At a glanceExpert’s Rating
ProsKeenly priced256GB storage120Hz displayFM radio and headphone socketConsSome underwhelming camerasSlow chargingPoor speakersOur Verdict
Offering 5G and 256GB of storage at a price well under £200, Motorola has come out swinging in the battle of the budget phones. The G54 5G may be cheap, but it doesn’t feel like it, and sensible decisions have been made to keep the price down.
The budget phone sector is filled with underpowered handsets that can leave you feeling disappointed about what you just bought. Not so the Motorola Moto G54 5G. It’s not going to trade blows with the latest iPhones or Samsung Galaxys at the top of the rankings, but it also costs less than £200.
Despite this price, the G54 5G feels like something a bit more expensive. It comes with an eight-core processor, 8GB of RAM, a generous 256GB of storage and even a 120Hz refresh rate on the display.
There are laptops out there that aren’t that well specced for more money. There has been some corner-cutting, notably in the screen and cameras, but this is still a good-looking phone at a reasonable price that’s not going to disappoint too many people.
It’s a younger brother to the Moto G84 5G which just squeezes into our budget category at £249.99.
Ian Evenden / Foundry
Design & Build
Slim camera bulge
Bit dull, perhaps
The Moto G54 5G is an extremely businesslike phone. It’s wearing a suit of Midnight blue with little to break its clean lines apart from a briefcase-shaped camera bulge (no flashy round camera cluster as seen on the OnePlus 11 or a triangle like the Fairphone 5’s here) and a simple Motorola logo on the back.
There’s a Dolby Atmos logo on the top of the device, but you can hardly see it, and the other buttons and ports are either hidden away on the bottom of the chassis or only subtly raised.
Nothing sticks out, nothing is colourful (it’s also available in Indigo blue, Glacier blue and Mint green, which may change this, but they’re hardly rose gold) and nothing breaks the mould. The fingerprint scanner is integrated into the power button, so there’s no bright spot on the screen either.
it’s a sophisticated looking phone, and one that will probably age well
Ian Evenden / Foundry
As a result, it’s a sophisticated looking phone, and one that will probably age well – though with three years of security updates, you’ll be looking for a new one by 2027.
It’s noticeably light in the hand, while the flattened sides offer a good grip if you’re using it without a case and the back resists fingerprints well (some colours have a textured back similar to leather). On the back, the camera bulge doesn’t stick out very much, barely raising itself above its smooth, flat surroundings.
It might even be a bit dull, just another matt and glossy rectangle with a camera on each side that you’re not going to be able to pick out from a crowd. Even so, the restrained nature of the design does give it a certain gravitas, and you can always use a case to add a touch of personality.
As with many Motos, there’s no proper IP dust and waterproofing but it does have a water-repellant design.
Screen & Speakers
Full HD+, 120Hz
Only an LCD panel
It’s going to be easy to look down on the G54’s screen for what it’s not. It’s not an OLED or AMOLED, it’s not micro-LED backlit or any of the current screen buzzwords. It’s a plain old IPS LCD, a technology that’s been making perfectly good screens for a very long time and isn’t done yet.
The screen has a resolution of 1080×2400 at 405 ppi, a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz (you can set it to 120Hz, 60Hz for better power usage, and an auto mode that switches between), and a brightness of around 500 nits that’s more than many laptops but still not up there with the best phone screens, and it’s going to be a bit dim in bright sunlight.
Rather than attacking this budget phone for the things it’s not, it should be celebrated for the things it does right. It’s crisp and sharp – small text is no problem to read, the interface is smooth, the colours are fine and there’s a colour mode setting if you want a bit more oomph. It looks a bit unnatural though, especially in faces.
Ian Evenden / Foundry
The bezel that surrounds the screen isn’t too thick, but the screen’s main downside is its reflectivity, especially with light sources nearby.
The speaker works. It’s unclear what the Dolby Atmos logo on the top of the phone actually means beyond the presence of an equalisation app that has little positive effect beyond making it boom a bit, but anyone using the built-in speakers on any phone for listening to music or video is doing themselves a disservice – there’s a headphone socket and Bluetooth 5.3 for that.
The built-in stereo speakers are fine for a phone call, but a pair of decent cans is a must. A wired pair if you want to use the FM radio, which uses the headphone cable as its antenna.
The spec list for the Motorola G54 5G is a pleasant surprise.
Specs & Performance
Plenty of RAM and storage
The spec list for the Motorola G54 5G is a pleasant surprise. It is, after all, a £180 phone. So the eight core MediaTek Dimensity 7020 (two big and four little) processor is good to see, as are the 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, the latter of which can be expanded with a microSD card. There’s Wi-Fi 5 instead of the more up-to-date Wi-Fi 6, which seems to be the only (minor) cut corner here.
In the Geekbench 6 benchmark, which stresses the processor in a set programme of tests and then spits out a number that can be compared across devices, a score of 2335 in the multi-core test puts the G54 5G roughly level with the Realme X2 Pro, a flagship phone from 2019.
Ian Evenden / Foundry
It’s behind the Google Pixel 4 (2019), Samsung Galaxy Note 10 (2019) and OnePlus 7 (also 2019) in this test, and its score is less than half that of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra (2023). It’s a fifth of the price of Samsung’s biggest and best, however, so perhaps around 50% of the performance isn’t too bad a result.
Still, it unlocks snappily, the screen is responsive, and in Mighty Doom – a fast 2D game – there was little sign of slowdown unless there were lots of projectiles on screen, when hitches in the framerate appeared.
