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Motorola Moto G54 5G review: A strong return to form

Our Rating :
£174.99 from
Price when reviewed : 180
inc. VAT

While not a complete home run, the Motorola Moto G54 5G corrects enough of its predecessor’s mistakes

Pros

  • Much-improved display
  • £10 cheaper than predecessor
  • Strong performance for the price

Cons

  • Still no IP rating
  • Poor low-light photography
  • Only one planned OS update

The Motorola Moto G54 5G is something of a course correction. Last year, Motorola’s scattershot release strategy resulted in the Moto G53 5G and the Moto G23 feeling like one decent handset split in two, with neither handset earning a recommendation.

Rather than doubling down on a bad hand, Motorola appears to have taken the criticism on board, because the Moto G54 5G addresses some of the biggest issues I had with the G53 5G. It’s not all positive – software support is especially disappointing – but considering that it’s also £10 cheaper than its predecessor, the Moto G54 5G offers some of the best value for money of any budget phone around.

Motorola Moto G54 5G review: What you need to know

I criticised last year’s Motorola Moto G53 5G for feeling less like its own thing and more like a watered-down version of the previous generation’s Moto G62 5G. In that vein, most of the positive aspects of the Motorola Moto G54 5G feel like the phone is making up for its predecessor’s shortcomings.

The 6.5in display has returned to a 2,400 x 1,080 resolution, after the G53 5G got knocked to a 720p display, and the refresh rate remains a zippy 120Hz. Inside, the G54 5G features a new MediaTek Dimensity 7020 chipset, backed by 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, both of which are double that offered by the G53 5G.

The battery is a 5,000mAh unit again, but charging has been bumped back up to 15W, after the previous model dropped to 10W. The cameras are mostly unchanged, with the same pairing of a 50MP (f/1.8) main lens and 2MP (f/2.4) macro on the rear, and a 16MP selfie shooter, though this one has a slightly narrower aperture of f/2.4.

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Motorola Moto G54 5G review: Price and competition

At £180, the Moto G54 5G actually comes in £10 cheaper than its predecessor – a welcome sight in a landscape overrun with price rises. This corner of the market is very much Motorola’s home turf, with the G53 5G originally launching for £190 (currently £131) and the G73 5G reduced from £270 down to just £189 at the time of writing.

Outside of the Moto family, Nokia has a strong offering in the G42 5G (£174), a comparable budget phone with the added twist of a repairable design, which allows you to replace the battery, screen, charging port and more without voiding the warranty. Our favourite in this price range has long been the Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 (£147), which isn’t as strong a performer as the G54 5G, but makes up for it with a gorgeous AMOLED display.

Motorola Moto G54 5G review: Design and key features

The design of the G54 5G is mostly the same as the G53 5G, but it’s marginally smaller, now measuring 162 x 74 x 8mm and weighing 177g. There are four colours available: the Midnight Blue reviewed here can be picked up at Amazon, as can the vegan leather-backed Indigo Blue model, but you’ll have to go directly to Motorola to find stock for the Glacier Blue and Mint Green varieties.

The physical features are exactly the same, with the USB-C and 3.5mm ports on the bottom, power button (with integrated fingerprint reader) and volume keys on the right, and SIM-tray on the left. This once again has the capacity for dual SIMs, as well as space for a microSD card up to 1TB in capacity, and the dual stereo speakers support Dolby Atmos. The design is said to be “water-repellent”, but lacks an official IP rating.

Finally, the phone ships with Android 13, and Motorola has confirmed that it will receive an update to Android 14. Unfortunately, this is the only OS update that the brand has committed to for the G54 5G. That’s a real shame because the software is otherwise as good as it gets outside of stock Android, with clean layouts and minimal bloatware clogging up the homescreen.

Motorola Moto G54 5G review: Display

One of the major areas of criticism that I had with the Moto G53 5G was that the display felt like too much of a compromise. Those issues are handily swept away here – it’s not hyperbolic to say that this is one of the best displays I’ve ever seen on a budget phone.

