Moto G Power (2021) Review

Three-day battery life and decent performance for the price

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3.8

Motorola Moto G Power (2021)

Moto G Power (2021)

Jeremy Laukkonen

What We Like
  • Fantastic battery life

  • Good price

  • Power button fingerprint sensor

What We Don't Like
  • Subpar performance

  • No NFC

  • No wireless charging

  • Shadowy display

The Moto G Power (2021) has a massive battery and long battery life to match, but it lacks power in other areas.

3.8

Motorola Moto G Power (2021)

Moto G Power (2021)

Jeremy Laukkonen

We purchased the Moto G Power (2021) so our reviewer could put it to the test. Keep reading for the full product review.

The Moto G Power (2021) is a budget-range phone that turns in decent performance, sports a pretty good-sized screen, and has enough battery power to go three days without a charge. It rounds out the 2021 Moto G lineup, which also includes the cheaper and less powerful Moto G Play and the larger, more powerful Moto G Stylus.

While the Moto G Power (2021) looks decent enough on paper when you just weigh specifications against cost, it’s in a bit of a weird spot if you look at its pedigree. The 2021 refresh of the Moto G Power hit shelves just nine months after the Moto G Power (2020), and it isn’t an across-the-board upgrade.

The 2021 Moto G Power has a bigger display and better main camera, but the display resolution is lower, the processor is weaker, and it has mono instead of stereo speakers, along with other oddities. Motorola clearly decided to go a different direction with the Moto G Power for its 2021 iteration, opting for lower specs and a correspondingly lower price tag.

Curious as to how that plays out in the real world, I stuck my trusty Google Pixel 3 in a drawer, dropped a SIM in a Moto G Power (2021), and used it as my primary phone for about a week. I tested everything from call quality to overall performance, battery life, and more.

My overall impression is that it’s a good value for the price, but anyone who already owns the 2020 version of the hardware will probably want to take a pass.

Design: Plastic and glass, but it doesn’t feel cheap

The Moto G Power (2021) is built on a plastic frame, with a plastic back and glass front. This is the first, and most noticeable, departure from the 2020 version, which featured an aluminum frame. It feels sturdy, with no noticeable flex or ugly gaps, and it looks nice enough, but you can tell that you’re holding plastic in your hand.

My review unit came in Polar Silver, which is basically just a smooth silver frame and a slightly textured silver back, but it’s also available in Blue and Flash Gray.

The big 6.6-inch display dominates the front of the phone, with fairly thin bezels around the sides and top. Those three sides are pretty uniform, which is made possible by the small pinhole camera that removes the need for a thicker bezel or teardrop. The chin is a bit thicker, but not as thick as the one on the Moto G Play. The screen-to-body ratio is pretty good overall, and a marginal improvement over the last generation.

The frame's left side features a SIM drawer that also doubles as a microSD card tray, while the volume rocker and power button are both located on the right side. The power button also pulls double duty as a fingerprint sensor. It’s a convenient placement, and I found it easy to unlock the phone with my thumb.

Moto G Power (2021)

Jeremy Laukkonen

The top of the phone houses a 3.5mm audio jack, and that’s it. Down on the bottom edge, you’ll find a USB-C port and six holes that serve as the speaker grill.

Flip the phone over and you’ll find the camera array located near the top and nicely centered. It includes three sensors and the flash oriented in a square formation, and stands out from the back of the phone just a bit. Since it’s centered, the phone still feels pretty steady when set down on its back.

Display Quality: Nice screen size, but the resolution isn’t great

The Moto G Power (2021) received a nice screen size bump compared to the previous generation, with a 6.6-inch display compared to the old 6.4-inch panel, but it’s a downgrade in every other way.

The resolution is just 1600 x 720, yielding a 266ppi pixel density. The last Moto G Power had a 2300 x 1080 display, so Motorola clearly decided to scale back in this area to help meet the lower price point.

The display is very bright, with a sharp picture and great color accuracy. It gets a bit dim in direct sunlight outdoors, but I was still able to see the display even in those conditions. The screen looks great in all indoor lighting conditions. Whether playing games like Genshin Impact, or streaming videos from YouTube and Netflix, the display was nice and clear.

