Motorola Moto G84 review

A fiery design and surprising gaming chops

The Moto G84 looking festive amongst some baked goods
(Image: © Future)

TechRadar Verdict

Even for Motorola, the champion of cheap Android phones, the Moto G84 is an above-average handset. It excels above its weight class for gaming power, its battery lasts ages, it has some surprisingly top-end features and, if those traits weren’t all enough, it comes in an eye-catching and vibrant red tone that we can’t get enough of.

Pros

  • +

    Lively red color

  • +

    Impressive performance for price

  • +

    Snappy fingerprint scanner

Cons

  • -

    Two other colorways are dull

  • -

    Unimpressive cameras

  • -

    Very similar to cheaper G73

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Moto G84 two-minute review

Another day, another Moto G phone…

…and as usual, the Moto G84 is a surprisingly adept and reliable Android handset from one of the world’s most dedicated phone manufacturers, with Motorola continuing its forcible takeover of our round-up of the best cheap phones.

The latest entry in Motorola’s ever-growing G-line of low-cost mobiles, the G84 brings a few clear and concise arguments as to why it should be your next purchase, as well as a few wardrobes that it hopes you won’t be checking for skeletons.

First up, the Moto G84 is the company’s latest collaboration between Motorola and paint company Pantone, with one of its three colors designed by color experts. This is the Viva Magenta one that you can see pictured above, adorned in the shade that Pantone decided was its Color Of The Year 2023.

It's a distinctive shade (which may put some people off), and we’re big enough fans to add the vibrant and striking look to the ‘Pros’ list above. But for some reason, Moto decided to release two other color options, silver and black, which look pretty boring by comparison.

We go from one of the phone’s touted selling points to something Motorola is barely mentioning: the G84 is a powerhouse for gaming. While I’ve been disappointed by other mobiles brandishing the same Snapdragon 695 chipset used here, the Moto chews through gaming and other intensive tasks. If you’re a gamer on a budget, this is definitely a solid pick.

The Moto G84's home screen next to some festive cookies

(Image credit: Future)

It’s at this point in the review (less than a minute into the ‘two-minute review’, so pretty early on) that I should mention the Moto G73. This mobile, released in early 2023 and still ranged by most retailers including Moto itself, has lots of specs in common with the G84.

It has a lower price and the same camera array, same rough design, same software, same battery size, same charging speed and same screen size. Admittedly it’s screen quality is worse, it doesn’t have an under-display fingerprint scanner, it’s less powerful and it doesn’t catch the eye quite like this Viva Magenta-clad beast. But if you want to save some cash and don’t mind these tweaked features, it’s a very real competitor that may sway your attention.

‘Close competition’ is nothing new for Moto phones, given how many similar-looking budget mobiles it releases each year. Neither is my other major gripe with the handset: its cameras are anything but impressive, with photos that look a little dull and unexciting.

Picking up a Motorola phone and being surprised that its cameras aren’t amazing, is like picking up a dumbbell and being surprised it’s heavy – that trait is just par for the course. The cameras aren’t terrible either, they just won’t suit passionate smartphone-centric photographers.

And overall, the Moto G84 is a terribly impressive phone, when you consider its feisty look, gaming power and low price; it’ll just fit some users better than others.

Moto G84 review: price and availability

  • Released in September 2023
  • Costs £249.99 (roughly $315, AU$475) 
  • Not for sale in US or Australia

The Moto G84 in the hand

(Image credit: Future)

The Moto G84 was released in the UK in mid-September 2023, after coming out in India and Europe in the weeks prior. It was joined by the low-end Moto G54 and premium-leaning Moto Edge 40 Neo.

You can pick up the phone for £249.99 (roughly $315, AU$475), which lodges it firmly in the category of ‘cheap Android phone’, perfect for people on a budget who want a reliable mobile. That’s Moto’s whole schtick, after all. There’s no information on a US or Australian launch, but they seem unlikely even several months after the phone's release.

Rivals at that price include Samsung’s Galaxy A23 5G, Redmi’s Note 12 5G, OnePlus' Nord CE 3 Lite and several of Motorola’s own mobiles, like the Moto G73 5G and Edge 40 Neo, which are all at roughly the same price point. But for its price and the performance it offers, the G84 is solidly good value. 

