Moto G Stylus and Moto G Power hands-on: The budget Galaxy Note is here

Moto G Stylus 2020 Hands On
Moto G Stylus 2020 Hands On (Image credit: Joe Maring / Android Central)

In 2013, Motorola asserted itself as a top player in the affordable smartphone space with the original Moto G. Every year since then, Motorola's continued to tweak and refine this formula with update after update to the G lineup.

Last year saw the release of the Moto G7, G7 Play, and G7 Power in the United States — all three of which we've recommended at one point or another for shoppers on a budget.

Moto G is back for 2020, but it looks a little different than it has in years past. The Moto G Stylus and Moto G Power have arrived. Even though Motorola launched a G8 Plus and G8 Play outside of the U.S., the 8 moniker didn't make its way to the United States and Canada, where these phones will launch later this spring.

Despite the name shift and the introduction of a completely new variant with the Stylus, these are still the same kind of Moto G phones we've come to expect over the years.

Moto G Stylus

Moto G Stylus 2020 Hands On

Source: Joe Maring / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Joe Maring / Android Central)

Starting first with arguably the most interesting of the duo, let's talk about the Moto G Stylus. This is the first phone Motorola's ever released with a built-in stylus, and it has all of the usual stylus features. Taking the stylus out with the screen off launches Moto Note, allowing you to instantly start taking notes on a black screen similar to what you get on a Galaxy Note. When the screen is on, taking the stylus out launches a customizable pop-up menu with apps you can use with it.

You won't find any remote Bluetooth functions similar to what you get on the Note 10, but taking handwritten notes, drawing, and navigating the UI all feels good. The stylus is a bit thinner than your typical S Pen, but at this price, it's about what we'd expect.

All of the drawing and writing takes place on a 6.5-inch Full HD+ display, which is accompanied by slim bezels and a hole-punch notch in the upper-left corner. It's plenty sharp, colors are good, and in general, it's just a solid panel.

Motorola's also touting the camera capabilities for the G Stylus, and it's a pretty interesting setup. You get a 48MP primary sensor for the majority of your picture-taking, along with a 2MP Macro Vision camera that allows you to really zoom in on your subjects. The third sensor is Motorola's Action Cam, which is used just for video capture. Similar to what we saw on the Motorola One Action last year, this makes it possible to record landscape video when you're holding the G Stylus vertically. The Action Cam always felt like a niche feature to me, so it's interesting to see Motorola bring this to another phone in the U.S.

Moto G Power

Moto G Power 2020 Hands On

Source: Joe Maring / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Joe Maring / Android Central)

Shifting over to the Moto G Power, it drops the included stylus in favor of a massive battery. The G Stylus's 4,000 mAh unit is nothing to scoff at, but the G Power kicks things up to 5,000 mAh. That's the same capacity found on the Moto G7 Power, and just like that phone, Motorola's promising up to three days of use on just one charge.

You also get a slightly different camera system with the G Power, with its triple cameras consisting of a 16MP primary camera, 8MP ultra-wide camera with a 118-degree field-of-view, and the same 2MP Macro Vision camera. While not as technically impressive, you might get more value/use out of a traditional ultra-wide lens that can be used for photos and videos as opposed to the G Stylus's Action Cam that's limited to video.

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CategoryMoto G StylusMoto G Power
Operating SystemAndroid 10Android 10
Display6.4-inchFull HD+Max Vision6.4-inchFull HD+Max Vision
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 665Qualcomm Snapdragon 665
Expandable StorageUp to 512GBUp to 512GB
Rear Camera 148MP primary cameraf/1.71.6um16MP primary cameraf/1.71.12um
Rear Camera 22MP Macro Visionf/2.22MP Macro Visionf/2.2
Rear Camera 316MP Action Camf/2.22.0um117-degree field-of-view8MP ultra-widef/2.21.12um118-degree field-of-view
Front Camera16MPf/2.01um16MPf/2.01um
SecurityRear fingerprint sensorRear fingerprint sensor
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/acBluetooth 5.0Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/acBluetooth 5.0
PortsUSB-C3.5mm headphone jackUSB-C3.5mm headphone jack
AudioDual stereo speakers with Dolby tuningDual stereo speakers with Dolby tuning
Battery4,000 mAh5,000 mAh
Water ResistanceWater-repellentWater-repellent
Dimensions158.55 x 75.8 x 9.2mm159.85 x 75.84 x 9.63mm
ColorsMystic IndigoSmoke Black

Outside of the battery and camera, the rest of the G Stylus and G Power experience is pretty much identical. Both phones are powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 665 processor — built on an 11nm process that's more efficient than the 14nm Snapdragons on previous Moto Gs — have 4GB of RAM, dual stereo speakers with Dolby tuning, and ship with Android 10. You'll find the typical array of Moto Experiences, such as chopping for the flashlight and Moto Display, along with a new Moto Gametime feature that gives you additional controls and settings when playing a game.

Both the G Stylus and G Power are launching this Spring, and pricing is just as competitive as ever. You'll pay $299.99 for the G Stylus with 128GB of storage, or $249.99 for the G Power and its 64GB. If you need additional space, each phone supports expandable storage up to 512GB. And, yes, they both have 3.5mm headphone jacks.

Give and take

Moto G Stylus 2020 And Moto G Power 2020

Source: Joe Maring / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Joe Maring / Android Central)

In some regards, 2020 is a big year for the Moto G lineup. There's the updated branding, new camera tech, and the addition of the stylus. Those are all big things, and they give Moto G a breath of fresh air — something we always appreciate. On the flip side, the G Stylus and G Power also feel really similar. These are still mid-range phones with mid-range specs, coming in with price tags that your wallet will appreciate.

The stuff that works with Moto G phones still works on the new Stylus and Power, but the pain points remain, too. There's still no NFC chip, meaning you can't use either phone for contactless Google Pay payments. That was forgivable a couple of years ago, but with how much NFC adoption has grown at various stores across the country, the decision to omit it from the G Stylus and G Power stings more than ever.

There's also the harsh reality of Android updates for Moto G phones, or should I say, the lack thereof. Moto G phones typically get one major software update, but nothing beyond that. With Nokia's lineup of mid-range and budget phones constantly growing, each one offering two years of guaranteed software support, it has us hoping Motorola can up its game in these regards sooner rather than later.

The G Stylus and G Power aren't changing the game, but they are continuing the legacy of giving you lots of bang for your buck. These are very capable phones that have very affordable prices, and just like every year, they will likely be among the top recommendations for phones around that $300 range.

And if you can't wait until the spring but still want a great budget phone, the Moto G7 is a tantalizing $200 right now.

Joe Maring

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.