A good looking budget phone, but has very limited performance
By Lloyd Coombes
Lloyd Coombes / Foundry
At a glance
Good battery life
Camera setup is solid
Display dim and lacking in resolution
Very slow performance
The G22 has a large display, and classy matt finish rear panel. There’s a “hole punch” camera, and even a headphone jack – but performance is awful.
Motorola has offered a solid number of budget-to-mid-range phones in recent years, and the Moto G22 slots into that lineup nicely at £149/€189.
It looks smart, with a matte finish on the back that makes it feel great to touch, and a big, 6.5-inch display that dominates the front of the device (albeit with a small “chin” at the bottom). It’s also running Android 12, but it’s not really the best way to experience Google’s latest mobile OS.
That’s because the Mediatek Helio G37 chip inside feels like it’s constantly running at capacity, limiting what the G22 can do – even in basic apps like photos and browsing through the Play Store.
There are some positives, though. For one, the 50MP main camera is solid, even if it is flanked by less impressive options that feel superfluous, while the huge 5,000mAh battery is a big boon for anyone working away from a charger for any period of time.
That actually makes it feel a little like a more expensive Moto e7i Power. For a similar price, though, I’d opt for the Nokia G21 for more impressive performance.
Design & Build
As I’ve noted above, the design of the Moto G22 is great – particularly if you’re looking for a smart-looking, business-minded device (even if it is all plastic).
It comes in Cosmic Black (as per our review unit) or Iceberg Blue, and both offer a matt finish that not only adds grip, but it avoids picking up fingerprints, too – a rarity these days. In the top left corner, you’ll find a camera setup that houses a 50 MP wide camera and an 8 MP ultra-wide, along with a Macro option.
Lloyd Coombes / Foundry
Flip it over and you’ll find a 6.5-inch display with a 90Hz refresh rate, and a resolution of 1600×720, while a “hole-punch” with a 16MP camera inside, and a subtle “chin” that tapers around the lower edge.
The SIM tray is on the left, while a volume rocker and fingerprint scanning sleep/wake button can be found underneath. There’s a USB-C port for charging on the bottom edge, while the top edge features a headphone jack – again, another rarity.
Screen & Speakers
90Hz refresh rate
That 6.5-inch screen is a big enough canvas for a boxset binge in a pinch, but I’m sorry to say that I’d recommend another device carry that torch if you have one.
That’s partially due to a 720p resolution, which I can make peace with at this price point, but it’s mainly due to just how dim it is. Watching bright YouTube content was tough at anything below 75% brightness, and even Android’s stark white menus were a chore to navigate without cranking it up to 100%.
That’s not ideal, and it’s made worse by limited viewing angles, meaning you really do feel like you need to be looking directly at the Moto G22 to read messages or navigate apps. As you can imagine, that gets worse when you step outside.
Then there’s the 90Hz refresh rate. It’s a pleasant surprise at this price, but feels a little pointless given how much the chip in the Moto G22 struggles with everyday tasks; it’s hard to make the phone feel fluid when it’ll frequently lock up.
Adding to the media woes are a tinny speaker that’s not stereo – meaning audio is unbalanced and lacking in clarity. There’s no discernible bass or treble, it all just flows into mids.
Lloyd Coombes / Foundry
Specs & Performance
Gaming a no-go
The Helio G37 chip inside the Moto G22 is not doing any favours, I’m sorry to report. With a Geekbench score of 956.3, the phone is one of the slowest we’ve tested, and even without that, it’s obvious from just turning on the phone. You also don’t get 5G connectivity.
Just powering up the phone took around two minutes at one point, for it to then emit the classic “Hello Moto” jingle and then go right back to a lengthy loading process. Once it was on, it was stuttering before Id opened any apps, and it really does make the decision to opt for a 90Hz refresh rate all the more puzzling.
GFX benchmarks were also low, as you can imagine; I saw as low as 4.5fps on the Aztec Ruins Vulkan High test, and even bumping down to the normal variant yielded 7.6fps.
