Motorola g22 – the cheap and cheerful smartphone (review)

The $299 Motorola g22 is one of its ‘bullet-proof’ g-series that has earned a solid reputation for reliability with consumers and in the business fleet world. It is also currently on special at JB Hi-Fi for $239, making it a pretty compelling buy in the entry-level range.

No, it is not a powerhouse with a MediaTek Helio G37 processor (entry-level), it is 4G (all you need), and the screen is 6.5” (720p/90Hz) – all perfectly acceptable compromises at this price. On the plus side, it has a reasonable daylight point and shoot, 50+8+2+2MP rear camera and 16MP selfie, NFC (and fingerprint reader); 3.5mm headphone jack; long-life 5000mAh battery (and a massive 21-hour screen-on time) and can charge at 15W although it comes with a 10W charger.

Motorola is on a rapid ascent and it is doing that by offering what the people want at prices they can afford. Its range includes (special prices from JB Hi-Fi at 2/6/22)

  • e7 32GB (was $139 now $111l)*
  • e7 Power 32GB (was $169 now $135)*
  • e32 64GB (was $229 now $183)*
  • g8 Plus 64GB (was $249 now $199)*
  • g10 64GB (was $249 now $199)*
  • g22 128GB (this review normally $299 now $239 on special)
  • g50 128GB 5G $399*
  • g51 128GB 5G (normally $399 now $299 on special)
  • Edge20 Fusion 128GB 5G (was $499 now $399)*
  • Edge20 128GB 5G (was $699 now $559)*
  • Edge30 128GB 5G (normally $699 now $559 on special)
  • Edge20 Pro 256GB 5G (was $899 now $719)*
  • Edge30 Pro 128GB 5G (normally $999 now $799)

* These are 2021 runout models, and new models are coming soon. In any case, there are some real bargains there.

5-minute review Motorola g22, 4/128GB, 4G Dual Sim, Model XT2231-3, Retapac firmware

WebsiteProduct Page
Price:$299 but on special at JB for $239)
ColoursPearl White or Cosmic Black
From:Special prices from JB Hi-Fi
Warranty:12-months ACL
Country of Manufacture:China
CompanyOwned by Lenovo (Est 1984) – a multinational technology company with its primary operational headquarters in Beijing and Morrisville, North Carolina. It is the world’s largest PC maker. It purchased Motorola Mobility from Google in 2014. Most of Lenovo’s smartphone business is now under the Motorola brand, and it has grand plans to become a ‘top five’ smartphone maker.
MoreOther CyberShack Motorola news and reviews

Deep-Dive review format

It is now in two parts. As this is a low-cost device, we will do a brief summary and a separate 300+ line database-driven spec, including over 70 tests to back up the findings. It also helps us compare different phones and features.

Most section headings have FAIL (did not meet expected standards), PASS (all you can expect) or EXCEED (better than you can expect).

Don’t buy grey market

The Motorola g22 must have RCM C-Tick, 4/128GB, and a dual sim. Don’t buy models ending in XT2331 – 1, 2, 4, and 5.

First Impressions – another glass slab – Pass

Sorry, but there is nothing exciting about a typical glass slab smartphone as this format is the best way to deliver value. Motorola is no exception.

It has a flat glass front, flat PMMA plastic back (not a fingerprint magnet but quite slippery), quad-camera hump (use the bumper case), the important 3.5mm jack on top; and a dual sim and dedicated microSD slot. The power button (with fingerprint sensor) and volume rocker are on the right side.

Screen: 6.5”, 1600 x 720, 268ppi, 90Hz, 20:9 LCD – Pass

720p is all you can expect at this price. It has an auto 60/90Hz refresh, or you can select 60 or 90Hz (all tests are at 60Hz). No screen protection is specified, but Motorola usually use PandaGlass (like GG3)

Unfortunately, it has an L3 DRM rating which means that streaming video content only plays at 480p SDR – if at all.

It is supposed to have a 400 nit screen and a 1500:1 contrast ratio. Compared to other similar spec phones, it is definitely not as bright and blacks are grey.

Due to cost and time, we don’t test lower-cost phones for colour gamut, brightness, contrast etc. Let’s say that it is OK for brightness (we estimate 300 nits, and you will run it at 75-100% – it is not for direct sunlight viewing); off-angle viewing is not great (it loses colour); there is a cold blue tint (you can remove this by selecting the natural mode and/or changing colour temperature).

