Moto G Power (2021) review: The battery life champ
The Moto G Power (2021) is a worthy successor to previous G Power models, as it still offers long battery life in an affordable, attractive package.
ForAll-day battery lifeLow price including a sub-$200 modelAttractive design for a budget phoneHelpful Moto gesturesAgainstOnly one Android software updateHo-hum performanceLackluster display
With the Moto G Power, Motorola has latched onto a winning formula for budget phones. Since it’s impossible for a phone that costs less than $300 to be all things to all people, the key is to find a feature or two that truly matters to people and absolutely nail it. In the case of the Moto G Power, that feature is battery life.
The past two iterations of this phone the Moto G7 Power and last year’s Moto G Power delivered on the promise of a long-lasting phone. And this year’s version is just as impressive.
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Moto G Power (2021) specs
Price: $199, $249Screen size: 6.6 inches (1600 x 720)CPU: Snapdragon 662RAM: 3GB, 4GBStorage: 32GB, 64GBRear cameras: 48MP (f/1.7) main; 2MP (f/2.4) macro; 2MP (f/2.4) depthFront cameras: 8MP (f/2.0)Battery size: 5,000 mAhBattery life (Hrs:Mins): 14:04Size: 6.5 x 3 x 0.37 inchesWeight: 7.3 ounces
Our Moto G Power (2021) review finds a phone that continues to go a long-time on a charge. And along the way, this attractively priced phone has picked up a few other tricks that will appeal to bargain hunters.
Moto G Power (2021) review: Price and availability
The 64GB Moto G Power (2021) costs $249 and is now on sale unlocked at Motorola.com. Carriers planning to offer the phone include Boost Mobile, Cricket, Consumer Cellular, Google Fi, Republic Wireless, US Cellular, Verizon and Xfinity Mobile.
In addition to that $249 version, which comes with 4GB of RAM, you’ll be able to buy a 32GB Moto G Power (2021) with 3GB RAM for $199 at Best Buy. You can expand the storage on both new Moto G Power models via a microSD slot on the phones.
Moto G Power (2021) review: The best features
Having spent some time testing the latest version of the Moto G Power, there are several things I like about the phone, including a couple of key areas where this version is a definite improvement over its predecessor. Here’s why the Moto G Power (2021) is the phone to get if you’re looking for the best a budget handset can offer.
Moto G Power (2021) top feature: The price
Phone prices have a tendency to creep upward, so it’s good to see Motorola continue to hold the line on the Moto G Power’s price. The 2021 costs the same as last year’s model, which was one of the best cheap phones we reviewed. We can say the same for the Moto G Power (2021).
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Even better, Motorola has found a way to cut the price of the G Power even lower, though you will have to settle for less memory and storage. Still, a phone that promises multi-day battery life for less than $200 is well worth those compromises, particularly if you’re watching your budget.
Moto G Power (2021) top feature: Long battery life
Let’s not beat around the bush. You turn to the Moto G Power (2021) because you want a phone that goes a long time on a charge, and with a 5,000 mAh battery, this is a phone that can deliver on that promise.
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How long does the Moto G Power (2021) last on a charge? So long that when we originally published our Moto G Power (2021) review, the phone was still plugging away on our battery tests, in which we have a fully charged phone surf the web continuously over cellular until it runs out of power.
We run that demanding test several times and average out the result to see just what kind of battery life you can expect, and the Moto G Power (2021) doesn’t disappoint. It lasted an average of 14 hours and 4 minutes, which means you can get through the day and probably longer without having to charge your phone.
Fans of last year’s Moto G Power will remember that phone lasted a record-setting 16-plus hours. But the new Moto G Power outlasted all but one other phone we’ve looked at in the last year and a half, and it deserves a place on our list of the longest phone battery life.
Don’t expect a fast recharge time with the Moto G Power. After 30 minutes of recharging a drained phone, we were back to 22% of the battery’s capacity. The iPhone SE, which is not exactly a recharging speed demon thanks to its 5W charger, got back to 29% in that time.
Moto G Power (2021) top feature: The phone’s design
You don’t expect a $249 phone to look like a million bucks, but while the 7.3-ounce Moto G Power feels, a little chunky, Motorola clearly put some effort into giving this phone a look that transcends its budget roots. The flash gray model I tested has a lovely spiral pattern on its back, and I like the centered placement of the rear camera array just above the subtle Motorola batwing logo. (Retail versions of the phone will come in Polar Silver and Glowing Blue options.)