That meant playing games like PUBG Mobile was a fairly rough experience thanks to texture pop-in and input lag, but even skipping through stock Android apps like Gmail and Calendar felt like it was going to cause a crash – the Helio G37 is simply running flat-out at all times, with such little headroom that it almost feels like it’d be happier with you leaving the phone well alone.
Our review unit came with 64GB but there’s a 128GB option. There’s an expansion slot for microSDXC cards within the SIM tray, too.
Solid 50Mp main lens
Passable low light results
I may sound down on the Moto G22, but as noted before, there are some positives to be found – even if some of those do come with significant caveats.
For one, the main 50Mp camera is a solid snapper. It offers detailed shots, and while the aforementioned 720p display may not be the best way to look at those memories, there’s still plenty of colour in each shot. In low-light situations, it’s not bad either, with the neon light shot here showing the detail on the wall the lighting is on.
Sadly, the caveat here is that the ultrawide sensor just isn’t worth using. It drops down to 8Mp, which isn’t exactly low, but scrubs a lot of detail from shots. Then there’s the Macro lens, which again feels a little pointless thanks to a lack of detail and fuzzy edges.
The front-facing camera offers more utility, though, and you’ll find a respectable amount of detail for video calling or selfies. Portrait mode is available, but it struggles a little around the ears, as you can see here.
Battery & Charging
Very slow charging
In my time with the Moto G22, wandering through a city, taking plenty of photos, I didn’t need to charge for two days straight. That’s largely due to a sizeable 5000mAh battery, but also quite likely due to the internals requiring less power because of their more modest performance, plus the dimmer screen.
Disappointingly, the PCMark Work 3.0 battery life test crashed multiple times while testing the Moto G22. I’d suggest that’s more of a performance issue than anything in the battery department, though, but it does make it tricky to work out how it stacks up against similar devices. Still, in “real world” usage I found it lasting two days, with time spent scrolling through social media, watching YouTube, and responding to messages.
What I can tell you though is that there’s no fast charging of any sort – even with a larger power brick. You’re stuck with 15W here, and it’s slow. In fact, it might be the slowest charging I’ve seen in years with 12% in 15 minutes, and 25% in 30 minutes.
Software & Apps
There’s good news and bad news when it comes to the Moto G22’s onboard OS. The good news is that it’s running Android 12, Google’s latest OS, so users can expect a wealth of customisation options alongside an increased focus on privacy and safety.
The Moto G22 also offers always-on display functionality for your clock and notifications, which is nice and doesn’t rinse through the battery as you may expect on a non-OLED display.
Lloyd Coombes / Foundry
The trouble is that it feels entirely hamstrung by the included hardware, meaning you can expect frequent instances of slowdown. One particularly prevalent example is entering a passcode to unlock the phone (if you’re not using the fingerprint sensor). It works fine until you need to hit backspace to correct a digit, and then there’s a moment of lag every now and again.
It sounds minor (and it is) but it’s one of a series of nitpicks that soon add up to make using Android 12 an almost unpleasant experience.
The curvature at the bottom of the screen can also mean the Google assistant software button and Google Home button are right next to each other, and both at the point of the screen where your thumb would naturally swipe up to unlock. This means more often than not you can summon Google Assistant when all you wanted to do was unlock the phone.
Price & Availability
The Moto G22 is available in the UK for £149.99 and in European countries including France €189 and Spain for €199. This is for the 64GB model, which comes in the two colourways we mentioned earlier, while some regions also get access to the Pearl White option.
This is a very affordable phone but the low price reflects just how much performance and features you are sacrificing to get there.
While the Moto G22’s camera and battery life are solid and great respectively, neither are able to save it from its biggest weakness – an underpowered chipset that’s trying to do too much, particularly with Android 12 running at 90Hz.
With so many competitively priced phones that offer similar features but with the advantage of more grunt under the hood, it’s tough to recommend.