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Moto G Stylus (2023) Hands-On: Motorola’s Cheapest Stylus Phone Yet


The Moto G Stylus moved to a cheaper spot in Motorola’s affordable phone lineup, dropping to $200 while keeping notable features like the stylus, a 50-megapixel main camera and a big 5,000-mAh battery. This makes the new phone $100 cheaper than last year’s $300 model, but with specs that are roughly comparable to last year’s 4G-only version. The Moto G Stylus also does not replace last year’s $500 Moto G Stylus 5G despite the nearly identical nomenclature.

I spent a few hours playing with the Moto G Stylus, and the most noticeable cuts appear to be a move from 128GB of internal storage to 64GB of space on this year’s model, along with a decrease in RAM from 6GB to 4GB. Despite the drop in storage, you can add a microSD card for more room, though there is no way to increase the RAM.

The included stylus is helpful, and ejecting the pen immediately launch a notes app, even when the phone is locked. Once unlocked, a stylus app menu pops up, providing quick access to the note application, a handwriting calculator, Google Keep and the ability to snap a screenshot. A minimalistic handwriting keyboard is also available, letting you scribble into text fields while the software translates it into text.

Moto G Stylus with annotated screenshot

The Moto G Stylus provides fast access to take and edit a screenshot.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

The Moto G Stylus is powered by a MediaTek Helio G85 processor — and it appears to be a little sluggish on first impression. Various apps like Instagram, Messenger and the web browser all load fine, but when I started playing Marvel Snap there was a noticeable lag, even at medium or low graphics settings. Thankfully the slower performance did not prevent me from being able to use the phone for most tasks, which was the biggest deal-breaker when I reviewed the $170 Moto G Play.

The phone’s 50-megapixel main camera is paired up with a 2-megapixel macro lens. On the front is an 8-megapixel shooter. As I’ve only had the device for a few hours, early test shots inside of CNET’s office with the main camera came out fine. The camera app also includes a night mode and portrait mode, but I need to try them out as I continue to test the phone. 

Plant wall taken with the Moto G Stylus

The plant wall in CNET’s office, taken using the Moto G Stylus.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

Moto G Stylus photo of bookshelf

A bookshelf in CNET’s office, taken with the Moto G Stylus.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

Cheaper phones often skimp on the cameras. So while these early photos are nice, I still want to see how the Moto G Stylus’ photos turn out in more situations.

As for software, Motorola otherwise provides a fairly clean version of Android 13 with the Moto G Stylus while still keeping all of the company’s usual gestures like twisting to launch the camera or making a “chopping” motion with your hand to turn on a flash light.

Being available unlocked at this price, with barely any noticeable bloatware (forced apps or games that are preloaded) could make this a better overall deal for a phone buyer on a tight budget. 

Moto G Stylus notes app

When ejecting the stylus from the Moto G Stylus while locked, the notes app launches for quick notes.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

Like other Moto G phones, this one is also projected to get one major software update and three years of security updates.

It is, however, worth noting that this version of the Moto G Stylus comes up against the Samsung Galaxy A14 5G, which has many comparable features along with 5G compatibility. While we haven’t yet tested the A14, it will be interesting to see if this Moto’s stylus, software and performance provide enough value to make it a compelling pick despite the lack of modern 5G connectivity.


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