Our verdict of Motorola's latest budget Android smartphone as put its specs and features to the test. What is the true cost of affordability?
The Moto G22 is an affordable Android phone that looks great for the money and boasts very solid battery and camera specs – but is ultimately held back by lacklustre performance and a so-so 720p LCD display that just isn’t bright enough.
Everyone knows the key to buying an affordable Android handset is being willing to compromise. The old adage remains true: you get what you pay for.
Still, perhaps more than any other phone maker, Motorola has been able to strike a rather impressive balance between price and usability via its G-series. So we were intrigued to go hands-on with the new entry in the line-up, the Moto G22.
Priced from £139.99 and coming with some alluring specs, including a 90Hz refresh rate, 5000mAh battery and a 50MP camera, it’s very easy to see the appeal.
So let’s stay on the bright side, as the plus-sides don’t end there. Despite being all plastic, the overall design looks nice. We liked the clean Android 12 software. And it’s great to see the inclusion of both face and fingerprint unlocking, too.
If you sensed a “but” on the horizon, you were right. Unfortunately, the G22 has many of the common issues that plague any handset that dares to get too close to that £100 mark. We found performance to be consistently slow, and while we did like the general size of the LCD display, brightness was lacking.
It won’t come as too much of a surprise that spending around £150 on a handset won’t get you award-winning tech, even though many of the devices on our best budget smartphone list have a lot of worthwhile qualities. So does the Moto G22 do enough to earn a spot, and who exactly is this ultra-affordable phone for?
The Moto G22 is a budget Android smartphone that will suit anyone who wants a good-looking handset with great battery life and solid camera set-up. It will be fine for basic games and internet browsing but it can definitely be slow at times, so if speed and performance are your priority then it will be best to look elsewhere.
Price: From £139.99
Key features and specs:
The Moto G22 is priced from £139.99 (4 GB RAM, 64GB Storage), available via UK retailers including Currys, John Lewis, Argos, Lenovo and Amazon.
This is a tricky price point. It’s as cheap as we would advise going for a phone, but anyone used to a high-end handset will have an uncomfortable experience. While the G22 will have an audience, there’s a lot of competition out there.
Adding an additional £50-100 to your budget will open up a variety of significantly more impressive handsets, including the Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 (£199), Samsung Galaxy A22 5G (£209) and the Poco M4 Pro 5G (£209). If you want to stick with the Motorola brand, consider the Motorola Moto G50, which starts at £199.
Despite performance often feeling sub-par, the Moto G22 is certainly not a bad smartphone, and there are some key features that stood out during our time with the review unit – a “Cosmic Black” variant with 64GB of internal storage.
We will start with the size of the handset. The G22 is comfortable to hold and can just about be used without needing two hands. The plastic construction definitely makes it stand out as a budget phone, but that also works to keep the weight down and at 185g it will never become troublesome to have in your pocket.
The 6.5-inch LCD screen (1600 x 720 HD+ resolution) is fairly crisp and clear for the money, although we consistently wished that the brightness could go further. While it was fine for indoor conditions, you may struggle when the sun’s out. We used the G22 with brightness all the way up through the two-day test.
We were also not very impressed with the colours shown on the display. There are two modes: Natural and Saturated, alongside a colour temperature slider that runs from “cool” to “warm.” In the end, we kept it on Saturated as the Natural option made the screen a washed-out orange-yellow hue that was just no good.
The Motorola phone, which does not have 5G connectivity, comes with Android 12, and it was great to see there was no bloatware (typically unwanted pre-installed software) when it was booted up. We had no complaints with the general feel of the phone’s UI, either, and the entire layout is minimalistic and easy to use.
The display has a 90Hz refresh rate, meaning that scrolling through apps should be silky smooth. On paper that’s a major selling point. However, we found that it often didn’t matter. The MediaTek Helio G37 processor seemed to struggle, and the slow performance resulted in us encountering some lag and stuttering when opening or switching apps. Navigation sometimes felt a little sluggish, too.
