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Motorola Moto G34 5G review: Cheap 5G but not much else

Motorola Moto G34 5G review
Our Rating :
£139.00 from
Price when reviewed : £150
inc VAT

Despite a couple of strong points, the Moto G34 5G ultimately wilts in the shadow of the superior, and only slightly pricier, Moto G54 5G

Pros

  • The most affordable 5G Moto yet
  • Solid performance and battery life
  • Decent main camera

Cons

  • The design feels cheap
  • Mediocre 720p display
  • The Moto G54 5G is only £20 more

The Motorola Moto G34 5G holds the distinction of being the brand’s cheapest handset yet to offer 5G connectivity. While all of the best smartphones support 5G by now, it’s still not guaranteed on phones this cheap, so that in and of itself is a point in the G34 5G’s favour.

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot else to get excited about here. Just about everything that the Moto G34 5G does well has been done better by other budget phones – including several superior handsets from within Motorola’s own lineup.


Motorola Moto G34 5G review: What you need to know

5G connectivity isn’t the only thing that the Moto G34 5G has borrowed from its older siblings. The Snapdragon 695 5G processor is the exact same chipset used in the pricier Moto G84 5G, though it’s paired here with a lower 4GB of RAM and 128GB of onboard storage. The battery is a 5,000mAh unit, like most recent Motos, supporting charging speeds up to 18W.

The rear cameras are dead ringers for the lenses on the Moto G53 5G – warts and all. That means we’ve got a solid 50MP (f/1.8) main camera, backed up by a less-impressive 2MP (f/2.4) macro shooter. The selfie camera is a little different, with a higher pixel count than the G53 5G (16MP, as opposed to 8MP) but a narrower aperture of f/2.4. The lens sits beneath the 6.5in LCD display, which again has the same 720p resolution and 120Hz refresh rate as the Moto G53 5G.

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Motorola Moto G34 5G review: Price and competition

Launching for £150, the Moto G34 5G is on the cheaper end of the budget Moto G range. Motorola has a firm grip on this corner of the market, so we’ve got a big stack of cheap Motos from the past year or so as competition.

At the top of that pile is the Motorola Moto G54 5G, which I reviewed with a full five stars and our Best Buy award. At the time of writing, this is our favourite budget smartphone, thanks to the quality of its design, an excellent display, surprisingly competent cameras and the performance it offers for the money (originally £180 but it’s currently just £159).

The aforementioned Moto G53 5G is cannily similar to the Moto G34 5G, but as it’s a generation behind, it can be picked up for a fair bit less (£118 on Amazon at time of writing). Finally, we’ve got a challenger from Nokia in the G42 5G, which offers decent performance and battery life, as well as an easily repairable design, but is a little pricier at £175.

Motorola Moto G34 5G review: Design and key features

I’ve previously been impressed with the clean aesthetic that these budget Motos have been able to achieve at such low prices but there’s something off about the Moto G34 5G. For starters, the build as a whole is on the chunky side. The lack of contouring on the rounded plastic edges makes it feel more bloated in the hand than the Moto G54 5G, and further accentuates the already prominent bezels around the display.

The G34 5G’s puffy plastic camera bump isn’t particularly attractive either, especially after seeing classier, low-profile aluminium housings on most of the recent Motos. I also preferred the slight contrast that the metal brought, whereas the plastic here is exactly the same colour as the rest of the rear. My model came in Ice Blue with a frosted plastic rear plate, but there’s also Charcoal Black and a vegan leather-coated Ocean Green.

In terms of features, at least, it’s business as usual for a budget Moto. The left edge houses the SIM-tray, which caneithe take two nano-SIMs or one SIM and a microSD card up to 1TB in capacity. The bottom edge is where you’ll find the USB-C port and 3.5mm headphone jack, while the right is home to the volume rocker and power button. The latter doubles as the fingerprint reader and the selfie camera also allows for face unlocking.

Aside from being an Android generation ahead, the software is identical to the G54 5G, for better and worse. That means a clean(ish) installation of Android with minimal bloatware – though the Temu app and a handful of mobile games are pushing it – but also disappointing software support. The G34 5G runs Android 14 out of the box and will get three years of security patches but only one OS update, bringing it to Android 15 later this year.

