Which Motorola Phone Should You Buy?

These Android smartphones often deliver two-day battery life and have lots of storage. But which Moto models are best?

If someone asked what kind of pet you want, you’d probably say a cat or a dog. In this analogy Motorola’s phones are hamsters. They're still cute and definitely pets, but not necessarily the first or second one that comes to mind. The company’s Android smartphones often play third (or fourth) fiddle to the likes of Samsung and Google. And if you’re an interested buyer, it can be hard to select the best Motorola phone because the company launches way too many models in a year. I’ve tested almost every one of them, and in this guide, I break down the pros and cons and steer you toward my favorite Moto models.

Be sure to check out our other mobile buying guides, including the Best Android Phones, Best iPhones, Best Cheap Phones, Best Pixel Phones, and Best Phones With a Headphone Jack.

Updated November 2023: We've added the Motorola Razr.

Table of Contents

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The Pros and Cons of Buying a Motorola

Photograph: Motorola

Here’s what’s WIRED and TIRED about Motorola phones. This breakdown can help you decide whether to stick with Moto or buy something else.

What’s WIRED About Motorola Phones

Motorola phones have a simple Android interface. This means the company hasn’t done much to gunk up the software. It’s simple and easy to use. There’s often some bloatware, but nowadays you can easily uninstall almost all of it.

These phones come with 256 gigabytes of storage. This isn’t true of every Motorola phone, but most now offer more than the 128-GB capacity you’ll find on their peers.

They have some of the best battery life. The company stuffs big batteries into these slim phones, and they’re frequently able to eke out two full days of use on a single charge, besting almost all of the competition.

There’s broad carrier support. While some Android phones have inconsistent carrier support in the US, Motorola phones often work on most if not all networks (the company lists carrier support details in the Specs section of all its phones). They all work on the big three—T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon. Make sure you buy them unlocked.

The prices dip quite often. Never buy a Motorola phone at its MSRP. They almost always go on sale a few months (or even weeks) after launch, sometimes at steep discounts.

What’s TIRED About Motorola Phones

Motorola’s software updates are lackluster. The company is slowly improving here—it promises to deliver three Android OS updates and four years of bimonthly security updates to its high-end smartphones—but it still lags behind its peers. Worse yet, the phones in the Moto G series only receive one OS Android update (with three years of security updates), so they miss out on new Android features fairly quickly. Even if a phone is promised updates, they take a long time to arrive.

Moto G phones lack NFC. Near-field communication sensors are what enable tap-to-pay on your phone, allowing you to use contactless payments at participating retailers. Phones as cheap as $200 have this feature, but Motorola is notorious for excluding it on (most) of its Moto G range.

The cameras are lackluster. Among the things putting Motorola behind the likes of Samsung and Google are the cameras. They can take fine photos, but they’re easily eclipsed by the competition.

There’s no always-on display. Most Android phones have a setting you can toggle on if you want an Always-on Display that will show a clock on your screen even when the screen is “off.” Motorola has Peek Display, which requires you to move the phone or tap the screen to see anything. It’s not a big deal, but that’s a feature you might miss if you’re coming from another phone.

Best Motorola Phone

The best Motorola phone right now is the Motorola Edge+ (2023). It’s a tall, narrow device with a 6.7-inch OLED display that curves into the edges for a more immersive screen. I usually dislike these kinds of “waterfall displays” because my fingers tend to disrupt the screen, but I didn’t have many issues on this phone.

The Full HD+ screen is sharp and colorful, it gets bright enough to view on sunny days, and the refresh rate can ratchet up to 165 Hz. It makes the screen look and feel more responsive, though I set it to 120 Hz, which is plenty for me and doesn’t suck up as much battery. The back of the phone has a glistening design that looks snazzy, and both the front and back are protected by the scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass Victus.

The Edge+ impresses with its raw specs. It’s powered by the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor (along with 8 GB of RAM), which is what powers most high-end Android smartphones right now, and I rarely saw stutters, even with the most demanding apps and games.

There are dual stereo speakers at the top and bottom of this device to pump out loud tunes that sound pretty good, NFC for making contactless payments, dual SIM support, IP68 water resistance, and a whopping 512 GB of storage—well more than you’ll find on any other smartphone at this price. There’s no microSD card slot to expand that storage, nor a headphone jack in case you want to plug in.

Most impressive is battery life. There’s a 5,100-mAh cell, and this phone easily lasted two full days of average use. Even heavy users should expect to get through a full day without requiring a top-up. When you do need to recharge, you can use the included 68-watt charging adapter or a wireless charger. Motorola is one of the few phone makers to still include a charger in the box.