It’s strange to say, but we kind of got used to it by the second day of use. It is very likely our opinion was tainted by coming straight from a Google Pixel 6.
Despite the navigation feeling slow, we actually found multiple games performed well during our tests. We downloaded titles including Need for Speed: No Limits and Marvel Contest of Champions and they consistently ran without issue. You will find stutters here too on occasion, especially with more power-intensive titles, but the handset won’t struggle to play the more basic game apps.
If 64GB of storage isn’t enough, you can add up to 1TB more by using a microSD card, and the phone comes with a 3.5mm jack on the top for wired headphones. The Bluetooth 5.0 connection worked well when pairing wireless earbuds, too.
If performance is a downside of this budget Android, then the battery is the opposite. The G22 has a 5000mAh battery that will easily last you two days of moderate use. While the length of a battery will always be determined by how much you are using the device, we were impressed by how much juice this had in the tank.
We started a 10-hour YouTube music video when the phone was at 90% and it lost approximately 10% in an hour of constant use. Music streaming was significantly better. Streaming a Spotify playlist for one hour resulted in a loss of just 4%.
As an extremely rough guide, when it was at 65%, the handset’s battery settings menu said there was still one day and 23 hours remaining.
In our charging test, it went from dead to full in about 2.5 hours using the wall adapter. While that’s not the speediest, you’re unlikely to have many complaints with how much charge you get from 100%. With pesky performance issues in mind, keeping the smartphone at 60Hz refresh rate will enhance the battery life even more.
The G22 has a quad-camera set-up, consisting of 50MP (megapixel) wide, an 8MP ultra-wide, 2MP depth sensor and 2MP macro sensor. The selfie camera is 16MP. We found it was a perfectly capable set-up for the money, with solid image quality when snaps were taken in brighter conditions, especially with the main lens.
Here's a collection of shots taken using the main sensor:
Showing item 1 of 6
And here are some snaps showing the wide vs ultra wide lenses:
Showing item 1 of 4
As you can see, the results are pleasingly detailed and should be enough to satisfy most users who are shopping at this price point. It's assuring to know that paying budget prices no longer means you will be left with poor cameras by default.
Overall, while the set-up won’t be very useful in darker conditions due to noise levels, the results are very solid when there’s a better amount of light. Ultimately, we had very little to complain about (again, for the money) and shots were adequately detailed with natural colours. Sure, it’s a no-frills system on the G22, but it does work well.
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The G22 is a good looking budget phone. The all-plastic construction doesn't feel cheap, and we liked the coloured shine on the rear matte panel. As mentioned, we also liked the overall size of the phone (163.95mm x 74.94mm x 8.49mm) and it’s easy enough to use with one hand. The screen’s bezels are pleasingly small, too.
Ports are where you would expect them to be. The G22 power button, doubling as a fingerprint sensor, is on the right-hand side with the volume toggle. On the bottom sits the speakers and USB-C port, while the SIM slot is on the left. The good news for wired headphone fans, the top of the phone has a 3.5mm jack.
It’s a safe design, and it’s pretty much what you expect when you pitch a budget Android phone. For a handset under £150, we had zero problems with the look. One thing to note is there’s no IP rating, with Motorola describing the phone as being “water-repellent.” Not a huge surprise, but definitely a factor to note.
The G22 is another commendable low-cost effort from Motorola. It’s for anyone who needs a very affordable phone and doesn’t care about having the best specs and performance, with a bigger priority on the design and battery life.
Perhaps it is a child’s first phone, you need a new handset for calls and the occasional Google search, or you're going abroad and require a phone that can be thrown into a bag without too much worry. There is definitely an audience for it, but it’s obvious that anyone coming from a flagship handset – or even a model from our best mid-range phone guide – is likely to have a pretty miserable experience.
Battery life, design and camera specs are some wins for the device at this price point, but there is little doubt that performance can sometimes struggle. The display just isn't bright enough either, and paying just £50 more gives you an AMOLED panel in the Xiaomi Redmi Note 11. With the G22, being so affordable often comes at a cost.
The Moto G22 is available to buy at multiple popular UK retailers:
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