Not bothered about that extra layer of tech skimmed off to accomodate 5G? You’ll probably like the Motorola Moto G50 a lot. It performs reasonably well day-to-day and the battery life is excellent. Like the best Moto G phones it nails the basics and comes with no day-ruining problems.
- Excellent battery life
- 5G at a sensible price
- Solid general performance
- Weak camera array
- Lower resolution screen
- UKRRP: £199.99
- Battery LifeThis is a good pick if you’re looking for strong endurance
- 5GYou’ll get 5G on the cheap
- AndroidThe software here is clean and simple
The Motorola Moto G50 is an affordable 5G phone. While there are a lot of these about in 2021, the category is still fairly new.
5G mobile internet is much cheaper to implement than it once was, but the Moto G50 still has a few compromises I wouldn’t usually expect to see at the price.
These are a 720p screen, which looks good but doesn’t have the sort of near-flagship sharpness you can easily find among the best cheap phones. And although the Motorola Moto G50 has three cameras on its back, it feels like a single-camera phone much of the time as there’s no ultra-wide lens. These are found in almost every other phone in this category.
It’s here to offer 5G, seen as one of the most important new features to have for today’s phone buyer, to people who wouldn’t have been able to afford it in previous generations.
Design and Screen
- Plastic build, to be expected at the price
- Only a single speaker
There are now quite a lot of 5G phones at the budget end of the market. They all look and feel fairly similar.
Characteristics they share include an all-plastic build made to look like a phone with aluminium sides and a glass back. I like a glass-backed phone, but stick the bundled silicone case on the Moto G50 and whether it’s made of glass and metal or plastic makes very little difference.
The Motorola Moto G50 has a slightly more subdued look than its rivals from Xiaomi and Realme. There are no massive slogans or logos stamped on the back, and while the rear finish sparks laser-like lines of blue when it catches the light, it’s otherwise a fairly consistent grey/dark blue colour
A green Moto G50 is also available.
A few specifics are worth noting. The Motorola Moto G50 has a rear finger fingerprint scanner, rather than one mounted on the side. It works well, is fast enough and reliable.
Where a fingerprint reader sits is largely a case of personal preference these days. Even “high end” in-screen ones offer no huge functional benefit over a good, cheaper rear-mounted one like the Moto G50’s. Personally, I’d prefer a side-loaded reader to this one, but that’s probably because I’ve used more of them over the last year.
The Motorola Moto G50 is also slightly smaller than alterntives like the Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite, as it has a mid-size 6.5-inch screen. This was a sensible design decision as the G50 is a truly mainstream phone, perfect for the sort of person who prefers something easier to handle over a slightly better video streaming experience.
It’s a phone to use and abuse, not to treat as the light of your tech life. Like some other budget Motos, the Moto G50 has a water resistant barrier that provides some protection from rain without offering full-on IP-grade resistance. Put the case on and you really can treat it fairly carelessly.
I’m a little disappointed by the lack of factory-applied screen protector, though, and have already managed to put a little nick in the display glass despite treating it fairly well. Consider buying a screen protector.
The Motorola Moto G50 also has just one speaker, down on the bottom edge of the phone. It’s moderately loud and not too thin-sounding, but a stereo array is always preferable.
The Motorola Moto G50 has a 6.5-inch LCD screen that has two hallmarks of the tight budget with which is was designed. It’s a 720p screen, not the 1080p kind you get with the Moto G G5, and it has a teardrop notch rather than the punch hole style considered more “current”, “stylish” or “expensive” by some.
I find it hard to care too much about this when the iPhone 12 Pro Max costs more than four times as much and still has a huge notch. But bear it in mind if you prefer the punch hole style, seen in the Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite and Oppo A54 5G.
The resolution is perhaps a more substantive issue. 720p phones like the Moto G50 can and do still look pretty sharp, but on switching from the Oppo A54 5G, there was a clear step down. I went from a screen that looks – in many situations – almost indistinguishable from that of a far pricier phone to one more clearly lower-end.
Text appears slightly softer, although two weeks in I can’t say I’m left wishing I could stop using the Moto G50 and go back to a 1080p best phone.
The Moto G50 does not have ultra-deep colour, but looks perfectly good to my eyes. And, the clincher, its outdoors visibility is solid enough thanks to respectable maximum brightness.
This is also a 90Hz screen, best demonstrated by scrolling down your app drawer. It simply looks smoother than it does on a standard 60Hz screen – although an above-60Hz refresh rate is no longer particularly notable even at £200.
- Not the best performer in its price class, but gets by just fine
- No grating lag, just the slight performance drop of an entry-level CPU
The Motorola Moto G50 uses the Snapdragon 480 CPU, which sees 5G drop down to the lower tiers of Qualcomm Snapdragon processors. It’s not as good as the Snapdragon 765G used in the earliest “affordable” 5G phones, but is actually rather nippy and zaps the very obvious performance issues of the Moto G10 and the more subtle ones of the Moto G30.
Occasionally, apps and interface screens may take a brief beat to populate. Games won’t load as fast as they do on the surprisingly super-powered Xiaomi Poco X3 Pro, but I could happily carry on using the Moto G50 as my main phone for the rest of the year.