Summary: Not the brightest but fit for purpose.

Processor – MediaTek Helio G37– Pass

It has a 12nm MediaTek Helio G37 with 4 x 2.3GHz and 4 x 1.8GHz octa-core CPU and 680MHz IMG GE8230 GPU. Let’s just say this is entry-level, and you must accept that there will be lag under load, especially with 4GB of RAM.

  • With a Vulcan score of just 89 (it does not appear to support Open CL), It is not for gaming.
  • Geekbench 5 single/multi-core was 171/960, which is far lower than a similar Qualcomm SD460 in the g10 that it replaces. It is also found in the Motorola g power and TCL 30/30+.
  • Throttling is minimal – 7% over 15 minutes.
  • RAM is 4GB DDR
  • Storage is the slower eMMC 5.1 type (flash memory versus UFS)

Summary: It is a three-cylinder, no turbo!

Comms – Wi-Fi 5 AC, BT 5.0 and NFC – Pass

Wi-Fi 5 AC has a theoretical maximum of 433Mbps. Our tests show a maximum of 390Mbps with reasonable signal strengths out to 10m.

As it is not a Qualcomm SoC, it does not have its aptX sound codecs, which means you are limited to SBC and AAC with 200+ms latency – too high for gamers.

It has NFC – not expected at this price.

GPS performance is adequate and accurate to <10 metres but the phone takes a long time to recalculate routes.

Phone – Pass with caveats – for capital city and suburbs only

As seems typical of MediaTek Helio SoCs, it could only find the nearest tower, albeit at quite a good signal strength, to earn it a Pass for capital city users.

On the bright side, it has dual ring tones. On the not so bright side is that it does not (according to Motorola website specs) have band 28 (750Mhz), so necessary for low signal strength areas hence the caveat.

Battery – 5000mAh – Exceed with caveats

We have had past issues with MediaTek SoCs with GFX Bench and Geekbench 5 performance testing software.

This would not run GFXBench Manhattan or T-Rex battery tests. So, at best, we can tell you that PC Mark 3 battery test (screen on and typical use) lasted 21 hours and a video loop about 18 hours. We could not Netflix stream either (due to L3 DRM restrictions) – this is a better indication of Wi-Fi use. 100% load screen on drain was 7 hours.

Charge time with the supplied 5V/2A/10W charger was 3 hours 29 minutes, and with a 5V/3A/15W was 2 hours and 7 minutes. It can use any USB-C PD charger but that will not reduce the 15W charge time.

Sound – Mono Pass

We don’t test mono speaker smartphones as there is no sound stage, and the sound signature is set for clear voice (1-4kHz).

The maximum volume was 80dB with distortion. Hands-free was a little quiet, and the single bottom mic needs to be close to your face for decent effect and to avoid background and wind noise.

Build – Exceed

Never mind the plastic frame or PMMA (Polymethyl Methacrylate shatter-proof glass substitute) back – it is probably more shatterproof than glass. It is very well-made and should be a keeper. Warranty is 1-year (same as Samsung) which we think should be longer – OPPO and Google offer 2-years.

It is IPX4 – not very water-resistant.

Android – almost pure – Exceed

It ships with Android 12 and Motorola’s overlay My UX 3.0. You can reasonably expect Android 13 and two years of updates.

Android is almost pure, and the MY UX adds things like a camera app and Moto gestures. See the table for all features.

Missing – all good

For a $299 ($239) phone, it is missing nothing.

Camera – Motorola g22

In theory, it is a decent 50+8+2+2MP camera setup. We know the 50MP Samsung S5KJN1 sensor and we know what to expect. It is used in more than 100 smartphones including a few Motorola g-series, Samsung Galaxy A13/23, TCL 30-series, realme 8/9i, vivo 21T, OPPO A96 and several 2022 models coming here.

What we don’t know until we test is the level of AI the MediaTek SoC provides. In this case, it is not a lot at under 4 TOPS so it needs reasonable light levels to get the best out of it. We compared it to the Motorola g51 with the same sensor and a Qualcomm SD480 SoC and the results are decidedly inferior.

