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Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) review: Finally, a Motorola phone I can recommend

The newest Moto G Stylus 5G benefits from a Qualcomm processor and a high refresh-rate display.

Moto G Stylus 5G (2022)
(Image: © Derrek Lee / Android Central)

Our Verdict

The Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) is a well-performing mid-ranger that will give you plenty of bang for your buck, but Motorola still has a few lessons to learn.

For

  • The price is just right
  • It has NFC
  • Decent camera setup
  • Built-in stylus
  • Great performance

Against

  • Just one major upgrade
  • Horrible selfie camera
  • Slow charging
  • Finicky audio setup

Motorola has a lot of phones, like a lot, to the point where you can barely throw a rock in a random direction without hitting one of Motorola's budget smartphones. The company has generally gone for a quantity-over-quality approach, pumping out as many affordable smartphones as possible. They're often underpowered, frustrating, and frankly uninspired, particularly the phones Motorola launches in the US. However, the Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) actually surprised me.

Motorola's latest stylus-touting smartphone manages to hit the right balance of performance and affordability. Despite some flaws, I found myself quite pleased with the device and rank this among the best budget Android phones of 2022.

Pricing and availability

Moto G Stylus 5G (2022)

(Image credit: Derrek Lee / Android Central)

Motorola prices the Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) at $500 for its highest configuration, putting it squarely in the mid-range territory.

You can purchase the device at Motorola's website, which will snag double the storage at 512GB, thanks to a pre-installed 256GB microSD card. You can also find the phone at retailers such as Best Buy and Amazon, the latter of which also includes a microSD card. Buying it unlocked ensures that it will work on T-Mobile and Verizon's 5G networks. However, Verizon has recently begun selling the phone in its stores for $100 less, although this configuration sports half the amount of internal storage and just 4GB of RAM. That said, Verizon's model also supports the carrier's new C-Band 5G and mmWave.

What I like

Moto G Stylus 5G (2022)

(Image credit: Derrek Lee / Android Central)

Off the bat, the Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) looks like just about every other Motorola phone that the company launched this year. Sure, that screams uninspired, but I feel like the design is fairly appropriate for this phone at this price point. It has this nice blue sheen that seems to nicely reflect light and makes a phone look a tad more expensive than it actually is. 

On the front, you'll find the 6.8-inch display with a hole punch camera and bezels that manage not to offend. It's an LCD, so it's not quite as vibrant as an AMOLED display, but I find the display shows images and video quite adequate, especially considering its high 120Hz refresh rate — a first for the Moto G lineup in the U.S. The phone also has a nice heft to it, and it feels excellent in hand.

While it's nowhere near flagship-quality, the Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) does have some pretty decent specs. It sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon 695, up to 8GB of RAM, 128GB or 256 GB of expandable storage, a large 5,000mAh battery, and of course, a built-in stylus (more on that later). The end result of this configuration is a mid-range phone that performs quite well.

CategoryMoto G Stylus 5G (2022)
Display6.8-inch FHD+ Max Vision Display, LCD, 120Hz
ChipsetQualcomm Snapdragon 695 5G
Storage128GB/256GB, expandable
Memory4GB/6GB/8GB
Rear Camera 150MP wide-angle, f/1.9, 0.64μm, OIS, Quad Pixel
Rear Camera 28MP ultrawide, 118° FOV, Macro Vision
Rear Camera 32MP depth, f/2.4, 1.75μm
Selfie Camera16MP, f/2.2, 1.0μm, Quad Pixel
Battery & Charging5,000mAh, TurboPower 10, Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0
Connectivity5G (sub-6, mmWave), Bluetooth 5.1, Wi-Fi 5, NFC
Dimensions168.9 x 75.8 x 9.3mm, 215g
ColorsSteel Blue, Seafoam Green

During daily use, the phone shows very little in the way of hiccups or slowdowns, even with the display locked at 120Hz, although you can switch this to an auto mode that lets AI handle the refresh rate. The phone never really seems to falter, even while playing several graphics-intensive games at higher frame rates. The Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) features a game dashboard that lets you boost the performance of your gaming; even with that setting enabled, the phone performs like a champ. I haven't noticed it get too warm either, something that I've experienced with some flagship phones like the Galaxy S22.

Did I mention this phone has NFC? That seems like a weird thing to get excited about, but it's not exactly a given for Motorola phones, particularly its mid-range devices, so I count this as a definite win.

(Image credit: Derrek Lee / Android Central)

The phone runs Android 12 out of the box, and because Motorola likes to keep things simple, you'll find the experience to be pretty much identical to what you'll find on a Pixel smartphone. However, My UX does have some excellent additions that complement the software pretty well, and you can find them all in the Moto app. This is one of my favorite things about Motorola phones because it lets you enable quite a few helpful gestures, like a double twist to turn on the camera or a chopping motion to quickly enable the flashlight. My favorite gesture is being able to double-tap the power button/fingerprint sensor to reveal a pop-up shortcut of whatever apps I want.

Aside from the gestures, I really enjoy Motorola's take on notifications, allowing me to peek at a notification and drag the app icon quickly and perform various actions related to the app. The clock widget also has some nice weather animations and even tells me when it's going to rain and for how long, something that can come in handy here in Seattle.

Along with all these software additions comes the added hardware of the built-in stylus. I have someone mixed feelings about it because it's a fairly basic stylus. Don't expect any cool tricks as you'll get with Samsung's S Pen or even Motorola's new Smart Stylus that launched alongside the Motorola Edge+ (2022). That said, it gets the job done, and I can pull it out for a quick note which comes in handy. There's nothing special about it, but it's still nice to have, especially at this price point when the alternative costs more than twice as much, and when most of the phones don't come with styluses.

