Moto G31 review: another excellent value budget phone from Motorola

The Moto G31 isn't 5G-ready or particularly fast, but it's still worth a look

Moto G31
(Image credit: Future)
T3 Verdict

The Moto G31 doesn't stray from the usual Motorola formula: it's an affordable Android handset that gives you more than you might expect from the price. Long battery life and a bright 6.4-inch display are the stand-out features here, though there are weaknesses too.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Bright and vibrant 6.4-inch display

  • +

    Very affordable price point

  • +

    Impressive battery life

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Fingerprint sensor in power button

  • -

    Display doesn't offer HDR

  • -

    No wireless charging support

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The Moto G31 is an instant contender for our best cheap phones list, as it comes in right at the budget end of the market. This is where Motorola phones tend to shine in terms of their value for money – so is this another budget Moto handset that's worth considering?

When weighing up the best phones or the best Android phones, price is the key factor that everything else is judged by. Sure, the iPhone 13 beats the Moto G31 in just about every area, but this Motorola model is also a fraction of the price of Apple's flagship device.

In this comprehensive Moto G31 review, we're going to aim to tell you everything you need to know about the handset, from the sort of performance levels you can expect, to how good the camera around the back is, to how long the battery lasts between charges.

Moto G31 review: price and availability

Right now the Moto G31 is available to buy direct and unlocked in the UK from a variety of retailers. Check the widgets embedded on this page for the latest online prices, but you can expect to pay around £170-190 for the smartphone, depending on which configuration you decide to go for.

Moto G31 review: design and screen

The Moto G31 comes with a very decent 6.4-inch AMOLED screen, which runs at a resolution of 1080 x 2400 pixels. The use of AMOLED rather than LCD really adds vibrancy and brightness to the screen, and if you're prepared to ramp the brightness up to the maximum, then colours really pop on this display. What you don't get is HDR support, so details can get lost in the brightness and darkest areas of the screen at times. 

Overall, we were very impressed with the display on the Moto G31, especially considering the low price you have to pay to get hold of the phone. It's definitely one of the better screens down at the budget end of the market, and so if video watching and photo viewing are your priorities, then this might have you leaning towards this particular handset. Everything we viewed on the screen looked sharp and vibrant.

Overall, the design and build of the Moto G31 doesn't really offer any surprises, but there are no disappointments here either. The display bezels and the handset as a whole aren't as thin as the premium-level flagship phones, but that's fine – we like the little ridges on the plastic back of the device, and the smartphone looks more expensive than it actually is (always a good sign in terms of a handset's aesthetics).

The fingerprint sensor is embedded in the power button on the right of the phone as you look at it – something we're not a huge fan of, but we can live with it. Above that are the volume controls and a dedicated Google Assistant button, and there's a headphone jack at the top and a USB-C port at the bottom. Your colour options for the phone are Baby Blue and Mineral Grey (our review unit is the latter).

Moto G31 review: camera and battery

Moto G31

(Image credit: Future)

The rear camera is one area where you can tell costs have been cut: the Moto G31 offers a triple-lens 50MP wide + 8MP ultrawide + 2MP macro camera around the back, and a single-lens 13MP camera on the front in a punch hole notch. It's decent enough as camera setups go, but you're going to be able to tell the device between photos taken on this device and photos taken on handsets higher up the price scale. There's no optical zoom, though the ultrawide lens is occasionally useful.

You can certainly get some eye-catching photos with the Moto G31: details tend to get blurry and noisy if you zoom in too far, but colours are well balanced (using HDR if necessary) and light and shade is handled well. If you're taking snaps and video clips to post on social media, which is what most of us will be doing, then this is a smartphone that's more than capable of producing – not bad for a budget handset.

In low light and at night, the Moto G31 tries its best, but it's here that the shortcomings of the rear camera really start to appear. It is possible to get okay-looking photos in dim light – actually quite an achievement at the budget end of the smartphone market – but they're blurred and fuzzy a lot of the time. As you can see from the Pixel 6 Pro comparison shot in the gallery above, if phone photography is important to you (especially in low light) then you might want to consider getting a more expensive handset.

