This Phone is $169 - What's the Catch?

This brand-new smartphone from 2023 has a 6 1/2-inch, 90-hertz display with a hole-punch cutout, a 5,000 milliamp-hour battery, triple cameras, a micro SD card slot for expandable storage, a headphone jack, and water resistance for 169. Nice, but what's the catch? There's got to be a catch, right? So look, I've said it before and I'll say it again. Good phones are getting cheap, nuh, and cheap phones are getting good. And this video is gonna focus on the second part of that, which is the cheap phones that are getting so good because this phone hit my inbox recently. It's called the Moto G Play for 2023 and if you've been paying attention to what Motorola's been doing recently, They've been making a lot of really good budget phones in the background for the past couple of years. I just wanted to know, personally, from using it myself, How do you end up at a phone that's a 10th of the price of the ones that I've been enjoying? So on the outside, well, it's a pretty big phone, which I like, and there's a 6. 5-inch flat 90 hertz LCD. Now it's not the best-looking screen you've ever seen. It's only 720P, so I can see pixels sometimes, and it doesn't get very bright, you know,

viewing angles are pretty bad if you get off-axis. And of course, the bezels you can see are slightly thicker, especially on the chin. And there's this little bit of light fall-off around the hole-punch camera at the top. But the thing is, can you pixel peep at this price? This is plenty of screen for texting, web browsing, navigation, flipping through apps, scrolling through social media, and the classic stuff you wanna do on a phone. Mission accomplished, you know, it's a big screen, so that's not the catch. But what about the build? You've probably picked up that it's a pretty big phone but it's also made of plastic. But honestly, the layout is perfectly fine. Like you've got the port and the speakers at the bottom, There's a headphone jack at the top, and you have bonus expandable storage alongside the SIM card tray right where it belongs. And on the back, yes, that is a decently-fast fingerprint reader right in that classic Motorola dimple spot. So it's laid out well, it does not bend or creep or anything weird like that. Plus you might have heard plastic is not the end of the world when it comes to a smartphone build. The premium ones will like to feel

more premium and heavy and so glass will do that. But this is often more durable than glass if you drop it. And some people like a lighter-weight phone when it is this big. Also, it is still water resistant. I can't say waterproof, it's IP52, but it's water resistant. So the build, that's not the catch. So, okay, what about the battery, You might be wondering, Cheap phone, it's excellent, perfectly unironically not exaggerating, it's excellent, which actually shouldn't be a surprise given the spec. It's a 5,000 milliamp-hour battery powering a phone with a 720p display. So you're good for a day and a half easy, two light days is no problem with seven hours of screen time. Now it's only up to 10-watt charging, which is pretty slow and there is no wireless charging, but I'm not gonna consider that a gotcha at this price. Again, it's like you can just charge it up overnight every night like a normal person, and battery life will be fine. And even the software is really good. It's virtually the same experience as their $1000 flagship Edge phone, which is to say, near stock Android with a little Moto Extra features sprinkled on top.

So at its most basic, it'll kind of feel like a Pixel when you dig through quick settings and notifications and the launcher, But then you get some Motorola widgets tucked in, you know, You get a couple of extra settings in the settings app, But then you get this Moto app that lets you Dig into your extra gestures and features that they've perfected over the years. The double chop for the flashlight, The three-finger screenshot, you know, the peek display feature that gives you a peek at your new notifications and even swiping down on your notification panel from the fingerprint reader on the back. Everything minus the double twist to quickly open the camera, probably because the camera is not one of those things that you look forward to on these super cheap phones. Oh wow, look at the light fall off, you can see it on camera, but either way, I'm happy to report that this camera is functional, which is like, That's what you would hope for at this price, which is, yeah, it's functional. I'm just not a huge fan of the triple-camera layout here. Like I know they're trying to look premium and triple cameras look premium, but the top one is a two-megapixel macro camera and the bottom one is a two-megapixel depth camera for portrait mode.

So I'm mainly just looking for this main 16-megapixel camera to be able to capture scenes, documents, you know, take photos and videos without problems. And it does, especially if you give it enough light. It's not gonna win any comparison tests, that's for sure. But hey, we ask a lot of our phones, like the fact that this $169 gadget can already make phone calls and send text messages and navigate you around the world and also play games and also browse the web and it can also take decent pictures and 1080p videos and that's solid. I initially had my suspicions about whether or not It was going to use this depth camera when I take a portrait-mode photo, but it did yell at me When I covered it and tried to take a portrait-mode shot, So it's paying attention to it, at least. But when I took the photo and turned up the background blur, This is the cutout shape which if you zoom in Just a little bit, is truly bizarre. It's really bad. I've never seen anything this bad in my life. (chuckles) They just said, "Yeah, we'll just save a little processing power here and use the zigzag cutout The method from those scissors from preschool to make this work. " But see, that's the thing.

