Motorola Moto G31 review: Made for binge-watching
After a couple of lacklustre offerings in the sub- ₹15,000 smartphone space, Motorola hit it right with the Moto G40 Fusion. Motorola's clean software now gets class-leading hardware and hence, the G40 Fusion saw huge demand. With the Moto G31 now, Motorola wants to repeat the same success, albeit with a different crowd; a crowd that loves to watch movies or web shows on their phone without worrying about battery life.
Hence, Motorola gave the Moto G31 the highly sought-after AMOLED display tech. Paired with a large battery and Motorola's own flavour of “near-stock Android”, it seems the company achieved a more affordable Redmi Note 10 alternative. But despite its temptations on paper, is the Moto G31 as good in the real world as it seems? I found out after having used the phone for over 10 days and here's how it fares.
Moto G31 Design
The Moto G31 is a simple looking phone. It does not try too hard to snatch eyeballs off your neighbour; something that Redmi and Realme phones do. This has an understated design with muted colours, although Motorola has given it some gradient effect to spice it up. Despite having the Moto logo masking the fingerprint scanner and a grippy smudge-resistant texture on the rear, the Moto G31 seems bland and I wish Motorola had played around with a spicy design.
That said, this is a nicely built phone with no creaking plastics or uneven edges. At 181 grams, it is comfortable to hold. The buttons are classic Motorola, i.e., unsatisfying tactility and positioned farther from the fingers. The display stretches edge to edge but despite having an AMOLED panel, there's a substantial chin at the bottom. Nonetheless, this is a well-built phone that could have done with some excitement on the drawing board.
Moto G31 Display
The hero feature of the G31! Phone at this price range rarely offer an AMOLED display, which is why Motorola is banking on it. This 6.4-inch AMOLED display is adequately large and vibrant to look at. As standard, Motorola turns on the saturated colour profile that livens up the user interface, social media timelines, and web shows on OTT platforms.
With Widevine L1 support, I was able to watch Full HD shows on Prime Video and Netflix, and the viewing experience has been great so far; especially for a phone of this class.
The 60Hz refresh rate is fine for regular users but gamers may find it jittery when compared to the now-standard 90Hz displays in this segment. It got fairly bright under the sun and touch response has been nice.
Moto G31 Performance
That AMOLED display meant compromises elsewhere! Motorola has settled for a MediaTek Helio G85 chipset paired to eMCP storage, up to 6GB RAM and 128GB storage capacity. You get a Moto-tweaked Android 11 experience but Motorola promises an upgrade to Android 12 soon.
The Helio G85 isn't a lively chipset in itself and as long as you restrict your usage to basic smartphone stuff such as loading up social media apps or watching web shows, it will do just fine. In fact, it remains sprightly with generic use cases – load up Gmail or use Snapchat; the Moto G31 is happy to do all that. The clean burden-free Android interface helps it a lot.
It's when you go demanding on the phone when the chipset shows signs of struggles. Games like Call of Duty: Mobile, BGMI and Shadow Fight 4: Arena make the phone struggle for breath after a while. You can still run these games at low-medium graphics but the experience is far from satisfactory.
Come back to the generic use cases and this is where the Moto G31 shines. Motorola is currently offering the nicest Android experiences on affordable phones. The interface looks lively with its large icons, no bloated elements, and an easy-to-learn layout. There are a few Motorola additions for tweaking the software experience, which include the ability have you own subtle themes, have custom gestures, and other conveniences. The phone reacts with small vibrations to gestures, although the haptics could be better. I think no sub- ₹15,000 smartphone at this stage can match Moto G31's clean user experience. There's everything one needs, nothing extra.
Note the Motorola Notifications app. If you leave it on while setting up the phone, you will receive Motorola advertisements on the notifications tray. None of these have been as disturbing as the browser-based ads on Realme and Oppo phones. You can turn these notifications off from the Motorola Notifications app and the phone does not show them afterwards.
Despite the phone having a single loudspeaker, the audio quality is good for a phone of this price. Output via the headphone jack is good and turning on the Dolby Atmos audio only enhances the experience.
Call performance has been good so far; on Jio's 4G network, I was getting reliable Internet connectivity speeds in my area. Note that there's no carrier aggregation, hence those in troubled network areas may have a different experience. The Moto G31 also gets dual-band Wi-Fi, something its predecessors have been missing. No 5G here, as the Helio G85 is meant to power affordable 4G phones.
Moto G31 cameras
Compared to what the competition offers at this price range, the Moto G31's camera performance is good by all means. The new 50MP sensor and the 8MP ultra-wide perform as expected. In daylight, the main camera kept me happy with its wide dynamic range, which means photos appear colourful and bright. The same photo quality goes over to low-light and artificial lighting, although photos start lacking details and incur grains. The Night Vision mode works great with better colours and more brightness.
The ultra-wide camera is fine under daylight but it loses the details and sharpness along with the dynamic range, which means photos appear slightly washed out with blown-up skies and light sources. You still get useable photos though, provided the sun is up. The 2MP macro camera seems like a filler camera; the macro photos lack sharpness and colour consistency, and it becomes unusable at night.
The 13MP selfie camera is decent. It tries to go after the natural ambient light tones but has a tendency to gather more red skin tones. The subject separation in portrait mode is impressive.
Moto G31 Battery
Throughout my time with the Moto G31, the phone consistently returned 2-days of stamina on a single charge despite subjecting it to moderate office day workloads and typical 2-3 hours of social media browsing. With some gaming and long hours of Prime Video/YouTube sessions (3-4 hours), the phone still lasted an entire day and left some until the next afternoon.
The 20W wired charging system takes almost 2.5 hours to completely top-up the battery from 1-2 percent. This is slow but considering the 5000mAh battery and the long stamina figures, I am fine with these charging speeds.
The Moto G31 is a fresh option in a sea of phones wanting to lure mobile gamers and spec nerds. If your phone takes over your TV binge watching duties, there's nothing better than the Moto G31 at this price point now. The display along with Dolby Atmos audio makes for great multimedia experiences, and the long battery life makes power banks history. Paired with a clean and easy to use Android experience, the Moto G31 is easy to recommend for “almost” everyone.
Notice the “almost”? That's because mobile gamers and spec nerds may miss a faster refresh rate. Moreover, the Helio G85 isn't as good with gaming as the Helio G96, which Realme phones use at similar prices.
On the whole, starting at ₹13,000, the Moto G31 is an interesting option for multimedia junkies. If you value a nice viewing experience, great battery life, and a clean Android experience, look no further than the Moto G31.
- Great Display
- Long lasting battery life
- Clean Android experience
- Slightly underpowered chip
- Dull Design
Display6.4-inch FHD+ OLED
ChipsetMediaTek Helio G85
Battery5000mAh, 20W wired charging
Rear Cameras50MP + 8MP + 2MP