  • Value score: 4 / 5

Moto G84 review: specs

The Moto G84 has many traits in common with other budget phones, but it exceeds its class in a few areas too.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Moto G84 specs
Header Cell - Column 1
Dimensions:160 x 74.4 x 7.6mm
Weight:166.8g
Screen:6.5-inch 20:9 FHD+ (2400x1080) 120Hz p-OLED
Chipset:Qualcomm Snapdragon 695
RAM:12GB
Storage:256GB
OS:Android 13
Primary camera:50MP, f/1.9
Ultra-wide camera8MP f/2.2
Front camera:16MP f/2.5
Audio:Stereo speakers, 3.5mm headphone jack
Battery:5,000mAh
Charging:30W wired
Colors:Viva Magenta, Marshmallow Blue, Midnight Blue

Moto G84 review: design

  • Vibrant Pantone-designed red shell
  • Repositioned under-display fingerprint scanner
  • 3.5mm headphone jack and USB-C port

The Moto G84 looking festive amongst some baked goods

(Image credit: Future)

Motorola isn’t exactly in the business of revolutionizing smartphone design (well, at least for its budget mobiles, though you can say what you like about the Moto Razr). So if you’ve seen a Moto G in the last few years you’ve seen the G84.

It’s a standard Android mobile measuring 160 x 74.4 x 7.6 mm – a few years ago we could’ve called it "a little on the big side" though you could probably consider it average now. It’s surprisingly light at 166.8g, which means the phone sits a little comfier in the hand than most phones with a flat edge.

You’ve got the usual accouterments of a Moto: a USB-C port and 3.5mm headphone jack underneath, a power button and volume rocker on the right edge. But Motorola has made one big adjustment in its budget phones of late, and that’s in replacing the side-mounted fingerprint scanner with a more premium under-display one. And it’s a great change too, as unlocking the phone is much easier than in previous Motos. The scanner is a bit lower down the phone than on most others, but it’s something I got used to.

There are three different color options for the Moto G84: a silver and a black option, and also an eye-catching red version called Viva Magenta. This latter was created by paint company Pantone, and it’d make the phone very attractive if it wasn’t for the big Pantone-logo color swatch on the bottom. You can’t remove this, it’s part of the phone.

Still, if the G84 was in a line-up of 10 random other phones, it’d be the most attractive one the vast majority of the time – its red is a little richer than Apple’s Product Red and the glossy alternatives some Chinese phones offer.

In terms of protection, you’re looking at IP54: it’s partly dust proofed but not against all solids, and is splash-proof but can’t be dunked in water. That's all to be expected at this price. 

  • Design score: 3.5 / 5

Moto G84 review: display

  • Big 6.5-inch screen
  • FHD+ resolution and 120Hz refresh
  • Automatic brightness issues

The Moto G84's front-facing camera

(Image credit: Future)

The Moto G84 has a 6.5-inch display, which is pretty average for a smartphone these days, but the Moto’s specs are anything but average.

The phone packs an FHD+ display (that’s 1080 x 2400) and a 120Hz refresh rate, which means the display updates its image 120 times per second, over the old standard of 60Hz. Lots of budget mobiles tout this spec now but certainly not all of them, and it brings a marked improvement when you’re scrolling around the menus.

Another unusual trait is the use of the DCI-P3 color gamut with over 1 billion colors – this was designed for use in movies and it makes videos look that little bit better than on another budget phone.

One other display feature worth flagging is that the punch-hole that houses the front-facing camera is very small, reducing the amount of screen space you’re losing from it.

A small issue I had with the phone was with its display and the automatic brightness features. Often, the phone would default to a screen brightness that was just too low, and I frequently had to manually adjust it to be able to make out the display.

  • Display score: 3.5 / 5

Moto G84 review: software

  • Stock Android 13 is clean
  • Useful Moto Actions return
  • Plenty of customization options

The Moto G84 looking festive amongst some baked goods

(Image credit: Future)

When you boot up the Moto G84, it’ll come running stock Android 13 – that was the current OS when the mobile launched, though Android 14 started rolling out just weeks later. The G84 is only confirmed for one software update too, so Android 14 is all you’ll definitely get, though you’ll be able to enjoy at least three years’ security updates.

Stock Android is always fairly clean, at least compared to some other Android forks, but some bloatware has snuck into the Moto. There’s TikTok, LinkedIn and three simple games – it’s nothing too offensive, and if you’ve used one of the budget phones from another brand you might have used something a lot worse, but it’s still not ideal.

Moto phones have always been great for software customization, even before Google made it an official Android feature, and there’s no difference here. You have plenty of choice in terms of font, color scheme, icon shape, animations and more – if you like diving into the settings and then tweaking the nitty-gritty of how your phone looks, you’ll love this phone.

A returning feature exclusive to Moto phones are Moto Actions, which are easy navigation tricks that I find myself using a lot. Examples include a double karate-chop motion to quickly turn on the torch and a twisting shake to open the camera app. They take a little getting used to, but once you’ve got the knack for them, they’re incredibly handy.