That is the catch. It's not the build quality, that's fine, and it's not the battery life, that's great. It's not the cameras and it's certainly not the software. It's that this phone is slow, really slow. So this phone has a MediaTek Helio G37 chip inside and three gigabytes of RAM. Other phones with this chipset include the Techno Spark 9, the Infinix Hot 12, and the HONOR X7a, all of which retail well under $150 US. So clearly it's a cheap chip, right, and that's how it ended up in this phone. For some context, the Geekbench score of the iPhone 14 is this, and the Geekbench score of the Moto G Play is this. So when I say it's trying to save processing power By not doing detailed portrait cutouts, I mean that it lacks any meaningful processing power. And I'm not nitpicking about like maybe it's just slow on some high-end games or something. No, this phone is slow all the time. It's slow to scroll and just like moving around the UI. Now remember what I mentioned at the beginning that this phone has a variable 90-hertz display but I'll be honest, it would've taken me a while to tell because it is rarely anywhere near 60 hertz.

It's constantly hanging up and stuttering everywhere. It's slow to unlock, it's slow to open apps, not just huge apps, just normal apps. Even the settings apps take an embarrassingly long time to open and even longer to search through things. Some of this is like the speed of storage as well, to be fair. So I don't wanna put it all on the chip, but the point here is it's the catch. This phone is slower than average to take pictures. It's slow to type stuff, to browse around, and just to do anything like high-end gaming Or photo editing is kind of out of the question. It might be the slowest phone I've ever used and I'm constantly reminded of it, which can make it quite unpleasant to use. So the longer I used this phone, the more it had me thinking about one big question, which is, Is it better to get a brand new cheap phone like this or an older, formerly expensive flagship one? Like this phone, this is 169 brand new, right? This phone here, this is the OnePlus 7 Pro, You might remember it. It's one of my favorite phones ever. This was the phone of the year in 2019. So this was 669 back when it came out, but it can be had easily for well under $200 right now secondhand. So this is just one example of a phone like this.

This phone, if you compare dollar for dollar with the Moto is just so much better an experience Across the board, it'll have a much better chipset. So the Snapdragon 855 is a few years old, but it's much more capable and part of an overall smoother, better performance profile with faster storage and more RAM. It has a much, much nicer OLED screen, which is sharper, brighter, and hits the 90-hertz refresh rate all the time. It has way more built-in storage, although it's not expandable, and it has a much better set of cameras. It's a primary plus an ultra-wide and a zoom, and it's built from glass instead of plastic, which feels rock solid, and it has a 4,000 milliamp hour battery, which is probably the only hardware line You can call it a draw or maybe even a win for the Moto phone, but we can't forget that warp charging that OnePlus was famous for. So this old flagship will do 30 watts of wired charging. So it seems pretty unanimous here. But one distinct advantage of the budget phone is Because it's new, it will get software updates further into the future than the old phone. Now this is theoretically, of course, like Motorola does not have the best track record here, So it depends on what phone we're talking about,

but the Samsung A14 5G, for example, has a pretty similar spec sheet and a similar price point, and that'll probably Get more software updates than the Moto. But the idea here is even if a flagship phone is promised three to four years of software updates, and the budget phone is only getting two, as soon as that flagship phone is more than three years old, It doesn't have that advantage anymore. So the OnePlus 7 Pro is probably about done with software updates while we probably have a few in the tank for the Moto. It is also funny though, sometimes, how I hear people talk about software updates, some people don't think about software updates at all, they avoid software updates. Don't do that, by the way; The security patches are pretty important. But yeah, it's just one of those points that have to, by default, go to the newer phone. But the final straw in favor of the older phone is the environment. Just because buying an older phone that's built to last and get an extra 2, 3, or 4 years out of it potentially is better for the environment overall. You buy fewer new things, it's less e-waste. So that's something that's a feather in the cap of the old phone over the new one. So my general thought as I've looked at this landscape

and all these options with old flagships versus new budget phones is The lower the price of the phone, the more I would want to buy the older phone. So at 169, for example, based on the experience I've had With this phone, I would rather have, the older flagship phone. There's a lot of flagships you can get at about 200 bucks, You could get this one, you could get a Pixel 5. Secondhand phones are really good. Now if you go up to like 400 bucks, Then it's a little more debatable. There are still some things that would still point me towards the formerly flagship phone, but then you get to like 600 bucks and it's like, oh, there's good brand new $600 phones that I would take today and still have the advantages of the software updates. It's not a lot that's better than the Pixel 7, right now. So that's the theory. (brass fanfare blaring) So there you have it. At this price point, I'd prefer prehistoric premium over presently pleasantly priced.

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