The phone impresses in terms of battery life, meanwhile. We streamed a video for an hour, with the volume set low and the display at maximum brightness, and the battery level dropped from 100 percent to just 94 percent – that suggests you'll get 16-17 hours in total, which is way above average. In general use the handset held its charge well too, and we think the 5,000mAh battery will get you up to two days of use if you're careful with it. The (wired-only) charging is disappointingly slow though, at only 10W.

Moto G31 review: other specs and features

Moto G31

(Image credit: Future)

The Moto G31 comes running a MediaTek Helio G85 processor, with 4GB of RAM and either 64GB or 128GB of internal storage (there is a microSDXC slot in the phone if you want to add a memory card for even more storage). What that all means is that you've got a phone that will cope fine with day-to-day tasks, albeit a touch slower than the premium flagships. While we didn't notice any major problems with lag or stuttering, this isn't going to be quite as slick in its swiping and animations as something like the Samsung Galaxy S21.

The most demanding games is the only area where the handset starts to struggle, though we were able to run the fairly intense Asphalt 9 racing game without any real problems. Geekbench scores of 346 (single-core), 1283 (multi-core) and 1174 (OpenCL) confirm that the phone is down at the lower end of the performance spectrum, and you'll have to do without 5G as well – perhaps not a disaster, considering that 4G is still rather speedy.

You don't get the very latest Android 12 with this handset, but the one before it, Android 11 – and there's no indication from Motorola as to when an upgrade might appear. Thankfully there's very little in the way of bloatware and other pre-installed apps (Motorola is usually pretty good in this regard), so when you start up the phone for the first time you're not overwhelmed with a pile of apps you don't need.

We should also point out that the Moto G31, like many other Motorola handsets, comes with a basic, clear plastic case. It's pretty standard as cases go, but it's nice to have it included – it offers a decent level of protection for your new handset at no extra cost. There's also a single loudspeaker down at the bottom of the handset, which produces a level and quality of sound that's satisfactory but no more than that.

Moto G31 review: price and verdict

Moto G31

(Image credit: Motorola)

The Moto G31 really continues the journey that Motorola (via parent company Lenovo) has been on for several years now: making high-quality, low-cost Android smartphones that give you a lot of bang for your buck. That's once again the case with the Moto G31, which serves up more than you would reasonably expect considering that it's not just cheap, but one of the cheapest phones you can get your hands on right now.

Okay, the speed of the device's performance and the capabilities of its camera aren't exactly going to wow you, but the phone has a great, large screen and lots of battery life to offer. It's well put together, it comes with a bonus protective case, and there's even a headphone jack so you can carry on using your existing wired headphones. It's going to do everything you need it to do and then some.

If you're considering spending a little bit more money and exploring the mid-range smartphone market, the main improvements you'll see over the Moto G31 will be the increased snappiness of moving between multiple apps, and the better quality of the photos and videos that you take (especially in low light). A more expensive phone will have a more premium feel, and you'll also get access to extras that the Moto G31 doesn't offer, such as waterproofing, 5G and wireless charging.

Check the widgets embedded on this page for the most up-to-date pricing for the Moto G31 on the web, but as we said at the start, at the time of writing you can pick up the handset for around £170 and upwards online (right now it's not available in the US). Considering how much cheaper that is than the top-end flagships of the moment, we'd say you're getting a pretty good deal with the Moto G31 and everything it has to offer.

David Nield

Dave has over 20 years' experience in the tech journalism industry, covering hardware and software across mobile, computing, smart home, home entertainment, wearables, gaming and the web – you can find his writing online, in print, and even in the occasional scientific paper, across major tech titles like T3, TechRadar, Gizmodo and Wired. Outside of work, he enjoys long walks in the countryside, skiing down mountains, watching football matches (as long as his team is winning) and keeping up with the latest movies.