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I used Motorola’s new $400 Android phone. Here’s why you should buy it

Someone holding the Moto G Stylus 5G (2024), showing the back of the phone and its stylus.
Moto G Stylus 5G (2024)
MSRP $400.00
“The new Moto G Stylus is the best Moto G phone this year, offering good hardware, a lovely display, and plenty of extra features at a great price.”
  • Leather back looks and feels great
  • Very nice OLED display
  • Two-day battery life
  • Solid charging options
  • Face unlock is excellent
  • Expandable storage
  • Annoying and intrusive ads
  • Will get just one OS update
  • Fierce competition

This year hasn’t been a good one for the Moto G family. In 2024, Motorola has released three new Moto G phones in the U.S. so far, and none of them have been particularly noteworthy. In fact, some of them have been quite bad.

The Moto G Stylus 5G (2024) is the fourth new Moto G of the year. It’s more expensive than the previous three models, has a promising spec sheet, and comes in at an affordable $400 asking price. And — thankfully — it’s a strong indicator that Motorola is still extremely capable of making high-quality budget phones.

What I love about the new Moto G Stylus

The Moto G Stylus 5G (2024) lying face-down outside.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

I’ve been using the new Moto G Stylus as my daily smartphone for close to two weeks now, and I’ve had a thoroughly enjoyable time with it. Right off the bat, one of the main highlights is its design/hardware.

Similar to other Moto Gs released this year, the Moto G Stylus 5G (2024) has a plastic frame with a vegan leather back. The phone feels sturdy, the leather back makes it extremely grippy, and I really like the two color choices. While I would have preferred the vibrant red Scarlet Wave color, the Carmel Latte version that I have also looks really nice. Surprisingly, it hasn’t shown any signs of dirt/grime at all throughout my testing.

The bottom frame of the Moto G Stylus 5G (2024), showing its 3.5mm headphone jack.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Beyond the good look and feel of the phone, it’s also rounded out with a few niceties. There’s a 3.5mm headphone jack, expandable storage of up to 2TB via a MicroSD card, and an IP52 rating for dust/water resistance.

There’s also an in-screen fingerprint sensor that’s worked well for me, but what I particularly love is the face unlock. Not only does it work for unlocking the lock screen, but it can also be used to unlock sensitive apps on the phone (like banking apps and password managers). It’s fast, reliable, and has worked shockingly well for me.

The phone feels sturdy, and the leather back makes it extremely grippy.

I’ve also been impressed by the phone’s display. The 6.7-inch OLED panel is a massive upgrade over the LCD screen on the Moto G Power 5G (2024). It has vibrant colors, dark blacks, very good viewing angles, and plenty of brightness — even outdoors in direct sunlight. The Full HD+ resolution (2400 x 1080 pixels) looks great, as does the 120Hz refresh rate. My only complaint about the display is the Gorilla Glass 3 covering it, which has already picked up a few scratches after a couple of weeks of use.

The Moto G Stylus 5G (2024) with its display turned on, showing a photo of a flower.
For a $400 phone, the Moto G Stylus 5G (2024) has a very good display. Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Speaking of having little to complain about, let’s talk battery life. It’s great! The Moto G Stylus 5G (2024) has a 5,000 mAh battery that has easily lasted me two days between charges. Even with two-and-a-half hours of screen time, which includes gaming and watching YouTube, the Moto G Stylus easily ends the day with over 60% battery remaining — that’s more than enough to get you through a second day. The battery is also extremely efficient when it’s not being used. I stopped using the phone one night at 11:15 p.m. with 64% battery remaining. At 7:25 a.m. the next morning, it still had 60% left in the tank.

When the battery does run dry, the Moto G Stylus 5G (2024) has surprisingly good charging options. Wired charging speeds are up to 30 watt. While not blazing fast, it is quicker than the much more expensive Samsung Galaxy S24 and Apple iPhone 15. The Moto G Stylus also supports wireless charging up to 15W, which is a really nice convenience.

Performance, cameras, and the stylus

Someone holding the Moto G Stylus 5G (2024).
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Powering the Moto G Stylus 5G (2024) is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 chip. Released in September 2022, it’s far from the newest smartphone chip on the market. However, it’s paired with 8GB of RAM and has been perfectly capable on the Moto G Stylus.

