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Motorola Moto G22 review: A Moto misstep

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
150
inc VAT

The Moto G22 is a budget handset plagued by a few too many issues

Pros 
Great price
Strong battery life
Stock Android installation
Cons 
Slower than last year’s Moto G10
Display colour inaccuracies
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For one reason or another, the budget end of the phone market is looking unusually bleak for 2022. Despite reviewing more sub-£200 handsets than ever in recent weeks, not a single one of these smartphones impressed us enough in testing to earn a recommendation.

READ NEXT: The best budget smartphones

If it isn’t sluggish speeds then it’s something else. Dreadful displays, poor battery life and sub-par designs – we’ve seen them all recently. As depressing as it may sound, it’s pretty much a guarantee these days that there’s going to be a caveat if you need a new phone and don’t have a lot of money to spend.

If anyone stood a good chance at turning these misfortunes around, it was always going to be Motorola. It was about time the low-cost smartphone maker showed both Nokia and Samsung how it was done, and the new Moto G22 could do just that.

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Motorola Moto G22 review: What you need to know

The latest in a long line of dirt-cheap Motorola handsets, the Moto G22 looks to be exceptional value for money. To start with, the Moto G22 is currently the cheapest smartphone with a 90Hz display, which is a big bonus if you spend most of your time scrolling social media feeds.

The Moto G22 also makes the jump to a MediaTek Helio G37 processor, replacing the Snapdragon 450 of last year’s Moto G10. This is accompanied by 4GB of RAM, 64GB of expandable storage, a large 5,000mAh battery and a quadruple-camera array on the rear. This consists of a main 50MP sensor, 8MP ultrawide and a pair of 2MP depth and macro units. Meanwhile, a single 16MP selfie camera sits on the front.

It also comes with a near-stock installation of Android 12 – the latest version of Google’s mobile OS – with no preinstalled bloatware applications and, although it lacks any official IP rating, Motorola says it has a “water repellent” design.

Motorola Moto G22 review: Price and competition

As you’ve probably guessed by now, the Moto G22 is a bit of a steal at just £150. Laughing in the face of this year’s high-priced flagships, the Moto G22 is the very definition of an inexpensive purchase, but that doesn’t mean it sits on its own at this price.

Both Samsung and Nokia have their own cost-savvy contenders, although like the Moto G22 they also suffer from some setbacks. The Galaxy A13 costs £179, but the performance of the UK model is half that of the US version, not to mention that it also lacks 5G. Meanwhile, the Nokia G21 (£150) is a competent alternative, but its low contrast display really lets the side down.

Meanwhile, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 is a much better shout, although the caveat here is that it costs £50 more than the Moto G22 (£200). Regardless, if you can spare the funds, you’re getting an exceptional phone for the price, with a superb OLED display and superior performance.

Motorola Moto G22 review: Design and key features

I’m quite taken aback by the Moto G22’s overall design. Simple in its construction but with near-flagship looks, I was pleasantly surprised when I first pulled the handset out from its box, and it’s immediately clear that this is the best-looking G-series handset to date.

Given the price, it’s no surprise that the G22 is composed entirely of plastic, but unlike most of its rivals, there’s barely a whiff of cheapness about it. With minimal joining lines separating the sides from the rear panel, it feels as though the phone has been constructed using a single block of plastic and it barely flexes a milimeter when twisted.

There’s a lot to be said about the subtle reflectiveness of this rear panel, too, with mirrored light shafts emanating from the camera housing in the top-left corner. It’s a simple look, but it’s highly effective, contributing to the overall impression that the phone costs much more than it actually does.

I also appreciate that the large screen takes up almost the entire front portion of the phone, with just a small hole punch notch getting in the way at the top. The side-mounted power button doubles as a fingerprint reader, which is always handy, and the Moto G22 supports face unlocks.

Another bonus is the 3.5mm headphone jack at the top, although as I mentioned above, the Moto G22 doesn’t have IP-rated water ingress or Gorilla Glass screen protection. The Moto G22 comes in either Iceberg Blue or Cosmic Black – I was sent the latter for review.