The resolution has been bumped back up to 2,400 x 1,080 after the G53 dropped to a measly 720p, the 120Hz refresh rate is as smooth as ever, and colour accuracy is nothing short of phenomenal for a phone of this price, with an average Delta E variance score of just 1.09. That’s on the Natural colour profile, which targets the sRGB colour space, but you’ve also got the more vibrant, but less accurate, Vivid profile, if you prefer.

The contrast and black levels are much better than the G53, too – the only criticism I’ve got is that brightness isn’t as good this time around, topping out at 415cd/m2, but even that is still decent for a phone of this price.

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Motorola Moto G54 5G review: Performance and battery life

The performance also punches above its weight. The G54 5G is powered by an octa-core MediaTek 7020 chipset, clocked up to 2GHz and backed by 8GB of RAM. This combination not only outpaces the G53, but also surprisingly matches the G73 5G and beats the G84 5G. In use, the G54 5G feels impressively breezy, with nary a micropause to speak of when scrolling and hopping between apps.

Geekbench 6 table comparing CPU performance between the Motorola Moto G54 5G and similarly priced rivals

While the G53 5G’s lower resolution display gave it a disproportionately high framerate in the onscreen portion of the GPU benchmarks, the G54 5G returns to a higher resolution, so the results land alongside the G73 5G and G84 5G. For a sub-£200 phone, these are still decent results, and will easily handle light gaming fare such as Candy Crush or Solitaire without breaking a sweat.

GFXBench table comparing GPU performance between the Motorola Moto G54 5G and similarly priced rivals

Battery life isn’t as impressive as the rest of the specs, with the G54 5G clocking in around two hours behind its predecessor, but the result of a little over 21 hours is still solid for this price. The return to 15W charging isn’t particularly noticeable, but it does cut down charging times from around two hours to a little under that, at least.

Battery life table comparing stamina performance between the Motorola Moto G54 5G and similarly priced rivals

Motorola Moto G54 5G review: Cameras

The 50MP (f/1.8) main camera is near enough the same sensor that we saw on the G53 5G, so there are no drastic improvements in the hardware, but I did notice that the auto-enhancement processing – which can be toggled on and off in the camera app – is less overzealous with the contrast this time around. Images maintain a better balance between light and dark areas, avoiding the pop-filter look that cropped up on the G53 5G.

A winter tree with the setting sun behind it

Night photography was fairly terrible on both the G62 5G and G53 5G, so it isn’t exactly shocking to see the main camera fall flat on its face once the sun goes down. If anything, this camera might even be a little worse than its predecessors, with barely any artificial brightening and a cacophony of noise plaguing any areas that do get lit up.

Docked boats at night

The 2MP macro camera has been the definition of “fine” all the way through these budget Motos, and it’s not shaking things up now. Detail is acceptable and the background blur is reasonably effective, but nine times out of ten, you’ll be better off just getting closer with the main lens.

Close up of ivy on a garden fence

The final area in which the G53 5G felt like a step down was the video recording, which topped out with 1080p at 30fps. As with most of the other problems, the G54 5G has rectified this, bringing back 60fps support for the 1080p filming. It also throws in OIS via the main camera, bringing some welcome stability to the video footage.

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Motorola Moto G54 5G review: Verdict

The stingy plans for OS updates and essentially pointless low-light photography threaten to derail the G54 5G, but even with those factors in play, there are few, if any, competitors that offer the same kind of value that we’ve got here.

The display, while still just an IPS panel, is of a class that isn’t common below the £200 mark, performance is punching well above its weight and the cameras get some solid improvements over the G53 5G. Throw in the extra RAM and storage, as well as the £10 price cut, and the Motorola Moto G54 5G isn’t just the best cheap Moto in a while, it’s also one of the best-value handsets on the market.

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