If you’re shopping for an affordable smartphone, you’re probably looking at a Nokia phone or a Motorola handset, as both solidly corner the budget phone market.
Motorola devices cover a variety of low price points, which means if you need a phone that won’t put you out of pocket, you’re likely considering one. Of course, choosing among the company’s many phones can be a task in itself.
Just to be clear: none of Motorola’s phones effectively compete with flagship devices like the Samsung Galaxy S10 or iPhone XS, but they don’t come with a commensurately huge price tag, either. Instead, you’re getting phones that are reliable and fairly well specced for their cost.
Motorola has various ranges, like the Moto Mod-supporting Moto Z phones, or the more affordable Moto G main series, – though there are outliers like the Motorola One Vision which runs Android One. If you aren’t clear on how they differ, it can be hard to work out which you should pick up over the others.
To help you pick which device is the best you can get, we’ve made a handy guide of all the best Motorola phones you can buy.
New Motorola phones are always being released, though, so this list could change monthly as we review the handsets and revise the list accordingly. Keep checking back to TechRadar when new phones release to see how they fit in this ranking.
1. Moto Z4
The Moto Z4 is the top Moto phone, is 5G-capable – and is solidly midrange
Release date: May 2018 | Weight: 165g | Dimensions: 158 x 75 x 7.4 mm | OS: Android 9 Pie | Screen size: 6.4-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2340 | CPU: Snapdragon 675 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 128GB | Battery: 3,000mAh | Rear camera: Single 48MP | Front camera: 25MP
Decent all-around specs for price
Cameras are better
Still supports Mods, including one for 5G
Snapdragon 675 chip is solidly midrange
Mods don’t sit flush on back anymore
Phone design still basic Moto Z we’ve had for years
The Moto Z4 is a safe move from Motorola – it looks nearly identical to its predecessors, with only minor shifts in size and shape – but that likely arises from the company’s decision to keep supporting the Moto Mods, which require phones to keep roughly the same shape.
Thus, the phone doesn’t look like it’s changed. Look closer and you’ll find some improvements, like an expanded 6.4-inch screen to the edges (around a top notch), an in-screen fingerprint scanner, and the return of a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Gone also is the dual 12MP lenses in the rear camera bump; instead, the Moto Z4 follows the midrange (and Google Pixel-like) trend of dropping lenses and using software to make up for it. We found the Moto Z4 took slightly better photos with its lone 48MP rear camera, and similar improvements with its 25MP selfie lens.
The phone is speedy enough, though its performance might drag on over the years: instead of packing an older but still flagship chipset like its predecessor, the Moto Z4 opted for a Snapdragon 675 – a new, but definitively midrange option. This is more speculation – we’ll have to see whether this chipset lasts longer than we expect – but the phone’s 4GB RAM (only option) isn’t promising for longevity either.
Read our in-depth review: Moto Z4
1. Moto Z3
The Moto Z3 is still powerful – and the cheapest option to access 5G
Release date: August 2018 | Weight: 150g | Dimensions: 156.5 x 76.5 x 6.8 mm | OS: Android 8.0 Oreo | Screen size: 6-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2160 | CPU: Snapdragon 835 | RAM: 4/6GB | Storage: 64/128GB | Battery: 3,000mAh | Rear camera: Dual 12MP | Front camera: 8MP
Good specs for its price
Some Mods are useful, and one connects to 5G
Snapdragon 835 chip is outdated
Mods alter the form/weight without adding too much
Black rectangular design won’t wow anyone
The Moto Z3 is still a solid pick in the Moto line, with a comparable (if not slightly faster) chipset than the Moto Z4. Best of all? It’s still the cheapest way to access 5G through the 5G Moto Mod. When this Moto add-on first came out, it made the Moto Z3 the first 5G-capable phone to hit the market in the whole world.
Of course, there are a lot of caveats to that fact – namely, that the mod is only coming to Verizon in the US, and will only work in that carrier’s very limited 5G coverage areas – but it’s still an impressive claim for a sub-flagship phone.
Yes, the phone doesn’t have the beastly specs of top-tier flagships – but at half the price, the Moto Z3 boasts impressive value. It sports a Snapdragon 835, which is respectable if dated, and comes in two average if unimpressive versions: 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, or 6GB of RAM and 128GB of space (expandable via microSD to up to 512GB).
That’s enough for streaming multimedia and moderate gaming, which look good on the phone’s 6-inch (2160 x 1080) AMOLED display. Combine that with basic dual 12MP rear cameras and an 8MP front-facing selfie shooter and you have a good phone sitting somewhere below the OnePlus 6T and lesser-performing midrange phones. The phone’s glass back and side-mounted fingerprint scanner are similarly middle-luxe – a good compromise if you want performance at a lower price.
Read our in-depth review: Motorola Moto Z3
2. Moto G7 Plus
A powerful budget phone striving for mid-range cred
Release date: March 2019 | Weight: 176g | Dimensions: 157 x 75.3 x 8.3 mm | OS: Android 9 Pie | Screen size: 6.2-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2270 | CPU: Snapdragon 636 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB | Battery: 3,000mAh | Rear camera: 16MP + 5MP | Front camera: 12MP
Good power + effects for its price
Cheap and Android 9 Pie out-of-the-box
Big LCD screen, good for gaming
Thicker bezels, including notch
Lots of competition from similar value phones
Unclear water resistance
The Motorola Moto G7 Plus is the top performer of the brand’s G7 family, which counts four phones this time around. The G7 Plus is the standout model, though it may not reach your region: Motorola confirmed the device isn’t coming to the US.
