2024 Review of the Motorola Moto G Play

Although it is priced $20 lower than its predecessor, the Motorola Moto G Play (2024) priced at $149.99 showcases a smaller, lighter build, increased RAM, and double the internal storage. Additionally, it boasts a respectable durability rating and an attractive design. Despite its many advantages at this price point, the absence of 5G remains a significant drawback, and the phone will only receive one major software update. For an additional $50, the Samsung Galaxy A15 5G maintains its status as our top pick for budget-friendly Android phones due to its extended software support, 5G capability, and superior cameras.

Appealing Hardware

Measuring 6.45 by 2.95 by 0.33 inches (HWD) and weighing 6.5 ounces, the 2024 Moto G Play is noticeably smaller and lighter than the 2023 version (6.58 by 3.01 by 0.37 inches, 7.2 ounces). In comparison, the Galaxy A15 (6.30 by 3.02 by 0.33 inches, 7.1 ounces) is slightly shorter but wider and heavier. All three devices share a similar design with rounded corners and flat sides.

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Moto G Play on shelf

(Credit: Iyaz Akhtar)

The Moto G Play provides a comfortable grip and its slim form factor makes it easier to handle compared to the Galaxy A15. While the back and frame are crafted from plastic (similar to the Galaxy A15), the front features Corning Gorilla Glass 3. Many other devices in this price bracket lack an IP rating, including the Galaxy A15, but the Moto G Play’s IP52 rating offers moderate protection against dust and water.

Located on the right side of the phone are dedicated volume buttons and a combined power button and fingerprint sensor. The sensor works reliably, and all buttons offer a satisfying click. This marks a departure from the 2023 model, which had a fingerprint sensor on the back. Face unlock is not supported on this device.

Closeup of buttons on G Play

(Credit: Iyaz Akhtar)

On the left side, you’ll find a combo SIM and microSD card tray, while the bottom houses a USB-C port (USB 2.0) and a downward-facing speaker. The top of the device features a 3.5mm headphone jack, a feature I always appreciate, especially considering its absence in most high-end smartphones.

A raised section on the back of the device houses a 50MP camera and a large flash module. While the previous model included a 16MP main camera, a 2MP macro camera, and a 2MP depth sensor, a Motorola representative states that the updated camera should deliver more detailed images and improved low-light performance. Positioned just below the top edge in the center is an 8MP in-display selfie camera. More on the camera capabilities later.

Back of Moto G Play on surface

(Credit: Iyaz Akhtar)

The Moto G Play is available exclusively in Sapphire Blue. Despite its plastic back, it exudes a metallic finish that gives it a premium appearance.

Spacious Display With Adequate Resolution

The Moto G Play boasts a 6.5-inch LCD display with a resolution of 1,600 by 720 pixels, a fixed refresh rate of 90Hz, and a maximum brightness of 500 nits (increased from 450 nits on the prior model). While LCD displays may not offer the deep blacks of OLED screens found on the Samsung A15, the black bezel surrounding the Moto G Play’s display remains visible even when displaying a black background.

The screen resolution is satisfactory for its price range and aligns with other devices in this segment, such as the $179.99 TCL 40 X 5G, which features a 6.7-inch panel with a resolution of 1,612 by 720 pixels. Nevertheless, I would have preferred a resolution closer to the A15’s 6.5-inch, 2,340-by-1,080-pixel display.

In indoor lighting conditions, visibility on the screen is not an issue, and animations appear smooth due to the quick refresh rate. However, viewing the display under direct sunlight posed challenges during testing.

Sufficiently Fast for Everyday Tasks

Packed inside the Moto G Play is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 680 4G SoC, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of internal storage (with support for microSD cards up to 1TB). This marks a significant improvement over the MediaTek Helio G37, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of internal storage found in the previous iteration.

Basic tasks like emailing, browsing, and media playback pose no issue for the Moto G Play. It launches apps swiftly and transitions between them seamlessly. To provide quantifiable results, various benchmarks were conducted.

On Geekbench 6, which assesses raw computing power, the G Play achieved a single-core score of 411 and a multi-core score of 1,321. In comparison, the Samsung Galaxy A15, powered by a MediaTek 6835 SoC with 4GB of RAM, scored 704 and 1,855 on the same tests, respectively. The TCL 40 X, equipped with a MediaTek Dimensity 700 chip, achieved 718 in the single-core test and 1,959 in the multi-core test.

Geekbench, PCMark, and GFXBench scores

(Credit: Geekbench/PCMark/GFXBench)

On the PCMark Work 3.0 test, simulating general mobile tasks, the Moto G Play scored 7,861. While this is slightly lower than the Galaxy A15’s score of 8,734, it surpasses the 40 X’s result of 7,428.

For graphics performance evaluation, the GFXBench Aztec Ruins benchmark was run at a resolution of 1,520 by 678 pixels, where the Moto G Play achieved 11 frames per second (fps). In comparison, the A15 achieved 8.6fps at a significantly higher resolution of 2,267 by 1,041 pixels.

While the Moto G Play isn’t designed for gaming, playing demanding titles like Genshin Impact on medium settings at 60fps resulted in choppy animations and slight stuttering during intense moments. However, less demanding games like Alto’s Odyssey performed smoothly.