Frankly, we were a little disappointed at the g22 camera and we suspect that it is easily fixable via firmware updates. Don’t get us wrong – it is better than social media class.

Camera summary
  • Photos
  • 50MP with no AI and HDR daylight has good colours and details.
  • 12.5MP binned with AI lacks accurate colours and details
  • UW upscales 8MP to 12.5MP and has soft images but the colours don’t match the primary lens
  • Macro – must be at 4cm or blurred. We could not get good shots.
  • <40 lumens – camera struggles
  • Night mode – reasonably good
  • Portrait and bokeh – Focus issues, noisy and loses detail.
  • Selfie ok in good light
  • Video: Poor dynamic range leads to washed-out colours and lack of detail in light and dark areas.

CyberShack’s view – Motorola g22 is the phone to get when you can’t afford more.

Sorry if we have not been effusive. But at $299 ($239) you can’t go wrong.

See Best Android phones under $500 – some are real gems! (May 2022) to see where this sits.

CyberShack Smartphone comparison v 1.1 (E&OE)

Motorola g22

BrandMotorola
ModelMoto g22 4G
Model NumberXT2231-3
Price Base4/128
   Price base$299 (JB $239)
Warranty months12-months ACL
 TierUpper entry-level
WebsiteProduct Page
FromMotorola online, Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi, Big W, Good Guys, Catch
Country of OriginChina
CompanyOwned by Lenovo (Est 1984) – a multinational technology company with its primary operational headquarters in Beijing and Morrisville, North Carolina. It is the world’s largest PC maker. It purchased Motorola Mobility from Google in 2014. Most of Lenovo’s smartphone business is now under the Motorola brand, and it has grand plans to become a ‘top five’ smartphone maker.
MoreCyberShack Motorola news and reviews
Test date5/5 to 2/6/22
Ambient temp18-22°
ReleaseMar-22
Other models not for Australia (Don’t buy)Must have RCM C-Tick. 4/128GB dual sim. Don’t buy models ending in XT2331 – 1, 2, 4, and 5. Also, Lenovo g22 is not for Australia.

Screen

Size6.5″
TypeIPS LCD
Flat, Curve, 2D, 3DFlat
Resolution1600 x 720
PPI268
Ratio20:9
Screen to Body %89.03
Colours bits8-bit 16.7m colours
Refresh Hz, adaptiveAuto or select 60 or 90Hz
Response 120HzNot disclosed
Nits typical testClaim 400 – approx. 300
Nits max, testApprox. 400
ContrastClaim1500:1 – approx. 1000:1
sRGBNot tested
DCI-P3Not tested
Rec.2020 or otherN/A
Delta E (<4 is excellent)N/A but above 6
HDR LevelSDR
SDR UpscaleNo
Bluelight controlYes
PWM if knownNo
Daylight readableNo
Always on DisplayYes dimmed
Edge displayNo
AccessibilityUsual Android features
DRML3 (lowest) – 480p at best but Netflix will not play
GamingNo – 46ms G-t-G
Screen protectionUnknown – Motorola usually use PandaGlass (similar to GG3)
CommentFit for purpose.
Blueish cast – best to use Natural setting.
Major off-angle viewing screen washout.

Processor

Brand, ModelMediaTek Helio G37
nm12
Cores4 x 2.3GHz and 4 x 1.8GHz
Modem4G Cat-4, Cat-7 DL / Cat-13 UL
AI TOPSEstimate <4
Geekbench 5 Single-core171
Geekbench 5 multi-core960
LikeNo comparison as its entry-level
GPU680MHz IMG GE8230 GPU
GPU Test
Open CLWould not run
LikeFAIL
Vulcan89 (way too low for games)
RAM, type4GB LPDDR4
Storage, free, type128 (907 Free) eMMC (slow)
micro-SDClaims up to 1TB but did not accept several test devices and corrupted all of them.
CPDT internal seq. Read MBps238
CPDT internal seq. write MBps140
CPDT microSD read, write MBps78/35
CPDT external (mountable?) MBps1TB test unit caused reboot and corrupted drive
CommentWe experienced several hangs and needed to perform a hard reboot during tests—laggy performance under load.
Throttle test
Max GIPS101871
Average GIPS96777
Minimum GIPS90665
% Throttle7
CPU Temp50
CommentGood thermal management for a 5W TPD SoC

