A competent budget handset in its own right, the Moto G53 5G is ultimately undermined by Motorola’s muddled and inconsistent lineup
- Decent performance
- Stylish design
- Excellent battery life
- Underwhelming cameras
- Display could be better
- No IP rating
The Motorola Moto G53 5G is something of a fly in the ointment of the brand’s lineup. Traditionally – albeit not always – the Moto G line is neatly organised numerically, with the higher numbers indicating a more fully featured phone with a more substantial price tag. The Moto G62 is more powerful than the G31, but less than the G100, and so on.
READ NEXT: Best smartphone
While the G53 5G mostly conforms to this pattern, things get a bit muddled when we look at the Moto G23, which the firm launched concurrently. Despite bearing a lower number, the G23 costs £10 more than the G53 5G. And to make matters worse, each phone has a smattering of features that the other lacks.
This blurring of the lines is messy and begs the question: with just £10 between them, which phone is better value? Or do they cannibalise one another to the point where neither is worth buying?
Motorola Moto G53 5G review: What you need to know
Rather than being an upgraded iteration of the previous model, the Moto G53 5G is more of a pared-down version of last year’s Moto G62 5G – our current favourite of the G series. The display is a similar 6.5in IPS panel, but the resolution is 1,600 x 720, rather than 2,400 x 1,080. The refresh rate remains at 120Hz, at least.
The internal components are nearly identical to the G62 5G, with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 Plus processor and 4GB of RAM, though onboard storage has doubled to 128GB. The battery is a 5,000mAh unit, but fast charging is slightly reduced at 10W, compared to the G62 5G’s 15W. However, a compatible charger is bundled in the box. The rear camera array uses the same 50MP main lens and 2MP macro sensor, but drops the ultrawide shooter, while the selfie camera has halved the pixel count to an 8MP lens.
Rounding out the feature list is the return of a 3.5mm headphone jack and twin Dolby Atmos stereo speakers. The phone ships with Android 13 and, in keeping with Motorola’s track record, the installation is as clean as it gets, with neutral layouts and barely any bloatware to speak of.
Motorola Moto G53 5G review: Price and competition
The Moto G53 5G retails for £190, which is £10 less than both the current price of the Moto G23 and the original price of the Moto G62 5G – though, the latter is often on sale for less. This pricing structure essentially puts all three devices in direct competition, with each offering their own strengths and weaknesses.
The G62 5G has the best display, with both a 2,400 x 1,080 resolution and 120Hz refresh rate, as well as a stronger selection of cameras and more powerful CPU. The screen doesn’t get as bright as the G53 5G, however, and it feels cheaper than its newer siblings. The G23, meanwhile, gets 30W fast charging and 8GB of RAM, but performance is weaker and storage can only be expanded up to 512GB, where the other two accept microSD cards up to 1TB.
Outside of Motorola’s stable, our favourite phone in this price range is currently the Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 (£194). The big advantage this handset has over the G53 5G is the display, which uses an AMOLED panel, offering near-perfect contrast and black levels as well as a boosted FHD+ resolution. On the other hand, there’s no 5G and weaker overall performance.
Motorola Moto G53 5G review: Design and key features
Compared to the G62 5G, the Moto G53 5G is quite a design departure, replacing the slightly curved, glossy rear panel with a flat, frosted number that runs fairly bluntly into the plastic edges.
Available in Ink Blue, Pale Pink and Arctic Silver (reviewed here), the back, though plastic, is a decent enough facsimile of glass, making it feel more premium in the hand than the G62 5G. The camera module also gets some tweaks, squeezing the dual lenses into a shorter but wider rectangular housing, made from a stylishly contrasting aluminium.
The right-hand edge is home to the volume and power buttons – the latter of which doubles as a fingerprint reader – while the left holds the SIM tray, which can either take two nano-SIMs or one alongside a microSD card up to 1TB in capacity. The bottom of the phone is where you’ll find the USB-C and 3.5mm ports, located next to the speaker grille.
The display is bordered by slim bezels on the sides, with slightly chunkier black bars on the top and chin. The holepunch selfie camera sits centrally inside the display, just below the top bezel, and can be used for face unlocking. Like the fingerprint reader, this isn’t the fastest out there, but it’s efficient enough for the price.
READ NEXT: Best Android phone
Motorola Moto G53 5G review: Display
The G53 5G’s display is a 6.5in IPS LCD panel, which is the same as both the G62 5G and the G23. It has the same 1,600 x 720 resolution as the G23, but where the latter is capped at 90Hz, the G53 5G is 120Hz, just like the G62 5G (which also has a 2,400 x 1,080 resolution).