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Motorola Moto G34 5G review: Display

I’ve got a few criticisms with the display but first, let’s look at the positives. Both the black and contrast levels on this 6.5in IPS panel are better than I’d expect for this price, measuring 0.19cd/m2 and 2,128:1, respectively. Brightness is decent, too, hitting 413cd/m2 in my testing, and the 120Hz refresh rate carries over from the pricier Motos. Unfortunately, the 1080p resolution doesn’t carry over, so you’re left with a weaker 1,600 x 720 resolution and a measly pixel density of 270ppi.

Colour accuracy isn’t great, either. On the Natural colour profile (you’ve also got a Vivid setting that ups the saturation), I measured a fairly limited sRGB gamut coverage of 87.4%, with a total volume of 93.3%. The average Delta E colour variance score came back at 1.89, which isn’t horrific for a phone of this price, but it’s a fair way off the target of 1 and worse than the G54 5G’s result of 1.09. Most colours still looked fine but I did notice the odd red shade looking washed out.


Motorola Moto G34 5G review: Performance and battery life

The octa-core 2.2GHz Snapdragon 695 5G chipset here feels like Motorola had a handful of spares lying around – leftovers, perhaps, from the Edge 30 Neo or G84 5G –  as you don’t tend to see it on phones this cheap. As such, the Moto G34 5G performs well for its price, with similar single- and multi-core benchmark results to the G53 5G and G84 5G. 

The Moto G54 5G is still the better performer, with a 20% lead in the multi-core results, but the G34 5G is decent enough that you shouldn’t encounter any lagging or extended pauses when scrolling and jumping between apps.

Motorola Moto G34 5G review

The lower-resolution display gives the G34 5G a disproportionately high result in the on-screen GPU benchmarks – it’s the same case with the Moto G53 5G and Nokia G42 5G – but the off-screen scores in orange are more important here. As you can see, the G34 5G is much more in line with rivals on that front.

In practice, this GPU isn’t about to deliver seamless 3D gameplay, but the simple games that come preinstalled on the G34 5G (Candy Crush, Monopoly, Solitaire and the like) run well enough. 

Motorola Moto G34 5G review

Battery life on the recent batch of budget Motos has been consistently good and the G34 5G doesn’t break the streak. Lasting for 23hrs 3mins in our standard looping video test, the G34 5G sits parallel with the G53 5G and outpaces the G54 5G and G23 by a couple of hours. 

The Nokia G42 5G and Motorola Moto G84 5G both eke out a little more stamina, with the latter in particular being the best choice here for battery life, but this is still a good showing for the G34 5G.

Motorola Moto G34 5G review

Bizarrely, the Moto G34 5G also has marginally higher charging speeds than the G54 5G (18W compared to 15W). It’s not enough to be a game changer, however, still taking over an hour to juice the battery up from empty.

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Motorola Moto G34 5G review: Cameras

The 50MP (f/1.8) main camera has been a mainstay of the budget Motos recently, and it’s decent enough that I don’t have a problem with it showing up again. In good lighting, images are colourful and bright enough, though some of those red shades are a little oversaturated for my tastes.

Motorola Moto G34 5G review

The camera also does a reasonably good job at brightening up low-light scenes, but the lack of any kind of stabilisation hurts the level of detail, delivering fuzzy, unimpressive images.

Motorola Moto G34 5G review

There’s little joy to be had with the 2MP (f/2.4) macro camera, either. The detail is hazy in a few places and the background blur is as rough as sandpaper.

Motorola Moto G34 5G review

Video is as basic as it gets, shooting in 1080p at 30fps. There’s no stabilisation to speak of, and it’s fairly noticeable with the amount of sway in the footage.


Motorola Moto G34 5G review: Verdict

The Moto G34 5G represents just about everything that frustrates me about Motorola. On the surface, it’s got a good hook – cheap 5G, in this case – but looking a little deeper reveals a litany of baffling design choices that also throws the rest of the lineup into chaos. When the £150 phone performs the same as the £249 one, or lasts longer than the £190 model, it muddies the waters and makes it harder for consumers to make clear and informed choices.

The end result here is that the Moto G34 5G ultimately sinks into that muddy water, failing to make a convincing case for its existence. If you came here looking for the cheapest 5G phone possible, hop back a generation and get the Moto G53 5G instead; it’s broadly similar but even more affordable (£118 at the time of writing). Otherwise, the Moto G54 5G is still the best budget phone you can buy. It’s only £40 more than the G34 5G (at the time of writing) and offers a whole other class of cheap smartphone.

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