(Image credit: Tom’s Guide)
Bezels on the front of the phone are minimal thanks to a circular camera cutout on the upper left corner of the display and the lack of a fingerprint sensor. Instead, the power button on the new Moto phone does double duty, with a built-in fingerprint reader that I found responsive in my testing. Motorola also added a Moto Action that lets you launch apps by tapping the power button twice. (You will need to enable this feature first, though in the Moto G Power’s Settings app.)
The Moto G Power (2021) also retains a 3.5mm headphone jack on the top of the phone, so you won’t be forced to pick up a pair of wireless earbuds in addition to your new device.
Moto G Power (2021) top feature: Camera performance
The $349 Pixel 4a proves that you don’t have to spend big bucks to get a phone that produces outstanding photos, which puts pressure on lower-cost devices like the Moto G series to up their camera game. Motorola responded by turning to a more powerful lens with this year’s version of the Moto G Power you’ve got a 48MP camera compared to the 16GB main shooter on last year’s phone. A 2MP macro lens and 2MP depth sensor join that main camera.
(Image credit: Tom’s Guide)
The results are a mixed bag, with the Moto G Power (2021) producing very good shots in some areas, while falling short in others. The Pixel 4a produces much better shots, but it also costs $100 more than the Moto G Power. For what you’re paying for Motorola’s, the resulting photos are more than adequate.
In some cases, the Moto G Power really shines, particularly when it comes to those extra rear lenses. I’m no fan of macro lenses I’d prefer that budget phone makers scrap them entirely, actually but if every macro lens performed as well as the Moto G Power’s did, I’d rethink my position. This close-up of a camellia produces bright colors I find lacking from the OnePlus Nord N10 5G’s much darker effort.
Similarly, the Moto G Power’s depth sensor produces some nice portrait shots for a sub-$300 phone. The Moto G Power did an excellent job making my daughter stand out from the orange tree behind her, making sure not to lose her hair in the background. The Nord N10 loses some detail just over her left shoulder, though I think the OnePlus camera better captures her gray beret. Overall, though, the Moto G Power has the more effective background blur.
Things are less impressive when you rely on the Moto G Power’s main lens, which produced an accurate shot of this plate of lasagna, but one that pales next to the warmer colors that the Nord N10 5G reproduces. The table in the Moto shot is more washed out, and the glass of wine in the background lacks any hint of red. I know which photo I’d be more likely to share, and it’s not the one the Moto G Power took.
Even lower cost phones offer low-light photo features now, and the Moto G Power is no exception with its Night Vision mode. The results will do in a pinch, though it falls well short of the standard set by Google’s Night Sight. (In this comparison, I used a Pixel 4a 5G, as it was the least expensive Google phone I had on hand.) You can see the pink stuffed animal and the bowl of citrus fruit that might otherwise be lost in the shadow of this shot, but the focus of the photo isn’t exactly sharp. The over-processing on the photo also washes out some of the detail of the back wall, which is not a problem in the Pixel photo.
Up front, you get an 8MP selfie cam on the Moto G Power (2021). It takes decent self-portraits I like the more colorful cast to the Moto shot but Motorola gets overly aggressive with the face-smoothing. As a result, my face has an unnatural cast to it in the Moto G Power selfie, while the OnePlus Nord N10 provides a more accurate view of my mug, flaws and all.
Moto G Power (2021) top feature: Moto’s My UX Software
Motorola’s well-deserved reputation for producing a clean version of Android for its phones continues with this year’s Moto G series. And Motorola’s gesture-based shortcuts are back, letting you do things like turn on the phone’s flashlight with a chopping motion.
A new Moto gesture is bound to impress some Moto G Power users dragging your finger back and forth across the phone’s display triggers a split-screen effect so you can run two apps at once. It should come in handy if you want to watch a video while texting a friend, or tap out some notes while reading a web page.
Moto G Power (2021) review: Features that come up short
As impressive as Motorola’s new phone is in all those areas, I did encounter a few flaws in testing for my Moto G Power (2021) review. The biggest areas of concern are the phone’s display it’s a bit dim and the picture isn’t always the most colorful and a processor that doesn’t deliver the best performance compared to other low-cost phones.
