Motorola Moto G82 review: It doesn’t look great, but it’s a great phone
- 120Hz display
- Great battery life
- Decent app performance
- Good cameras
- Unclear update schedule
- Plain design
- Only IP52, so it’s water repellent rather than resistant
|Launch price (RRP)||$499|
It seems like every couple of years, Chinese phone makers swap whose turn it is to release a dizzying number of phones that only differ a little bit to market. It's something we've seen from the likes of Oppo, realme, HMD Global/Nokia and this year, Motorola.
The Motorola Moto G82 is part of Motorola's G series family. It's not quite as cheap as the Motorola E series phones like the Motorola Moto E32 but not quite as fancy as the company's more premium Edge phones, like the Motorola Edge 20 Fusion.
At least, that's the theory. The reality is that while the Motorola Moto G82 isn't Motorola's best-looking phone, it's got some features that are actually better than you can get on a pricier Edge handset right now. You've got a lot of choices on $499 5G-capable Android phones right now and the Motorola Moto G82 should definitely be on your consideration list.
Design: G series design remains plain, but the 120Hz AMOLED is nice
With the power off, the Motorola Moto G82 really isn't that impressive to look at. In Australia, it ships in just 2 colour variants, either White Lily or Meteorite Gray, which is what I've been reviewing for the past couple of weeks.
It's resolutely a plastic body phone with the same curved design as on other G series phones such as the Motorola G51 5G and the same vertical triple camera bump at the back.
The comparison between the 2 phones is interesting because the Motorola Moto G82 shrinks down to a 6.6-inch display from the G51's 6.8-inch display.
Both phones support 120Hz refresh rates, but the Motorola Moto G82 has a higher resolution at 2,400x1,800. Given its smaller display, that means it's markedly sharper because it has to pack even more pixels into a smaller display area.
The icing on the cake here is that the Motorola Moto G82 features an AMOLED display while so many of Motorola's phones – especially on the cheaper end of the spectrum – use LCD.
The end result is a very plain-looking phone with a rather good display for its price point. At the base, you'll find USB-C charging and a headphone port, while the right-hand side houses a volume rocker above a combination power button and fingerprint sensor.
That's 100% on trend for what most of Motorola's competitors are doing right now. Slender side-mounted sensors don't always have the best track record on accurately unlocking, but I really didn't hit too many problems in that regard with the Motorola Moto G82.
As with most of Motorola's lines, you also get a cheap-looking but entirely serviceable clear plastic protective case on the phone.
Is it better to put an uglier case on an uglier phone? The answer is yes, because you should always protect your phone, and in this case, you're not exactly spoiling a show-off phone, just a plain one.
The Motorola Moto G82 also has a level of IP-rated water resistance, although it's well below what you might think of when I use the phrase "water resistance". At just IP52, it's better described as "water repellent" because it's rated more for surviving splashes and rain than it is for full immersion in water.
Camera: A basic camera recipe leads to basic shots
The Motorola Moto G82 takes a mostly familiar approach to its camera tech based on previous Moto phones that have come through Finder's labs of late. It's built around a primary 50MP f/1.8 lens with optical image stabilisation, with a simpler 8MP f/2.2 wide/depth lens and 2MP f/2.4 macro lens at the back. Selfies are handled by a single 16MP f/2.2 lens in a holepunch array on the middle front of the screen.
So far, so normal, although the inclusion of OIS isn't always assumed at this price point. Motorola has been offering phones with decent camera capabilities of late, but few of them have particularly impressed me, even given their relatively modest price points.
That's largely the story for the Motorola Moto G82 as well. Like everyone else's macro lenses, you have to work pretty hard to get a serviceable shot. If you're chasing a moving target, you'll need a fair degree of luck to end up with a good shot:
The combination of the primary lens and the use of the wide lens for depth effects can work out in your favour for some shots:
Eating bacon waffles totally counts as work if you photograph them, right?
As with so many of its mid-range phones, what you don't get is any kind of true optical zoom, relying instead on digital cropping on that primary 50MP sensor. This shifts up to a maximum of 8x digital, with predictably worsening results the further you push it.
As an example, here's a rustic-looking building, taken with the standard lens and no zoom. It's a nicely balanced shot, taken handheld:
Could use having those cars cropped out. At 2x zoom, it's still quite workable even if it doesn't quite lose both vehicles:
At 4x zoom, the cars are gone, but the detail is clearly dropping away in favour of digital noise:
At full whack 8x zoom, things do not look good.
The Motorola Moto G82 neither disappointed me nor largely excited me and that's absolutely par for the course for $499 phones right now. For everyday users, there's most of what you'd really need on a rolling basis here, although if you push it hard in any real way around zoom or low light, you'll quickly hit its limitations.