But if you can pick the phone up, you won’t be sorry. For sub-midrange price, you’ll get a Snapdragon 636-powered phone with a decent 4GB RAM and 64GB of storage (expandable up to 512GB). The phone even has one up on the more powerful Moto Z3 with its 3.5mm headphone jack.
So why the G7 Plus and not, say, an older (but still hefty) Moto Z2 Play? Simple: Android 9 Pie out of the box. That leads us to recommend the phone even over other more powerful Moto phones (like the Moto Z2 Force, which is nearly identical to the Z3), and the G7 Plus has other benefits of a later release date, like speedier Fast Charging and a higher screen-to-body ratio.
Read our in-depth review: Motorola Moto G7 Plus
3. Motorola One Vision
Motorola’s most modern Android One handset
Release date: May 2019 | Weight: 180g | Dimensions: 160 x 71 x 8 mm | OS: Android 9 Pie | Screen size: 6.3-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2520 | CPU: Exynos 9609 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 128GB | Battery: 3,500mAh | Rear camera: 48MP, 5MP | Front camera: 25MP
Clean Android One OS
21:9 aspect ratio is troublesome
Camera doesn’t live up to its specs
No, Motorola One Vision is not inspired by the Queen song, but it is one of the royalty of Moto handsets – its clean and clear Android One operating system (OS) cuts away the bloat and excess of normal Android, and the phone itself has an attractive and clean design.
The Motorola One Vision’s 21:9 aspect ratio may be questionable to some, however, as the jury’s still out on whether this is the future of smartphones or just an annoying gimmick.
If you’re on-board with the phone’s unwieldy length, and don’t mind its weak specs in a certain few areas, the Motorola One Vision sits at a happily affordable price point and does impress in a few major ways.
Read our in-depth review: Motorola One Vision
4. Moto G7
The more widely-available, and still good, mid-range Moto
Release date: March 2019 | Weight: 172g | Dimensions: 157 x 75.3 x 8 mm | OS: Android 9 Pie | Screen size: 6.2-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2270 | CPU: Snapdragon 632 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB | Battery: 3,000mAh | Rear camera: 12MP, 5MP | Front camera: 8MP
Large, bright LCD display
Good specs for the cost
Missing little from pricier G7 Plus sibling
Plastic frame is a little cheap
Occasional lag in apps
Not for serious mobile gamers
Why list the Moto G7 here? Sure, it’s slightly less powerful than the G7 Plus, but it’s also available in more regions (including the US), so we’re covering our bases in case you don’t want to pay international shipping on your budget-plus phone.
You don’t miss much going for the G7, either: its Snapdragon 632 chip is a bit less powerful, sure, and its frame is plastic instead of aluminum. But the rest of its specs are essentially the same, which means you’re getting a phone that’s nearly as nice at a discount.
That means 4GB of RAM and 64GB of space, a 6.2-inch LCD display and dual 12MP + 5MP rear shooters/an 8MP front-facing camera for a great price. Plus it comes with Android 9 Pie right out of the box.
Read our in-depth review: Moto G7
5. Moto Z2 Force
An upper mid-range phone that feels premium
Release date: July 2017 | Dimensions: 155.8 x 76 x 6.1 mm | OS: Android 7.11 (upgradeable to Android 9) | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 2560 | CPU: Snapdragon 835 | RAM: 4/6GB | Storage: 64/128GB | Battery: 2,730mAh | Rear camera: 16MP | Front camera: 8MP
Works with mods — including, eventually, the 5G
Now it’s cheap!
Two years old
Thick top and bottom bezels look dated
Not Android 9 Pie out of the box
If you’re looking for the ultimate Moto value, think about digging back into the reserves. The Moto Z2 Force came out in mid-2017, but it’s still a relative powerhouse – and you can find it for a bit cheaper than the newer Moto Z3.
Despite over a year between releases, the Z2 Force packs the same Snapdragon 835 processor as its successor. Its screen is even higher resolution at 2560 x 1440, though its 5.5 inches are smaller than the Z3’s display.
Unfortunately, the Z2 Force shows its age in its chin and top bezels, which are significantly larger than those on phones released today. But if you don’t mind not sporting the sleekest phone on the block, the Z2 Force has most of the newest top-tier Moto phone at a lower price.
And it works with Moto Mods — including, eventually, the Moto Mod 5G, which will expand functionality to the earlier Z2 phones at some point after it’s released on April 11.
Read our in-depth review: Moto Z2 Force
6. Moto G7 Power
The variant with a big battery
Release date: February 2019 | Weight: 193g | Dimensions: 159.4 x 76 x 9.3 mm | OS: Android 9 | Screen size: 6.2-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1570 | CPU: Snapdragon 632 | RAM: 3/4 GB | Storage: 32/64 GB | Battery: 5,000mAh | Rear camera: 12MP f/2.0 | Front camera: 8MP f/2.2
Great specs for budget price
Excellent battery life
Heavy and hefty
Cheap-feeling plastic back
The third phone in the budget Moto G7 line is the G7 Power, which doesn’t vary much from the standard G7 – aside from its enormous battery. Yes, for those of you who tire of recharging your phone everyday, here’s one with a 5,000mAh battery.
Other phones have reached such heights, but they’re either expensive flagships (like the gaming-focused Huawei Mate 20 X) or battery-focused brick-thick novelty items (like the Energizer Power Max P18K). The G7 Power is a much more affordable, sensible and normal-looking phone than others that offer its level of battery capabilities.
Otherwise, the phone is basic but not bottom-tier, with a Snapdragon 632 and either 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage (in the US) or 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage (elsewhere). Its 6.2-inch LCD screen is large but not terribly impressive (1570 x 720px). But in combination with the giant battery and an accessible price of $249 / £179 (around AU$330), the Moto G7 Power is a great bargain.
Read our in-depth review: Moto G7 Power review
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