In classic Moto G series style, the Moto G50 does many of the core things well enough to keep you satisfied.
The gnawing issue is some of its competitors are superior. Xiaomi’s Mi 10T Lite uses the somewhat more powerful Snapdragon 750G, the Realme 7 5G the punchy Dimensity 800U. And if you don’t really care about 5G, the Xiaomi Poco X3 Pro is ridiculously powerful at a little over £200. It’s a much better gaming phone than the Moto G50.
I tried a bunch of games on the Moto G50, and I think most will be perfectly happy with what you get here. It’s only very demanding games like Fortnite that show it up. You’ll have to run it at reduced graphics settings, and even then dips below 30fps are fairly common.
You get 64GB storage, the standard amount at this price. It’s enough to get buy for many, but you can also pop in a microSD card.
- Lack of ultra-wide camera is disappointing
- Fairly poor texture rendering from main camera
I find it very easy to ignore the minor Moto G50 issues I’ve mentioned so far. I mostly only play Fortnite to see how it runs on phones, and while I can see the difference between 720p and 1080p screen, living at a lower resolution has been no chore.
The Moto G50 camera is different, though. This phone has a triple camera array, but it feels like a single camera one because there is no zoom or ultra-wide lens.
Aside from the primary 48-megapixel sensor we get the usual crummy 2-megapixel depth sensor – useful in that it lets you shoot Portrait background-blurred images of any subject, but poor in terms of the quality of hardware it uses. The third camera is a 5-megapixel macro. You use this for ultra-close photography.
While it is far better than the 2-megapixel macro cameras used in a lot of entry-level Androids, it is nowhere near as useful as an ultra-wide. The best secondary phone cameras give you multiple compositional options when something you see makes you think “ooh, that would make a nice photo”. But macro photography is an altogether different animal. The close-up photos the Moto G50 takes are nothing to get excited about either – the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro is in a totally different league for macro images.
The Moto G50’s primary camera is also below average. I had a chance to compare directly it with a stack of comparable phones: the Moto G 5G Plus, Xiaomi Mi 10T lite, Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC and Realme 8 Pro. The Moto G50 was the worst of the lot, producing fizzier fine detail, the weakest texture handling and the poorest image integrity at the edges of the frame.
None of the Moto G50 cameras are great, and night-time photography is poor even with the help of the brightness-boosting Night Vision mode. Images are very soft.
Now, having roundly talked the Moto G50 camera down, I don’t think it’s a disaster zone. Not at all. It still uses Motorola’s very solid dynamic range boosting techniques to get you even-looking images in all sort of challenging lighting. And while the lens can struggle a little with intense light sources (ie the sun), introducing purple colour noise at times, this usually isn’t too glaring if you keep your lens clean.
The part I’ve enjoyed most is that the Moto G50 doesn’t take an age to process its photos, unlike the Moto G30 and Moto G10. This can be a real headache in cheaper phones, particularly if you shoot an image to share in WhatsApp. The improvement is likely down to the Snapdragon 480’s superior image signal processor.
The Moto G50’s video is limited. You can only shoot at 1080p. There are 30fps and 60fps modes but I’d advise sticking to 30fps as the higher frame rate disables stabilisation, which is a must for any handheld footage if you don’t want it to look like steaming garbage.
There’s a 13-megapixel selfie camera around the front. It can take very detailed shots in perfect lighting, picking out every single facial hair, but the results unsurprisingly decline dramatically in poor lighting as there’s no pixel binning here to compensate for limited light.
- Long battery life, beating many rivals including some other Motos
- Slightly slow charging
There are two good reasons to buy the Moto G50. The first is to get 5G on the cheap. The second is its excellent battery life.
It has, like almost every phone in this class, a 5000mAh battery. But judging by my experience it even outlasts top performers like the Oppo A54 5G, perhaps because it has a 720P screen rather than a 1080p one.
I routinely have around 40% or more charge by bed time, and would trust it to last a full day, on any day.
Battery charging speed is less impressive, however. The Moto G50 comes with a 10W charger, not a truly fast one. I don’t find this a huge turn-off as the phone doesn’t need mid-day top-ups. But the Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite has a 33W charger, showing this Moto up.
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Should you buy it?
You want cheap 5G: The Moto G50 offers 5G for under £200. That is its number one job. It’s less than you’ll pay for the direct rival from Samsung.
You want a good camera: Don’t be fooled by the three cameras on the back. You only get one field of view useful for everyday photography – no ultra-wide – and the main camera is worse than much of the competition.
Motorola has taken the same feature-cutting approach as Samsung here, but the Moto G50 is probably a better buy than the rival Samsung Galaxy A32 5G as it costs £50 less.
However, it’s hard to ignore alternatives like the Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite, which is available at the same price at the time of writing and has none of these obvious compromises. It’s also a clear step down from the last-generation Moto G 5G Plus, which was (/is) not much more expensive.
Yes, this is a 5G phone
There is no waterproofing with this phone
During testing, we found the battery here to be good