Review of Motorola Moto G Play (2023). Limited reach

Motorola Moto G (223)

The Motorola Moto G Play (2023), a 2023 device, has a 2021 mentality. It hasn’t picked up too many new tricks since the last version and the budget Android world seems to be moving along without one its oldest brands. Although it is still one of the most affordable Android smartphones, you can get more by signing up for a carrier agreement.

If anyone knows the secret to a successful budget phone, it’s Motorola. Motorola, a Chicago-based firm, has been a leader in the affordable Android segment for more than any other company. It has refined its skills over countless generations and is still going strong. The landscape has changed. cheap smartphones isn’t the same as it once was. While premium specs are dropping, once-low prices are rising. Can Motorola continue to succeed with its classic “Play” formula? Read our Motorola Moto G Play (2023 review) to find out.

This Motorola Moto G Play (2023 review): For two weeks, I tested the Motorola Moto G Play (2023). It was running Android 12 on the October 1, 20,22 security patch. Motorola provided the unit for this review.

Here’s what you need to know about Motorola Moto G Play (2023).

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

  • Motorola Moto G Play (2023), (3GB/32GB); $169.99

After a year of being discontinued in 2022, the second-most affordable Moto G device is now back. Motorola’s Moto G Play (2023) slots right back into its old space above the Moto G PureAnd right behind them Moto G Power, and it doesn’t fall far from the family tree. The Moto G Play (2023), in fact, takes a lot of lessons from its Power-packed sibling, but keeps them at an affordable price.

The Moto G Play and Moto G Power share identical footprints — right down to the millimeter. You get the same 6.5 inch LCD, 90Hz refresh rate, and HD+ resolution with an embedded punch hole camera in its center. The nearly repeated design leaves you with a sizable chin bezel, but it means there are still a few creature comforts; Motorola’s Moto G Play (2023) still carries a headphone jack and room for microSD storage expansion.

You’ll probably want to take advantage of that expansion, too, given the single configuration of 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. They’re accompanied by a Mediatek Helio G37 chipset to keep the lights on and a hefty 5,000mAh battery for good measure. It’s not a fast refill at just 10W peak wired charging, but Motorola does at least provide you with a charger in the box.

The Moto G Play (2023), as the rest of its design, has a metal frame and a rear panel. It comes in a single Navy Blue colour, and the back plastic can only be broken up by the classic fingerprint scanner embedded in the logo and the corner-mounted bump camera bump. The Moto G Play (2023) now has three cameras — an increase over the previous model — with the 16MP main sensor as the highlight. It’s backed by a 2MP dedicated macro lens and a 2MP depth sensor for extra processing data.

These specs are almost identical to those on the Moto G Play (2021). The display size and resolution remain the same, with the exception of a slower refresh rate. Base RAM and storage are also identical. The only major changes are the addition of a Mediatek Helio G37 to replace the Snapdragon 460 (more later) as well as a few more megapixels to the primary camera.

Our Motorola Moto G Play (2023), arrived in an Android 12 box. It has not been received. Android 13. We’re expecting one full Android version and three years of security patches — Motorola’s usual budget promise — but not much more.

Motorola introduced plastic free packaging with the Moto Edge (2022)The Moto G Play (2023) continues this trend. The 60% post-consumer material used in the box includes the 10W charger, a USB A to USB C cable, and all necessary paperwork.

The Motorola Moto G Play (2023), also follows a well-worn trend of only arriving in the USA and Canada, but not the rest of the globe. It’s a bargain — if you could call it that — at $169, and it’s available unlocked through Motorola, Best Buy, and Verizon. The carrier support is pretty much wide open, covering AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon, as well as most of their MVNOs.

What’s good?

motorola moto g play 2023 moto app

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Motorola’s strength in the budget segment is its consistency. What’s good in one version of a Moto G device will likely be just as good in the next. This idea is even more evident with the Moto G Play (2023). The phone’s 5,000mAh battery combined with the 4G/LTE processor makes it last for many days. It doesn’t matter what you do with the phone — whether gaming, streaming, or browsing social media — you shouldn’t have to charge more than every other day at the least.

The Moto G Play (2023) also sticks to Motorola’s light and breezy My UX. We’ve long praised it as one of the lightest Android skins, and it’s no different here. If you’re buying unlocked, the only bloat you face right out of the box is the Facebook app, and you can easily uninstall it. Motorola doesn’t load you with its version of apps, instead preferring Google’s versions. The dedicated Moto app is one of the undiscovered heroes of the My UX experience. It might look like unwanted bloat at first, but it’s more like the Pixel Tips app and a customization suite rolled into one. The same app allows you to set your app grid, change a font, and then navigate your new phone using the same app. It’s great for newcomers and those that want to customize their experience with a few taps.

Motorola’s My UX software is light, consistent, and one of our favorites — especially the Moto app.

