A step up
Motorola updated its Moto G Stylus 5G phone with the 2022 edition that has some notable (albeit minor) upgrades. That includes slightly better camera sensors, slightly better screen, NFC, and most importantly, more RAM and built-in storage, making it a worthwhile option.
- Better camera sensors
- Slightly sharper, higher-res display
- More RAM
- 5G connectivity
- NFC for tap-to-pay
- Only gets one OS update
- Selfie camera isn't great
- It's slow to charge
Teetering on out-of-date
It’s tempting to hang on to an old phone for as long as you can, but at some point, it needs to be updated. While the Moto G Stylus 5G (2021) is a solid option that’s only just over a year old, the Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) offers some compelling upgrades.
- Decent camera system
- Still a great display
- 5G connectivity
- Only comes with Android 11
- Older and outdated model
- Less RAM
- No NFC tap-to-pay
When it comes to the Moto G Stylus lineup of phones, Motorola has several models, including both the standard Moto G Stylus as well as 5G versions that launched in 2021 and 2022. When comparing the Moto G Stylus 5G (2021) vs. Moto G Stylus 5G (2022), however, they look pretty much the same.
What are the true differences between these? We’re peeking under the hood to help you decide if you should upgrade, or opt for the newest model versus the cheaper, older version of the Moto G Stylus.
Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) vs. Moto G Stylus 5G (2021): From the outside
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As with all Moto G Stylus phones, the Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) and Moto G Stylus 5G (2021) both come with a built-in stylus, which is perfect for sketching, taking notes, editing photos, highlighting text, and more. Some find it much easier than using a finger, and with a built-in stylus from Motorola, you can guarantee a seamless experience with these phones. The feature is great for everyone from mobile workers to artists, students, and more.
The screens on both are the same size at 6.8-inch Max Vision FHD+ and stretch to the edges, though the Moto G Stylus (2021) technically has a slightly bigger screen-to-body ratio. With that said, it’s also marginally bigger overall, so that cancels out the feature and it’s likely not something the average person would notice.
The same goes for the resolution, which is a smidge higher for the Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) at 2460x1080 versus 2400x1080 for the Moto G Stylus 5G (2021). Again, that’s nothing to write home about. With an impressive 120Hz refresh rate in the Moto G Stylus 5G (2022), however, you can expect a smoother experience when doing things like watching videos, playing games, and scrolling through image-heavy websites.
Both phones come in interesting colors: the Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) in Steel Blue or Seafoam Green, and the Moto G Stylus 5G (2021) in Cosmic Emerald. Both are water-repellent, though not waterproof, so you can expect minimal protection against things like light splashes, but neither can be submerged or left out in the rain.
Enjoy My UX gesture controls with both, wired headphones via the included 3.5mm jack, and reap the benefits of USB-C charging. Both also have a 5,000mAh battery that affords up to two days of use per charge, as well as support (and come with) 10-watt chargers. Of course, both also sport 5G connectivity, so you’ll enjoy multitasking and activities like gaming with virtually no lag, and a smoother overall experience.
The Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) has a side-mounted fingerprint reader, while the Moto G Stylus (2021) has a rear-mounted one. Both have two mics and Smart PA features.
Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) vs. Moto G Stylus 5G (2021): A brief specs overview
Before delving into the specifics about the innards of these two phones, let’s compare and contrast them based on specs alone.
|Header Cell - Column 0||Moto G Stylus 5G (2022)||Moto G Stylus 5G (2021)|
|Colors||Steel Blue, Seafoam Green||Cosmic Emerald|
|Screen Size & Type||6.8-inch Max Vision Full HD+||6.8-inch Max Vision Full HD+|
|Operating System||Android 12||Android 11|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 695||Qualcomm Snapdragon 480|
|Storage||128GB, 256GB Built-in + 256GB microSD card (expandable to 1TB)||128GB, 256GB (Expandable to 1TB)|
|Memory||Up to 8GB RAM||4GB, 6GB RAM|
|Cameras||50MP rear, 2MP macro, 8MP ultra-wide, 16MP front||48MP rear, 5MP macro, 8MP ultra-wide, 2MP depth, 16MP front|
|Battery & Charging||5,000mAh, 10W||5,000mAh, 10W|
|Connectivity||5G, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi||5G, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi|
|Dimensions||168.9 x 75.8 x 9.3mm||169.54 x 77.48 x 9.35mm|
|Weight||215 grams||217.5 grams|
When it comes to the bare bones, these two phones are quite similar. But look closely, and there are a few marked differences.
Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) vs. Moto G Stylus 5G (2021): On the inside
The Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) comes with 256GB of built-in memory, but as a bonus, it also ships with another 256GB microSD card pre-installed, so you get a total of 512GB (there’s also, as noted, a 128GB option). This is further expandable up to 1TB with optional memory card media.
