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The Moto G30 is a low-cost Android phone that sits one step above the entry-level G10. Is it worth your money? Here's our verdict.
The Moto G30 is a sensible buy for someone after an affordable Android, without needing a lightning-fast camera or ultra-vivid display.
The Motorola Moto G30 is the kind of phone someone not keen on researching gadgets too much might buy. Reliable brand? Check. Low price? Check. Enough techy bits and bobs? Sure. But you’re reading this, so you must be up for a little legwork. How does the Moto G30 really stack up?
It’s a sound deal. The Moto G30 is not perfect, but there are some surprising extras here considering it costs just £160. It has a 90Hz screen and 64-megapixel camera – big numbers. We’ll get onto what they actually mean later.
The Moto G30 lacks a little of the surface-level shine of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 9. Its screen resolution is slightly low, colour isn’t as vibrant, and the camera is on the slow side. But to see a significant step up in quality, you need to spend an extra £40-50.
We imagine you want a Moto G30 because £50 means a lot; rather than just being a marginal extra cost that you can shrug off.
The Moto G30 is a sensible buy for someone after an affordable Android, someone who doesn’t demand a lightning-fast camera or ultra-vivid display.
Price: £159.99 (RRP)
The Moto G30 is available from Motorola for £159.99. The handset is available on Amazon in Smoke Black (£134.40), Dark Pearl (£179.92) and Pastel Sky (£158.99).
The Moto G30 is a budget Android phone that sits one step above the entry-level Moto G10.
The Moto G30 costs £159.99 with 4GB RAM and 128GB storage. You’ll pay an extra £20 to increase the RAM to 6GB. That seems a sound deal when you look at the upgrade prices of more expensive phones, but it also takes you a little too close to phones around £200 that are more capable all-round, like the Poco X3 NFC.
Value for money is the Motorola Moto G30’s whole reason to exist. It’s the kind of Android you might buy to escape from long, expensive contracts.
There are a few compromises, but the savings over a top-end or even mid-range Android are immense. We think you get even better value from some Chinese brands like Xiaomi and Realme, but there’s not a great deal in it.
The Moto G30 has two surprising features, given how little it costs. These are the 64-megapixel camera and a 90Hz screen. We’ll deal with the camera in its own section later on.
What’s special about a 90Hz screen? Most phones, including all iPhones, can change what their screen displays 60 times a second. The Moto G30 cranks this up to 90 times per second, which works wonders on the scrolling app drawer. It just looks much smoother here than in just about every other 60Hz phone close in cost.
A high refresh rate is the cherry on top of a super-powered phone, one that adds significantly to the sense of slick immediacy. The Moto G30 isn’t one of those super-powered phones, though.
There are little pauses when, say, you open up an app or bring up the settings menu. Still, it’s nice to have that extra hit of scrolling smoothness even if the entire phone is not flawlessly fast.
The Moto G30 uses a rear fingerprint scanner to let you unlock the phone securely without a pin or password. Again, this is not lightning-fast like the scanners of the best £500 phones, but it is pretty reliable.
What should you take from this? We settled into the slightly slower pace of the Moto G30 within 48 hours. But if you are switching from a flagship phone from 2-3 years ago, you may find the G30 slightly slow. But only slightly: this is still a big performance upgrade over the cheaper Moto G10.
Its performance is in line with the price, and this stands for gaming too. You can play some rather high-end games very well, like racer Asphalt 9. Fortnite, which is one of the toughest Android games to run well, is more of a struggle for the Moto G30. At least you get loads of space for games. 128GB is an excellent amount for a cheap phone.
There are a few compromises in display quality too. This is a 6.5-inch 720p screen, not as sharp as the 1080p kind you get in a Realme 5 Pro or Xiaomi Redmi Note 9.
Colour is slightly subdued, and maximum brightness is just OK, as is to be expected when you spend a bit less.
We could still see the preview image clear enough when out shooting photos, but the Moto G30 isn’t as bright as most phones from one class up, despite that fancy 90Hz refresh rate. Despite good contrast, the difference between the darkest blacks and the brightest whites, this screen doesn’t ‘pop’ quite as much as a good 1080p screen.
The Moto G30 has a 5000mAh battery, like most of the other recent G-series phones. This is quite large, designed to ensure you get a full day’s use at the very least.
You can get that too, often with at least 30% charge left, as long as you keep the screen to 60Hz refresh rate or use the Auto mode. With the screen at 90Hz 24/7, we found it was a little too easy to nearly drain the battery completely in a day.
To be honest, we set it to that mode accidentally. There’s no real benefit to making the screen work harder all day long. Bought a Moto G30 already? You can check your current mode in Settings > Display > Advanced > Display Refresh Rate.
Motorola says the Moto G30 has fast charging, but it’s not tremendously quick. A 30-minute charge gets you from flat to 30-odd percent, well below the 55-65%, you get with the fast-charging Xiaomi phones at around £200, like the Poco X3 NFC.