Despite its budget limitations, the Moto G Play (2023) isn’t a bad-looking phone either. Sure, it’s plastic which doesn’t feel all that great in the hand, but the Navy Blue finish and matte texture give it a slightly more premium appearance. I didn’t have any issues with fingerprints, and the slight texture on the power button makes it easy to find without looking. Motorola’s 90Hz display is eye-catching as well. No, it won’t give a 120Hz OLED a run for its money, but an upgraded refresh rate is an easy way to upgrade a simple panel, even if the weak performance hampers its fluidity (more on that later).

I’ll also praise Motorola’s continued use of classic features one more time. It’s nice to see a 3.5mm jackFor those who aren’t willing to spend money on Bluetooth headphones, stay put for another year. Expandable storage is good, too, as 32GB is rarely enough out of the box — I’ve already filled 10GB in just a few weeks and a huge chunk is occupied out of the box. The 2023 Moto G Play is also rated for basic splashproofing and limited dust ingress, which isn’t always a given at this price tier.

What’s not so good?

motorola moto g play 2023 rear view showing cameras and buttons

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

The other side of consistency is that we don’t tend to see major improvements from one Moto G device to the next. Unfortunately, the MotoGPlay (2023), leans heavily on some of its less-expensive features.

For example, we took issue with the underpowered Helio G37 chipset when it came to the Moto G Power in 2022, and the now two-year-old chipset hasn’t picked up speed in 2023. It’s easy to move too quickly for the Moto G Play, especially if you’re trying to scroll through a long webpage or jump through settings too quickly. I’ve regularly had to stop and wait for the phone to catch up, even if just for a second or two. The 4G-locked Helio G37 also means that we won’t see Motorola bring 5G to its most affordable devices for at least another year, while Samsung offers top speeds on its upcoming Galaxy A14 5GFor only $20 more

Not only is the Mediatek Helio G37 long in the tooth and slow on the draw, but it’s actually slower than the chipset in the previous Moto G Play. That model had Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 460 under the hood, which outperforms the Helio G37 in just about every context. Maybe the change is a result of the global chip shortage, but it’s kneecapping an already limited device.

The Moto G Play’s limited RAM and storage probably also contribute to the occasional lag. We’re at the point where 3GB isn’t enough when you’re multitasking, and it’s very easy to fill up the 32GB of base storage with just a few large games. You’ll almost certainly want a microSD card.

The Moto G Play’s Helio G37 is lacking punch. 3GB RAM and 32GB base storage aren’t great additions.

The Moto G Play is extremely underpowered. This theme continues when you drain the battery. The phone only supports 10W wired speeds, so you’ll have to plant yourself at an outlet for a while. Like the Moto G Power (2022) — which has the same battery and charging speed — the Moto G Play (2023) takes about two hours to charge back to 100%.

The large 6.5-inch display is capable of displaying a 90Hz refresh rate but it rarely hits the mark. It spends more time scrolling through menus than it does scrolling smoothly through anything. The display isn’t particularly bright in direct sunlight, even when set to maximum brightness. I’m also usually a fan of rear-mounted fingerprint readers, but the Moto G Play (2023) occasionally struggles here, too. It recognizes my fingerprint maybe two-thirds of the time, which isn’t a great success rate.

Perhaps the worst aspect of Motorola’s consistency is the software commitment for budget phones. The Moto G Play (2023) arrived with Android 12 out of the box, but we’re not expecting it to see too much support beyond an eventual Android 13 update. Motorola tends to limit its most affordable lineup to a single Android refresh and three years of security patches, which is an improvement but isn’t great when users keep their phones longer.

Rounding out the unfortunate limitations: there’s no NFC chipThe Moto G Play (2023). This means wireless payments or Nearby ShareFile swapping is not allowed. It also eliminates digital hotel keys and virtual driver’s licenses, though those uses are less commonplace. The Moto G Play (2023), which packs a single downfiring speaker, is capable to produce good volume but feels a bit off-balance without using the earpieces as a stereo unit.

Motorola Moto G Play (2023) camera review

motorola moto g play 2023 camera app

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

More isn’t always better, no matter what a cheap camera phone tells you. We’d rather have two good lenses than one useful lens and some supporting options, but Motorola is heading the other way. The Moto G play (2023) has a dedicated macro 2MP lens. Sure, it results in a bump that matches most of Motorola’s other phones, but you’ll spend most — if not all — of your time using the 16MP primary sensor while the depth and macro options fill in when you want them.

Motorola’s 16MP main camera is fine in good lighting, but even then, I wanted a little more. It still managed to capture 3MP more than the Moto G play (2021), but the pixels became smaller, which led to poor low-light performance. The results aren’t bad in the image of records in a milk crate or the Rolex clock, but the colors aren’t very punchy, and the details tend to fall off as soon as you’re out of good lighting. The leaves in the corner of this prism image are blurry against the sky. The same goes for the trees behind the busts.

