Ello Moto! Remember that line? No, of course, you don’t. Those days are behind Motorola. But it’s great that they’re still going, and it makes me pleased. They were once the king of mobiles, and everyone and their dog had one of those silver or pink flip phones in their pockets. But now they produce a whole range of smartphones, and one of them being the budget-friendly Moto G50, which offers a pretty impressive set of features for not a lot of money, and that sounds good to me.
The Moto G50 relies on a 6.5-inch 90Hz screen which is on the higher end of the scale for budget smartphone handsets, with a resolution of 720 x 1600 pixels. It uses IPS technology and colours and viewing angles are really great. Around the edge, you’ve got your usual lock button and volume rocker, but you’ve also got a dedicated Google Assistant button too. The phone is made from plastic on the edges and back though the front screen is glass, so it’s got some nice protection. It’s a robust handset and doesn’t feel cheap or creaky like some budget handsets can suffer from. The rear has a shiny metallic blue finish which creates a very nice effect in direct light and it’s got a fingerprint scanner that is fairly responsive if that’s your way of choice for unlocking your phone. Placement is a little high if you’re using it one-handed, but it does beat keying in a pin each time. No face recognition here for unlocking handsets, but that’s expected.
The phone is running Android 11 and uses gesture controls as a standard to get through the menus. What surprised me the most is how “stock” the Android experience feels. There’s no real bloatware clogging up the menus, again, something that budget handsets fall victim to. There’s a Moto app that allows you to customise your phone with different wallpapers, and set up gestures, but it also allows you to control display settings like turning on the display when you look at it, or allow notifications to shine through when the screen is off. You’ve got a Motorola Notification Centre which is a service to receive direct notifications from Moto themselves and an app to download interactive wallpapers. That’s pretty much it. The rest is what you’d expect from Android, and that I can definitely get behind.
Under the hood, you’ve got a Qualcomm SM4350 Snapdragon 480 5G and 4GB RAM. You’ve got the choice between a 64GB and a 120GB storage solution depending on your mileage. Geekbench 5 gave me a single-core score of 424 and a multi-core score of 1592, putting it in line with something like the Xiaomi Poco F1 or LG V40 ThinkQ. It’s not the fastest phone on the block by a country mile, but in this day and age, when most people are going to be using Facebook, TikTok and Instagram, it’s perfect. Okay, gaming is a little slow, and it’s not going to handle your PUBG Mobile or CoD Mobile, so if you want that, you’re going to be looking at something a little more powerful. But your Candy Crush type titles? No problem.
One area that did let me down a bit though which is unfortunate was the camera. It’s a little lacklustre when it comes to taking nice sharp photos. And when compared to something like the Google Pixel 4a which was a powerhouse of a budget handset when it came to its camera, it’s a bit of a shame it’s missing some steps here. On the back, you got three snappers. Your main is a 48-megapixel camera at f/1.7, the second is your macro shot that takes 5-megapixel photos at f/2.4 and the third is a 2-megapixel depth camera at f/2.4. The video camera films at 1080p at either 30 or 60fps and you’ve got your usual features like HDR, panorama, portrait mode for that shallow depth of field, night shot, slow mp and timelapse. There’s an interesting cinematography mode, that records and stitches together cinemagraphs which was very cool to see, as I’ve spent time in my career creating cinemagraphs for brands. Around the front is a 13-megapixel selfie cam that doesn’t do the best job of separating the subject from the background, but it’s passable if you’re wanting to shoot an Instagram story or two on here.
Actual photos from the device look fairly plain, there’s no huge saturation in the colours and the sharpness isn’t exactly pin-point. There’s no optical zoom function, so you’ll probably want to stay away from zooming if you can. Video doesn’t fare too much better either, but again it’s passable for your social media usage. The macro mode is nice to have, but again your photos aren’t entirely sharp, nor colourful, so it really loses points in this department.
On the other hand, the battery life of the Moto G50 is pretty decent, coming in at 5,000mAh, and it was able to last me a full day of mid-to-high use of using Whatsapp, social media and listening to music. It’s compatible with 15W fast charging too, though the charger supplied isn’t capable of this. The charger is only 10W weirdly enough.
The Moto G50 is a decent handset. It’s not going to turn heads by any means, and what it does give you is a pretty plain experience. But that’s not a bag thing at all. Plain is good, and if you’re someone that doesn’t mind that you’ve not got the latest most expensive flagship model in your pocket, and you just want something reliable the Moto G540 isn’t a bad choice.