  • Software score: 4 / 5

Moto G84: cameras

  • 50MP main and 8MP ultra-wide cameras
  • Some extra features like Spot Color
  • 16MP front-facing camera for selfies

The Moto G84's camera bump

(Image credit: Future)

The camera department is an area that Motorola phones rarely excel in, and there’s no exception here. The phone uses up its ‘color’ budget on its exterior shell and there’s none left for its photos…

The main snapper is a 50MP f/1.9 unit and it’s joined by a single 8MP f/2.2 ultra-wide companion. On the front, you’re looking at a 16MP f/2.5 selfie camera. That’s not exactly a revolutionary combo for Moto, which used the exact same line-up in the Moto G73 from earlier in the year. 

Pictures taken on the main camera looked fine – that nondescript word is the best way to describe them – with fair sharpness but a lack of vibrancy or color that made me miss Samsung’s or Xiaomi’s handsets.

Flip onto the ultra-wide camera and you’re getting pretty grainy pictures – it’s an 8MP sensor, what did you expect – though not straight away. No, the secondary snapper was surprisingly slow to focus when I pressed the icon in the camera app, and I often found myself waiting a few moments for it to sharpen the image.

You can also use the ultra-wide camera for macro (close-up) shots, but this suffers from the issue that all wide-angle-macro phone photos do: it’s rounded and distorted thanks to the lens type. No thanks!

There’s no zoom lens on the Moto G84, so you have to use its 8x digital zoom to get closer to a subject. But I’d really recommend you don’t, unless you want your photo to be as grainy as spot art.

Grainy is also the word to use for pictures captured on the front camera, which is a surprising twist as some Motos redeem themselves on their selfie abilities. They'll be fine for sending between phones, especially with bokeh working well in Portrait mode, but if you look at selfies on any bigger screen you'll see the pixels clearly.

When capturing video, you can shoot at 1080p, with no 4K option. There’s also a slow-mo option as well as dual capture (front and back cameras at once) and Spot Color, which lets you isolate a single color in your recording. These latter two options are also available for photography.

  • Camera score: 2.5 / 5

Moto G84 camera samples

Moto G84: performance and audio

  • Snapdragon 695 chip exceeds expectations
  • 12GB RAM and 256GB storage
  • 3.5mm headphone jack and Bluetooth 5.1

The Moto G84 packs the Snapdragon 695, and anyone who’s used a phone using this chipset knows what to expect: fine everyday performance, but a lackluster showing when used for gaming or intensive processes. That's how this exact same chip worked in the recent OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite, and gaming was a slog.

In a pleasantly surprising plot twist, the G84 bucks expectations: it runs a lot faster than you’d think. In fact, through our rigorous gaming tests, it proved itself as one of the most reliable low-budget phones for gaming.

When playing titles like Call of Duty: Mobile and PUBG Mobile, the phone could be relied on to get through a match without lags, stutters or freezes – in fact, the G84 beat many gaming phones in that it didn’t even overheat!

This may be thanks to the 12GB RAM you’re getting, a surprising amount for a phone at this price. The 256GB storage is also laudable – this is a phone that’ll last you a long time, and even if you do manage to fill the device’s onboard storage, the microSD card slot will keep you going for even longer.

If you’re into your facts and figures, a benchmark test through Geekbench 6 returned a multi-core average score of 2,037. That middling score shows that this phone is no supercomputer that’ll land a spaceship on the sun or predict the future, but for the price, I was very surprised.

Onto audio – this is par for the course for a Moto phone. There’s a 3.5mm headphone jack for wired music and Bluetooth 5.1 for wireless. The onboard stereo speaker is nothing to write home about, but it’s not so tinny that voice calls or memos are affected.

  • Performance score: 4 / 5

Moto G84 review: battery life

  • Large 5,000mAh battery
  • Over a day's use from a single charge
  • 30W charging isn't particularly fast

The Moto G84's ports looking festive amongst some baked goods

(Image credit: Future)

If there’s one thing a Motorola phone can be relied on to have, even more than a confusing name, great customization or that distinctive sound when you first boot it up, it’s a long-lasting battery life.

No surprise, then, that the Moto G84’s 5,000mAh battery lasts a long time. You can use it to get through a day of use with no issue, and in our tests it lasted well into a second day before the charging cable needed to come out.

That charging cable gets you powering at 30W, so it’s not particularly fast, not when rival budget mobiles hit 50W, 67W or higher. You’re looking at charging times just shy of an hour, or more if you’re using the thing as you power it.

There’s no wireless charging here, but at that price, no-one should be surprised.

  • Battery score: 3.5 / 5

Should you buy the Moto G84?