The Moto G Power (2021) received a nice screen size bump compared to the previous generation, with a 6.6-inch display compared to the old 6.4-inch panel, but it’s a downgrade in every other way.

Unfortunately, the display does have a bit of a shadow issue. It’s mostly noticeable with the brightness at about 70 percent, at which point you’ll begin seeing very distinct shadows around the edge of the display and also around the camera pinhole. The effect is less noticeable with the brightness turned all the way up, but I was still able to see shadows when viewing the screen at extreme angles.

It’s a decent enough display for a phone at this price point, but I prefer the shadow-less 1080p panel that I remember from my time with the 2020 Moto G Power.

Performance: Mows through productivity tasks, but isn’t great for gaming

Motorola cut corners here, too. While the Moto G Stylus (2021) received a moderate upgrade in the chip department compared to its predecessor, the Moto G Power did not. The Moto G Power (2021) features a Snapdragon 662, while the previous version had a Snapdragon 665.

These are similar chips as they share the same GPU and turn in nearly identical benchmarks, so it seems like more of a sidegrade than a legitimate downgrade, but that’s still not the direction I want to see a once-great phone like the Moto G Power go.

Despite the anemic chipset, I don’t have any complaints in terms of basic use and productivity. I had the Moto G Power (2021) as my primary phone for a week, using it to browse the web, stream video, send emails and texts, and other basic productivity tasks, and I never had any trouble with slowdown or lag. Menus are snappy and most apps launch quickly, although some take longer to load than others.

To get some hard numbers, I ran a few benchmarks. I started with the Work 2.0 benchmark from PCMark, which is designed to see how well a phone will handle productivity tasks. The results more or less agreed with my real world experience, with the phone turning in scores that were decent enough, though not extremely impressive. It notched an overall score of 6,086, putting it squarely between the lower-end G Play and the more powerful G Stylus.

For more specific tasks, the Moto G Power scored 5,873 in web browsing, which is better than the G Stylus. Scores of 6,773 in writing, 5,257 in data manipulation, and 11,607 in photo editing are all solid results for a phone in this price range, though lower than the G Stylus, and significantly lower than a more expensive handset like the Motorola One 5G Ace. 

The Moto G Power (2021) is a great phone for getting work done without having to worry about plugging it in, and you can even expect to get in some casual gaming if you find yourself with some downtime.

I also ran a number of gaming benchmarks from 3DMark and GFXBench. The Moto G Power didn’t fare well on the 3DMark benchmarks, managing just 2.2 FPS in the Wild Life benchmark and 12.1 FPS in the Sling Shot benchmark. It did just a little better on the GFXBench Car Chase benchmark, managing 13 FPS, but that’s still an unimpressive result. In the less intense T-Rex benchmark, it managed a much more acceptable 49 FPS.

Beyond the benchmarks, I also played a couple real games on the Moto G Power. First up, I installed Mihoyo’s open-world, gacha-powered, adventure game Genshin Impact, which features beautiful visuals and fast-paced gameplay. It didn’t run that well.

The initial load was really slow, and I also noticed excessive load time every time I teleported. I also ran into more slowdown and frame drops than I’m really comfortable with. While I was able to knock out my dailies during my week with the phone, the one time I took on a boss I ended up having a character die during a particularly long bit of slowdown.

I also loaded up the more lightweight racing game Asphalt 9, which is well optimized for mid-range phones. It ran a whole lot better, with only a few dropped frames, and nothing bad enough to rob me of a deserved win.

The takeaway here is that the Moto G Power (2021) is a great phone for getting work done without having to worry about plugging it in, and you can even expect to get in some casual gaming if you find yourself with downtime. If you’re looking for a gaming phone though, this probably isn’t going to satisfy.

Connectivity: Great speeds on both LTE and Wi-Fi

The unlocked version of the Moto G Power (2021) supports GSM, CDMA, HSPA, EVDO, and LTE for cellular connectivity, and dual-band 801.11ac for Wi-Fi. It also supports Bluetooth 5.0 for wireless local device connectivity and includes a USB-C port for wired connectivity. Unfortunately, there’s no NFC support.