Comms

Wi-Fi Type, modelWi-Fi 5 AC
Test 2m -dBm, Mbps-18/390 (good)
Test 5m-44/390
Test 10m-48/390
BT Type5.0
GPS single, dualSingle
USB typeUSB-C 2.0 480Mbps
ALT DP, DeX, Ready ForNo. Miracast, not Chromecast
NFCYes – unusual at this price
Ultra-widebandNo
   AccelerometerYes -combo with Gyro is very sensitive
   GyroYes
   e-CompassYes
   BarometerNo
   GravityNo
   PedometerNo
   Ambient lightYes
   Hall sensorNo
   ProximityYes
   OtherFingerprint
Notification LED
CommentSpeeds as expected with Wi-Fi AC, although the tests are a little below maximum.

4G LTE

SIMDual sim and dedicated microSD
ActiveOnly one active at a time
Ring tone single, dualDual – excellent for travellers
VoLTECarrier dependent
Wi-Fi callingCarrier dependent
4G Bands1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 20, 38, 40, 41
the modem supports only 9 bands, so it is not a world phone
CommentMissing band 28, so it is not for use outside city limits
5G sub-6GhzN/A
CommentN/A
mmWaveN/A
Test
Boost Mobile Telstra network
   UL, DL, ms17.5/9.1/39ms – below average
   Tower 1 -dBm, fW or pW-87/2-10pW (excellent single tower strength)
   Tower 2No (typical of MediaTek modems)
   Tower 3No
   Tower 4No
CommentTypical of low-cost MediaTek and strictly for areas with lots of towers – city and suburbs. The lack of band 28 is an issue for low signal strength areas.

Battery

mAh5000
Charger, type, supplied10W supplied and capable of 15W
 PD, QC levelNo PD but can use PD chargers
Qi, wattageN/A
Reverse Qi or cableN/A
Test (60Hz or adaptive screen)
   Charge % 30mins11%
   Charge 0-100%3 hours and 29 minutes
   Charge Qi, WN/A
   Charge 5V/3A/15W 2 hours 7 minutes
   Video loop 50%, aeroplane18 hours
Unable to test with Wi-Fi and streaming video due to L3 DRM
   PC Mark 3 battery21 hours
   GFX Bench Manhattan batteryWould not run
   GFX Bench T-RexWould not run
   Drain 100-0% full load screen on7 hours
   Estimate loss at max refresh20%
   Estimate typical useGiven PC Mark and the video loop, we feel it should give you three to five days of typical use.
CommentMoto should have provided a 15W faster charger for the pittance that would cost. Oh well, a cost-saving measure. Note the provided cable is for charging only and will not handle 5V/3A/15W, so you need a higher 3W rating cable.

Sound

SpeakersEarpiece and mono down-fixing speaker
TuningNo
AMPAW87 mono
Dolby Atmos decodeNo
Hi-ResNo
3.5mmYes
BT CodecsSBC and AAC only
MultipointUnknown
Dolby Atmos (DA)No
EQNo
MicsSingle
Test dB – all on EQ flat DA off
   Volume max80 (adequate)
   Media (music)70
   Ring75
   Alarm75
   Notifications75
   Earpiece55, but it is very tinny
   Hands-freeSlightly low volume, no noise-cancelling, so keep it close to your face
   BT headphonesGood volume and channel separation
Sound qualityNot for music
Deep Bass 20-40HzN/A
Middle Bass 40-100HzN/A
High Bass 100-200HzN/A
Low Mid 200-400HzN/A
Mid 4000-1000HzN/A
High-Mid 1-2kHzN/A
Low Treble 2-4kHzN/A
Mid Treble 4-6kHzN/A
High Treble 6-10kHzN/A
Dog Whistle 10-20kHzN/A
Sound Signature typeMono – focus on 1-4kHz
   SoundstageMono
CommentSuitable for voice but not for music

Build

Size (H x W x D)163.95 x 74.94 x 8.49mm
Weight grams185
Front glassNo specified
Rear materialPMMA
FramePlastic
IP ratingIPX4
ColoursPearl White
Cosmic Black
Pen, Stylus supportNo
In the box
   Charger5V/2A/10W
   USB cableUSB-A to USB-C 2W capable – no data lines and requires 3W cable with optional 5V/3A/15W charger
   BudsYes
   Bumper coverYes
CommentNice of Moto to provide a charger – it should have been 15W.

