Google Pixel 6a vs Moto G Stylus 5G (2022): Which mid-range smartphone should you buy?

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While flagship devices get most of the media attention, low to mid-range smartphones are in a much more interesting space. Rather than work with the best pieces, manufacturers are forced to design and make decisions about specifications within the confines of a specific price range. In the end, what makes a low to mid-range smartphone successful is whether it offers the best bang for the buck if it can exceed expectations at an unmatched price point, even better.

Motorola used to be quite aggressive in the smartphone space, vying for the top spot. But, after releasing numerous flagship devices that didn’t catch on with the public, it pulled back from the flagship smartphone space, with a renewed focus on low and mid-tier handsets. Now, it creates an array of smartphones that are indistinguishable from each other, and while this might sound like a bad thing, it actually goes to show just how focused the company is, with most of its phones now being priced under $400. For example, the Moto G Stylus 5G 2022 is priced at $349, features a sleek design, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 695G 5G processor, and offers support for a stylus.

The Pixel 6a is Google’s mid-tier handset for 2022, featuring a design borrowed from the higher-end Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. Despite its $449 price tag, the phone offers a lot and comes with a surprise, as it is powered by a flagship processor, Google’s own Tensor SoC. This makes it unique amongst its mid-range piers but is it enough to crown it the king? Both phones are pretty tempting, but which phone is right for you? We can help you decide by breaking down the overall details and shedding light on some of the more nuanced parts of the phone. This is the Google Pixel 6a versus Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G 2022.

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Google Pixel 6a vs Moto G Stylus 5G 2022: specifications

Google Pixel 6a Moto G Stylus 5G 2022
Build
  • Aluminum mid-frame
  • Gorilla Glass 3 front panel
  • IP67 water/dust resistance
  • Plastic back panel
  • Plastic mid-frame
  • Unknown front panel
  • No IP rating
  • Plastic back panel
Dimensions and Weight
  • 152.2 x 71.8 x 8.9 mm
  • 178 g
  • 168.9 x 75.8 x 9.3 mm
  • 215 g
Display
  • 6.1-inch OLED
  • 60Hz refresh rate
  • 1080 x 2400 pixels
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • 6.8-inch IPS LCD
  • 120Hz refresh rate
  • 1080 x 2460 pixels
  • Unknown
SoC
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 695G 5G
RAM and Storage
  • 6GB / 128GB internal storage
  • 6GB / 128GB internal storage
  • 8GB / 256GB internal storage
Battery and Charging
  • 4,410mAh battery
  • 18W Fast Charging
  • No wireless charging
  • 5,000 mAh battery
  • 18W Fast charging
  • No wireless charging
Security
  • Fingerprint sensor (In-display)
  • Fingerprint sensor (side)
Rear Camera(s)
  • 12.2 MP, f/1.7 Main (with OIS)
  • 12 MP, f/2.2 Ultra-wide
  • 50 MP, f/1.9 Main (with OIS)
  • 8 MP, f/2.2 Ultra-Wide
  • 2 MP, f/2.4 Depth
Front Camera(s)
Ports
  • USB Type-C
  • No headphone jack
  • USB Type-C
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
Connectivity
  • 5G
  • LTE
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6e
  • Bluetooth 5.2
  • 5G
  • LTE
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  • Bluetooth 5.1
Software
Price

Build and Design

With a mid-range phone, there isn’t much expectation when it comes to quality. But, over the past few years, companies have refined the formula, bringing better products to market, mainly due to consumer expectations. So what are some of the things that need to be considered when looking for a phone? Design is pretty important because it is something that you will see every single day. Build quality is another one because if your phone isn’t built reliably, it might not last long. The display will also be a key thing to pay attention to as it is where your eyes will stay glued most of the time. The performance of the phone will be key. This includes not only the processor but also the capabilities of the camera, battery, and other internal components.


As mentioned before, the Google Pixel 6a shares a design that is nearly identical to its Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro siblings. Depending on your thoughts about the Pixel 6a design, this can be good or bad. The Pixel 6a has a 6.1-inch OLED display and a distinct camera array on its rear. The camera bar, sometimes called the “visor,” looks like nothing else on the market. The visor splits the phone’s rear into two parts, the top, and the bottom. This is where Google gets a little creative with its design, coloring the top and bottom in slightly different shades to create a harmonious contrast.

