Moto G Play (2021) review: battery life, performance, camera


“Motorola makes the best phone under $ 200 – just set your expectations before you buy.”

  • Modern design

  • Great battery life

  • Good advertisement

  • Attractively priced

  • Below average camera

  • Limited software support

  • Mediocre performance

The Moto G series is back for 2021 and consists of the Moto G Power, Moto G Stylus and Moto G Play. While most might want to buy the Moto G Power or save up on the Google Pixel 4a for their competitor, the Moto G Play is great value for money and therefore only costs $ 170.

The phone looks great on paper. With a huge 5,000 mAh battery, a relatively modern design, and a lot more, it could be the ideal device for those looking for a decent phone under $ 200. Is it anyway? I’ve been testing the 2021 Moto G Play for a while to find out.

Design and display

The Moto G Play is an affordable phone, which is why you shouldn’t expect to get an overly expensive design. That said, Motorola does a good job of making sure the phone looks modern enough in the age of edge-to-edge displays.

Gone are the holes in the more expensive Moto G models in favor of a small teardrop notch at the top. Honestly, the notch is as intrusive as the hole punch cutout anyway, and you’ll soon forget about it after you’ve used the phone. The device also has a bigger chin than the other Moto G devices, and that might be more noticeable. Neither of these issues are real, but they do contribute to the fact that the device is a little less premium – which it is.

On the back of the device is the dual-sensor camera bump and a back-mounted fingerprint sensor that appeared to be fast and accurate in our tests. In 2021, on phones like the Galaxy S21, the camera shock on this device is quite small and almost flush with the back of the phone, which is a nice touch. It’s also centered so it doesn’t wobble a lot on a desk.

On the edges of the phone are the standard volume rocker, power button, and USB-C port. You also get a headphone jack, which is especially good to see on phones in this price range.

The Moto G Play’s display is a 6.5-inch 720p LCD display, and it does the job, but that’s about it. Colors aren’t particularly vivid, and obviously there’s not a high refresh rate here, but for things like scrolling Twitter and reading email, this is perfectly fine. It also gets quite bright, which is helpful in direct sunlight or brighter environments.

Power and battery

The Moto G Play is equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 460 processor as well as 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. This is a noticeable step up from the other Moto G-series devices that come with 6-series chips and at least twice as much memory. 32GB of storage is a bit weak in 2021, but something is expected from such a cheap phone. Fortunately, there is a microSD card slot so you can expand the storage if you want.

Despite the slightly underloaded processor, the phone works perfectly in daily use. There was little to complain about with basic tasks like emailing, browsing social media, and even multitasking. If you’re doing more intense tasks like mobile gaming while playing games like Call of Duty: Mobile, you should expect some serious slowdowns, but despite the slower loading times and jittery menus, the in-game phone has mostly done itself with the occasional skip.

All of the Moto G-Series 2021 devices have good battery life, and the Moto G Play is no exception. The device comes with a powerful 5,000 mAh battery. Thanks to the lower resolution display, it can last two days even with heavy use. If you have a good charging capacity for your device, you won’t have to worry about battery life with this phone – and if not, you will have plenty of time to plug it in. You’ll have to plug it in but there isn’t any wireless charging, though that’s no surprise.


On the back of the Moto G Play there is a dual camera system with a 13-megapixel main camera with an aperture of 1: 2.0 and a 2MP depth sensor. Despite the fact that great cameras are getting cheaper on smartphones, the Moto G Play still doesn’t get you the versatility of an ultra-wide or telephoto camera.

Unfortunately, the Moto G Play’s camera is mediocre at best. With good lighting, you can take pictures that are … okay. They’re not particularly vivid or detailed, but they will get it. However, add a little complexity to the shot and you won’t get much. Low-light photos are either blown, very blurry, or both, and backlit scenes have little to no dynamic range.

Unless you know you’re using a $ 170 phone, the Moto G Play’s camera will remind you – every time.

Software and functions

The 2021 Moto G Play comes with Motorola’s My UX, which is based on Android 10, and it’s a pretty good experience. Motorola is pretty good at providing scaled down software and you get it in this device. Everything is pretty much where you’d expect it to be, and the user interface is generally easy to navigate.

Motorola has also been pretty good at delivering additional functionality in its software. The phone is equipped with the Moto app, which enables some handy gesture controls – for example, the ability to take a screenshot by touching the screen with three fingers, or turn the phone upside down to do not disturb. Other features like Gametime optimize the notification settings while playing the game. The great thing about these features is that you can enable or disable them depending on which features you actually like. They’re all included in the Moto app – instead of being spread across the My UX interface.

Now for the disadvantages (beyond the camera). The phone ships with the dated Android 10, and although Motorola has announced it will receive Android 11, it is not yet known when. And given that Motorola marketing says there will be “at least one software update,” Android 11 is likely the end of the line for the 2021 Moto G Play. Fortunately, the device will receive software updates for two years, but it’s still very disappointing to see such a lack of software support – which spans all Moto G devices.

Price and availability

Perhaps the best thing about the 2021 Moto G Play is how cheap it is. You can get a whole bunch of phones for just $ 170. You can overlook many shortcomings at this price point if you probably won’t be holding the phone that long in the first place.

The Moto G Play is available directly from the Motorola website as well as from a few select retailers such as Best Buy. Indeed the device was at the time of this writing Available at Best Buy for just $ 120 When you activate with a carrier, that’s an incredible deal.

Our opinion

The Motorola Moto G Play (2021) isn’t perfect, and you wouldn’t expect it for the price either. The camera is really pretty bad, and while the device’s performance is okay for everyday use, it does get slower with heavier multitasking and intense gaming. If you can afford to spend more, this is why you should. You can get it parent Moto G Power for $ 250. And the $ 350 Pixel 4a is more than twice as expensive, but it’s also more than twice as good as a phone.

That said, if your budget is no more than $ 200, the 2021 Moto G Play is the way to go. Motorola continues to prove that you can get a solid phone at a super affordable price. As long as your expectations are set correctly.

Is there a better alternative?

No. In this price range, the Moto G Play is the best cell phone under $ 200. However, if you can afford to spend more, you can get the exact same recipe, only better, with this new Moto G Power for $ 250. For a phone that will last longer, perform better, and take better photos along the way, you can access the phone Google Pixel 4a.

How long it will take?

The Moto G Play should be in use for two years given its plastic construction. It’s not water-resistant, so you’ll need to keep it dry, and you should expect it to be seriously sluggish by the end of those two years.

Should you buy it?

Yes, but only if your budget is no more than $ 200. For $ 250, you get a Moto G Power that performs better in every way.

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