(Pocket-lint) - When Motorola realigned its G series, the whole idea was 'higher number, higher spec' in order to make understanding the benefits of one handset over another that bit simpler.
At least that was the theory. But it's already gone out the window, as the Moto G50 goes to show: this affordable phone certainly has attractive points about it, but it's got a lower-tier processor than the G30 below it, and cuts back on the camera setup too.
So what's the deal? Well, the G50 is all about upselling 5G. Its positioning is simply to offer the prospect of faster connectivity - so if you're in an area where there's good network coverage then that's great. But can that feature alone, given the increase in price and general drop in spec by comparison, really see this G series model shine?
Design & Display
- Display: 6.5-inch LCD, HD+ resolution (720 x 1600), 90Hz refresh rate
- Dimensions: 165 x 75 x 9mm / Weight: 192g
- Build: Glass front, plastic frame and rear
- Finish options: Steel Gray, Aqua Green
- 3.5mm headphone jack
- Rear fingerprint sensor
Visually speaking you'll struggle to differentiate the G50 from the G30. There's slivers of a millimetre here and there, but fundamentally the design is much the same; simple and straightforward. It's not a premium handset by any means, given its plastic frame and rear panel, but that's part and parcel of a budget phone.
Shown here in 'Steel Gray', there's nothing outlandish about the finish. Although we see that as a positive, really, as there's no psychadelic colourway - the G30 had a Pastel Sky option (read: pink and green) that looked ghastly - to distract from what's important. The plastic finish isn't too bad in coping with fingerprints either, which is a surprise given it's such a smooth finish.
From the front the Moto G50's screen has fairly minimal bezel, with a familiar teardrop notch to the top where the selfie camera lives. By default the Android 11 software offers gesture navigation, so there's no soft-keys eating up real-estate at the bottom of the screen (unless activated within settings).
Just like the G10 and G30, Motorola equips the G50 with a 3.5mm headphone jack, an on-board microSD card slot for expanding storage, and a neatly integrated fingerprint scanner to the rear that's well positioned for ease of use. There's even a Google Assistant button - hence the trio of buttons to the right side - to utilise voice commands if you so wish (we didn't, finding it an unnecessary additional button).
The G50 comes complete with a 90Hz refresh rate screen, matching that of the G30, while bettering the 60Hz panel found in the Moto G10. Which sounds all well and good - because that's a 50 per cent improvement in cycles per second, for a smoother visual experience - but, actually, it would have made more sense for this particular model to have featured an extra something - resolution and/or refresh rate - to help set it apart from the lower-spec pack.
While the HD+ panel here is just fine, it's not the most deft when it comes to finer detail in games. And while Motorola has generally got better with managing screen auto-brightness, the top-end brightness of this particular panel isn't going to blow your socks off - and it's a bit reluctant to max out when we often think it should. Still, the colours pop thanks to it being an OLED panel type, so it's a solid enough contender at this price point.
Performance & Battery
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 platform, 4GB RAM
- 128GB storage, microSD expansion slot
- 5,000mAh battery, 15W fast-charging
- Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
- Android 11 software
- 5G connectivity
Aside from offering 5G connectivity, most aspects about the G50's feature set are a step down from the G30. There's 2GB less RAM. The battery capacity, while the same, charges a little slower. And the processor, Qualcomm's Snapdragon 480, is a tier lower than the 600 series found in the G30.
Thing is, that SD480 is the newer platform and that - despite having fewer high clock rate cores - actually puts it on par or above the SD662 when compared directly. The main issue we've had with it isn't inability - games don't chug along, as the frame-rates have appeared fine - rather the slower speed of loading.
And despite the G50 having 5G - we don't network coverage at home, so it's only been of use when heading into London town - the Wi-Fi isn't the quickest going compared to some premium handsets. Not super slow, just at odds with such speedy mobile connectivity being part of this package.
The choice of that processor does play nicely with the large-capacity 5,000mAh battery that's on board though. We've found the G50 to push through a day - with several hours of screen time, some of which has been gaming - and still have 50 per cent power remaining by bedtime. Shame the 15W charging isn't as speedy as some others.
In terms of software, it's Google's Android 11 on board. Motorola has its own app, called Moto, which adds some handy tips, display, gestures, and gaming controls - but that's your lot and it doesn't get in the way of daily tasks by any means. The software is clean an smooth and we've been impressed by how well the Snapdragon 480 manages to handle it.
- Triple rear camera setup:
- Main: 48-megapixels, f/1.7 aperture, 0.8um pixel size, phase-detection autofocus (PDAF)
- Macro: 5MP, f/2.4, 1.12µm
- Depth: 2MP, f/2.4
- Front-facing punch-hole selfie camera:
- 13-megapixels, f/2.2 aperture, 1.12um pixel size
Cameras is where Motorola somewhat drops the ball with the G50. This handset ditches the wide-angle camera you'll find lower down in the range. And, sure, while the wide-angle camera in the G30 wasn't great, it was at least useful. Not having one at all isn't exactly practical.
The G50 still persists with multiple lenses that you just don't need though. There's a 5-megapixel macro lens for close-ups that's maybe sorta-kinda fun - and thankfully not the throwaway 2-megapixel sensor that's so often used - but just not really that useful much of the time.
Which makes for an odd collection of lenses on this phone. Even the main sensor (48-megapixel) takes a resolution downgrade compared to lower-spec G-series models (with 64-megapixel), and although its results are fine, it's just not the very best experience going - and the app is still pretty slow.
The overall results aren't disappointing, per se, as the camera functions in a straightforward enough way and will deliver in capture. They're not massively consistent though - colours can be bright in some shots, muted in another, with colour balance often a little skewed.
To think of this handset as the mid point of Moto's G-series just doesn't do its camera setup justice.
All in all the Moto G50 isn't a bad phone. If you bought one you'd probably be content with its capabilities. What it is, however, is a confusing entry to the G-series, skewing the range's numbering convention and delivering a handset that - aside from the 5G addition - is largely worse off than the lower-spec and lower-price G30.
And that just compounds the G50's problems: its competition, both from within Motorola and outside, is strong to the point that there's not a huge amount of reason to consider it. Sure, having 5G is nice, but is it the one outstanding feature that'll make you want to buy a phone? No, not really. We'd rather have a wide-angle camera. So save some cash and get the G30, or spend a touch more and look elsewhere instead.
Ditch the 5G, get slightly better cameras - and for less money. The G30 is better balanced and the reason why the G50 doesn't make a huge degree of sense in the Moto line-up.
Redmi Note 10 Pro
If you've got a little extra cash to spare then - ignoring the not-as-good software situation - the Redmi is an absolute stormer of an affordable phone, with better design, better build, better cameras, and pretty much better everything.