Pixel 6A

Image via Google

You can get a better feeling of the dual-tone color aesthetic by looking at the image from Google. Along with Charcoal, Google offers Chalk and Sage as color options. All the color choices are pretty muted, but the plastic back offers a bit of pop thanks to its polished finish. The design is pretty simple, but if you aren’t really into the look, it might take some time to get used to it. In addition, the design has been called polarizing, with an equal amount of supporters and critics. So if you didn’t have an immediate reaction and you’re on the fence, it might be a good idea to give it some more time, or you can think about buying a case to change its color and look.

The Moto G Stylus stands on a table between two plants.

The Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) has a 6.8-inch IPS LCD and, despite having a shiny metallic exterior, is made from plastic. The good thing about having a phone made from plastic is that it is light and durable. You won’t have to worry about dropping it and having the back dent or crack. Of course, there are limitations to the abuse it can take, but the durability rating should be much higher when compared to a phone with a metal or glass rear. You can probably see in the image above, but there is a slight curve on the rear, making this phone an easy one to hold.

Motorola keeps things as subtle as possible when you have three cameras by ensuring that the camera array doesn’t protrude too much from the rear of the phone. The Moto G Stylus 5G 2022 has a 3.5mm headphone jack, and its most unique feature is a stylus tucked away at the bottom. Overall, it’s a design that looks polished. While we can take this statement at face value by glancing at the faux brushed metal rear, we’ll go a bit deeper by appreciating a simple design aesthetic that could have easily overextended itself but doesn’t. Motorola does a great job of walking the design tightrope. With that said, each phone has unique points, so when it comes to the design, you just have to choose what you think looks best.


Display

The Pixel 6a has a 6.1-inch flat OLED display with a resolution of 1080 x 2400 pixels. It has minimal bezels all around with a slight chin at the bottom. It’s there, but it isn’t distracting, and neither is the camera cutout on the top part of the screen. When it comes to performance, the 60Hz display offers lively colors and relatively deep blacks. But since this is a mid-range phone, the brightness isn’t exactly its best attribute. You can expect things to look great indoors, but going outside, you will notice that the display can’t compete with nature, and sunny days will cause the screen to look washed out. It isn’t a huge issue, just one to be aware of when a phone is in this price range.


The OLED display does feature an in-display fingerprint reader, which is convenient. But there have been reports of its slower performance when unlocking the phone. But, again, I wouldn’t worry too much about this because for every report of a slow fingerprint reader, there is another report stating that it is fine. As a nice bonus, the screen does offer support for HDR10 and HDR10+. This will be a plus for anyone who likes watching movies on their phone. Overall, this is a pretty good screen for a mid-range device, giving you exactly what you need when you need it.

The Moto G Stylus 5G stands on a table with two lego minifigs.

The Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G has a large 6.8-inch IPS LCD display with a resolution of 1080 x 2460 pixels. The display is flat, and the bezels are thin. There is a small lip along the bottom edge of the display and a camera cutout on the top part of the screen. Neither of these takes away from the experience and shouldn’t be a concern. The IPS LCD panel is bright and can challenge even the sunniest days. While the colors are vibrant, they won’t be beating an OLED panel, but where the Moto G Stylus 5G has a leg up is its 120Hz display. This refresh rate gives a buttery smooth scrolling experience and can be a huge advantage when playing games. The Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G is a rarity, even on a global stage, as there aren’t many devices that offer a 120Hz refresh rate at such a low price point. Even if there were, most options cannot be purchased in the United States.

From an everyday standpoint, both displays will be more than sufficient. But there are some things to consider. The Pixel 6a uses an OLED panel that can provide more vibrant colors and can be more energy efficient. Its size isn’t the biggest but should be suitable for most use cases. The Moto G Stylus 5G has a large 6.8-inch LCD display, and while it can’t produce as vibrant of colors as an OLED, it makes up for that with its size and 120Hz refresh rate. Again, the display will depend on your personal preferences. But, regardless of what you choose, you can’t go wrong.