The Moto G Play’s single wide lens is not always the easiest to zoom with. Motorola allows you to quickly toggle between macro mode and 1x zoom within the camera app. However, anything else will require some pinching and squeezing. It was easy to zoom in to 3x without losing too much detail, but it begins to fall off quickly. 8x zoom, as you can see on right, is about as far as the Moto Play (2023), goes. It gets harder and harder to land a good photo. The edges of the bulb are becoming softer and the color profile has changed.

While the Moto G Play’s zoom can be hit or miss, its low-light performance is almost always a miss. There’s no dedicated night toggle, so you have to rely on the 16MP primary sensor and a little post-processing luck to reach the finish line. The details become even more blurred, as can be seen in the trees that flank the statue and the lights within the casino. The large neon logos on Caesar’s Palace suffer a similar fate, melting into bright red blobs.

Motorola’s 5MP selfie camera isn’t excellent, though I was impressed with its edge detection. It did a good job trimming my longer hairs and handling the area where my hair meets the rocks behind me. The photos below are a little too soft on me, and the sky is blown behind the casino. However, I find that the color profile of the secondary camera is closer to what is actually happening in real life.

The Moto G play (2023) is also very similar to its predecessor, with Full HD recording at 30fps. You can shoot up to HD footage at 30fps with the macro camera, and the selfie camera is in line with the primary sensor’s Full HD capability. These are all standard features for entry-level phones.

Motorola Moto G Play (2023).

Motorola Moto G (223)


6.5-inch IPS LCD
HD+ resolution
90Hz refresh rate


Mediatek Helio G37




Expandable upto 512GB


5,000mAh battery
10W wired charging


– 16MP wide, 1.0 μm, f/2.22
– 2MP macro, 1.75μm, f/2.4
– 2MP depth, 1.75μm, f/2.4

– 5MP, 1.12μm, f/2.4


Single bottom-mounted speaker
3.5mm headphone port


Single Nano SIM


IP52 rating


Rear-mounted fingerprint reader


Android 12

Dimensions and weight

– 167.2×76.5×9.3mm

– 203 grams


Navy Blue

Motorola Moto G Play (2023), Review: The verdict

motorola moto g play 2023 home screen

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

It wasn’t easy to create a budget-friendly Android smartphone. It gets more difficult as premium features are reduced and brands attempt to set specific price points. Unfortunately, the Motorola Moto G Play (2023), remains in that same spot. Many of its features worked well in 2021 with the last G Play model, but they don’t all keep up in 2023.

Sure, it still has a headphone jack, a battery that lasts and lasts, and the light, smooth My UX skin, but that doesn’t feel like enough. The Mediatek Helio G37 lacks any punch, the charging leaves you tethered to the wall for hours, and there’s no sign of NFC or 5G on the horizon. We must remember that this Android device costs just $170. But, the tide is turning around Motorola.

Moto G Play’s 2021 mentality is not quite right for a 2023 environment.

In particular, Samsung’s new Galaxy A14 5G offers key advantages across the board, adding a Full HD resolution, additional RAM and storage, and 5G speeds for just $30 more. It supports 15W wired charging, a reliable side mounted fingerprint reader, and doubles as the power switch. It’ll also be supported with Android version updates for two years and security patches for four years, making it a safer investment. We’ll have to wait and see how Samsung’s updated camera array performs when we get our hands on one, but it’s shaping up nicely with similar lenses and a 50MP primary shooter.

The OnePlus Nord N300 ($228 at T-Mobile) is another reasonable competitor in a similar price segment. While it has some flaws, it packs more RAM and storage. It also offers faster 33W wired charging. Add a little extra punch — and 5G support — from the Dimensity 810 chipset, and it’s easy to see where spending a little extra money gets you, though for now it only supports T-Mobile.

Motorola Moto G Play (2023)

Motorola Moto G (223)

5,000mAh battery • Smooth software experience • Rock-bottom price

Motorola’s Moto G Play (2023), keeps classics like a headset jack and expandable storage.

Motorola’s Moto G Play (2023), is hard to beat in price. Although it doesn’t have the most advanced specs, it is a reliable and simple phone that offers near-stock Android as well as an updated design that is easy to hold. It still has a headphone socket in 2023.

Top Motorola Moto G Play (2023). Questions and answers

Motorola has promised to release one Android update and three-years of bi-monthly security upgrades.

Motorola Moto G Play (2023), a 4G-only smartphone, is still powered by the Mediatek Helio G37 chipset.

Yes, and you can expand the Moto G Play’s storage by up to 512GB.

No, the MotoG Play (2023), has a 10W wired charging limit.

The Moto G Player (2023) is now available. IP52 ratingFor basic protection against dust ingress and splashproofing

The Moto G Play (2023). Moto G Play (2021)The display size, RAM base and storage are the same. The Moto G Play has a faster refresh rate, and the Snapdragon 460 chipset is replaced by a weaker Helio G37.

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