The quality of the panel isn’t objectively better or worse than either of its pricier siblings, however. I measured a contrast ratio on the G53 5G of 1,729:1, which is quite a bit better than the G62 5G (1,610:1), and slightly better than the G23 (1,711:1). The G53 5G’s peak brightness of 461cd/m² is bafflingly better than the more expensive variants, and should prove the best to use in direct sunlight.
There are two colour modes to choose from, with the Saturated profile offering more vibrant shades and the Natural setting offering greater colour accuracy. On the latter mode, I measured matching results of 86.9% for both sRGB gamut coverage and volume, but overall accuracy let the side down, with an average Delta E score of 1.79. This is nearly identical to the G23’s score of 1.8, but it’s a little way off the much more acceptable result of 1.17 achieved by the Moto G62 5G.
Motorola Moto G53 5G review: Performance and battery life
The Moto G53 5G runs on the same octa-core 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 Plus 5G chipset as the Moto G62 5G, backed here by 4GB of RAM and 128GB of onboard storage. Despite using mostly the same hardware, the Moto G53 5G doesn’t quite match the power of the Moto G62 5G, falling around 7% behind in the multicore results, despite managing similar single-core scores.
Continuing the frustrating grab bag nature of the Motos’ feature distribution, the G53 5G greatly outperforms the MediaTek Helio G85-powered Moto G23, with leads of 57% in the single-core results and 18% in multicore. The rest of the test group was mostly on a par, with the exception of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 11, which fell 45% behind the G53 5G in the single-core portion of the test.
The Xiaomi also winds up at the rear of the pack in the GFXBench tests, while the G53 5G makes the jump to frontrunner status. The offscreen result of 41fps is matched by both the G50 and G62, but neither manage to hit the G53’s onscreen result of 69fps. The G62 5G’s weaker onscreen performance can be explained by the higher resolution, but purely in terms of frame rates, the G53 5G is top of the pile.
The Moto G53 5G uses a 5,000mAh battery, just like the G23 and G62 5G. The Snapdragon chipset is clearly more power-efficient than the MediaTek here, as the G23 has the weakest overall battery life, but the G53 5G even manages to outpace the G62 5G. The Moto G50 remains the best by a couple of hours, but 23hrs 20mins is still a deeply impressive result for the G53 5G.
It’s a good job that the G53 5G has such excellent stamina, as charging speeds are pretty weedy. Where the Moto G23 supports 30W fast charging, like the G73 5G, and the G62 5G even came bundled with a 15W charger, the Moto G53 5G only supports 10W charging. From empty, the bundled charger can bring the battery to 50% in around an hour, but you’re looking at a little over two hours for a full 100% charge.
Motorola Moto G53 5G review: Cameras
Both the Moto G53 5G and the G73 5G take the triple camera array of the G62 5G and strip it down to a dual system, but they’ve each picked a different lens to jettison. The G73 5G gets the better end of the deal, keeping the functional ultrawide lens, while the G53 5G pairs its 50MP (f/1.8) main lens with the mostly superfluous 2MP (f/2.4) macro sensor.
Considering that this lens felt tacked-on in a triple camera setup, it’s definitely a disappointment as the only alternative lens on offer. The background blur is effective enough in a pinch, but the clarity on the focal point sadly leaves a lot to be desired. In almost all cases, you’re better off using portrait mode, as this at least shoots from the main lens.
The 50MP main camera definitely puts in a better showing than the macro sensor, but it’s not without its own issues. Colour reproduction is comfortably neutral at times, keeping everything feeling realistic in the image, but contrast is often dialled up in places, giving everything a somewhat stylised pop-filter aesthetic.
As with the Moto G62 5G, shooting at night is basically a non-starter. There’s very little in the way of effective artificial brightening, and what does get illuminated is lacking overall definition.
Another area of compromise from the G62 5G is in the video recording. Where the latter can shoot 1080p in either 30 or 60fps, the G53 5G is capped at 30fps. Considering the mere £10 difference between the two phones – and the laundry list of compromises we’ve already covered thus far – this is one of the more egregious omissions in the G53 5G.
READ NEXT: Best phone camera
Motorola Moto G53 5G review: Verdict
Looking at both the Moto G53 5G and Moto G23, I can’t help but feel that Motorola has taken an excellent phone and cleaved it in two, leaving a pair of devices that feel frustratingly close to exceeding the value offered by the Moto G62 5G but ultimately fall short.
The G53 5G manages to put in a strong enough showing across performance, battery life and display quality to be a better overall proposition than the G23, but it still struggles to escape the G62 5G’s shadow.
If you want a budget Moto, the G62 5G is the best bet, with its stronger display, competent battery life and robust camera array. Otherwise, you can get a gorgeous AMOLED display with the similarly priced Xiaomi Redmi Note 11, so long as you don’t mind ditching 5G.