Performance

The Pixel 6a is a bit special when it comes to its chipset. While normal mid-range devices get mid-range chips, the Pixel 6a is powered by Google’s Tensor processor. You will find this processor in Google’s top-of-the-line smartphones, the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. The Google Tensor SoC was released towards the tail end of 2021 and competed with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 and Samsung’s Exynos 2100 processors. With that said, you might expect the Google Pixel 6a to perform at a high level, and for the most part, it does. But our own Adam Conway clarified the chip’s behavior in his review, stating that while all the stat lines are there for a flagship SoC, the experience is sometimes compromised due to performance hiccups here and there. While not a persistent issue, it is something to keep in mind.

Google Tensor SoC

Image via Google

The Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G packs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 5G chipset, which makes it a proper mid-tier SoC. But that doesn’t mean it offers a subpar experience, far from it. Over the years, Qualcomm has fine-tuned its chipset lineup, delivering a processor for every segment. Each of these processors is optimized to provide a good experience. With that said, in our review of the phone, it performed well for everyday use. Despite its unimpressive benchmark numbers, it still handled pretty much everything we threw at it, with the one exception being one highly intense video game called Genshin Impact. 

Snapdragon 695

Image via Qualcomm

While the Google Pixel 6a offers a more powerful processor, both devices can perform well in normal day-to-day tasks. While there might be a slight difference in speed, you most likely won’t be able to tell unless you have the phones side-by-side. As stated before, Qualcomm does an excellent job optimizing its product portfolio, and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 5G is not an exception.


Cameras

When Google first launched the Pixel line in 2016, it was applauded for its impressive camera and use of software optimizations. Since then, it has become a part of the Pixel phone’s DNA, bringing new software tricks and elevating the camera performance with each release. The Google Pixel 6a is no different, using a 12MP primary sensor paired with a 12MP ultra-wide. While Google has fallen a couple of steps back in recent years when compared to its competitors, it still manages to produce beautiful photos. The camera has its strengths during the day and can also use computational magic to make things come alive at night. Naturally, there are limitations, but for the most part, the Pixel 6a is a solid performer when taking photos and videos.

The Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G packs three cameras, with the primary shooter coming in at an impressive 50MP. One thing you should probably know is that camera performance has never been Motorola’s strong suit. Thankfully, the Moto G Stylus 5G actually performs a little bit better when compared to Motorola’s past devices. When taking photos and videos during the day, things look good. If there is a complaint, the phone’s stabilization is pretty inconsistent. So if you’re walking around shooting video, things might not look as smooth as you’d want them to. One last thing to note is that while the Pixel 6a can shoot video at 4K at 30 frames per second, the Motorola can only shoot at 1080p. But, for the most part, photos are pretty good in most conditions, and although videos aren’t perfect, they are usable.


Battery Life and Charging

Since you no doubt have a lot of information about both of these phones in your mind at this point, so let’s keep this last part short and sweet. The Google Pixel 6a has a 4,410mAh battery, while the Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G has a massive 5,000mAh battery. The Pixel 6a can quickly go through one day, but it won’t be a two-day device. You might be able to eke out two days, but it will be with very light use and careful planning. For most, you will have to charge it every night. The Moto G Stylus 5G is a different story, being a true two-day device. In our review with moderate use, the phone lasted two days. If you are doing something more intense, you should be able to at least feel confident not putting it on the charger at night. However, you will have to charge sometime later the next day. These top up with 18W fast charging and don’t have wireless charging capabilities. But, still, great devices that have more than enough battery life.


Google Pixel 6a vs Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G 2022: Which one should you buy?

Here we are, after the full breakdown, now a choice has to be made. But I think, unlike other comparisons, this one has a clear winner. Despite the Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G 2022 having a higher MSRP than the Google Pixel 6a, it doesn’t offer more than the Pixel 6a. Even at its discounted price, which is $100 less than the Google Pixel 6a MSRP, I still don’t think it’s worth it. The Google Pixel 6a has a better processor and camera, and while the design is subjective, it still offers a battery that can last all day. For most, that’s enough. If interested, purchase the phone using the links below or check out the latest deals on the Google Pixel 6a.

If you need a high refresh rate display, two-day battery life, or a stylus, the Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G 2022 is a must.

    The Google Pixel 6a packs in a flagship SoC and the signature Pixel experience at a price tag that gives the competition a run for its money.
    One of the rare occasions where a phone comes with a stylus, the Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G offers a well rounded package too.



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