Battery Performance

In a battery endurance test involving streaming full HD video at maximum brightness, the Moto G Play lasted 11 hours and 5 minutes, comparable to the previous model’s endurance (11 hours and 15 minutes) and the TCL 40 X (11 hours, 13 minutes). In contrast, the Galaxy A15 excelled in this category, lasting 14 hours and 3 minutes.

15W charging of Moto G Play

(Credit: Iyaz Akhtar)

The Moto G Play supports 15W wired charging (upgraded from 10W) and can be fully charged from 0% to 100% in 1 hour and 57 minutes with a compatible charger. No adapter is included with the device, so users must supply their own. During testing, a 15-minute charge brought the G Play to 17%, while a 30-minute charge boosted it to 33%. By comparison, the A15 supports charging speeds of up to 25W, though neither device supports wireless charging.

Connectivity and Call Performance

The Moto G Play operates solely on a 4G network, which is disappointing considering the 5G support offered by both the Galaxy A15 and the TCL 40 X. Nevertheless, it is compatible with all major US networks. The phone supports a physical SIM card but does not accommodate eSIMs.

Speed test on Moto G Play

(Credit: Iyaz Akhtar)

Testing the Moto G Play on T-Mobile’s 4G network in New York City yielded peak download speeds of 8.5Mbps and upload speeds of 14.8Mbps. The same SIM card inserted into a Samsung Galaxy S23 FE ($599.99) (with 5G disabled) achieved peak speeds of 16.5Mbps down and 19.6Mbps up in the identical location.

The Moto G Play supports Wi-Fi 5 connectivity. Connecting to a Wi-Fi 6 access point, it reached peak download speeds of 316Mbps and upload speeds of 22.3Mbps. The slower upload speed is more a reflection of the internet service provider rather than the phone itself. The Galaxy A15, also supporting Wi-Fi 5, achieved 305Mbps down and 17.6 Mbps up. When moved further away from the access point, the Moto G Play managed peak speeds of 39.0Mbps down and 13.5Mbps up in my apartment. In contrast, the A15 achieved higher speeds of 46.6Mbps down and 22Mbps up under similar conditions.

During call tests, while my voice sounded slightly muffled, the microphones effectively filtered out background noise. The earpiece speaker reached a volume of 79.3dB, while the speakerphone peaked at 77.5dB, both levels sufficient to hear clearly even in moderately noisy environments.

Listening to music playback with the stereo speakers, the maximum volume reached 96.2dB. However, lower bass frequencies, like those in certain tracks, may be harder to discern, prompting the use of Bluetooth (supported by the device at version 5.1) or wired headphones for better audio quality.

Unlike the Galaxy A15, the Moto G Play lacks NFC capabilities for mobile payments.

Subpar Photography

Featuring a single 50MP f/1.8 rear camera, the Moto G Play adopts pixel binning to capture 12.5MP images by default. While this setting can be adjusted in the menus, direct control from the camera interface would have been preferable.

Close up of rear camera and flash.

(Credit: Iyaz Akhtar)

In well-lit conditions, the main camera on the Moto G Play captures decent images. However, it struggles with shadow details and fine elements of distant subjects, and is susceptible to lens flare. Images taken at 12.5MP display improved shadow details compared to those captured at the full 50MP resolution. Photos under normal lighting conditions exhibit somewhat dull colors. While the built-in flash aids in illuminating dark subjects, resulting images retain a distinct “flash look.”

American Musuem of Natural History on a snowy day

Main camera (Credit: Iyaz Akhtar)

The portrait mode on the rear camera often fails to accurately blur background elements. For example, in a portrait-mode shot where a lamp was selected as the subject, a building in the background remains sharp.

Street lamp in front of buildings

Main camera, Portrait mode (Credit: Iyaz Akhtar)

The 8MP front-facing camera (upgraded from 5MP) experiences similar issues. In selfies, areas around the head remain in focus while parts of eyeglasses may appear blurred, resulting in less natural-looking photos.

Two photos of reviewer in front of buildings.

Left to right: Selfie, Portrait modes (Credit: Iyaz Akhtar)

Video recording is available at up to 1080p/30fps. While recordings exhibit slightly muted colors, handheld clips at a leisurely pace may appear shaky. Content creators may consider using a gimbal or tripod for smoother footage.

Budget phones typically do not excel in camera performance, and in this aspect, the Samsung Galaxy A15 outperforms the Moto G Play.

Operating System

The Moto G Play comes with Android 13 out of the box, one version behind the current release. The manufacturer promises three years of bi-monthly security updates and one OS upgrade, but has not provided a specific timeline for an Android 14 release. In contrast, the Samsung Galaxy A15 ships with Android 14, offering four OS upgrades and five years of security updates. It is my hope that more budget phone manufacturers follow Samsung’s lead in this area.

Moto G Play leaning on a wall

(Credit: Iyaz Akhtar)

Motorola’s version of Android remains fairly standard but includes some additional features. Users can access functionalities like activating the flashlight through a gesture or taking a screenshot with a three-finger swipe. The Moto app offers options for theming the device and provides general tips, enhancing the overall user experience.

Room for Improvement on the Moto G Play

The 2024 Moto G Play introduces several notable enhancements over its predecessor, including improved performance, increased storage capacity, and a lower price

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