Moto G Stylus 5G (2023) vs. TCL Stylus 5G: Which should you buy?

If you're looking for a phone with a built-in stylus, you won't have many options. Since LG is out of the game, your main options are from Motorola or Samsung. However, TCL threw itself in the ring with its own stylus-toting smartphone, giving consumers another option in the U.S. The phone was launched in 2022, making it a bit older than the newer Moto G Stylus 5G (2023). So how do the two phones compare, and is the TCL model still worth considering?

Despite being an older, cheaper model, the TCL has some redeeming qualities that make it worth a look, at least if you're on the market for a cheaper 5G smartphone. But in many ways, it may not exactly compare to the more expensive Moto G Stylus 5G (2023). Still, unless you're looking to splurge on a pricey flagship from Samsung, these are among the best options you'll have for a bit more productivity.

Moto G Stylus 5G (2023) vs. TCL Stylus 5G: Design & display

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Moto G Stylus 5G (2023) outside, sunlight reflecting off back panel

(Image credit: Derrek Lee / Android Central)

There's a bit of a difference in the design between these two smartphones. TCL isn't known for having the best-looking smartphones, and that trend continues with the TCL Stylus 5G. It's flat on the front and back with a chamfered frame that sports a unique ribbing that gives the phone an interesting feel. On the back is a quad-camera setup in a long, rectangular housing that looks pretty dated.

The phone only comes in Lunar Black, which looks fairly dull but otherwise fine. It's a matte polycarbonate chassis, so you don't really have to worry about fingerprints.

As for the Moto G Stylus 5G (2023), the phone is flat on the front, but the plastic rear curves slightly into the frame, which makes it a bit more comfortable in hand. The phone comes in two colors, Cosmic Black and Rose Champagne, which are fairly nice and reflect well in the sunlight.

Both phones have fairly large Full HD+ LCDs, but the TCL has a larger 6.81-inch panel, while the Moto sits at 6.6 inches. Motorola has the advantage, however, with a higher 120Hz refresh rate. That's double the speed of the 60Hz panel on the TCL model, which makes the phone feel even more outdated than its design gives off. The display is plenty bright, but overall pales in comparison to the Moto phone.

Bezels are fairly small on both but seem even smaller on the Moto. Both devices also have their stylus pens built into the bottom of the phone, which can be taken out with a click.

Moto G Stylus 5G (2023) vs. TCL Stylus 5G: Hardware & specs

TCL Stylus 5G pulling the stylus out

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

Regarding hardware, the Moto G Stylus 5G (2023) unsurprisingly has the upper hand. The phone launched in 2023 with the new Snapdragon 6 Gen 1, which performs shockingly well. Coupled with 6GB of RAM, the phone feels almost like a flagship Android phone, powering through tasks and even graphics-intensive mobile games with relative ease.

By comparison, the TCL Stylus 5G is equipped with a MediaTek Dimensity 700 and 4GB of RAM. This configuration is by no means bad, and the phone performs quite well, even when playing games like Diablo Immortal. However, despite that, it still falls short when compared to the Moto, a fact that's conflated by the low 60Hz panel.

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CategoryMoto G Stylus 5G (2023)TCL Stylus 5G
OSAndroid 13 (My UX)Android 12 (TCL UI 4.0)
Display6.6-inch FHD+ (2400 x 1080), LCD, 120Hz refresh rate (LTPS)6.81-inch FHD+ (2460 x 1080), LCD, 60Hz
ChipsetSnapdragon 6 Gen 1MediaTek Dimensity 700
Storage128GB (carriers), 256GB, expandable128GB (expandable)
Memory4GB (carriers), 6GB4GB
Rear Camera 150MP wide, f/1.88, 1.0μm, Quad-Pixel50MP wide, f/1.8, 0.64μm
Rear Camera 28MP ultrawide/macro/depth, f/2.2, 1.12μm5MP ultrawide, 1.12μm, 115˚
Rear Camera 32MP macro, f/2.4, 1.75μm
Rear Camera 42 MP depth, f/2.4, 1.75μm
Selfie Camera16MP, f/2.45, 1.0μm13 MP, f/2.3, 1.12µm
Water ResistanceWater-repellent
Battery & Charging5,000mAh, 20W wired charging4,000mAh, 18W charging
Connectivity5G (sub-6), Bluetooth 5.1, Wi-Fi (2.4GHz & 5GHz)5G sub-6, Wi-Fi (2.4GHz & 5GHz), Bluetooth 5.1
SecurityFingerprint sensor, face unlockFingerprint sensor
Dimensions162.83 x 73.77 x 9.19mm169.6 x 76.5 x 8.98mm
ColorsCosmic Black, Rose ChampagneLunar Black

When it comes to software, the Moto also has the advantage of Android 13, whereas the TCL was launched with Android 12 and will only be updated to Android 13… at some point. That said, TCL's software is actually pretty nice and feels like a mash-up of the Google Pixel UI, the iOS Control Center, and the Google Home app. Motorola opts for a fairly stock Android experience, similar to a Pixel, but it has some niceties like useful gestures and gaming controls.