OS

Android12
Security patch date1-Feb-22
UIMy UX Personalise: Styles, Wallpapers, Layout
Display: Peek Display, Attentive Display
Gestures: Power Touch, Quick capture, Fast torch, Three-finger screenshot, Pick up to silence, Screenshot toolkit, Media controls
Play: Gametime
Audio
OS upgrade policyMay get Android 13
Security patch policyTwo years of security patches
BloatwareFacebook (uninstallable)
CommentThere is a lot of added functionality in MY UX, which leaves the underlying Android alone.
Security
Fingerprint sensor location, typeOn power button – 8/10 test
Face IDYes, 2D not tested

Camera – Motorola g22

Rear PrimaryWide
  MP50 bins to 12.5
   SensorSamsung S5KJN1
   FocusPDAF
   f-stop1.8
   um.64 bins to 1.28
  FOV° (stated, actual)77 (65.6-77.8)
   StabilisationEIS only
   Zoom5X digital
Rear 2Ultra-wide
   MP8
   SensorSamsung S5K4H7
   FocusContrast Autofocus
   f-stop2.2
   um1.12
  FOV (stated, actual)118
   StabilisationNo
   ZoomNo
Rear 3Macro
   MP2
   SensorGalaxy Core GC02M1
   FocusFixed 4cm
   f-stop2.4
   um1.75
  FOV (stated, actual)88.8
   StabilisationNo
   ZoomNo
Rear 4Depth
  MP2
   SensorGalaxy Core GC02M1
   FocusFF
   f-stop2.4
   um1.75
  FOV (stated, actual)88.8
   StabilisationNo
   ZoomNo
Special
   Video max1080p@30fps
   FlashYes
   Auto-HDRPrimary lens only
Portrait; Photo Video; Pro Mode; Night Vision; Face Beauty; Assistive Grid; Watermark; HDR; Timer; Mirror
   QR code readerGoogle Lens
   Night modeYes, but minimal post-processing power
Front
  MP16
   SensorOmnivision OV16A19
   FocusFF
   f-stop2.45
   um1
  FOV (stated, actual) 
   StabilisationNo
   FlashScreen fill
   ZoomNo
   Video max1080p@30fps
    FeaturesSnap-in video record
Face Beauty; Assistive Grid; Watermark;
HDR; Timer; Mirror
CommentVideo: Poor dynamic range leads to washed-out colours and lack of detail in light and dark areas.
Photos
Daylight has good colours and details but lacks details in the shadows.
50MP mode – no AI and no HDR
UW upscales 8MP to 12.5MP and has soft images.
Macro – must be at 4cm or blurred.
Low light – reasonably good in night mode
Portrait and bokeh – OK, but noisy and loses detail.
Selfie ok in good light

Ratings – Motorola g22

Features8
It has all that you could expect and need for this price.
Value9
Terrific value, especially if you can get it for $239
Performance6
It is an entry-level value SoC, and you get fit for purpose performance. It is not for gamers.
Ease of Use9
My UX adds some value to stock Android.
Design8.5
All plastic is fine – it looks like a more expensive smartphone.
Rating out of 108.1
Final commentAt $299 ($239 on special), it is one of the best – you can’t go wrong. Don’t expect blazing performance but do expect excellent battery life.

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Motorola g22

$299 but on special at JB Hi-Fi for $239
8.1

Features

8.0/10

Value

9.0/10

Performance

5.8/10

Ease of use

9.0/10

Design

8.5/10

Pros

  • My UX is a light touch over Android. Good security policy
  • Great value
  • Excellent battery life, albeit it is 15W capable and comes with a 10W slow charger.
  • Good point and shoot camera, but the video is for daylight only

Cons

  • Mono speaker with a narrow clear voice frequency response
  • It would not run all test software, and we experienced some hangs.
  • USB 2.0 and cable won’t do data transfer or handle 15W
  • Capital city/suburbs phone use only.
  • Dull, inaccurate colour, poor viewing angle display


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