Motorola Moto G22 review: Display

The Moto G22’s unassuming 6.5in 720p IPS display has a trick up its sleeve: it benefits from a maximum refresh rate of 90Hz. Theoretically adding an extra layer of fluidity and responsiveness to your social scrolling and game experiences, this makes it the cheapest high-refresh screen on the market today – it’s just a shame that things begin to fall apart in the quality stakes.

In testing, the Moto G22 really struggled in terms of colour accuracy. Both of the phone’s display modes were quite poor, with the Natural setting applying an unusual orange tint, rendering it completely unusable. The Saturated mode is what you’re left with, but with an average Delta E of 4.49, it’s not much better. There’s a possibility that this issue might be addressed in a future firmware update, but as it stands the Moto G22’s screen is a bit of a failure.

Still, it’s not all bad news – brightness was pretty good, peaking at 419cd/m2, and I didn’t have any complaints with the phone’s 1,632:1 contrast ratio, either.

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Motorola Moto G22 review: Performance and battery life

Inside the Moto G22, you’ll find the MediaTek Helio G37 alongside 4GB of RAM and 64GB of expandable storage. Despite the increased clock speeds compared to the Snapdragon 460 it replaces (2.3GHz versus 1.8GHz), the Moto G22 is somehow 20% slower than the previous Moto G10 in the Geekbench 5 multi-core test, which was hardly a top-tier performer to begin with.

Even without these benchmark figures, the Moto G22 feels sluggish in use. The onscreen keyboard struggled to keep pace with what I was typing, and scrolling the settings menu in the camera app was an infuriatingly juddery experience.

READ NEXT: Best phone camera

It’s a familiar story in terms of graphics processing, too. The Moto G22 squeezed out an average frame rate of just 17fps in the onscreen portion of the GFXBench Manhattan 3 test, which is a staggering 41% less than last year’s model. Something really has gone awry here.

One saving grace is that the battery life remains unchanged. Lasting for a total of 21hrs 36mins in our video rundown test, the Moto G22 is the longest-lasting phone we’ve tested at this price recently, beating the Galaxy A13 by over two hours and the Nokia G21 by over four in the same test.

Motorola Moto G22 review: Cameras

The Moto G22 has a quad-camera array, made up of a main 50MP (f/1.8) unit, 8MP 118-degree ultrawide and a pair of simple 2MP macro and depth lenses. The latter three are identical to last year’s Moto G10, with the only upgrade being the main 50MP sensor (up from 48MP). A single 16MP camera sits on the front of the phone.

Yet again, I’m impressed with the Moto G22’s images. In well-lit environments, you’ve got a camera that can take decent, detailed pictures. Just take a look at this image of a particularly moody cat. There’s a lot to like here, with plenty of fur detail, and the eyes, in particular, are captured beautifully.

Compared to the Nokia G21, I prefer the overall look of the Moto’s images. There’s a smidge more detail and less handshake blur, while the colour capture is a bit more refined. The Nokia’s images had a bit of an orange tint to them, too, which I didn’t like.

Portrait images are a slightly different story. The Nokia G21 captured more detail in my subject, and I preferred the softer focus applied to the background. However, the Moto did a much better job separating the subject from the backdrop and I was more of a fan of the colours, too.

The ultrawide camera is surprisingly good, although there was a bit of a discrepancy when it comes to light capture. Take a look at the side-by-side image below: the main camera looks overcast, while the ultrawide looks like it was taken on a completely different day – both images were taken seconds apart.

Low-light pictures are very good. Sure, there’s an increase in visual noise and the colours look a little warm, but I liked what I saw – the Nokia G21’s comparatively soft, watercolour-like nighttime images don’t look good at all. Video capture is sadly limited to 1080p at 30fps and there’s no form of stabilisation whatsoever, meaning footage looks quite wobbly.

Motorola Moto G22 review: Verdict

There’s plenty to like about the Moto G22, but there’s also a lot to dislike. You won’t find a phone at this price that looks anywhere near as good, the battery life is exceptional and I really liked the cameras. Not to mention that it also comes with a bloat-free stock Android installation.

Buy now from Motorola

But then there are the downsides. The biggest problem is that the Moto G22’s performance is actually worse than the previous model, but the colour issues with the display shouldn’t be excused, either.

You win some and you lose some, I suppose, but the Moto G22 really isn’t as good as it should have been.

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