Motorola Moto G53 5G Review: A Basic 5G Phone At A Basic Price

Like so many of its siblings, the Moto G53 5G isn’t a fancy phone – it’s just a (mostly) good value one.

120Hz display
Primary camera shoots well
Clean Android UI

Screen isn’t particularly high resolution
Macro lens is predictably ordinary
Only 4GB of RAM on the Australian model
Is 5G really worth this much to you?

Score: 4/5

While Motorola does have offerings in the upper mid-range and even the premium space – hello, Motorola RAZR – it’s best known, and I’d argue best served by its affordable phone offerings. There’s a whole lot of them, and the Moto G53 5G joins the pack as Motorola’s lowest-cost 5G-capable handset.

Motorola Moto G53 5G: Design

Moto G53 5G

I’ve reviewed a lot of Motorola’s phones in the last little while, and excluding the ThinkPhone there’s an absolute similarity in design that Motorola loves to go for.

There’s obviously only so much you can do in design terms with a rectangle, and Motorola’s done very little of it. In Australia you do get two colour choices – Ink Blue or Pale Pink, with the Arctic Silver not hitting our shores – in a plastic body measuring in at 162.7 x 74.66 x 8.19mm and weighing 183g. All of which is entirely acceptable if not entirely exciting.

In screen terms, Motorola’s made the choice to go with a higher-speed IPS display rather than a slower OLED one for the Moto G53 5G.

There’s benefits in either side, with gamers and those who like slick scrolling better served with the 120Hz display that the Moto G53 5G offers. I do like the fact that along with an automatic setting, you can switch it to a fixed 60Hz for better battery life or 120Hz for smoother scrolling if you wish.

The tradeoff at this price is while the 6.5 inch display is a fine size, it’s a low resolution panel with just 1600×720 pixels at 269ppi. This isn’t the worst you’ll see in a phone, and it very much is playing to its price category here.

The Moto G53 5G has simple controls up the right hand side with a combo fingerprint sensor and power button resting beneath simple volume controls. The power button is quite thin, but I had few issues with finger recognition during my review period.

It’s an incredibly pedantic thing, but the way the headphone jack hole

floats out to the bottom of the phone irks me.

You do get a proper 3.5mm headphone jack with the Moto G53 5G. I’m always in favour of having more features rather than less, though I couldn’t help but notice that it’s oddly offset on the base of the phone. Is this pedantic? Yes, it is, because it doesn’t affect its utility at all, but still, it could have been more precisely placed.

Motorola Moto G53 5G: Cameras

Moto G53 5G

Cheap phones have poor cameras, right?

Well… yeah. But “poor” is a relative term, because what you get even out of a cheap phone in 2023 is quite different to what you got in a cheap phone five years ago, or five years before that again.

Motorola paints the Moto G53 5G as being capable of letting you – and I’m quoting directly here – “Up your photography game”.

To which all I can say is that if this does up your photography game, then you really didn’t have much game in the first place.

The Moto G53 5G features a primary 50MP rear sensor with a secondary 2MP Macro sensor… and that’s it. At the front there’s a simple 8MP sensor for selfies and the like.

This is not a selfie. But it's a good indication of where the G53 5G can struggle.

This is not a selfie.
But it’s a good indication of where the G53 5G can struggle.

At the $329 asking price of the Moto G53 5G this isn’t bad, but it’s distinctly average, and that’s the story of its camera quality. Unlike, for example, the similarly priced Nokia G22 I didn’t have major issues with the camera app launching, but its limitations quickly became apparent.

That primary 50MP lens is generally fine, if a little soft in some areas, and predictably not stellar in low light settings.

It's the Internet. Cat photos are mandatory. I know the law.

It’s the Internet. Cat photos are mandatory. I know the law.

The Macro lens is likewise about as good as everyone else’s budget 2MP Macro lenses are. You’ll need plenty of patience to get good shots here, and I can’t help but wonder why Motorola opted for Macro here given that the Moto G53 5G’s direct predecessor (which I’m pretty sure never came to Australia) had a more workable ultrawide lens instead.

An odd choice there, especially as the G51 5G – which did land here in Australia – packed in three rear lenses for a similar kind of price a few years back.

To give this some illustration, here’s a shot taken with the standard wide lens of the G53 5G:

G53 5G Wide Lens

It’s OK, but then in normal light even cheap phones can get the job done.

What if I want a macro shot?

G53 5G Macro

Not bad, maybe a tad soft, but you should see the ones I threw out while trying to get this.