We don’t love using the Moto G30 camera compared to some other £150-200 phones, and the reason has nothing to do with photo quality. The Motorola Moto G30 often suffers from a bit of shutter lag.
This is where the actual image capture happens a short while after you press the button. It slows down the experience and may mean you get a blurred shot if you’re not careful.
However, this may happen because the Moto G30 has a pretty advanced camera for something this affordable. It’s a 64-megapixel sensor that combines four pixels in the camera to make one in the image. This happens every time you take a picture, so the phone has to do a fair amount of work to construct each picture. And it doesn’t have an ultra-high-end ‘brain’ to do the work.
We noticed this, particularly when capturing photos in lower light. Head straight to the gallery, and you’ll have to wait for a bit while the Moto G30 prepares its masterpiece. These delays become less noticeable in phones at around £200 and up.
So, are the Moto G30’s photos masterpieces? They pack in a lot of detail, as you’d hope, given the phone has such high-resolution hardware. Day-lit shots even hold up pretty well when you zoom right down into the pixels. Not bad for £160, right?
In dim lighting, the Moto G30 does its best, but you just don’t see the same kind of fine detail and texture detail as a great £200 phone like the Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC. And while there’s a mode made specifically for night photography, called Night Vision, this still leaves images looking fairly soft.
We don’t expect anything else at £160. The Moto G30 performs just fine for the money and will net you some lovely images if you take the time to compose them properly.
The second camera is an 8-megapixel ultra-wide. Details that look sharp through the main camera become quite fuzzy through this camera’s eyes, but all budget phones show a drop in quality from the main camera to the secondary one.
And, like so many sub-£200 quad-camera phones, the Moto G30’s two other cameras are poor. A 2MP macro takes close-up shots, but image quality is too crude to bring out the fine detail we’re after. The last camera is used solely to work out how close or far objects in the scene are.
The Portrait mode uses this information to help it blur out the background. A low-quality depth sensor means the Moto G30 often blurs out parts it shouldn’t in more complicated scenes. But there is a real benefit.
You can take blurred images of anything, where it would probably only be able to handle faces without the depth camera — using face/head recognition software.
Video capture is basic. You can only shoot clips at Full HD resolution. There’s no 4K option here. And while you have a choice of frame rates, 30 or 60 per second, stabilisation is only available at 30fps. Without stabilisation, your videos will look juddery.
Is the Moto G30 camera good enough considering its cost? Yes, we just wish it felt a bit more nimble in use.
If you are a long-standing fan of the Moto G series, we have some bad news. While Motorola used to put lovely curved glass backs onto these phones a few years ago, they are all plastic these days.
Aside from a lightly glistening, almost petrol-like finish, there’s nothing too ambitious to see here. Motorola hasn’t tried to make the Moto G30 look like a glass phone. It’s a single-layer, mostly matt finish, one that sparkles purple at most angles and a blue-ish green in a few oblique ones.
The phone also has a teardrop notch, a design rarely seen in higher-end phones these days. Tight little punch hole cameras are the preferred style in 2021. But it only matters if you don’t like the look of the smooth little display cutout at the top. We think it looks just fine.
Don’t come expecting a small phone either, which may seem the congruent thing at £160. The Moto G30 is a mid-size Android. Like other Moto G mobiles, it’s slightly thick at 9.1mm, and the 75mm-and-change width isn’t ultra-svelte. We think this is only an issue if you like small phones specifically, though.
The Moto G30’s software is extremely easy to bed into. We didn’t feel the need to dig into the Settings to make even a single interface tweak, and Motorola deliberately keeps things vanilla-looking. Its main addition is Peek Mode, which makes ‘recent notification’ icons appear when you pick the G30 up while it’s locked.
Setup is a cinch too. The process takes you through logging into your Google account and restoring apps from your current phone if it’s an Android.
The Moto G30 is a sound, no-nonsense budget phone. Its performance in every area is solid, even if there are little issues to deal with in each.
It can play most games well, but general navigation isn’t quite as nippy as that of phones one step up. The main camera is detailed but does feel a little slow to capture images. Its screen is of a good size and has an unusually high refresh rate. You just have to put up with less than stellar colour and sharpness.
Add it all up, and what do you get? A good phone for someone after an affordable Android who doesn’t expect their £160 phone to feel exactly like a £500. And that’s fair enough, although if you are tempted by the slightly more expensive £180 version of the Moto G30, we’d suggest a jump to a different £200 phone. It’s likely to feel more responsive and should have a more punchy display.
Overall rating: 3.5/5
For more smartphone reviews and the latest news, head to the RadioTimes.com Technology section. Still hunting for a low-cost handset? Check out our reviews of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro, Moto G 5G Plus and the Nokia 3.4.