Wednesday, June 12, 2024

2 reasons why you shouldn’t buy a Motorola phone in 2024

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Someone holding the Moto G Power 5G (2024) and Moto G Stylus 5G (2024).Joe Maring / Digital Trends

A few years ago, buying a Moto G phone was the thing to do if you wanted a quality Android phone on a budget. Starting with the first Moto G from 2013, it’s a product line with a lot of history. Much of it is good, but in more recent years, there’s been some bad, too.

Contents

  • Software updates? What software updates?
  • Ads, ads, and more ads
  • Motorola needs to fix this

Motorola’s approach to the Moto G has been worrisome, especially in 2024. By March, the company had already announced and released three new Moto G models, none of which were particularly good. From low-quality displays, poor performance, bad cameras, and more, it felt like Motorola had lost its budget phone mojo.

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Thankfully, with the release of the new Moto G Stylus 5G (2024), it’s obvious that’s not true. The new Moto G Stylus has a fantastic display, very good performance, and a surprisingly decent camera. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable Android phone, and at $400, it’s a strong value, too. But as improved as it is from other Moto G smartphones over the last few months, there are still two lingering issues that hold it back from greatness. They’re issues I’ve been complaining about for ages, and they’re ones Motorola needs to address.

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Software updates? What software updates?

Joe Maring / Digital Trends

The first of these issues is one that’s been a problem for cheap Motorola phones for years: software updates.

Over the last few months, we’ve seen some companies up their update game in big ways. Last October, Google launched the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro with seven years of promised software support. Last month, the $500 Google Pixel 8a launched with that same seven-year promise.

Samsung also offers seven years of support for its Galaxy S24 series, and its budget Galaxy A35 and Galaxy A55 will see four major OS upgrades and five years of security updates. The OnePlus 12R reduces this to just three years of OS upgrades and four years of security updates, but that’s still fine.

Motorola, on the other hand, doesn’t even try to compete. All four of the Moto G phones released this year — including the new Moto G Stylus 5G — will get just one Android update. For three of this year’s phones, that means an update from Android 14 to Android 15 (which will be released later this summer). On the Moto G Play (2024), your one update will take you from Android 13 to Android 14. Oh, you expected an Android 15 update? Too bad! Motorola does extend security updates to three years, but they’re at a reduced bimonthly rate.

Joe Maring / Digital Trends

This is a problem for several different reasons. Of course, you’re missing out on new Android features. Although Google doesn’t reinvent the wheel every single year, Android updates can still be exciting and bring new/helpful features. Fixing security vulnerabilities and software bugs is another factor. These are often handled with security patches, and although Motorola promises three years of bimonthly updates, it’s not done a good job of delivering here. Take a look at Reddit, and you’ll find no shortage of Motorola smartphone users complaining about slow/nonexistent updates.

On top of all of that, it’s also just a bad look for Motorola. The company has always struggled in this department, but with Samsung and Google now upping software support for their budget phones while Motorola sits and twiddles its fingers, it’s a worse feeling than ever. It’s obvious that you can support a lower-cost smartphone with years of updates. Motorola keeps choosing not to, and the longer this issue persists, the harder and harder it becomes to overlook.

Ads, ads, and more ads

One of the ad-ridden app folders on the Moto G Stylus Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Motorola’s second issue is a more recent one: ads. For years, one of the hallmarks of budget Motorola phones was their clean, uncluttered software. Old Moto Gs looked like “stock” Android and weren’t ruined by annoying bloatware. It was great!

Moto Gs released this year still have a stock-like UI, but Motorola is starting to fill them with bloated, advertisement-riddled apps — and it’s a terrible experience.

How so? When you set up a Moto G smartphone in 2024, Motorola pre-installs a few “Folders” for you. These look like folders you would make for your own apps, but in reality, they’re just an excuse to shove advertisements in your face. Did you know that Zedge, MISTPLAY, and NewsBreak are among the “Top 10 apps in the U.S.”? You probably didn’t, and you probably don’t care. But thanks to the Entertainment Folder on this year’s Moto Gs, you’ll be reminded of that each time you open it. The folders can also show random news articles you almost certainly have no interest in. Very cool!

Motorola’s ad-filled weather app Digital Trends

Do you wish that the weather app on your phone didn’t just show the weather, but also showed you ads for crypto websites? What if your seven-day forecast was accompanied by an advertisement for veterinarian-recommended dog food? A weather radar is nice, but only if the top of it has an ad for payday loans. Lucky for you, the default weather app on this year’s Moto G phones has all of that!

“Ads and unwanted articles in app folders and the weather app aren’t enough,” I hear you saying to yourself. “What Motorola should really do is place these things on the lock screen, too!” Boy, do I have incredible news for you.

A pop-up for Glance on the Moto G Stylus Joe Maring / Digital Trends

If you buy a 2024 Moto G smartphone, you’re treated to something called “Glance” on the lock screen. It’s yet another third-party service where you can share your location and data to see the weather, sports scores, and news articles. It doesn’t add anything of real value, and it also just looks bad — taking up so much space on your lock screen that you can’t see specific notification info without tapping on your notification icons.

To Motorola’s credit, you don’t have to use any of these things. You can delete the pesky folders and the very bad weather app, and you can disable Glance if you don’t want to use it, too. However, not everyone will know how to do these things, and Motorola clearly wants you to interact with them. For the “average” or “normal” smartphone user, they’ll almost certainly install/enable these things and not have any idea how to get rid of them.

Motorola needs to fix this

Joe Maring / Digital Trends

What makes these issues particularly frustrating this time around is just how good the rest of the Moto G Stylus 5G (2024) is. The Moto G 5G and Moto G Power 5G from earlier this year were also plagued with bad hardware, so it’s not like lacking updates or ad-filled apps were the final nail in the coffin for them.

I’d love to wholeheartedly recommend the new Moto G Stylus, because almost everything about the phone is excellent for its $400 price. But because of the virtually nonexistent updates and the numerous advertisement junk, my recommendation of the phone has to come with a couple of big caveats. Are you OK with your phone only getting one major Android update? Are you OK with security updates taking a while to arrive? Are you OK with ads and bloatware snuck into every little crevice of the phone?

This is all the more annoying because of how relatively easy these things would be to fix. Picking good hardware components, compiling them in a well-made body, and slapping it with a competitive price? That’s the hard part! And Motorola has shown it can exceed at that. By comparison, extending software support and not littering people’s phones with junk is dead simple — yet Motorola shows no desire to change its ways.

Joe Maring / Digital Trends

I want to keep recommending Motorola phones, especially when the company creates ones as good as the new Moto G Stylus. But when it has such a clear solution to fix these few lingering problems and repeatedly refuses not to — and its competition steers clear of these things — the less I’ll want to tell someone to spend their money on a new Motorola phone.

If Motorola doesn’t respect your time or money with its poor update policies and obtrusive ads, why should you do the same for it?

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