like this can be awkward to hold for long periods. It also sticks out from the frame of the phone slightly, and it can be too easy to graze while handling the device. On a few occasions, I released the stylus accidentally—it even happened in my pocket once when I bent over to pick something up.
Motorola’s build of Android 13 is about as close to stock as you’ll find these days when even Google is restyling the OS. The user experience is consistent, all the core Android features are there, and Moto’s add-ons are well-explained and easy to access. I will never understand why other OEMs haven’t borrowed Moto’s gesture controls. Being able to chop twice with the phone to turn the flashlight on and off is a real lifesaver, and the camera twist shortcut gets almost as much use. Moto Display is also a handy way to manage notifications, but this feature works a little better with OLED screens and in-display fingerprint sensors. While it’s nice to see the latest version of Android, the G Stylus 5G will fall behind before long, and Motorola only promises one major OS update.
Usually, we can also praise Motorola for its restraint with pre-loaded apps, but just like we found with the Moto G Power 5G, that’s not the case here. There are nine or ten third-party apps installed out of the box, like Booking.com, TikTok, and a raft of software from a company called Swish. These apps, which recommend and organize other apps, really look like privacy nightmares — the data policy says that Swish’s partners may be allowed to track your phone’s precise location.
The 2023 Moto G Stylus 5G is one of a small handful of Motorolas device in recent memory with a surprising bloatware problem.
This is a budget camera phone, so we weren’t expecting miracles in the photography department, but for the moment, let’s give Motorola props for the hardware. The Moto G Stylus 5G doesn’t follow the trend of cramming as many lenses on the back as possible. There are two rear-facing cameras on this phone, and both of them are useful. The primary 50MP shooter bins photos to 12MP for better brightness, and the 8MP secondary serves as the ultrawide, depth sensor, and macro camera. It manages that last trick with autofocus, which is often missing on ultrawide lenses, even on more expensive phones like the Google Pixel 7.
The photos you get from the Moto G Stylus 5G are above average for a mid-range phone, producing vibrant, eminently sharable photos in good light. Indoors, the 2023 Moto G Stylus 5G has a habit of blowing away details as it seeks to limit noise. The primary camera is a bit inconsistent with exposure times, which affects the look of the final processed photo. Some outdoor photos might be on the order of 1/400s, but one taken just a moment later could be 1/100s. If mobile photography is something you care a lot about, spending $100 more on the Pixel 7a is probably a smart bet. We’ve got some camera samples from the G Stylus available here.
The appeal of this phone is largely dependent on how you feel about styli. If you want a stylus without spending an arm and a leg, the Moto G Stylus 5G is a great option. It improves many of the disappointing specs of the cheaper Moto G Stylus, and it looks like it costs more than $400. However, if you don’t need a stylus, there’s no reason to get this particular phone. There are cheaper Motorola phones, slightly more spendy Pixels, and similarly priced OnePlus devices that could serve you better, sans stylus.
What are the best Moto G Stylus 5G (2023) alternatives?
- Moto G Stylus (2023) ($169 at Amazon): If you need a stylus but 5G is negotiable, the non-5G version Moto’s latest G Stylus could be the answer. This device steps down to a 720p LCD and a MediaTek processor, but it’s only $250 and you get the same stylus experience as the Moto G Stylus 5G.
- Google Pixel 7a ($477 at Amazon): The Pixel 7a will cost you $100 more than the G Stylus 5G, and there’s no stylus, but everything else is vastly improved. The Pixel has a better camera, more elegant software, and a superior OLED screen with an optical fingerprint sensor. Google also guarantees multiple timely OS updates.
- OnePlus Nord N30 5G ($249.99 at Amazon): The latest budget OnePlus phone lacks a stylus, but it makes up for that somewhat with a 108MP camera, the highest resolution we’ve ever seen on a device that retail for just $300. It has a big 120Hz LCD like the G Stylus 5G, and the 50W charger will fill the 5000mAh battery in a snap.
- Samsung Galaxy A23 5G ($299 at Amazon): Samsung’s A23 5G has a similar loadout to the Moto G Stylus, with a 6.6-inch 1080 p screen at 120Hz, a Snapdragon 695, and 6GB of RAM. It has an update to Android 13, and Samsung promises at least one more. It also gets four years of security patches. That’s not bad for $350.
Moto G Stylus 5G (2023) specs
|Motorola Moto G 5G (2023)
2400 x 1080 resolution
120Hz refresh rate
Qualcomm Snapdragon 6 Gen 1
20W wired charging
- 50MP wide, f/1.9, PDAF
- 8MP ultrawide, f/2.2
- 16MP, f/2.5
Primary: 4K/30fps, 1080p/60fps
Plastic back and frame
Side-mounted fingerprint reader
Face unlock (via camera)
Ports and switches
USB 2.0 via USB-C
Dimensions and weight
162.8 x 73.8 x 9.2mm
In the box
Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G (2023)
USB Type-C cable
Moto G Stylus 5G (2023) review: FAQ
No, the 2023 Moto G Stylus 5G lacks an IP rating. Motorola says it’s “water-repellant” but not to the standards of an IP rating.
No, the Moto G Stylus 5G does not support wireless charging.
Yes, there’s a 3.5mm plug on the bottom edge of the Moto G Stylus 5G.
Yes, the Moto G Stylus 5G is one of the few phones still offering a microSD card slot next to the SIM card.