I used the G Power with a Google Fi SIM on T-Mobile towers at home and around town, and with a gigabit cable internet connection from Mediacom at home. Call quality was great on both connections, for both cellular and Wi-Fi calling: crystal clear and with no difficulties hearing or being heard.

Cellular data speeds were right in line with what I got out of the previous model, hitting a maximum download speed of about 30 Mbps. Your mileage will vary there, of course, based on which network you use and coverage in your area.

For Wi-Fi connectivity, I connected to my gigabit internet via an Eero mesh Wi-Fi system and checked the speed at various distances from the router with the beacons shut off. At the time of testing, I measured the speed of the connection to be 880 Mbps at the modem.

When held about 3 feet from my router and checked with the Ookla Speed Test app, the Moto G Power managed a top download speed of 314 Mbps, which is marginally faster than the top speed of 305 Mbps I saw from the Moto G Stylus. When checked at about 10 feet from the router in a hallway, the speed dipped just a bit to 303 Mbps.

At about 60 feet on the other side of the house, I saw a maximum download speed of 164 Mbps, which is a bit worse than what I got from the G Stylus. Finally, I took the phone out to my driveway, about 100 feet from the router, and saw a top download speed of 24.2 Mbps.

Overall, the Moto G Power (2021) offers pretty good download speeds on both Wi-Fi and cellular connections. It isn’t too far off from the Moto G Stylus (2021), and far better than a lot of budget phones I’ve tested.

Sound Quality: Just one speaker, but it sounds decent enough

The Moto G Power (2020) had fantastic Dolby stereo sound. In fact, that was one of my favorite things about the phone, after its battery life. Unfortunately, Motorola decided that a single speaker was good enough, and the Dolby setup was sacrificed to hit the lower price point. The result is a sort of hollow sound compared to the previous generation.

Moto G Power (2021)

Jeremy Laukkonen

While it isn’t as good as the previous generation, the sound quality in the Moto G Power (2021) still stacks up favorably against the competition. It gets loud enough to fill a room, and I didn’t notice a whole lot of distortion even when listening at full volume.

It sounds far better than the Moto G Play (2021), and I was able to listen to YouTube Music, stream videos from YouTube and Netflix, and play games without needing to plug in headphones.

Camera and Video Quality: Nice improvement over the last generation

This is an area where the Moto G Power (2021) received an upgrade compared to the previous version. It features the same 48MP main sensor found in the more expensive Moto G Stylus (2021), along with a 2MP macro lens and a 2MP depth sensor. The wide-angle lens from the 2020 version is gone, but it’s still an overall improvement.

Shots taken in good lighting conditions turned out fantastic, but I was also much more satisfied with low light shots than I was when I tested the previous iteration of the hardware. There’s more noise in low light shots than I’d really like to see, but it’s still an improvement, and the Night Vision mode gives you the option to clear up most of that noise in exchange for shots that look a bit overexposed.

Videos taken with the rear camera came out well enough, if highly dependent on the ambient light quality, but they’re limited to 1080p. Despite sporting only a 16MP main sensor, the 2020 G Power was capable of 2160p video.

Moto G Power (2021)

Jeremy Laukkonen

The front selfie cam is an 8MP sensor, down from 16MP last year. Despite the downgrade, I found the selfie cam to work quite well in natural daylight and good indoor lighting conditions. Low light tended to introduce a lot of noise and artifacting, and the front camera doesn’t support Night Vision.

Battery: Big 5,000 mAh power cell will keep you going for days

The battery is the big selling point for the Moto G Power (2021), and it’s a selling point that demands attention. With a relatively economical chipset and a screen that isn’t overly large, the massive battery provides enough juice to keep you going for days. I found that I was able to last about three days between charges, although your mileage will vary depending on usage.

To get a good idea of what this phone is really capable of, I turned off Bluetooth, disconnected from the cellular network, connected to Wi-Fi, and set it to stream YouTube videos nonstop. Under those conditions, the Moto G Power (2021) ran for about 17 hours before it finally shut down. The G Play actually lasted a bit longer, probably because it uses the exact same battery with a lower-powered processor, but it’s definitely into three day territory anyway.

