The cheaper end of the smartphone market is getting increasingly crowded, but Motorola’s latest effort, the Moto G31, is keen to carve out a place among the best budget phones. It doesn’t entirely succeed thanks to being respectable if unremarkable, but it’s certainly cheap at $200 / £170 (around AU$280).
As it lacks 5G, it’s a complete miss for anyone looking for a budget 5G phone, and there are certainly similar offerings out there that provide it. But if you’re not too concerned about 5G, you could do a lot worse than the Moto G31.
This is aided by the fact that the Moto G31 offers a relatively clean Android experience. Besides using Moto gestures, it’s a pretty pure form of Android 11, which is certainly appreciated.
Elsewhere, a competent but unremarkable camera array means you’ll get reasonably sharp images even if the color is a bit off. Don’t count on a great macro lens here, but its wide and ultra-wide lenses are good enough, with HDR doing its best.
The Moto G31 is available in Baby Blue or Mineral Grey. It’s the build of the phone that you’re likely to enjoy the most. Offering curved edges and a textured back, it’s comfortable to hold and secure in our hands too.
The phone’s 6.4-inch AMOLED display looks bright and vibrant most of the time, though it lacks a refresh rate above 60Hz. The rest of the build is fairly standard, with volume, power and a fingerprint reader on the right edge of the phone.
A 5,000mAh battery also comes in handy, as it lasts reasonably long, but don’t rely on fast charging. We found the phone to be quite slow to come back to full power, but at least you won’t need to recharge too often.
Performance is equally slow. The Moto G31 is powered by a MediaTek Helio G85 chipset with 4GB of RAM, and while it’s not the slowest of phones, it’s still abysmal if you expect too much.
Despite that, there’s a certain sense of reliability in the Moto G31. It certainly won’t blow your mind, but if you’re looking for a cheap and capable phone, it gets the job done.
The lack of 5G and wireless charging, along with lackluster performance, means this isn’t a phone for the future, but for a cheap buy right now you could do a lot worse.
Moto G31 price and availability
- Available now in the US and UK
- Sells for $200/£170 (around AU$280)
- Two color choices
The Moto G31 is available in the US and UK, starting at $200 / £170. It’s not yet available in Australia, but price conversions put it at around AU$280. The Moto G31 is available from many third-party retailers as well as direct from Motorola.
It’s only recently launched as of this writing, so there aren’t any discounts yet, but it seems likely that we’ll see some price cuts down the road. Two color combinations are available – baby blue and mineral grey. It is also possible to buy it with 64 GB of internal storage or 128 GB.
- plastic body
- No significant water resistance
- Comfortable grip
The Moto G31 feels great in your hands. Even in this reviewer’s fairly small hands, the phone feels comfortable. That’s thanks to a textured back with curved edges, so it’s simple to grip. It’s also relatively slim at 8.6mm, with full measurements of 161.9 x 73.9 x 8.6mm. Weighing in at 181g also means it’s not a heavy phone either.
We had the mineral gray model to review, and it looks pretty classy. It might have a plastic body, but it doesn’t look like it. Instead, he looks pretty smart.
The right side of the phone is the “action” side. On this side you will find buttons for volume and power, as well as the fingerprint reader. The latter might have been more comfortable on the back, but that means the rear of the phone looks minimalist enough, save for the camera lenses in the top left corner.
The textured plastic body also means there’s no risk of fingerprints, so it looks good no matter how long you’ve been using it. A punch-hole at the top of the display offers the lens for the selfie camera, but it really takes up the bare minimum of space – it’s literally just the lens.
At the bottom, there’s the USB-C charging port and a speaker. There’s no headphone jack on this budget phone, alas.
There’s minimal water resistance too, with a mere IPX2 rating meaning you don’t want it near water if you can help it.
- 6.4-inch AMOLED screen
- 1080×2400 resolution
- Bright colors
Thanks to its AMOLED screen, the Moto G31 offers fairly bright colors and deep blacks. It’s ideal for watching Netflix or the like, capturing all the colors the way you want.
A reasonably crisp 1080 x 2400 resolution also helps, although the lack of a 90Hz refresh rate is a shame. Still, at this price, it’s hardly surprising that you’re stuck with a typical 60Hz refresh rate, although other brands may offer more. We didn’t notice any considerable visual lag when playing games or watching videos at least.
It could get a bit brighter in direct sunlight, but other than that everything is pretty crisp and exactly what you’d like from this type of phone.
- 50MP + 8MP + 2MP rear camera
- 13MP selfie camera
- Many software features
The Moto G31 has three rear lenses, including one on the front for selfies and video calls. Its main camera has a 50MP sensor, and there’s also an 8MP ultra-wide lens (which also works as a depth sensor when taking Portrait mode photos) and a 2MP macro camera.
As expected, the main camera is the most powerful. For the most part, photos taken in daylight offer natural colors and reasonable dynamic range. Sometimes the HDR makes things a little too vibrant, but it’s certainly eye-catching.
Where things falter is with the other lenses. The ultra-wide can help with portraits, but it produces ultra-wide photos that tend to look a bit blurry.
Blurry is also the theme of low-light photos. Turn on night mode and things get better, and certainly look brighter than you’d expect, but the results don’t always look realistic.
The macro camera is also pretty useless, but that’s often the case with cheaper phones.
Elsewhere, selfies come out pretty well here at least, which ensures this is a fine if nothing special camera.
On the plus side, the Moto G31 offers plenty of great software options that are easily selected as you want to use them.
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Specifications and performance
- Powered by the MediaTek Helio G85
- 64 GB or 128 GB of storage
- Poor performance
The Moto G31 uses the MediaTek Helio G85 chipset, which is fine. Simply old good. It’s backed by 4GB of RAM, so it’s far from a fast phone, but it’s not the slowest either.
It’s not really a phone for multitasking, but it can do that in a pinch. Likewise, intensive gaming can take a while and the phone can get quite hot, but it works.
In our Geekbench 5 tests, the Moto G31 earned a single-core score of 345, which is pretty low but beats the likes of the aging Xiaomi Redmi Note 7. The multi-core score sounded slightly better at 1,311, but still could only beat the likes of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 7.
Motorola’s phone, the Moto G9 Power, is about the same at 311 and 1,371, but it’s also older.
The Moto G31 comes with Android 11 as standard and is fairly space-saving. The only additions here are Motorola’s Moto Actions – which are often useful gesture controls, and a few other minor tweaks, but the additions are easy enough to overlook and don’t take up much space.
It’s possible to buy the Moto G31 in 64GB or 128GB versions, with the latter costing a bit more.
- 5000mAh battery
- No wireless charging support
- Slow loading
The Moto G31 has a 5,000mAh battery, which means it lasts a few days without too much trouble unless you use it a lot.
That’s lucky because recharging is quite slow at 10W, and there’s no wireless charging support. So it’s not the most convenient device to charge, but at least with such high battery life, it’s not something you have to do too often.