Motorola Moto G82 sample photos:
Performance: Not super-speedy, but as good as you'll get for $499
At $499, the Motorola Moto G82 either sits at the top end of budget phones or the bottom end of the mid-range, depending on your perspective. It's got plenty of competitors at that price point and a near-even split of phones that rely either on lower-cost MediaTek or Qualcomm processors.
For the Motorola Moto G82, Motorola opted for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 695, paired up with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of onboard storage, expandable via microSD card.
There are not too many Snapdragon 695 phones available in Australia at the time of writing, but there are a number of phones that sit within the Motorola Moto G82's price space that you could opt for, including several other Motorola models.
So how does the Motorola Moto G82 compare? Here's how it stacks up using Geekbench 5's CPU test:
It's pleasing to see the Motorola Moto G82 outpace the Galaxy A33 here. While the numerical margin there is so slender as to be invisible, bear in mind that the Galaxy A33 typically costs $100 more. You're getting the same performance for less money, which is always good. It also handily beats the theoretically-more-premium Edge 20 Fusion and its Dimensity 800 processor.
Where the Motorola Moto G82 falters is in graphics performance, with its Adreno 619 GPU falling short of the competition in 3DMark's graphics benchmarks:
What you end up with is a phone that doesn't falter badly within its price space as long as you're not looking for high-end graphics performance. I hit a few issues even with more intense action game titles on the Motorola Moto G82 and that 120Hz display certainly helped.
The Motorola Moto G82 is 5G ready, but predictably only for sub-6Ghz 5G networks. Testing on the Telstra 5G network in Australia across a range of locations rather predictably gave me a range of speeds.
At worst, I was getting 20Mbps down in Finder's speed test and at best around 300Mbps down. As with all things mobile broadband, your experiences may vary. Within this price, 5G remains a nice-to-have feature, not a must-have inclusion.
On the software front, it's very much business as usual for Motorola. The Motorola Moto G82 ships with Android 12 and Motorola's light touch launcher that offers you an almost-plain Android experience. That's a plus when you're looking to eke out the most performance from a mid-range chip, because you're not wasting performance on launcher features you probably don't need anyway.
However, like so many of its siblings, Motorola's position on upgrades is less than stellar. There are no claims around when or if the Motorola Moto G82 will see Android 13.
You may not care about full OS upgrades, but you should care about security upgrades and these too are only slowly trickled out. Reviewing the Motorola Moto G82 in June 2022, it was disappointing to see security patches only up to date for March 2022.
Battery: Lasts for ages
The Motorola Moto G82 features a sealed 5,000mAh battery, which again is absolutely on the mark and no better than you'd get from many competitor phones.
Motorola has thrown 5,000mAh into a lot of its 144Hz-capable phones, so I was keen to see how it would handle 120Hz and an AMOLED display in terms of battery endurance. Usage is always key here, so I ran it through Finder's battery test benchmark.
Here, what I want to see is above 90% for a phone to likely last at least a day. Every single percentage point above that mark is a big bonus for multi-day possibilities. Here's how the Motorola Moto G82 compares.
That 94% figure is exceptional and it's one that I can confirm relates to real-world usage too. On moderate use, I've been able to stretch the Motorola Moto G82 out to an easy 2 days of battery life without too much stress.
There are of course ways to deplete its battery faster, as I noticed when I was using it for game or 5G testing, but this really is one of the better phones at this price point regarding battery life.
On the charging front, the Motorola Moto G82 supports up to 30W USB-C charging, with a 33W charger bundled into the box. Nobody's doing wireless charging at this price, but it's nice to see a mid-range phone ship with a charger that can take full advantage of its wired charging capabilities out of the box.
Should you buy the Motorola Moto G82?
- Buy it if you want great battery life in a mid-range phone.
- Don't buy it if you want a stylishly designed phone.
The Motorola Moto G82 is a real ugly duckling of a phone. Like that fairy tale, it's wrapped in a design that can't help but look plain and somewhat uninviting. If what you want out of a phone is one that'll impress your mates with its flashy design, this is not it.
However, if you're in the market for a true mid-range phone with staying power, it's highly recommended. It's currently the best battery performer at this price by a wide margin, coupled with good-but-not-great app and camera performance. It might not look fancy, but beneath the surface, there's a very good phone on sale here.
Pricing and availability
Power, storage and battery
How we tested
I used the Motorola Moto G82 over a 3-week period, testing it extensively both with synthetic benchmarks and real-world app, camera and battery testing. I ran all benchmarks a minimum of 3 times to reach an average score, allowing for variable performance. Motorola Australia loaned me the Motorola Moto G82 unit used in this review.
The reviewer has more than 2 decades of tech product reviewing under his belt and is a multi-time Australian IT Journo award winner, including awards for best reviewer and best technical journalist.
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