By contrast, the Moto G Stylus 5G (2021) comes with 128GB or 256GB storage, though it is also expandable up to 1TB via an optional memory card. Given the affordable pricing of memory cards these days, however, that might not make a huge difference. But it’s something to factor into the cost if you think you’d need more.
Where the Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) really shines is in RAM: it comes with up to 8GB RAM versus the Moto G Stylus 5G (2021) that only comes with either 4GB or 6GB RAM.
In his review, News Editor Derrek Lee found that the phone never really faltered, even when he was playing graphics-intensive games at higher frame rates. He loved the game dashboard that allows for boosting the performance in gaming as well, and still found it “performed like a champ” when doing so.
The Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) also comes with the latest Android OS, Android 12 with the promise of one OS update, whereas the Moto G Stylus 5G (2021) only comes with Android 11, which can quickly make it outdated.
In terms of processing power, the Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) is slightly better with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 695, versus the Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 in the Moto G Stylus 5G (2021).
One small but potentially important feature worth mentioning is that the Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) has NFC, whereas the Moto G Stylus 5G (2021) does not. If you like to tap-to-pay with a loaded digital credit or debit card, or leverage NFC functionality of various things like retail store promotions, you might want to upgrade for this reason alone.
Finally, stylus functionality is similar with both, though you get some added features in this department with the Moto G Stylus 5G (2022), like screenshot editor, Moto Note, and Live Message, which lets you capture an animated image and send it instantly in a message.
Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) vs. Moto G Stylus 5G (2021): The cameras
There’s a nominal difference in terms of the camera systems with these two phones, but it can be a deciding factor for those who love to capture photos and videos.
The Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) has a 50 MP camera system that includes quad pixel with optical image stabilization (OIS). It comes equipped with an 8MP ultra-wide-angle lens, macro vision 2MP depth sensor, and 16MP front camera.
Lee found that the cameras were nothing to write home about, but images he captured were “true-to-life.” The macro mode, however, left something to be desired. And he wasn’t excited about the subpar selfie camera. “If you’re taking selfies,” he says matter-of-factly, “this isn’t the phone for you,” citing that you get very little in the way of detail, with images that are often overexposed and blown out.
The Moto G Stylus 5G (2021), meanwhile, has a 48MP quad-camera system that includes an 8MP ultra-wide-angle lens, 2MP depth sensor, 16MP front camera, and better 5MP macro vision.
Both have unique features for taking photos, ranging from dual capture to night vision, spot color, cinemagraph, auto smile capture, and more. Both can also capture FHD video at 30 FPS.
If you’re searching for a phone that can take good photos, you’ll get a similar experience out of both of these, which is decent, but not great. There are more premium phones among the best Android phones that focus more on the photography aspect of the experience that are worth looking at instead, if this is a feature that’s important to you.
Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) vs. Moto G Stylus 5G (2021): Should you upgrade?
It’s worth upgrading to the Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) for the new OS alone, since it comes with the latest Android 12 and at least one OS update, along with three years of security updates. But there are other features to sway your decision.
Having to option for 8GB RAM can be a game-changer for multitaskers, gamers, workhorses, students, and others. If you opt for this one, splurge and go with the highest end option available.
Added niceties include the slightly improved camera system and display, the inclusion of NFC, and the bonus microSD card, so you can store up to 512GB of content right off the bat with no added costs. You might also prefer the side fingerprint reader to the rear one, though this will be a subjective choice.
Though Lee has not been a fan of Motorola phones to date, he does say the Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) is “surprisingly good” as a mid-range phone that offers great performance and battery life. He overall enjoyed using it.
Bottom line when it comes to the Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) vs. Moto G Stylus 5G (2021): If you have the Moto G Stylus 5G (2021), you should consider upgrading to the Moto G Stylus 5G (2022). If you’re looking for more, however, Lee suggests some other phones that might better suit your needs.
That includes the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, for those who prefer a built-in stylus (though it will cost a lot more), or the OnePlus Nord N20 5G, which is also in the mid-range when it comes to pricing and has the same Snapdragon 695 processor, as well as a similar feature set.
The better option
Choosing between these two phones, you should absolutely go with the highest-end Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) option. It’s also worth upgrading to from the Moto G Stylus 5G (2021) if you own that phone, and you’re looking for something new and comparable within the Motorola family.
With Android 11 and 4GB RAM in the entry option, you might be fine if you have the version of the Moto G Stylus 5G (2021) with 6GB RAM and 256GB storage (or opt for a memory card). But it might be time to resell this one and upgrade to something new, whether it’s the Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) or something comparable.
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Christine Persaud has been writing about tech since long before the smartphone was even a "thing." When she isn't writing, she's working on her latest fitness program, binging a new TV series, tinkering with tech gadgets she's reviewing, or spending time with family and friends. A self-professed TV nerd, lover of red wine, and passionate home cook, she's immersed in tech in every facet of her life. Follow her at @christineTechCA.