With a relatively economical chipset and a screen that isn’t overly large, the massive battery provides enough juice to keep you going for days.

The Moto G Power (2021) supports up to 15W charging, which is an improvement over both the Moto G Play and the previous version of the G Power, both of which were limited to 10W. I’d like to see at least 18W charging on a battery this big, but 15W is a nice start. Unfortunately, Motorola gives you only a 10W charger in the box. Also, there’s still no support for wireless charging.

Software: Android 10 with one guaranteed update

The Moto G Power (2021) ships with Motorola’s flavor of Android 10, which includes their My UX interface. It’s less important here than it is on the Moto G Stylus, but it remains a painless, fairly transparent addition that offers some nice optional features without getting in the way.

The best thing about it is probably Moto Actions, which simplifies a bunch of basic tasks. For example, you can turn the flashlight on by moving the phone in a quick chopping motion, or snap a screenshot by touching the display with three fingers. I find these additions to be quite helpful, but you can always switch them off if you want.

Moto Gametime, which aims to improve your gaming experience, is also included. It’s another optional feature that you can switch off, or even turn on and off for individual games, that adds a little pop-up menu when you’re gaming. The menu gives easy access to settings, screenshots, and more.

The only real issue here is that Android 10 is getting a little long in the tooth. In fact, the previous iteration of the Moto G Power also shipped with Android 10. That means the guaranteed operating system update will get eaten up by the jump to Android 11, and the handset will probably never see Android 12. Some budget handsets don’t even offer one operating system update, but it still would have been nice if the phone had shipped with Android 11 already installed.

Price: Decent for what you get

With an MSRP of $199.99 for the 32GB version, and $249.99 for the 64GB version, the Moto G Power (2021) is priced to sell. A lot of Motorola’s confusing choices make a whole lot more sense when viewed through the lens of making the phone more affordable, and they absolutely hit that mark. Despite the long shadow of its predecessor, the Moto G Power (2021) represents a great value.

Moto G Power (2021)

Jeremy Laukkonen

Moto G Power (2021) vs. Moto G Play (2021)

Due to the way Motorola repositioned the Moto G Power (2021) as a more affordable handset, the question of whether to buy it or the lower-end Moto G Play is very real. The Moto G Play (2021) comes with an MSRP of $169.99, making it just $30 cheaper than the lesser configuration of the Moto G Power. For that price differential, you get a slightly bigger display, better camera, faster charging, and better performance from the G Power.

Crucially, the lower-priced version of the Moto G Power (2021) has only 3GB of RAM and only 32GB of storage, which both line up with the specs of the Moto G Play. With 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, along with a better processor, the more expensive configuration of the G Power is the way to go, if you can fit it in your budget.

Final Verdict

A nice budget phone with a great battery that’s hurt by comparisons with the last generation.

The Moto G Power (2021) is a great budget phone with a good camera, decent performance, and fantastic battery life. It isn’t really an upgrade over the 2020 Moto G Power, but that shouldn’t matter to anyone who doesn’t already own the previous iteration of the hardware. Having been solidly repositioned as an affordable phone with a stellar battery life, the Moto G Power (2021) is a great no-frills option.

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Specs

  • Product Name Moto G Power (2021)
  • Product Brand Motorola
  • MPN PALF0011US
  • Release Date January 2021
  • Weight 7.3 oz.
  • Product Dimensions 6.51 x 2.99 x 0.37 in.
  • Color Blue, Flash Gray, Polar Silver
  • Price $199.99 or $249.99
  • Warranty 1 year
  • Platform Android 10
  • Processor Qualcomm SM6115 Snapdragon 662
  • Display 6.6 inches (1600 x 720)
  • Pixel Density 266ppi
  • RAM 3/4GB
  • Storage 32/64GB internal, microSDXC card slot
  • Camera Rear: 48MP PDAF, 2MP macro, 2MP depth; Front: 8MP
  • Battery Capacity 5,000mAh, 10-15W rapid charging
  • Ports USB-C, 3.5mm audio
  • Sensors Fingerprint, accelerometer, gyroscope, proximity, e-compass, barometer
  • Waterproof No (water-repellent coating)
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