The software extends to the built-in stylus pens at the bottom of each device. Both pens are passive and not active like Samsung's S Pen, so there's no pressure sensitivity or any special connection between them; it just gives you another method to write or draw. But both companies try to make the best out of the pens with some useful apps.

TCL Stylus 5G notes app

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

Motorola has its home-grown Moto Note app that you can automatically enable when pulling out the pen. It also has a series of apps that take advantage of the pen, such as a handwriting calculator, GIF maker, and more. TCL takes things a step further with the inclusion of paid apps like Nebo, plus its handwriting recognition capabilities are pretty impressive.

Unfortunately, the experience with the TCL pen was less than ideal in our testing, while the Moto did just fine.

Both phones have stereo speakers, side-mounted fingerprint sensors, and NFC. There's no IP rating on either, but Motorola at least gives the Moto G Stylus 5G (2023) a water-repellant coating for some protection.

Then there's battery life. The TCL Stylus 5G lasts all day on a single charge, thanks to the 4000mAh battery underneath. However, Motorola gives you up to two days on a single charge with its Stylus phone, which is pretty nice. Charging on both is pretty similar, with 18W and 20W on the TCL and Moto, respectively.

Moto G Stylus 5G (2023) vs. TCL Stylus 5G: Cameras

Moto G Stylus 5G (2023) cameras

(Image credit: Derrek Lee / Android Central)

You'll find a decent set of cameras on both phones. Nothing flagship-level, but the 50MP primary sensors take fairly respectable photos during the day. And while the TCL has a slightly wider aperture, Motorola's sensor has larger pixels, giving it an upper hand with low-light images.

Neither phone have very good ultrawide lenses, but the Moto at least squeezes an additional 3 million pixels, which can add extra detail to an image. Motorola also utilizes this camera as the depth and macro sensor, while TCL has separate 2MP sensors for both. This results in potentially better quality images from the Moto G Stylus 5G, thanks to the boost in resolution.

Below are some samples from the Moto G Stylus 5G (2023):

Below are camera samples from the TCL Stylus 5G. As you can see, the phone seems to have a hard time focusing and low-light is a bit of a problem for it. Images can also appear a bit oversharpened as if trying to compensate:

Video capture on both is about what you'd expect on a budget Android phone, meaning you shouldn't expect much out of either phone. However, Motorola once again has the upper hand with 4K 30fps recording, whereas the TCL Stylus 5G tops out at 1080p. 

Moto G Stylus 5G (2023) vs. TCL Stylus 5G: Which should you buy?

Moto G Stylus 5G (2023) stylus pen menu

(Image credit: Derrek Lee / Android Central)

It's great to see TCL getting into the stylus game with its own model. The Stylus 5G is a pretty decent phone for the price point. The software and performance are pretty good, the camera is decent, and it can last through the day on a single charge. It's about what we'd expect from a mid-range smartphone, with the added benefit of a built-in stylus, of course.

Unfortunately, the TCL Stylus 5G is already showing its age, having launched in 2022 with no successor in sight. The phone still runs older Android 12 software as most phones are gearing up to receive Android 14. And if design matters to you, the phone looks quite dated and... cheap.

The Moto G Stylus 5G (2023) is the obvious choice here. Sure, it costs about twice as much, but it will get you a near-flagship experience with the powerful new Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 chipset, battery life that lasts up to twice as long, a great design, and it comes with Motorola's years of experience making stylus-equipped phones. And it still costs less than half of what you would pay for a regular flagship.

Perhaps if TCL follows up with a newer model, that could be one to consider. However, for now, Motorola is the way to go here.

Derrek Lee
Managing Editor

Derrek is the managing editor of Android Central, helping to guide the site's editorial content and direction to reach and resonate with readers, old and new, who are just as passionate about tech as we are. He's been obsessed with mobile technology since he was 12, when he discovered the Nokia N90, and his love of flip phones and new form factors continues to this day. As a fitness enthusiast, he has always been curious about the intersection of tech and fitness. When he's not working, he's probably working out.