Motorola adds a game mode to the OS, called Gametime, which blocks notifications, disables active brightness, and allows fullscreen apps to display around the camera cutout. It’s nice to have, but don’t buy this as primarily a gaming phone.
You may well be buying it for its cellular connectivity because, as the name suggests, the phone supports 5G networks. It’s also Dual-SIM which could be very handy for some users.
Good on bright days
Limited video options
Macro instead of ultrawide
The popularity of the 2Mp macro camera on phones in 2023 is baffling. They serve little purpose, especially with Google’s Magnifier app out there, and take the place of an ultrawide or tele lens that would be more useful. They do have one use – as depth sensors to enable the computational bokeh of portrait mode – but using one as a selling point seems a little outdated, even if it is to cheaply bump the number of cameras.
Ian Evenden / Foundry
Rant over and the 50Mp main sensor on the back of the Motorola G54 5G has image stabilisation and produces 12.6Mp files via pixel binning, and the Motorola website describes the phone as a ‘high quality camera phone’, so expectations were high going into this review.
The results are… not bad. Not great, certainly, but if you feed the camera enough light there’s a lot to like about its images. Go out on an overcast day, or try to take pictures in challenging lighting conditions, and they fall apart in the same way as a lot of phone camera images from cheap devices.
The phone tries to boost the colours too much, oversharpening can creep in, there’s visible noise and the night mode doesn’t add much, especially if your target is moving.
Attempts to trick the phone into producing a silhouette by photographing a tree against a pale sky crushed detail out of the shadows, but there was a reasonable amount of green in the image. The main camera regularly surpassed expectations in good light, though, showing good detail in photos of a frosty car, even picking up fingerprints left in the white layer.
Around the front, the selfie camera punches through the screen, and both its straightforward and portrait mode shots come out fairly well, though once again they’re not a match for the flagship phones’. There’s some smearing of detail if the light’s not bright, but otherwise it acquits itself well, especially in video.
Video is capped at 1080p/30fps from both cameras, which is disappointing but probably good enough for most situations the phone will be used in – it’s not a phone for aspiring filmmakers, but will handle social media clips or video calls well enough. Quality is perfectly decent, once again, as long as you keep the lights on.
Battery Life & Charging
Useful battery life
Charger in box
At 12 hours and 24 minutes of constant use, the Motorola G54 5G put on a good show in the battery life tests, which leaves the screen on and keeps the processor busy with a variety of media and office tasks. This will translate to much longer real-world usage, as the phone can turn the screen off and go into power-saving mode.
There’s a charger in the box, along with a detachable USB-A to C cable. This adapter saw the phone charge by 14% in 15 minutes, but hooking it up to a 60W saw the phone going into a TurboPower mode that warns of the extra heat likely to be generated. This didn’t charge it any quicker than the supplied charger, adding just 15% in 15 minutes as the phone is limited to 15W charging which isn’t exactly turbo speed.
With 256GB of storage to play with you’re not going to run out of space too quickly
Ian Evenden / Foundry
Software & Apps
Almost stock Android
A few unnecessary apps
Lots of storage space
Motorola hasn’t strayed from the Android 13 template too far with the G54 5G, which means there’s no graphics-heavy overlay to slow things down. There’s a refreshing lack of preinstalled junk too, with only Pinterest, TikTok, Booking.com and some games present alongside the Google and Motorola apps.
With 256GB of storage to play with you’re not going to run out of space too quickly unless you fill it with games and video files, so you can afford to experiment with apps and games more than you would with a less spacious phone.
Budget phones aren’t particularly long-lasting when it comes to software with just a basic three years of promised security updates. We expect the G54 5G to get two years of OS updates taking you to Android 15 but this isn’t confirmed.
Price & Availability
Widely available in the UK
Harder to find in the US
The Motorola G54 5G is widely available from electronics retailers such as Motorola, Lenovo, Very, Argos and Currys in the UK, as well as Carphone Warehouse, Amazon and various other websites for £179.99.
In the US, you’ll find it on Newegg, Amazon, Kickmobiles and more, but it’s often shipped from the UK, which can push the price up over the $200 RRP. Walmart sells the phone, but at over $400 it lacks the pricing advantage it enjoys in the UK.
At the UK RRP, this looks like a bit of a bargain, undercutting many competitors with the likes of Nokia and the (more expensive) Samsung Galaxy A14 5G the main rivals.
Check out our chart of the best budget phones for more options.
Should you buy the Motorola Moto G54 5G?
Anyone in the market for a budget phone has a lot of choice at the moment. Nokia, OnePlus, even Samsung have models available that pack a lot of functionality into a cheaper package.
Motorola has tried to one-up its rivals with the G54 5G, adding 256GB of storage, 8GB of RAM, a 120Hz screen, and the all-important 5G data connection to a phone that costs under £200.
While not all of the tech in the phone is right up to date, and the camera can’t match those on more expensive models, this is a phone that should still be useful by the time its three years of updates run out.
Chipset: MediaTek Dimensity 7020
Storage: 256GB + microSD
Screen: 6.5in IPS LCD, 1080×2400 px, 120Hz
Rear camera: 50Mp wide, 2Mp macro
Front camera: 16Mp
OS: Android 13 (three years of security updates)
Connectivity: 5G, Wi-Fi USB-C (2.0), Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC, headphone socket, FM radio
Battery: 5000 mAh