The Moto G54 5G is a surprisingly capable budget-focused phone that offers better performance than I expected. Its camera could be better and more fully-featured, and the LCD display is disappointing in this day and age, but for £179/$200, it’s one of the best-looking phones in its price bracket and offers near-stock Android 13 too.
- Surprisingly strong performance for the price
- Near-stock approach to Android 13
- 2MP macro lens in place of an ultrawide
- Not the best for gaming
- LCD screen isn’t that bright
- High-res displaySure, it’s LCD, but at least the resolution here is a strong 2400×1080 for the price, with a 120Hz refresh rate to boot.
- 5G connectivityEnjoy lightning-fast download speeds in compatible areas.
- Near-stock Android 13There’s no significant bloatware in sight, and Motorola is offering three years of security updates alongside the upgrade to Android 14.
There comes a time in every phone reviewer’s life when it’s hard to get excited about, well, reviewing phones.
A lot of them are pretty homogenised, and while I’m not saying the Moto G54 5G has warmed this old cynic’s heart, it’s the first budget-focused 5G handset I’ve tested in a long, long time that feels as though it can be a jack of pretty much any trade without sacrificing its soul for 5G.
The best part is that the Moto G54 5G comes in at just £179/$200, and offers a larger, sharper display than many slightly more expensive phones, more consistent performance across pretty much everything, and a better camera.
Of course, there are downsides – the LCD panel here is sharper but not brighter than a lot of its rivals, and the camera, better than it is, still feels damned with faint praise thanks to a lack of options.
But I’d also argue it’s a great-looking phone, something relatively unheard of in this price range.
That brings us nicely to the design, and the Moto G54 5G just looks sleek. It’s still pretty plasticky, notably on the sides, but the back has a matte texture that, while it doesn’t avoid fingerprints, certainly feels nice to the touch.
Sticking with the back, there are just two camera sensors stacked vertically here, with the camera bump itself so negligible that in the right light, you’d swear the phone’s back was entirely flat.
The phone’s curvature on the sides and rear make the 6.5-inch phone easier to hold, though at 8.9mm thick and 192g, it’s not exactly the most lightweight phone around – even with that largely plastic build.
On the left side you’ll find a SIM tray near the top, and on the right, there’s a volume rocker and a power button that holds a hidden fingerprint reader. The top is clear, aside from the Dolby Atmos logo, and the other end has a USB-C port, speaker grille, and headphone jack (remember those?).
In case you’re wondering, this review unit is the Midnight blue colourway, but there are Indigo blue and Glacier blue options, too. If blue isn’t your colour, there’s mint green, too, though not in all territories.
When it comes to the display, I’m more than a little disappointed to tell you it’s an LCD panel, so don’t expect bright colours and deeper blacks you may find from an OLED, but it’ll still do for most smartphone tasks.
Still, after testing the TCL 40R 5G not long ago and being put off by its 720p ‘HD+’ resolution, I’m relieved that the Moto G54 5G manages to hit a 2400×1080 resolution, with a notable crispness to text and images you don’t often find on truly budget phones.
That would probably have been enough, but Motorola even managed to get a 120Hz refresh rate in there, too, meaning scrolling is smooth. After testing a few 90Hz displays, the difference has never been more apparent. It does reflect a lot, though, with the below-average 560nits peak brightness making it trickier to use in direct sunlight.
As with many devices in this price range, bezels are uniform throughout, aside from a slightly larger chin along the bottom, and there’s a hole-punch camera in the centre of the top of the display, too.
There are two camera options on the Moto G54 5G, and while that’s down from the trio offered by many of its competitors, the main one is actually pretty good here – although I’m still surprised that Motorola paired its 50MP primary sensor with a 2MP macro rather than any ultrawide option.
You’re not going to get flagship-quality snaps, but you will find that it does a better job with colour than many of its contemporaries. Many phones in this price range can leave colour, particularly in subtle details, feeling washed out.
Check out the example here with Batman, though – if anything, it’s a little brighter than it was in real life on the yellow, and maybe a little too light on the grey areas. Still, there’s plenty of detail.
Things are much more consistent outdoors, too, catching shadows and darker areas and not doing what so many do and just making the whole thing brighter. That applies to photos at night, too, with the Night Vision setting doing a good job of softening harsh streetlights. It’s no Pixel 7a, but it’ll do for simple night shots.