Where it loses points is the camera system. A 50-megapixel primary camera is joined by a 50-MP ultrawide and a 60-MP selfie camera. In my photo comparisons, the Edge+ took some sharp shots, but it had a hard time keeping up with the cheaper Google Pixel 7A. Motorola’s results are often oversaturated and overly brightened, and they tend to deliver slightly off skin tones. In low light, I frequently had to retake photos because the first result was blurry. If the camera is important to you, I’d avoid buying any Motorola phone. Consider the Pixel 7A or Samsung Galaxy S23 instead.

Motorola promises three Android OS upgrades and four years of bimonthly security updates.


This phone is the result of a rare (public) partnership between Motorola and its parent company, Lenovo. If you’re familiar with Lenovo’s popular line of ThinkPad business laptops, the ThinkPhone (7/10, WIRED Recommends) tries to emulate the look, down to a red, customizable button on the left side of the phone that’s meant to look like the red nub on a ThinkPad’s keyboard. Technically, it’s an enterprise phone, but you can buy it unlocked at Motorola or Lenovo, and I like it!

It’s similar to the Edge+ in many ways, though some small changes explain the slightly lower price. For starters, it doesn’t have a curved glass display, though if you're like me, you might like that. The OLED screen is a little smaller at 6.6 inches, with a refresh rate that goes up to 144 Hz (still more than enough). It’s powered by the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset, which is still a flagship-grade processor but isn’t as powerful as the Gen 2.

Still, the 5,000-mAh battery lasts two days, and there’s a 68-watt charger in the box, along with wireless charging support. It retains an IP68 rating for water resistance, has NFC for tap-to-pay support, and comes with 256 GB of storage.

There’s a 50-MP primary sensor, a 13-MP ultrawide, and a 32-MP selfie camera. I preferred many of the photos from the Lenovo ThinkPhone to some of the shots I took on the Motorola Edge+, but these cameras still don’t measure up to their peers. Still, it has dipped as low as $450, so it's a heck of a phone at that price.

Motorola promises three Android OS upgrades and four years of bimonthly security updates.

A Folding Moto

Motorola’s first folding smartphone from 2020 had a lot of flaws, but its successor levels up the game in a few ways. The Razr+ (7/10, WIRED Recommends) is a folding flip phone—it's the smartphone successor to Paris Hilton's iconic pink flip phone. Yes, you can flip open the phone to answer a call and flip it shut to end it.

When it’s closed, the larger 3.6-inch OLED exterior screen can show you notifications, apps, and handy widgets to check the weather, calendar events, and news. It even lets you play simple games. You can also use the superior primary cameras—which would typically be on the “back” of the phone but are now at the front—to snap selfies and use this external screen as a viewfinder. They’re some of the sharpest selfies you’ll snap.

With the phone open, you have a 6.9-inch screen you can use as you would a standard phone. This device has specs similar to the Lenovo ThinkPhone, with a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset and 8 GB of RAM at the core, though the screen gets bumped back up to a 165-Hz refresh rate. There’s 256 GB of storage, NFC for making payments with your phone, dual stereo speakers, and wireless charging. It ran perfectly in my tests; my main gripe is that the display doesn’t get as bright as I’d like, which can make it tough to read on sunny days outside.

Where it falls short is on water resistance, battery life, and the cameras. Folding phones are more fragile than their non-folding counterparts, and the Razr+ only has an IP54 rating for water resistance, which isn’t as good as you’ll find on Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip5. The modest size of the device also means it has a smaller 3,800-mAh battery cell and will barely get through a full day of average use. (There’s no charger in the box.) As expected, the 12-MP primary camera and 13-MP ultrawide can take some completely fine photos, but they won’t impress.

Still, the main benefit of this style of folding phone is that it’s super compact. If you often have trouble stuffing your smartphone into a pocket, the Razr+ is a nice alternative.

Motorola promises three Android OS upgrades and four years of bimonthly security updates.

★ A Cheaper Fold: Motorola Razr ($700)
Photograph: Motorola

This is the cheapest folding phone you can buy, and we're frankly amazed that it has already dipped as low as $500 on Amazon. Compared to the Razr+, the standard Razr lacks the larger front screen, so in its closed state it's only useful for getting notifications, checking the time, and swiping to the weather widget. On the inside, you're still getting an OLED 6.9-inch screen, with an up to 144-Hz screen refresh rate. Performance is also snappy, despite the lesser Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 chipset. There's only 128 GB of storage, and the camera is nothing to write home about, but the beefier 4,200-mAh makes this easily last longer than the Razr+, at least a full day with heavy use. There's wireless charging, and it'll get the same software support as its pricier sibling.