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Moto G84 score card
AttributesNotesRating
ValueMoto offers a lot for its price, and undercuts some big-name rivals too4 / 5
DesignA bright color and light frame distract from this otherwise standard-looking Android.3.5 / 5
DisplayMostly unimpressive for the price, but DCI-P3 makes a difference.3.5 / 5
SoftwareMoto expands upon stock Android 13 with useful features4 / 5
CameraThere's nothing impressive in the Moto G84's three camera selection.2.5 / 5
PerformanceThe Moto G84 redefines budget gaming power, plus has loads of storage4 / 5
BatteryThe phone has a long battery life though unimpressive charging speeds.3.5 / 5

Buy it if...

You like the color
As soon as you opened this review and saw the header image, you came to a quick conclusion on its distinctive color. If that reaction was positive, then for sure, go for it!

You’re a budget gamer
Honestly, if I didn’t already have a phone, I’d consider the G84 just for its gaming chops alone – it plays games just as well as a handset that’d cost you twice as much. 

You need a reliable budget device
Moto's G phones are always dependable low-cost Androids that'll last you a long time, and if you're not fussy about certain premium features, they're always great picks.

Don't buy it if...

The Moto G73 is fine for you
The G84 has many specs in common with the G73, yet costs more – if you don’t mind screen quality and a side-mounted fingerprint scanner, you’ll be happy and have more cash with the older phone!

You’re a phone photographer
If there’s one cut corner with the G84, its the lackluster camera performance. If you love taking pictures all the time with your phone, you can do better than this handset.

You care about software updates
Software fanatics out there might raise an eyebrow at Moto's limited software update promise. If you want new Android versions for years to come, you might want to opt for another brand's phones.

Moto G84 review: Also consider

If you're looking for Android phones at the Moto G84's price, you've got loads of rivals to consider. Here are a few:

Image

Moto G73
The Moto G84's older sibling has many features in common, and a lower price too. There are several key aspects in which it lags behind, but it's a clear rival nonetheless.

Image

OnePlus Nord CE 3 Lite
A bigger screen, higher-res main camera and fast charging are balanced out by a higher price, weaker gaming chops and a bulkier build in this recent rival from OnePlus.

Image

Redmi Note 12 Pro
Xiaomi is a strong budget phone rival with its spec-heavy Redmi mobiles, and the 12 Pro is an example. Lots of specs in common with the G84 but more processing power.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Moto G84Moto G73OnePlus Nord CE 3 LiteXiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro
Price (at launch):£249 (around $315, AU$475)£269 (around $330, AU$500)£299 (around $350 / AU$520)£299 (around $350 / AU$520)
Dimensions:160 x 74.4 x 7.6mm161.4 x 73.8 x 8.3mm165.5 x 76 x 8.3mm163 x 76 x 8mm
Weight:166.8g181g195g187g
OS (at launch):Android 13Android 13Android 13Android 12
Screen Size:6.5-inch6.5-inch6.72-inch6.67-inch
Resolution:1080x24001080x24001080x24001080x2400
CPU:Snapdragon 695Dimensity 930Snapdragon 695Dimensity 1080
RAM:12GB8GB8GB6GB / 8GB / 12GB
Storage (from):256GB128GB / 256GB128GB / 256GB128GB / 256GB
Battery:5,000mAh5,000mAh5,000mAh5,000mAh
Rear Cameras:50MP main, 8MP ultra-wide50MP main, 8MP ultra-wide108MP main, 2MP depth sensor, 2MP macro50MP main, 8MP ultra-wide. 2MP macro
Front camera:16MP16MP16MP16MP

How I tested the Moto G84

  • Review test period = 2 week
  • Testing included = Everyday usage, including web browsing, social media, photography, video calling, gaming, streaming video, music playback
  • Tools used = Geekbench 5, Geekbench 6, Geekbench ML, GFXBench, native Android stats

As you can tell from my review and the images, I tested the Moto G84 in its Pantone-endorsed Viva Magenta colorway. It felt fitting to test this festive-looking mobile during winter, hence the Christmas baking images!

Before true testing commenced I set up the phone to let the battery use settle, then used it as a standard mobile for two weeks. This included all the tasks you'd use your mobile for: social media, photography and streaming. 

I also used it for gaming a lot. In fact, it was so snappy and fast for this task, alongside its lovely display, that I was loathe to move onto the next handset I'm testing for TechRadar!

My tech review history spans five years for TechRadar, and more for other brands. I used to work as an editor and writer for the site, covering phones, tablets and wearables (as well as a wide range of other gadgets), and continue to write freelance reviews across many types of gadget.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed December 2023

Tom Bedford
Contributor

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.


He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist. He also currently works in film as a screenwriter, director and producer.