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Moto G Play (2023) serves up a smooth screen and big battery for just $170

Motorola has a new ultra-affordable phone on offer, and this one serves up a few perks usually seen on higher-end phones. The latest budget warrior from the company is the Moto G Play (2023) — a phone that only costs $170 and will be sold unlocked by Amazon, Best Buy, and Motorola starting January 12. 

The most striking aspect of the phone is its screen. You get a modern-looking 6.5-inch display with palatable bezels and a small hole-punch cutout at the top that houses the selfie camera rather than an eyesore waterdrop notch. 

Rear profile of the Motorola Moto G Play 2023

The resolution has been capped at HD+ (1600 x 720 pixels), which isn’t surprising for a phone in this price bracket. However, Motorola is adding some pizzazz courtesy of a smooth 90Hz panel, a convenience Apple doesn’t offer on the iPhone 14 despite asking $800 for it. 

Another notable aspect of the Moto G Play (2023) is the battery size. Motorola has armed it with a 5,000mAh battery that is claimed to last up to three days. Those are rather generous figures, but given the phone’s modest internals, it will easily go past a day. 

The phone is powered by MediaTek’s Helio G37 chip, paired with a modest 3GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard storage. Thankfully, you can expand the storage by popping in a card of up to 512GB capacity. 

Front profile of the Motorola Moto G Play 2023

The Moto G Play’s camera hardware screams budget. You get a single 16-megapixel camera at the back, assisted by a pair of 2MP cameras for macro photography and depth sensing. Selfie duties fall to a 5MP camera. 

The body is water-repellant, thanks to its IP52-certified frame, but you still might want to apply a case and screen protector because there is no advanced Corning Gorilla Glass protection to be found. Thankfully, the 3.5mm headphone jack is present, and a 10-watt charger is included in the retail package.

Motorola Moto G Play 2023 in the hands of a user.

Another area where the Moto G Play (2023) shows its budget colors is the software, as it still runs Android 12. The saving grace here is that you get a near-stock Android experience without any preinstalled bloatware. You’ll get an update to Android 13, but that’s the only major OS update Motorola promises. The phone comes in a single navy blue color and actually looks quite neat despite its plastic build. 

A quick look at other options

If you’re exploring other options, the Nokia G50 5G offers a 48MP camera, more RAM, and four times more storage. It is currently going for $199 on Amazon. For $166, the Nokia G20 also offers more RAM and storage, a 48MP main camera, and a bigger battery. 

OnePlus Nord N300 5G back
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

If you can slightly increase your budget, the OnePlus Nord N300 is a great option at about $230. It throws 5G into the mix with 33W fast charging and an eye-catching design. OnePlus also offer more feature-rich software and longer-term update support.

TCL also offers a bunch of dirt-cheap phones that deliver a compelling mix of features. At $189, the TCL 30 XL offers better cameras at both the front and back, double the RAM, and more storage. Walmart is currently selling the TCL 30 V 5G for $199, and it eclipses the Moto G Play 2023 in almost every department. In other words, Motorola has its work cut out for it with this one.

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Nadeem Sarwar
Nadeem is a tech journalist who started reading about cool smartphone tech out of curiosity and soon started writing…
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