Moto G Stylus 5G (2022)

(Image credit: Derrek Lee / Android Central)

Another thumbs up for the hardware goes to the cameras. I hardly ever expect to be impressed by Motorola cameras, and the Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) didn't exactly blow my mind. But the 50MP primary camera does manage some decent shots in various lighting conditions. It features optical image stabilization and uses pixel binning to output 12.5MP images with improved light capture. I like that nothing was really ever oversaturated, and the images seemed pretty true to life. It's also a decent ultrawide-angle camera that doubles as a macro lens, although it's hard to get any decent shots using the dedicated macro mode. Color science was also noticeably different in the ultrawide when compared to the primary sensor.

The Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) can easily live up to its two-day battery promise, for the right user.

What probably impresses me most about this phone is the battery life. Motorola says that this phone has a two-day battery life, and I believe it. I say that because I never quite get to two days, but I average roughly 10 hours of screen on time between charges, never ending a day on low battery. I'm a pretty heavy user, so I never expect to make it to a full two days. Still, even with all the picture taking, gaming, and scrolling through social media, the phone lasts a lot longer than the bevy of flagship devices I have lying around my apartment. Besides, a power user like me isn't going to buy a phone like this, and the Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) is more likely to be picked up by someone who needs something fairly affordable but still capable of managing the basics, with a little extra oomph. Those are the ones that are likely to see this phone battery make it to two days before needing to be charged. Frankly, I'm still quite impressed.

What I don't like

Moto G Stylus 5G (2022)

Don't be fooled, nothing about its charging is rapid. (Image credit: Derrek Lee / Android Central)

However, when it does come to charging the phone, things get a lot less impressive. Charging takes forever due to the 10W charger Motorola ships with the phone. That seems almost unfair for a 5,000mAh battery, and it's like Motorola is punishing you for needing to charge your phone every now and then. There's also no wireless charging, although you'll rarely find the phone at this price point.

There's a 3.5mm headphone jack, but the Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) falls flat in the audio department.

Another feature that's not common for mid-range smartphones a stereo speakers. The Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) only has a bottom-firing speaker, and even the Dolby Atmos support can't really boost it enough to give me good audio. Fortunately, there's a headphone jack, but I honestly can't remember the last time I used wired headphones. And with this phone, you'll probably need them because, for some reason, the Bluetooth connection between my earbuds and the phone is incredibly finicky. Just walking around with my phone in my pocket, my music is constantly cutting off, something I hadn't experienced with any of my other phones being connected to the same Galaxy Buds 2. Frankly, it's pretty frustrating, especially at the gym while I'm in the zone during a workout.

While I don't mind the camera performance from the rear sensors, I'm pretty disgusted by the quality of the selfie camera. If you like taking selfies, this isn't the phone for you. There's very little in the way of detail, whether you're using the full 16MP resolution or pixel binning, and images are often overexposed and blown out.

Motorola's update policy also remains pretty weak. The Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) will only get one major OS upgrade (it's a good thing it ships with Android 12) and three years of security updates. That's a slight improvement for the company, but it falls behind Samsung, giving many of its midrange phones up to three OS upgrades, with recent ones like the Galaxy A53 5G receiving four years of upgrades and five years of security updates. Given that mid-range smartphones have helped propel Motorola in the U.S. smartphone market, I'd love to see the company improve on this front.

Competition

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra notes using S Pen

(Image credit: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

If you're absolutely looking for a phone with a stylus, the best option you have is the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. It's Samsung's latest premium flagship, so you'll get all the performance you need with an S Pen that can do a lot more than just doodle. However, the phone costs more than twice the amount of the Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) with the same amount of RAM and half the built-in storage (non-expandable).

The OnePlus Nord N20 5G is another mid-range phone powered by the Snapdragon 695, so performance should be comparable. It offers a great design, a gorgeous AMOLED display, and an impressive primary camera sensor. That said, it doesn't have an ultrawide camera, it has less battery capacity, and the display only refreshes at 60Hz, which feels sluggish in comparison.

The upcoming Pixel 6a might be one to consider. The phone will retail for just $449, feature the same great design as its flagship predecessors, and will be powered by the same Tensor chipset, enabling some impressive AI features. However, you'll have to wait until July to pick it up, the display is also locked at 60Hz, and the camera hardware is practically ancient at this point.

Should you buy it?

Moto G Stylus 5G (2022)

(Image credit: Derrek Lee / Android Central)

You should buy this if...

  • You want a phone with a built-in stylus.
  • You want an inexpensive phone with good performance.
  • You want a phone with great battery life.

You shouldn't buy this if...

  • You like taking selfies.
  • You want a phone that will receive a few OS upgrades.
  • You live a busy lifestyle and need fast charging.

I've been pretty hard on Motorola over the past year, but it seems like the company is finally starting to get its act together. The Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) is a surprisingly good mid-range phone that offers excellent performance and even better battery life. Frankly, I'm still surprised at just how much I enjoy using this phone.

Motorola still has a few lessons to learn, particularly when it comes to the longevity of its smartphones. It's disappointing that the company insists on promising just one major OS upgrade with its sub-flagship phones, given how popular they've become in even the U.S. market. However, this phone shows that the company's stance on updates is slowly changing for the better, and at least you can rest easy for the next few years knowing that the Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) will be secure.

Overall, I'm impressed enough with this phone that I would easily recommend it to friends or family. For me, that's saying quite a lot.

Derrek is a long-time Nokia and LG fanboy who loves astronomy, videography, and sci-fi movies. When he's not working, he's most likely working out or smoldering at the camera.