Moto G Power (2021) flaw: A dim display
The 6.6-inch LCD panel that Motorola uses for the G Power’s display is certainly big enough, but don’t expect bold colors or a bright view. In our tests, the Moto G Power reproduced 96% of the sRGB color spectrum, and that was in saturated mode. The OnePlus N10 5G, in contrast, has the more colorful screen with 124.8% of the same spectrum. OnePlus’ display was more accurate, too, with a Delta-E rating of 0.22. The Moto G Power (2021) turned in a 0.37 rating in saturated mode, which improved to 0.25 when we switched to natural mode. (Numbers closer to zero are better.)
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The raw numbers were reflected by my viewing experience with the Moto G Power. The darker scenes in the No Time to Die trailer looked especially dark, with Daniel Craig and Lashana Lynch nearly lost in shadow at times. Things were brighter when streaming The Simpsons on Disney Plus, thanks to that animated show’s more cartoony color scheme the Simpsons themselves were a recognizable shade of yellow while Krusty the Clown’s hair was its usual shade of bluish-green.
I’ve seen brighter displays than what the Moto G Power offers, as it topped out at 438 nits when we measured with a light meter. Last year’s Moto G Power hit 500 nits, so this is a step back, especially when you compare it to phones like the iPhone SE (653 nits) and Pixel 4a (638 nits). At least the Moto G Power outshines the OnePlus Nord N10 5G (405.7) and TCL 10 5G UW (385 nits), and maxing out the display brightness helped me see the screen outdoors.
Moto G Power (2021) flaw: Overall performance
You’re not going to pick up the Moto G Power if you want the latest and greatest processor, and the Snapdragon 662 chipset powering the phone is certainly adequate for most tasks. I never had a problem jumping between apps, streaming videos and even playing demanding games, though I’ve seen sharper graphics in PUBG Mobile sessions on other phones.
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That said, the Moto G Power’s benchmark scores are a little anemic when compared to phones that are only slightly more expensive. On Geekbench 5, the Moto G Power’s multicore score of 1,437 trailed the Nord N10’s result of 1,843. In graphics testing with 3DMark’s Wild Life benchmark, the Moto G Power recorded 367 frames, or 2.2 frames per second. The OnePlus Nord N10 managed to more than double that result.
Moto G Power (2021) flaw: No 5G
The Snapdragon 662 chipset in the Moto G Power also means that the phone tops out with LTE connectivity there’s no 5G to be found here. I don’t think this is a show-stopping omission by any means, given that 5G is still an emerging technology and not yet ubiquitous. But prices of 5G phones are falling the OnePlus Nord N10 5G is just $50 more than the Moto G Power so the “you have to pay up for 5G” excuse doesn’t hold as much water as it did a year ago.
You’re probably safe on skipping 5G compatibility if you’re upgrading phones this year. But networks are going to continue evolving, and if you’re the sort who holds onto a device for two years or longer, you’ll be giving up that improving performance. (That said, LTE speeds are likely to improve as 5G becomes widespread, as the faster network will help ease congested 4G traffic.)
Moto G Power (2021) flaw: Limited upgrades
One trade-off you make by buying a lower cost Android is that the phone maker will only offer a limited number of software updates. That’s also the case with the Moto G Power (2021), as Motorola is committing to supporting just one Android update, along with two years of security patches.
From left to right: Moto G Stylus, Moto G Play and Moto G Power (Image credit: Tom’s Guide)
The lone Android update stings a lot more than it normally would, as the Moto G Power ships with Android 10 installed, and not Android 11, which came out in September. That means once your phone gets the Android 11 update, that’s it even with Android 12 coming down the pike later this year.
Moto G Power (2021) review: Verdict
Any sub-$300 phone is going to involve some compromises, and fortunately, the ones that the latest version of the Moto G Power makes aren’t going to put many budget shoppers off. Yes, there are more powerful phones with better displays that don’t cost that much more than the Moto G Power (2021). But the long-battery life of Motorola’s phone continues to carry the day, especially for a phone that you can find for $250 or less.
The cameras on the Moto G Power aren’t world-beaters, but it’ll produce good shots. And I actually like the look and feel of this phone a surprise given the G Power’s budget roots. Still, the reason to consider past Moto G Power models was its epic battery life, and I’m happy to report that continues with the 2021 edition of this popular budget phone.