At the other end of the scale, you can do 8x digital zoom. You can… but you shouldn’t. If that flower was a man-eating Triffid, and I didn’t want to get near it, this is what I’d get at maximum digital zoom:

G53 5G Zoom

On the selfie front the Moto G53 5G does an OK job, but predictably does slice around my head in a slightly artificial fashion.

G53 5G Selfie

That’s a very common problem for many portrait modes, especially on cheaper phones.

The G53 5G does feature a night mode, but its long exposure and AI-led colouring in doesn’t lead to particularly pleasing results:

G53 5G Night Mode

Motorola Moto G53 5G: Performance

Moto G53 5G

The Moto G53 5G is built around Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 480 SoC with – for the local models – just 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, expandable via microSD. There are heftier models in the Moto G53 5G family with up to 8GB of RAM, but we won’t see those in Australia.

That’s a moderate recipe at this price, and it’s pretty clear that Motorola’s traded some processor speed in favour of offering 5G for this particular phone. Again, its predecessor was 4G-only, but it had a Snapdragon 680 on board.

In a straight line benchmarks sense, the Motorola Moto G53 placed pretty much where I’d expect it to. I’ve only got a small subset of Geekbench 6 figures for budget phones to compare it against if you like the numbers. Here’s how it compares to the Nokia G22 for example:

I can throw a few more Moto phones into the mix when we’re talking 3D gaming benchmarks, though again you have to temper your expectations at this price point:

In practical terms, the G53 5G runs well enough at this price. Don’t expect fast performance, but most apps and games should run, albeit with sometimes compromised load times in the case of more complex games titles.

Then there’s the 5G aspect. It’s sub-6Ghz only – mmWave at this price would be truly remarkable – and as always with 5G, your experience will vary depending more on mobile network factors than the handset itself.

In my testing around Sydney and the far north coast of NSW, I never hit truly amazing speeds with the Moto G53 5G, but certainly speeds within my usual range on sub-6Ghz networks – typically around 200Mbps-300Mbps at best. 5G is still a nice-to-have feature in this category, but it’s not a killer feature that you must have.

Motorola Moto G53 5G: Battery

Moto G53 5G

The Moto G53 5G, like so many of its Motorola brethren packs in a sealed 5,000mAh battery into its frame. Tie that into the lower-speed Snapdragon 480 and you might be talking really good battery life – Motorola simply says it’s “long lasting” – although that does have to be tempered against the 120Hz display if you’re using it.

In ad-hoc testing the Motorola Moto G53 5G was certainly good for at least a day’s usage, and a little more if I was happier playing in a mostly 60Hz world.

To give it some kind of comparison, I ran my typical YouTube 1 hour test against it, checking how much battery usage it would get through from 100% at full brightness, 120Hz refresh rate and moderate volume.

This test looks for scores above 90%, and every percentage point above that matters… as does every percentage point below, because phones that can’t keep at least 90% tend to struggle to last even one day.

Here’s how the Motorola Moto G53 5G compared:

The G53 5G was outclassed by the Nokia here, but at least it didn’t do as poorly as the G51 5G managed in the same test. Within its space, I’m once again drawn to the word “fine” to describe its battery life, relative to the price Motorola wants for it. It’s not great, for sure, but it’s not awful either.

What’s slightly less impressive here is the charging situation for the Moto G53 5G. It’s nice that a charger is included in the box, but it’s a paltry 10W unit, rather slow for adding electrons back into the phone when it runs low.

Motorola Moto G53 5G: Alex’s Verdict

Moto G53 5G

Motorola’s got a lot of cheap phones, and the Motorola Moto G53 5G sure is one of them. It’s fair value for its asking price, given that its expected $329 price point is about as cheap as you can get a 5G phone for at this point in time.

However, you still shouldn’t buy a phone just because it’s 5G. I do like Motorola’s clean Android approach, and the fact that it’s heavily pushing fast refresh rate screens even in the lower end of the market. But that’s got to be positioned against less-than-stellar cameras and only ordinary-at-best battery life.

Motorola Moto G53 5G: Price and availability

The Motorola Moto G53 5G retails outright in Australia for $329.

It’s also available as a Telstra phone for just $269, though that model will likely be a single-SIM variant, and for whatever reason I can’t find any details on it on Telstra’s site at the time of writing.

Motorola Moto G53 5G: Alternatives

At this price point at the time of writing, you’ve got a few choices.

Consider phones such as the Nokia G22, the Oppo A78 5G or the Samsung Galaxy A14.

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