During the past few years, Motorola has earned my genuine appreciation and respect for its efforts in the mid-range and entry-level smartphone segments. The Moto G-series is Motorola’s best-known smartphone lineup to date and for a good reason.

You need stamina? The Moto G Power is there for you. Fancy poking your display with sharp objects? The Moto G Stylus is your best buddy. You’re ready for the 5G revolution but don’t quite like the price tag? The Moto G 5G Plus will change your mind.

There’s only one ingredient missing in this magnificent stew of devices – raw power. The Motorola Moto G100 aims to rectify this with its shiny new Snapdragon 870 chipset, and on paper, it gets the job done – it’s the fastest Moto G ever.

Unfortunately, there are some deficiencies in the overall package that hamper the whole flagship-like experience and leave the Moto G100 open to attack from similarly-priced OLED-equipped rivals. Hardcore Motorola fans will deem the Moto G100 good but the phone is going to have trouble competing outside the company’s fanbase.


Moto G100 design and display

The Moto G100 follows the general design philosophy of the company – you get an all-plastic build, generous bezels around the display, and a curved plastic back painted in a cool color. Motorola’s portfolio is so diverse by now that you can find similarities with lots of other Moto models, design-wise.

There are two punch holes in the top left corner of the display, housing the two selfie cameras. The Moto G 5G Plus and Moto One 5G both employ a similar design. On the back, four rings make up the camera system, organized in a rectangular camera bump, offset to the left.

The bump doesn’t protrude much – the Moto G100 is nearly 1cm thick and can accommodate the camera system while keeping the back flush. There’s a recessed power button on the right side of the frame that houses the capacitive fingerprint scanner, a narrow and flimsy volume rocker above it, and a dedicated Google Assistant button on the left.

There’s a 3.5mm headphone jack accompanying the USB-C port and the mono loudspeaker at the bottom of the frame. A bunch of microphones completes the picture. All in all, the design feels a bit crude and outdated in 2021. The biggest difference in feel comes from the 21:9 aspect ratio of the display. The phone is a bit taller and narrower than your regular G-series device.

Speaking of the display, it’s a 6.7-inch FHD+ LCD panel with a 90Hz refresh rate and HDR support. Overall it’s a solid screen – very smooth at 90Hz, warm, and color accurate in the Natural setting, and the viewing angles are amazing. The biggest gripe I have with this display is its brightness.

The display is quite glossy and at the same time not very bright. This combination is not perfect under direct sunlight and even indoors sometimes the phone struggles to put out the nits required for comfortable viewing. The Natural color scheme seems to be even dimmer than the other two – Boosted and Saturated.

Moto G100 camera

The Moto G100 features three cameras on its back plus a ToF sensor for better autofocus. Although it might look like a quad-camera system on paper, in practice you have two main cameras – a 64MP wide-angle camera and a 16MP ultra-wide-angle lens.

The third one is a 2MP depth sensor meant to offer a helping hand to its neighbors along with the ToF machinery placed in the fourth camera ring in the bump on the back.

I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the photos taken by the main camera – they are sharp, with lots of detail, and display a nice dynamic range. You can get decent results when there’s enough light but as conditions get trickier there’s a perceivable drop in image quality.

A dedicated Night mode has been baked in the camera app to help with those situations. Sadly, don’t expect miracles – the algorithms can boost brightness and bring some details back but you need to have a bit of light to work with, otherwise, everything turns into a grainy mess.

The ultra-wide camera doubles as a macro snapper – it can take close-up shots and has a dedicated light ring to help shine some light on the scene. Macro photography is a bit niche but it’s a cool gimmick to have if you want to check the quality of your rice, or mourn your cracked guitar fingerboard up-close.

I’ve always found selfies a bit embarrassing but people really love them and the Moto G100 will please selfie enthusiasts with two dedicated cameras on the front. One spots a 16MP sensor, while the other gets away with half the pixel count.

Why two selfie cameras? The second one has a wide-angle lens, for those times in the distant future, when group selfies will be a thing again. There’s a cool ring animation going on when you’re taking a selfie, showing which camera is active.

The Moto G100 can shoot 4K video with 60fps and the phone does a decent job. The image stabilization is great and there’s also a cool Audio Zoom feature. It basically uses three microphones placed around Moto G100’s frame to focus on a specific sound source while isolating other background noises.

Moto G100 hardware, software, and performance

The beating heart of the Moto G100 is the latest addition to the Snapdragon family – the 870G chipset. It’s a powerhouse meant to challenge flagship phones when it comes to performance, and it actually delivers.

The benchmark scores of the Moto G100 put this phone on par with last-generation flagships. That’s not surprising, given the chipset is an amped-up version of the Snapdragon 865. On paper, the 870 is 10 to 15% slower than the top-of-the-line Snapdragon 888, and in practice, you won’t feel that kind of a difference.

The Moto G100 is flagship-fast and the near-stock Android contributes a lot to the cause. Everything feels snappy and smooth, the fingerprint reader is fast and accurate (I still prefer capacitive sensors to the more modern optical and ultrasonic ones), and with 8GB of RAM, the phone can take everything you throw at it.

One thing to bear in mind is that there’s some serious thermal-throttling going on when you put the phone through its paces. When I ran consecutive tests there was a 10-15% performance slump as the phone heated up. The back gets hot very quickly and quite often, too, and it’s not a pleasant experience.

Moto G100 battery life and charging

There’s a huge 5,000mAh battery inside the Moto G100, which is apparently the reasoning behind Motorola’s decision to omit wireless charging. You’re probably glancing at the battery test results below, wondering where all this capacity went.

Let me put your minds to ease here. The real-life situation is quite different – you can easily get two days on a single charge with this phone. The nature of the Snapdragon 870 kinda makes it power-hungry during tests and the 90Hz LCD display is not the most efficient out there either.

All in all the battery life is good, nothing wrong with it. It’s just that people expect more when they see a 5,000mAh battery and in the past, such capacities were seen mainly in phones with modest chipsets, making them endurance champions. It’s just not the case here – the Moto G100 has a flagship-grade processor and should be treated like a performance phone, not an endurance one.

Things get ugly when it comes to charging, though. The Moto G100 supports 20W fast-charging technology, and it’s simply not powerful enough to set any charging records. Here’s the charging profile with the supplied 20W charger:

Moto G100 charging times:

0-50% – 54 minutes
0-75% – 1:21 hours
0-100% – 2:11 hours

Moto G100 price, competition

The Motorola G100 launched in Europe with a price tag of €499. There’s no information on whether the phone will arrive in the States and what would be the price but at 499 euros I don’t expect anything below the $500 mark ($600 sounds more realistic). That’s if Motorola decides to sell the phone in the US, of course.

And for that kind of money, there are lots of options out there. You can get the OnePlus Nord – our favorite budget phone ever or the Galaxy S20 FE basically at the same price. The Galaxy A72 is a solid option too, and its smaller 5G-equipped sibling features a 120Hz display.

Granted, the Moto G100 is faster than the above-mentioned models but those phones offer a more refined and complete package altogether. The Moto G100 ends up being too expensive to be a mid-ranger and too compromised to be a flagship.

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