Portrait mode, particularly when used on anything fast-moving (like a four-year-old or a very skittish cat), simply isn’t worth using on the back camera, but the front camera performs better.
Here, my biggest issue is just the way in which it muddies skin tones, particularly indoors or anywhere lacking in natural light. It does, however, do a decent job of applying bokeh around hair and ears.
Manufacturers keep adding Macro cameras, but aside from some quick focusing, it’s a disappointment here, as seen on this D20 which ends up just looking a bit blurry and lacking in detail.
Video-wise, you get 1080p video at 30- or 60fps, and either does a solid job of capture with the same caveats of its still camera setup.
The Moto G54 5G is a curious case of offering plenty of processing power but lacking in GPU power, sporting a MediaTek Dimensity 7020 along with a healthy dose of either 8- or 12GB of RAM and 128- or 256GB of storage depending on the variant you opt for.
Its Geekbench single and multi-core scores are far better than similarly-priced phones, and multitasking is a delight with the 120Hz refresh rate. It keeps things moving nicely when switching between apps and scrolling through Instagram, with sleek animations and the like on Android 13.
Gaming is another story, though, and while things can be smooth (notably where the frame rate feels improved by the display’s refresh rate), you’ll need to turn some settings down to get things running reasonably well. More straightforward titles like Marvel Snap are great, but again, the reflective display can make darker UI elements more challenging to see.
The mono speaker at the phone’s base is decent enough, but it definitely feels focused on lower to mids – voices sound lower, and music is bassier, but for the most part, you’re better off connecting earbuds instead.
The Moto G54 5G comes running the full version of Android 13 out of the box, something you don’t always see at the budget end of the market.
As I mentioned earlier, the Moto G54 5G’s Android UI is pretty free of clutter – a nice change compared to the busy and bustling custom UIs you come across, particularly at the budget end of the market. It also comes with the handy Moto Actions that allow you to double-chop to activate the torch, double-twist to activate the camera and more.
There are a few pre-installed lurkers on the homepage, but outside of an inoffensive game of Solitaire and Bubble Rainbow, it’s basically just TikTok and Mistplay – and all that can be quickly deleted if you like.
It’s easy to move through the OS, too, thanks to the slick refresh rate, and Android 14 will be supported, too – along with three years of security patches.
It’s not exactly the multi-year support from more premium Android phones, but it’s welcome to see on such a cheap smartphone that, just a couple of years ago, would’ve likely not even gotten a single OS upgrade.
Matching the TCL 40R 5G with a 5,000 mAh battery, the Moto G54 5G gets around the same day and a half of normal use. Naturally, more is always welcome, but if you’re buying the Moto G54 5G, you’re likely doing so to take it to work and home again, before charging it at night.
With that in mind, it’ll work nicely and still have enough juice for some Marvel Snap on the train home, or final Google Docs adjustments on the way in.
In a surprise twist, Motorola still includes an AC adapter in the box, meaning your £179 phone comes with something a £1,249 phone doesn’t. All kidding aside, there’s 20W fast charging, and the adapter in the box just so happens to be 20W – meaning you can get a decent jump start when your battery runs flat.
Just don’t expect to use it to charge to full in a pinch – the Moto G54 5G requires more than 2 hours to charge fully, so it’ll definitely be one you need to leave overnight.
Should you buy it?
You want a cheap phone that cuts minimal corners
The Moto G54 5G is great for multitasking, and while it’s not really cut out for gaming, everything else runs nicely.
You want a great display
An OLED display would’ve taken the Moto G54 5G to the next level, but the LCD panel is too dim and reflective.
If you’re looking for bang for your buck in the budget phone arena, the Moto G54 5G has it in spades. You won’t be getting the best screen or camera, and gaming performance is limited, but everything else feels responsive and looks great.
It’s also backed up by a sleek outer design and that all-important 5G connectivity, ticking most boxes for a budget-focused buyer.
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We test every mobile phone we review thoroughly. We use industry-standard tests to compare features properly and we use the phone as our main device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.
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Used as a main phone for over a week
Thorough camera testing in a variety of conditions
Tested and benchmarked using respected industry tests and real-world data
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Yes, you’ll get a 20W charging brick in the box.
There’s no official dust or water resistance, but Motorola claims that it’s “water resistant”.