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Moto G 5G Stylus (2022) review: Good phone with a 'competition' problem


If you want a relatively new phone with a stylus in 2022, you have a few options before you: the exceptional Galaxy S22 Ultra, the slightly aged Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, or the foldable Z Fold 3 (which requires you to buy the S Pen separately), but if you're really on a tight budget, then you have another option ahead of you: a phone with a large, 6.8-inch 120Hz display, battery that just lasts, a triple camera setup, and a rather comfortable stylus... All starting at just $449.99! Sounds fairly good, but is it actually so?


Yes, that's exactly what the Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) has in tow for us, along with a true tongue-twister of a name. It's a phone that trots along with tons of features missing from most of its mid-range competitors. What's more, it addresses some of the weak points of its predecessor, making for an excellent follow-up to last year's Moto G Stylus.


However, the price has also increased, bringing it very close to phones that can give it a serious run for the money. Phones like the Galaxy A53, the upcoming Pixel 6a, and the iPhone SE (2022) definitely have a lot goin for them as well, making the Moto G Stylus' pricing an ill-fated move.

What’s new on the Moto G Stylus 5G (2022)

  • 120Hz high refresh-rate display

  • NFC

  • Triple camera setup

  • Snapdragon 695

  • Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0


Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) Unboxing


Inside the box of the Moto G Stylus 5G (2022), you'll find:

  • Moto G Stylus 5G (2022)

  • USB Type-C cable

  • 10W charger

  • SIM ejector tool

  • Manuals and leaflets


Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) Design & Colors

In this price range, plastic phones are still a common sight, with just a few glass and metal juggernauts breaking the trend. And yes, while plastic isn't regarded that highly by most consumers and reviewers alike, it should generally be expected in the sub $500 range.

That said, the Moto G Stylus 5G is made of plastic, and while it doesn't stand out with anything particular in its build, it's simply a good-looking and well-made phone. It feels solid and robust, with a reassuring but not overwhelming heft and a design language that combines the aesthetics of industrial flat edges with the comfort of a slightly curved backplate that fits so nicely in one's palm. There's also a 3.5mm audio jack at the bottom, as well as expandable storage, two very big blasts from the past.


Sure, the bezels are asymmetrical and on the thick side, but that's to be expected in this price range. One downside of the specific plastic used on the Moto G Stylus is that it's a smudge magnet and easily gets dirty. You might want to invest in a case, not just for protection reasons, but also to minimize oily fingerprint smudges.


The phone feels nice to use, and although the sheer size of it makes it cumbersome to use with a single hand, we had no issues with its overall handling in our day-to-day usage.


There's a fingerprint sensor on the Moto G Stylus, and it's not embedded in the screen but on the power button to the side. Overall, we are perfectly happy with its placement and overall responsiveness, as is super-quick to react and unlock the phone. Usually, unlocking the phone and authenticating was done in one smooth motion. No, we didn't miss an in-display fingerprint sensor one bit.

Steel Blue and Seafoam Green are the two colors in which the Moto G Stylus is available, and we had our hands on the blue variant. The actual color hue is quite dark in real-life, but definitely suits the phone and gives it a sophisticated vibe.


Stylus

As we already mentioned, one of the intriguing aspects of the Moto G Stylus is, well, its stylus, which rests snuggly in its dedicated silo on the bottom right side of the device. It's a regular stylus, without any functional buttons or an included capacitor on board; just a plain completely round pen that can be inserted in any orientation.

Just like on Samsung's S Pen phones, you take this one out by clicking its top button and taking it out with your fingertips quickly and easily. The stylus itself is quite comfortable to use despite its super thin profile. Have in mind that pressure sensitivity like on Samsung's stylus-wielding phones isn't available on this phone.


The downside of the accessory is its tip. Unlike Samsung's S Pen styluses, which closely resemble a pencil and have sharp tips, the Moto G Stylus pen has a semi-circular tip, resembling the mesh of a microphone's windscreen. It's not very accurate and writing with the stylus feels weird. Even after a week or so, it's hard to get used to it, but for the occasional quick note or a quick photo edit, it's good enough.

Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) Display

The Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) is outfitted with a large 6.8-inch IPS LCD display with a FHD+ resolution of 2460 by 1080 pixels, making out a decent sharpness of 395PPI. The display can get decently bright: we measured over 550 nits of maximum brightness with our professional equipment. Even under direct sunlight, the display has very good legibility. Meanwhile, the minimum brightness can go as low as 0.8 nits, which is superb and means you can comfortably use the phone in complete darkness without any eye discomfort.


For an LCD display, it's fairly decent, with good contrast and vivid colors. You can also fine-tune the color temperature to your liking, though the default setting is perfectly good. Overall, the display is fairly decent, but it simply can't match the vividness, contrast, and viewing angles of an OLED display. The latter especially - simply tilting the phone in either the vertical or horizontal plane leads to immediate loss of contrast.


One of the major improvements in comparison with the previous generation of the Moto G Stylus is the inclusion of a 120Hz screen, a solid improvement over the 60Hz screen of the Moto G Stylus 5G (2021). There's an Auto setting that reportedly uses AI to switch the refresh rate depending on the on-screen content, but if you wish, you can manually lock the phone in either 60 or 120Hz. We didn't bother with that but left the phone in its default Auto setting and were perfectly happy with how refresh rates were handled.


Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) Camera

There's a 50MP main camera on this stylus-wielding Motorola phone, and it uses quad-binning to merge four sensor pixels into one, and therefore outputs 12.5MP images by default. The main camera has an aperture of F1.9 and 0.64 μm pixels. There's also an 8MP ultra-wide camera and a 2MP depth sensor that should theoretically help with portraits. Up front, there's a pretty decent 16MP selfie camera. The big omission in comparison with last year's Moto G Stylus 5G is the lack of a macro camera. Good riddance.


The camera is pretty decent, all things considered. Surely, it's not flagship grade and will hardly wow you, but it's consistently taking photos with realistic and rich colors, good dynamics (though highlights can certainly be blown in certain conditions), and an okay sharpness. Overall, the latest Moto G Stylus is quite consistent with what we'd expect out of a $449 phone when it comes to camera performance.


Low-light images are a bit noisy, and Moto's Night Vision tends to add a bit too much oversharpening.


One of the main concerns with the current camera setup is the consistency gap between the main and the ultra-wide camera. Whereas the main camera happily outputs photos with pretty realistic colors and good dynamic range, the ultra-wide camera has almost garish colors in comparison, and often tends to be too lax with its Auto HDR, often leading to burnt highlights.