Scrolling through apps is smooth, Marvel Snap at Medium graphics and 60 frames per second (fps) plays just fine, and other apps like Microsoft Teams, YouTube, and Duolingo run without a problem. It’s certainly not the fastest phone I’ve ever used, and I have run into occasional stutters/slowdowns here and there, but it’s been nothing but a minor inconvenience.

The camera app running on the Moto G Stylus 5G (2024).
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

What about the cameras? What about the cameras, indeed. This is often a low point for any budget smartphone, especially recent Moto G models. Amazingly, the Moto G Stylus 5G (2024) actually fares quite well here.

The new Moto G Stylus has a 50-megapixel primary camera, a 13MP ultrawide camera with a 120-degree field of view (FOV), and a 32MP selfie camera. The ultrawide camera also enables Macro Vision to function as a pseudo-macro camera. And you know what? The phone can actually take pretty decent pictures.

The 50MP main camera is the highlight here. It captures sharp, good-looking photos that — for the most part — I’ve been happy with. Colors are often more saturated than I’d prefer, but that’s really my biggest complaint about it. It’s a good, dependable camera sensor that I’ve taken numerous good pictures with.

Less impressive is the 13MP ultrawide camera. I appreciate how much wider of a view it provides with the 120-degree FOV, but the image quality just isn’t there. Photos from the ultrawide camera look fine at first glance, but inspect them any closer, and you’ll quickly see how unimpressive they are. Images look bland, overly sharpened, and often have drastically different colors compared to the same scene captured with the main camera. It works in a pinch, but it’s not particularly good.

Finally, let’s talk about the stylus. Like on previous Moto G Stylus phones, the stylus is tucked away in the bottom-right frame and is completely hidden when you don’t want to use it. When you want to take handwritten notes/draw/doodle/etc., simply press the head of the stylus and slide it out.

The Moto G Stylus 5G (2024) resting on someone's leg, with the stylus laying behind it.
A pop-up menu appears when you remove the stylus. Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Removing the stylus displays a customizable pop-up menu that offers shortcuts to take a note, capture a screenshot, use a handwriting calculator, and more. You can remove any shortcuts you don’t want and add new ones, including shortcuts to any apps installed on the phone. This is not an active or Bluetooth stylus, meaning it does not have pressure sensitivity, remote button functions, etc. Instead, it’s a basic passive stylus that interacts with the touchscreen and nothing more.

I’ve enjoyed using the stylus to navigate apps and menus on the phone. It’s smooth and precise, and sometimes it’s just more enjoyable to use than your fingers. Unfortunately, it’s not particularly good for anything beyond that.

The stylus that's included with the Moto G Stylus 5G (2024).
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

The tip on the stylus is extremely smooth, and when you use it on the phone’s display, it feels like it’s sliding across a sheet of ice. This is fine for simple navigation, but if you’re trying to draw or write, it feels very unnatural. There also doesn’t appear to be any sort of palm rejection. If I rest my hand on the Moto G Stylus to take a note, and part of my hand touches the screen before the stylus does, the stylus doesn’t do anything until I pick my hand up off the screen and ensure that the stylus touches the screen first before anything else does.

The Moto G Stylus’ two biggest issues

Someone holding the Moto G Stylus 5G (2024).
One of the ad-ridden app folders on the Moto G Stylus. Joe Maring / Digital Trends

As the subhead suggests, it’s time to talk about some of the Moto G Stylus’ … less desirable traits. There are two main issues I have with the phone, and in my opinion, they’re pretty significant ones.

The first is ads. When you’re setting up the Moto G Stylus 5G (2024), you’re prompted to install a lot of extra apps — including Adobe Scan,, and LinkedIn. These are fine, but what’s more problematic is the Weather app, as well as the numerous “Folders.” These include the Shopping Folder, Entertainment Folder, and Gaming Folder.

Screenshots of the Weather app on the Moto G Stylus 5G (2024).
The horrible, very bad Weather app. Digital Trends

The Weather app takes over the Moto Widget, which is on your home screen by default andshows the time and weather. When you tap on the weather here or open the Weather app in your app drawer, you’re presented with the slowest, ugliest, most ad-ridden nightmare of a weather app. It’s bad. Similarly, those “folders” — which disguise themselves as premade folders for your own apps — are nothing but app advertisements. (You can see a photo of one of these above.)

