Motorola's new $400 5G phone overshadows three baffling Moto Gs launching January 14

Motorola One 5G Ace
Motorola One 5G Ace (Image credit: Motorola)

The start of a new year means a lot of things for a lot of people, and for Motorola, it marks the time where the company unleashes its latest batch of Moto G devices. Motorola gave us a healthy serving of great cheap Android phones throughout 2020, and for 2021, it's wasting no time at all with four new handsets all being announced at the same time.

We have a lot to dig into, so without further ado, here are all of the new Moto phones you can look forward to this year.

Motorola One 5G Ace

Kicking off the list we have the Motorola One 5G Ace. It's being marketed as Motorola's most affordable 5G phone yet, and taking a look at the spec sheet, it should be a fairly competent handset.

At the heart of the Motorola One 5G Ace is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G, which is essentially a downgraded version of the 765G that powers devices like the Google Pixel 5. It's what enables the phone to support 5G connectivity, though you'll only be connecting to sub-6 5G and not mmWave networks.

Paired with the 750G processor is 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. There's a 6.7-inch Full HD+ display with HDR10 support, a 5000 mAh battery for up to three days of use on a single charge, and a three-camera setup on the back — consisting of a 48MP primary camera, 8MP ultra-wide, and 2MP macro.

It's reassuring to see that NFC is present for Google Pay support (something that's often missing from budget Moto phones), as are features like a 3.5mm headphone jack and expandable storage. If you're interested, the Motorola One 5G Ace will set you back $399.

Moto G Stylus

Moto G Stylus 2021

Source: Motorola (Image credit: Source: Motorola)

Right below the One 5G Ace is the Moto G Stylus. That might sound a little confusing given that Motorola launched a phone by the exact same name last year, but it's because the company is shifting away from numerical releases. Last year was the Moto G Stylus (2020) and now we have the Moto G Stylus (2021).

Branding aside, this latest iteration of the G Stylus looks to be a small upgrade over the previous model. The phone is powered by the Snapdragon 678 chipset, which is better in basically every way compared to the Snapdragon 665 found in the 2020 Moto G Stylus. The 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and 4000 mAh battery remain completely unchanged year-over-year. As for the camera setup, it's the exact same one found on the Motorola One 5G Ace.

As for the actual stylus experience, it looks to be basically the same as what we got last year — which is to say that it's just a passive stylus with no real integration with the phone. Motorola has added a click function at the top and rounded out the body of the stylus, but the experience of using it should more or less be exactly the same. If you caught our Moto G Stylus review last year, you know that's not very encouraging. Even more annoying is that, once again, there's no NFC.

Motorola's asking $299 for the new Moto G Stylus.

Moto G Power

Moto G Power 2021

Source: Motorola (Image credit: Source: Motorola)

Next on the list is the Moto G Power, and similar to the Stylus, it shares the same name as its predecessor from 2020. But where the new Moto G Stylus is a perfectly boring upgrade over its previous model, the Moto G Power (2021) is actually a downgrade.

First, there's the processor. The Moto G Power (2021) features the Snapdragon 662, and compared to the 665 found in the Moto G Power (2020), it has a lower CPU clock speed and less memory bandwidth. Perhaps even more damning, though, is the 1600 x 720 HD+ resolution that's stretched across a 6.6-inch display. That's over 130 fewer pixels-per-inch compared to the Full HD+ resolution panel on last year's Moto G Power, resulting in a grainier and softer image across the board.

Other specs include a 5000 mAh battery, three rear cameras (48MP primary, 2MP macro, 2MP depth), and a 3.5mm headphone jack with expandable storage. NFC is — again — not available.

Motorola's offering two variants of the Moto G Power this time around, including a 3GB RAM/32GB storage model for $199 and a 4GB RAM/64GB storage one for $249. That second configuration is the same loadout and price we saw for the Moto G Power (2020), making the 2021 Power an objectively worse device compared to the phone it's now replacing.

Moto G Play

Moto G Play 2021

Source: Motorola (Image credit: Source: Motorola)

Rounding out the new phones is the Moto G Play. Motorola didn't launch a G Play device in the U.S. last year, but for 2021, it's making a comeback. As you'd expect for an entry in the G Play series, it's pretty barebones.

Powering the Moto G Play is the Snapdragon 460 and 3GB of RAM. There's a 6.5-inch 1600 x 720 HD+ display, a 5000 mAh battery, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and two rear cameras (13MP primary and 2MP depth).

It's certainly the least technically impressive device out of everything being announced, but it's also the most affordable at just $169.

A safe, confusing release

Taking a look at this latest batch of Motorola phones, I can't help but feel that this year's release is pretty underwhelming. The Motorola One 5G Ace is facing fierce competition from the Pixel 4a and OnePlus N10 5G, the Moto G Stylus is an incredibly small upgrade over its predecessor, the Moto G Power is an objective downgrade compared to last year's model, and the Moto G Play is a pretty typical affair as far as sub- $200 smartphones go.

That's not to say all of these phones are bad, but given what we've previously seen from Motorola and everything else that's on the market right now, I find myself having a difficult time getting genuinely excited for them.

Further contributing to that is the software situation around all four phones. Everything here is shipping with Android 10 out of the box — not the current Android 11. Motorola says an update to Android 11 is coming at some point (there's currently no ETA), but when it lands, that'll be the one and only major OS update these devices ever see.

I've always taken issue with Motorola's update policy, but seeing the company stick to that even when shipping phones in January 2021 on outdated software feels especially gross. The company says it'll consider additional updates as time goes on, but if history tells us anything, none of these phones will ever see anything beyond Android 11.

Motorola is launching the One 5G Ace, G Stylus, G Power, and G Play on January 14. Pre-orders are also available right now for the devices through Motorola's website and retail partners like Amazon, Best Buy, etc. Carrier availability is coming in the months ahead.

Joe Maring

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