The Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G, as you may have pieced together, is a phone with a built-in stylus and 5G. This is a slightly improved version of the Moto G 2021 Edition 4G-only stylus (I’m sorry, that’s really what these phones are called).
The Stylus 5G includes a few more hardware upgrades on top of the 5G connectivity, including a bigger battery, more storage and RAM (256GB and 6GB respectively on the version I tested) and a Snapdragon 480 processor. more recent. There’s a new stylus-friendly GIF creation mode, which is fun. Pleasure is good! But it looks more or less the same phone: The rear camera array is the same except for a different macro sensor, its 6.8-inch screen is the same, and the overall dimensions are similar.
This puts the G Stylus 5G in sort of a sticky situation. At $ 399, it’s somewhere between the $ 279 G stylus and the $ 1,000 Galaxy Note 20 (the next step if you want a stylus with your phone), but it doesn’t go far enough to clearly offer more than the more economical version. Performance and battery life are a bit better, but these aren’t really weak points for the 4G version.
Having 5G is good too, but the value is diminished when you consider that the G Stylus 5G is only guaranteed for two years of security updates. This is when 5G in the US will start to get the hang of it, so most of us can get away with a 4G device for the next couple of years.
All of this makes a good phone with no compelling case to recommend it.
Moto G Stylus 5G display and performance
The G Stylus 5G is a big phone – big with a capital B. Its 6.8-inch display is about as big as they come, at least until all of our phones start to fold and turn into weird little Transformer-style tablets. This is a perfect fit 1080p LCD panel, without the nice contrast of OLEDs, but still usable in daylight conditions.
The battery life is very good, thanks to a large 5,000mAh cell. Using it on Wi-Fi I got four hours of screen time and it’s only 36%. You could certainly get two days of use out of it – including relatively heavy cellular data use – and even a full day of heavy-duty use seems reasonable.
The performance is also good; jumping between apps is quick and smooth, and heavier tasks like zooming in and out on Google Maps show only a bit of stuttering. There’s minimal but noticeable shutter lag in the camera app, which seems like an issue this phone shouldn’t have, but not enough to ruin anyone’s day.
The G Stylus 5G ships with Android 11 and will only be supported with a major operating system platform update and two years of security updates. That’s an unfortunately short lifespan, especially since Samsung Galaxy A-series phones are now guaranteed for four years of security updates. For $ 400, you should really get over a few years of support for your device.
A few notes on the 5G connectivity of the Stylus 5G: at launch, it will work on the 5G networks of Verizon and T-Mobile, but will only work in 4G on AT&T. Motorola says AT&T 5G support will be available “in the next few months.” It’s not compatible with any of the 5G mmWave networks (the super fast and hard to find variety), but that’s no big loss. More importantly, it will work with the 5G C-band frequencies that Verizon and AT&T will start using at the end of the year.
The stylus features of the Stylus 5G are basic but adequate. The capacitive stylus is spring loaded in the lower right corner of the phone and automatically displays a quick menu of options when you remove it. If you’re on the lock screen, you can take a note without having to unlock the device, which is handy. You won’t find any great productivity features or tricks like wireless control at Note series, but rather handy shortcuts for grabbing a GIF or doodle on a screenshot. They are useful and fair for the price.
Moto G Stylus 5G Camera
The Stylus 5G offers three rear cameras – a standard wide 48-megapixel f / 1.7, an ultra-wide 8-megapixel f / 2.2 and a 5-megapixel macro – as well as a 2-megapixel depth sensor and a 16-megapixel selfie camera. . The 4G G Stylus has a 2 megapixel macro camera, but that’s the only difference between them.
Much like the 4G version, the Stylus 5G takes good photos in abundant light with a surprising level of detail, thanks to the way it processes 48-megapixel images into 12-megapixel files. The ultra-wide camera is nice to have, although its images can be a bit noisier in difficult lighting conditions, and the macro camera is still underwhelming, despite the modest increase in resolution.
The main camera is subject to drastic color changes with even slightly different compositions of the same scene and the same subject – in one photo my orange cat is orange, and in the next taken in a slightly different position it suddenly looks blue. This happens more frequently in mixed lighting conditions, which many cameras will struggle with, but it appeared just often enough in my testing to annoy me.
The G Stylus 4G only is a steal for $ 279, and there’s nothing wrong with the $ 399 G Stylus 5G, but it’s harder to justify the higher cost. With only a few years of guaranteed security updates, this phone will only see the start of very good 5G in the US. This is a good option if you are inclined towards a pen phone and the Note is not in your budget, but for most people I would recommend sticking with the 4G model only for a few years or looking into a 5G phone with a little more longevity.
If you’re more into the big screen and battery than the stylus, you can save a bit and go with the Moto G Power (2021). Its processor isn’t quite as good and you miss out on the ultra-wide camera, but if you want to cover the basics for a few years this will do.
On the other hand, if you can afford to spend a bit more and want to enjoy more than a few years of your phone, the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G is a great choice. It has a big and beautiful display, 5G, and comes with a generous support policy. Budget-friendly stylus enthusiasts have a good option in the Moto G Stylus 5G, but most others could do better elsewhere.
Photograph by Allison Johnson / The Verge