Best Moto G Phone

Most people looking to buy a smartphone under $400 should snag the Google Pixel 6A or one of the many other phones in our Best Cheap Phones guide. But if the Moto G Stylus 5G 2023 (6/10, WIRED Review) gets a decent price cut, then it’s a reasonable buy.

It runs most apps and games pretty well, thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 chipset and 4 GB of RAM, though you will see a few hangups here and there. There’s a 120-Hz screen for fluid interactions with the 6.6-inch LCD screen, and I had no trouble stretching the 5,000-mAh battery to two days on a single charge. You can use the included charger and cable to top things up, but there’s no wireless charging support.

What you do get is a microSD card slot to expand the 256 GB of internal storage, along with a headphone jack for those who prefer wired headphones. Unlike every other Moto G smartphone, this one also has NFC, meaning you can make contactless payments on public transit or at supported retail stores. Super handy when you forget your wallet!

The 50-MP primary camera and 8-MP ultrawide are capable systems that can take OK photos. Use Motorola’s Night Vision mode and you can take some decent shots in low light too. However, you’re not going to want to rely on them for any ceremonial events.

The problem? Motorola is only offering one Android OS upgrade, so once the company updates it to Android 14 sometime next year, it won’t get any new features. That’s in contrast to Samsung’s Galaxy A14 5G, which will get two OS updates and costs just $200.

Motorola promises one Android OS upgrade and three years of bimonthly security updates.

Other Good Motorola Phones

Moto G Power 5G 2023

Photograph: Motorola

I suggest you stick to the phones above, but if your budget is tight and you see one of these devices on sale, they’re OK buys. The Moto G phones will receive one Android OS update and three years of bimonthly security updates.

Moto G Power 5G 2023 for $250: There are better phones at this price, but the Power (6/10, WIRED Review) delivers OK performance, two-day battery life, and a decent 6.5-inch LCD with a 120-Hz screen. It also comes with a headphone jack and microSD card slot to expand the 256 GB of storage. There’s no tap-to-pay support, and I had some issues with GPS when I was using it for navigation. The cameras are pretty mediocre too.

Moto G 5G 2023 for $200: This is the only Motorola phone in this guide that I haven’t tested, but I have used previous models before. It will likely feel similar to the Moto G Power in terms of screen and battery life, though it’s powered by a weaker Snapdragon 480+ chipset, so expect choppier performance. Storage has decreased to 128 GB too (you can expand it via microSD).

Avoid These Phones

Moto G Play 2023

Photograph: Motorola

You should avoid buying any Moto G phone from 2022 or earlier. They won’t get any more Android version updates, and the prices aren’t drastically different from the latest models. However, the two we mention below are 2023 models we didn’t like.

Moto G Stylus 4G 2023 for $170: This phone (6/10, WIRED Review) doesn’t have 5G support. That’s a little ridiculous when competitors like the Samsung Galaxy A14 5G have it. It’s also sluggish, there’s no NFC, and the cameras are not great.

Moto G Play 2023 for $110: The Play (4/10, WIRED Review) launched with Android 12 and has yet to receive the Android 13 update. Its performance is just too darn slow, though the battery does last two full days. It only comes with 32 GB of storage.

The Competition

Motorola’s top competition comes from Google and Samsung. If you asked me what phone to buy, I’d point you first to the Google Pixel 7A ($499). It has most of the features folks want in a smartphone—including wireless charging. If your budget can stretch, take a look at the Samsung Galaxy S23 FE ($600). If you want to spend as little as possible, then the Galaxy A54 5G ($450) and Galaxy A14 5G ($200) will satisfy. Read our Best Cheap Phones and Best Android Phone guides for more options.

Our Favorite Motorola Features
Photograph: Motorola

Moto Gestures: One of the first proper smartphones I bought was the Moto X, and that’s when (then Google-owned) Motorola debuted Moto Actions, which let you use physical gestures to trigger some features on the phone. They are still very much a part of a Motorola phone’s identity, even if they’re now called Moto Gestures. You can head to the Moto app on the phone to find all of them or go to Settings > Gestures. The ones I use most often are the double-chop gesture to trigger the flashlight and the double-twist action to launch the camera.

Ready For: This is a more recent addition, and it’s not available for some of the cheaper Motorola phones. It lets you wirelessly connect the phone to a nearby display, where you can see mobile apps, use your phone as a webcam, and share files. If your Moto is supported, you can find it by heading to Settings > Connected devices > Ready For. If you’re connecting it to a PC, you’ll need to download the desktop client (Windows only), or the Ready For Assistant if you’re connecting an Android tablet. If you’re using a TV, it needs Miracast support if you want to connect wirelessly, but you can use a USB-C or HDMI cable as well.