The Motorola family just keeps growing and growing. I’ve completely lost track of all the models that are currently on the market, and the naming scheme doesn’t help either. The Moto G50 is one of the latest additions to the family and it’s a small brother rather than a distant cousin.
The big star of the show is the Moto G100, of course, but there are three other models in the latest batch (at least for now) – the Moto G10, Moto G30, and the subject of today’s review – the Moto G50. (A quick search confirmed my suspicions – there is a G20 model too, along with a G40 fusion… Oh, well – case in point.)
Back to the Moto G50. It’s easy to get spoiled by reviewing flagships and low-tier phone reviews are generally harder to pull off. The Moto G50 comes at around $300 (229 euro) and you have to bear this in mind while reading on. It is a good phone “for the price”.
Actually, it’s one of the most affordable 5G phones out there (if not THE most affordable). The huge 5,000 mAh battery, coupled with the efficient chipset and screen, will give you 2 full days and more.
The main camera is quite decent, although the omission of an ultrawide camera in favor of a macro baffles one’s mind. The Snapdragon 480 performs admirably and manages to tackle the 90Hz display refresh rate most of the time.
Speaking of the display – it’s the weakest link in the system. It’s a 720p LCD panel and on a 6.5-incher, this resolution is a bit of an eyesore. The aforementioned 90Hz refresh rate doesn’t help much, and the overall brightness is also subpar.
At the end of the day, though, when you factor in the “under $300” asterisk, the Moto G50 can be a good choice for a budget device.
The Moto G50 rocks an all-plastic design with a double-chamfered plastic frame and a curved glossy plastic back. Unlike the G100 the front camera is positioned in the center in a teardrop-shaped notch, following the design philosophy of the G10 and G30 models.
There are generous bezels around the display and the chin is quite big too, giving the phone a somewhat old-school look. The main camera system is housed in a rectangular bump and it’s almost flush with the body. There’s a capacitive fingerprint scanner on the back, proudly displaying the Motorola logo.
Overall, the design is a strange blend of old-school vibes and modern solutions, resulting in a pretty eclectic appearance. The curved back feels nice, even though it’s plastic and a fingerprint magnet. The frame? Not so much. The chamfered edges make the frame even smaller and in the end, it kinda digs into your hand.
All the buttons are placed on the right side of the phone. There’s a volume rocker, a power button, and a dedicated Google Assistant button. The buttons are quite narrow and not very tall, so pressing them is not the best experience. On the other hand, they’re clicky in a good way, and the power button has a nice texture on it.
There’s a 3.5 mm audio jack on the bottom, along with the USB-C port, and a mono loudspeaker.
Motorola opted for an LCD panel in its G100 model, so no surprises here – the G50 also uses LCD technology for its display. Some might argue that LCD is the past, and not going OLED is a mistake, but in a sub-$300 phone I’m going to let this one slide.
The problem is not that the Moto G50’s display uses an LCD panel. It’s just not a very good one. The resolution is 720p, and on a 6.5-inch screen, this results in around 269 PPI. It’s not unreadable by any stretch of the imagination but the image is not the sharpest, either.
The peak brightness is the other big issue. I managed to get the Moto G50 up to 443 nits in Auto, which is not up to modern standards. If you’re out in the bright sun you’ll have a tough time reading the display.
Color accuracy and color temperature, on the other hand, are quite good with an average delta E of 2.39 in Natural mode. Another positive is the 90Hz display refresh rate – providing a smoother experience, at least when the CPU decides to cooperate.
Camera and audio
The Moto G50 boasts a triple-camera setup but in all fairness, it’s just a 48MP main camera with two supplemental sensors – a macro, and a depth sensor. I wouldn’t have minded an ultrawide snapper in place of any of the two but it is what it is.
The good news is that the main camera is pretty decent, especially in good lighting conditions. The 48MP sensor stitches together data from four pixels to create a bigger and better one (Quad Pixel technology) and this results in 12MP final images.
There’s a dedicated night mode, and it can enhance low-light images to some extent. It vastly depends on the scenario, though. All in all, don’t expect wonders from this mode, and you need a steady hand plus a static composition for the night mode to do its magic.
The macro camera is pretty decent too, but I feel it’s not as good as the one used in the Moto G100. Maybe it’s just me, though – the lighting conditions were far from ideal when I took the samples and there’s no fancy light ring to illuminate the bugs or plans or whatever you’re shooting up close.
The Moto G50 can shoot video but you’re restricted to 1080p. I’m not sure if it’s the camera sensor or the chipset mandating this restriction but there’s nothing in the settings that remotely suggests you can change the video resolution.
You won’t be winning Academy Awards, either. Videos taken with the Moto G50 tend to be a bit choppy and sometimes washed out. Again, the phone does a decent job “for the money.” There’s a bottom-firing mono loudspeaker and it’s quite loud but that’s just about it.
Hardware, software, and performance
The Snapdragon 480 was an unknown quantity to me until this review. It’s a budget SoC with 8 cores and two clusters. There are two cores that can go up to 2GHz and six energy-efficient ones. I guess the highlights of this chip are the Snapdragon X51 5G modem and the fact that it’s manufactured using 8nm technology.
It’s definitely an improvement, compared to the SD662 found in the Moto G30, but nowhere near the performance of the SD870-equipped Moto G100. It makes sense, though – this chip is here for the 5G connectivity and the battery life primarily.
The real-life performance of the Moto G50 is a mixed bag. From smooth and flagship-like experience to old-school stutter, the Moto G50 has it all. Counterintuitively, if you stick to a 60Hz display refresh rate you can minimize the occasional stutter and make things more consistent, albeit not as smooth.
The phone comes with either 4GB/64GB or 4GB/128GB memory configurations. There’s also a microSD card slot (shared with the secondary SIM), so you don’t have to worry about running out of storage space. 4GB of RAM might seem on the lower side but it should be sufficient for normal use even by 2021 standards.
Battery and charging
There’s one area where the Moto G50 excels (apart from the price) – battery life. It’s not surprising at all, given the modest chipset, low-resolution screen, and the big 5,000mAh battery. You can get two full days out of the Moto G50 easily, and stretch it even further if you’re not into playing games at 90Hz.
The charging is quite slow, though. With the 15W fast charge brick supplied in the box, you need 150 minutes to fully charge the huge battery. Granted, you won’t be charging the Moto G50 all that often but still, it’s painfully slow.