Motorola has announced most of its 2021 lineup in one go, so we’ve got a big stack of phones to peruse. Meet the Moto G Play (2021), Moto G Power (2021), Moto G Stylus (2021) and Motorola One 5G Ace. These names all really roll off the tongue.
We can’t possibly understand this without a big table, so here we go:
|Moto G Games (2021)||Moto G-force (2021)||Moto G stylus (2021)||Motorola One 5G Ace|
|START PRICE||$169.99||$199.99 / $249.99||$299.99||$399.99|
|SCREEN||6.5-inch 1600×720p LCD||6.6-inch 1600×720p LCD||6.8-inch 2400×1080 LCD||6.7-inch 2400×1080 LCD|
(Four 1.8GHz Cortex A73 cores,
four A53 cores, 11nm)
(Four 2GHz, Cortex A73 cores,
four A53 cores, 11nm)
(Two 2.2GHz Cortex A76 cores,
six A55 cores, 11nm)
|Snapdragon 750G 5G
(Two Cortex 2.2GHz A77 cores,
six A55 cores, 8nm)
|RAM||3GB||3GB or 4GB||4GB||6GB|
|STORAGE||32GB||32GB or 64GB||128GB||128GB|
8MP wide angle
2MP Macro2MP Depth
8MP wide angle
|PORTS||USB-C, headphone jack|
Comparing this to last year’s lineup announced around this time, the cheapest phone was the $150 Moto E (2020) and now it’s the Moto G Play (2021) for $170. That extra $20 includes a major battery upgrade from 3550 mAh to 5000 mAh, an additional GB of RAM and an upgrade from Micro-USB to the modern world of USB-C. Everything has a large 5000mAh battery except the Moto G Stylus, which should free up some space for storage of the eponymous stylus.
The Play, as the cheapest phone, has a teardrop-shaped front camera and thicker bezels. The Power and Sylus have punch cameras in the top left corner of the screen, while the One 5G Ace has a center punch camera. Everything has a headphone jack, a MicroSD slot and a fingerprint reader, mounted on the back or on the side.
If you care about 5G, and you shouldn’t, the Motorola One 5G Ace is a fairly inexpensive gateway to the world of overhyped smartphone connectivity. There are insanely cheap 5G devices in China for ~$150, but for many areas, this $400 device will be the cheapest 5G device on the market. It’s only sub-6GHz 5G, not the faster mmWave used in all carrier marketing, but the carriers hope you won’t notice.
These Motorola devices all ship with the outdated Android 10, and Motorola has one of the worst update promises in the industry, usually one major update and only bi-monthly security updates for two years. Motorola is also still all out for lunch when it comes to NFC, which won’t enter the lineup until you hit $400. Compare this to something like HMD’s Nokia range, which offers NFC from the $180 Nokia 3.4.
We’re all looking at this from a distance now, but it’s hard to find a place for Motorola in the market given these issues. Neither the $300 Stylus or the $400 One 5G Ace seem to be able to withstand the might of the $350 Google Pixel 4a, which is sure to wipe the floor with Moto when it comes to performance, camera quality, and updates. Below that, there’s some room for the G Power and Play, but now OnePlus is heating up that price with a 90Hz, $180 phone, the OnePlus Nord N100. Like Motorola, OnePlus’s “Android 11 only” update plan is terrible, but maybe that’s something you’ll want to sacrifice at this price. Everything from Nokia is also worth checking out, thanks to the inclusion of stock Android, two years of major updates, and monthly security updates for three years. The only thing that stands out on these phones between the $180 Nokia 3.4 or $200 Nokia 5.3 is the 5000mAh battery, but you have to trust that Motorola’s software won’t eat that alone.
If you’re interested in Motorola’s lineup, all four phones will launch in the US on January 14 at all major retailers including Best Buy, Walmart, and Amazon. What appears to be Motorola’s real-life business, prepaid phone companies, are also lining up to scoop out the hardware, with the company “AT&T, Cricket, Boost Mobile, Consumer Cellular, Google Fi, Metro by T-Mobile, T-Mobile marks , Republic Wireless, Verizon and Xfinity Mobile” as partners.