Motorola’s Moto G84 5G Is Yet Another Budget Bargain… Maybe

Motorola’s Moto G84 5G Is Yet Another Budget Bargain… Maybe

Motorola… has a lot of phones. That almost feels like an understatement, because it genuinely feels like I can’t go more than a couple of weeks without the Lenovo-owned brand announcing a new smartphone coming to Australian shores.

Today that model is the Motorola Moto G84. Ask me again in a couple of weeks and it’ll probably be another phone again.

What’s Special About The Moto G84?

Motorola’s G series phones straddle the line between its genuine budget models – that’d be your Moto E series phones – and its slightly fancier Edge series phones. Then again, this is a company that’s currently offering the cheapest new foldable flip phone in the form of the Razr 40, so talking about “budget” gets a little odd here.

At $399 outright, the Motorola Moto G84 is actually one of the more expensive phones within the G-series family, coming hot on the heels of the $299 Moto G54 5G. The G54 5G is also a relatively recent arrival to our shores, and it already casts a wide shadow, because it took what was pretty good about 2022’s G53 5G and fixed just about every problem it had.

So what does the Moto G84 5G offer to make it worth an extra $100 on top?

For a start, there’s the question of finishes. The Moto G84 5G will ship in Australia in either Midnight Blue in a PMMA finish, or Viva Magenta or Marshmallow Blue in Vegan Leather. The Marshmallow Blue will be a JB Hi-Fi exclusive colour. For those of you wondering about vegan leather: it’s an artificial leather substitute, typically made from PVC, although some fancier types do use vegetable waste products instead. For phones, though, it’s mostly just fancy labelled plastic, as is the PMMA Midnight Blue.

I’m willing to guess you didn’t know – and I’m willing to admit that I didn’t – so I looked up what PMMA stands for.  It’s Polymethyl Methacrylate, which somehow sounds a lot scarier than just “plastic”. Again, that’s what it is if you opt for the Midnight Blue model. For once, as far as I can see, we’re not missing out on any colours either locally, which is nice.

Remove that plastic-in-whatever-style-you-like rear casing and you’d invalidate the warranty – this isn’t one of HMD Global’s repairable Nokias – but you’d also find a Snapdragon 695 nestled up against 12GB of RAM and 256GB of onboard storage, expandable via microSD. 12GB of RAM is a lot in this price space, and really nice to see.

On the camera front, it’s packing in a primary 50MP f/1.88 sensor alongside an 8MP f/2.2 118° Ultra-wide sensor, while at the front you’ll be indulging your selfie fetishes with a 16MP f/2.45 sensor.

The intent here – as it is with so many other higher-megapixel sensors – isn’t to shoot 50MP shots per se, but instead use pixel binning to bring in more light and create hopefully better 12.5MP shots by default.

It’s interesting to see Motorola step away from putting 2MP macro sensors on its phones, a trick that just about every budget and mid-range phone maker has indulged in over recent years. If you want macro shots, you’ll be using that 8MP ultra-wide sensor instead. While I’m yet to test out the G84 5G, that’s almost certainly going to be a better bet anyway.

The Moto G84 5G sports a 6.5 inch pOLED display with a resolution of 2400×1080 and refresh rates up to 120Hz. Faster refresh rates have been something of a hallmark of Motorola’s phones in recent years, so it would have been surprising to see that omitted here.

The G84 5G has a 5,000mAh battery that Motorola claims is good for “Over 30 hours of battery life”. I’ll reserve judgment on that score, though it’s interesting to see a phone maker claim an “over” figure rather than the much more rubbery “up to” numbers that most indulge in.

As the name suggests, the Moto G84 5G is 5G capable, but only for sub-6Ghz 5G bands. If you want the sweet, sweet speed of mmWave 5G in Australia, then you’ve got the choice of Google Pixel Pro phones and (checks notes)… yeah, that’s all you’ve got. It would be downright odd if a budget phone broke the mmWave barrier down under.

On the software side, the Motorola Moto G84 runs on Android 13… and that’s it. There’s no mention of upgrade cycles for operating system or security updates, but the warranty runs only 24 months. I’ve reached out to Motorola Australia to see if I can clarify on this score. Motorola hasn’t been the best with Android updates (to put it politely) in recent times, and there’s a lot of pressure here from the likes of Samsung and HMD Global specifically.

Update: As per Motorola Australia, the Moto G84 5G will get three years of bi-monthly security updates, but only one major Android OS upgrade. That’s rather disappointing, given it’s on Android 13 and Android 14 is this year’s iteration of the operating system. I do wish Motorola did more for full OS upgrades for its handsets.

What else could I get in a smartphone for $399?

On the surface, the Moto G84 5G seems like a very good deal, albeit another in a very long line of very good deals from Motorola.

As always, however, you should ask what you can get for the same or similar money. Within the Motorola family, the obvious competitor is the aforementioned Moto G54 5G at $299. You’d save a little dough, but drop down the ultrawide lens to a (sigh) 2MP macro, and swap the Snapdragon 695 and 12GB of RAM for a Dimensity 7020 and 8GB of RAM.

That same $299 price could net you Samsung’s Galaxy A05S with a slightly larger display – but much less RAM at only 4GB – or if you can find one, a Samsung Galaxy A14 for around $379 or so. Oppo’s competition in this space would be phones like the Oppo A78 or Oppo A58 if you like living the ColorOS life. Nokia’s already discounting the repairable Nokia G42 into this kind of price space too, though Asha wasn’t that thrilled with it when she reviewed it.

If you’re more in the iPhone space… then you’re stuck with much older refurbished models, because Apple just doesn’t do “cheap” iPhones at all for new buyers. The value in those devices is somewhat sketchy given their age and ongoing access to iOS updates in any case.

Image: Motorola

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