Screenshots of Glance on the Moto G Stylus 5G (2024).
Glance on the Moto G Stylus 5G (2024). Digital Trends

Also on the phone is Glance. While I wasn’t prompted to use it while setting up the Moto G Stylus, a pop-up for it often appeared in the Settings app. When enabled, Glance displays news articles, weather information, and sports scores on your lock screen. It looks bad, the types of news articles are all over the place, and it adds nothing of value to the phone.

Can you set up the Moto G Stylus without downloading or using any of this stuff? You can, but you really need to know what to look for during the setup process. The vast majority of people buying the Moto G Stylus 5G (2024) will almost certainly add this junk to their new phone without even knowing it and, inevitably, quickly become frustrated with it.

Android 14 logo on the Moto G Stylus 5G (2024).
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

The other big issue with the Moto G Stylus 5G (2024) is software support. Motorola promises just one OS upgrade and three years of bimonthly security updates for the phone. Seeing how it ships with Android 14, that means Android 15 will be your one and only major software update.

Although this is not a new issue for Motorola, it remains one of the most frustrating. In a world where other phones in this price bracket are promised anywhere from four to seven Android updates, offering a single one is unacceptable.

It’s not just an issue of missing out on future new features in Android, but it also sends the message that Motorola sees its budget phones as disposable and not products to stand behind long-term. While maybe not a deal breaker for everyone, it is a bad look that I desperately wish Motorola would address.

Moto G Stylus 5G (2024) price and availability

The Moto G Stylus 5G (2024) sitting upright in a park outside.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

The Moto G Stylus 5G (2024) is available now for $400. It can be purchased unlocked from Amazon, Best Buy, and Motorola’s website. Motorola says the phone is also coming to AT&T, Boost Mobile, Cricket, Consumer Cellular, Google Fi Wireless, and Metro by T-Mobile in the coming weeks.

While $400 is a very good price, it’s also one with a lot of competition. The Samsung Galaxy A35 is also available for $400 and has a higher IP67 rating, a fun main camera, a similarly great AMOLED display, and a vastly superior update policy — specifically, four Android OS upgrades and five years of security updates. It’s also not bogged down with annoying ads. That comes at the expense of worse battery life and no wireless charging, but it’s a very tempting alternative.

Additionally, paying an extra $100 gets you the Google Pixel 8a. The battery only lasts for a day, and the charging speeds are slower, but it also has a lot of advantages. The Pixel 8a has a much better camera system, clean software, helpful AI photo-editing features, and seven years of updates — an unmatched level of software support for a phone in this price range. That extra $100 could also get you the OnePlus 12R, which is one of the best smartphones released this year.

Should you buy the Moto G Stylus 5G (2024)?

Someone holding the Moto G Stylus 5G (2024).
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Compared to other Moto G releases this year, the Moto G Stylus 5G (2024) is a slam dunk. It has a nice design, a quality OLED display, solid performance, a surprisingly decent main camera, excellent battery life, and good charging options. To get all of that at just $400 — and presumably even less during sales/promotions, which Motorola frequently runs — is a damn good offer.

I really like the Moto G Stylus 5G (2024), and it’s a phone I can see myself recommending to people. But that recommendation won’t come without a few caveats.

Of course, there’s the issue of competition. Whether it’s the Galaxy A35, the Pixel 8a, or the OnePlus 12R, the fact is that you can spend the same amount or a little bit more money on really good alternatives. It’s also difficult to give Motorola a pass for the ads, bloatware, and limited software support. These are all things Motorola could very easily address, and the longer it doesn’t, the worse of a position it puts Motorola’s budget phones in.

I really like the Moto G Stylus 5G (2024).

That said, I can’t deny that I genuinely enjoyed using the Moto G Stylus 5G (2024). Motorola still has work to do to get its budget phones back to the level of greatness they were once at, but this is a huge step in the right direction. The Moto G Stylus 5G (2024) is a strong reminder that Motorola can still make a great budget phone, and it’s one you should absolutely consider if it’s on your radar.

Editors' Recommendations

Joe Maring
Joe Maring is the Section Editor for Digital Trends' Mobile team, leading the site's coverage for all things smartphones…
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