Motorola has rolled out its lineup of 2021 smartphones, with the Moto G Power (2021) taking pride of place as the budget phone of the bunch. Retailing for only $200, it somehow still manages to offer a massive 5,000mAh battery and a sumptuous 6.6-inch display. As highly as it ranks in the value-for-money category, it’s not the only recent smartphone to offer premium features for a less-than premium price. Another major contender in this category is the Google Pixel 4a, which for $350 will provide one of the very best cameras in the business, as well as excellent software, a nice display, and decent battery life.
The question is, which budget Android is better? We answer this question by comparing the Moto G Power (2021) and Google Pixel 4a in a head-to-head. By looking at their specs, designs, displays, performance, camera, and software, we should hopefully help you decide which device most tickles your fancy.
|Google Pixel 4a||Moto G Power (2021)|
|Size||144 x 69.4 x 8.2 mm (5.67 x 2.73 x 0.32 inches)||165.3 x 75.9 x 9.5 mm (6.51 x 2.99 x 0.37 inches)|
|Weight||143 grams (5.04 ounces)||206.5 grams (7.30 ounces)|
|Screen size||5.81-inch OLED||6.6-inch LCD|
|Screen resolution||2340 x 1080 pixels, 19.5:9 ratio (443 pixels per inch)||1600 x 720 pixels, 20:9 ratio (266 ppi)|
|Operating system||Android 11||Android 10|
|MicroSD card slot||No||Yes|
|Tap-to-pay services||Google Pay||Google Pay|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 730||Qualcomm Snapdragon 662|
|Camera||12.2-megapixel rear, 8MP front||Triple-lens 48MP, 2MP macro, and 2MP depth rear, 8MP front|
|Video||4K at 30 frames per second, 1080p at 120 fps||1080p at 60 fps|
|Ports||USB-C, headphone jack||USB-C, headphone jack|
|Fingerprint sensor||Yes, rear-mounted||Yes, rear-mounted|
Fast charging (18W)
Fast charging (15W)
|App marketplace||Google Play Store||Google Play Store|
|Network support||Most major U.S. carriers||Most major U.S. carriers|
|Colors||Just Black||Flash Gray, Polar Silver|
|Buy from||Google, Verizon, US Cellular||Motorola, Amazon, Best Buy|
|Review score||4 out of 5 stars||3.5 out of 5 stars|
Design, display, and durability
The Pixel 4a marked something of a turning point in the design of Google Pixel phones. It got rid of the ungainly forehead bezel, replacing it with a more modern edge-to-edge display that’s interrupted only by a hole-punch selfie camera. This is basically the same look as the Moto G Power (2021), which also has an edge-to-edge display, albeit with its selfie camera at the top-center rather than top-left. In fact, the similarities don’t end there, since both phones have plastic backs, something which undercuts their otherwise nice (if unspectacular) appearance.
While both phones are equally matched in terms of design, the Pixel 4a clearly has a superior display, even if it’s smaller. At 5.81 inches, its 2340 x 1080 pixels provide 443 pixels per inch, while the 1600 x 720 pixels of the Moto G Power give you only 266 ppi. Motorola’s phone also used an LCD screen, which compared to the 4a’s OLED counterpart doesn’t look quite as sharp or as vivid.
Both phones don’t have an IP durability rating, although the Moto G Power does come with a water-repellent coating on its rear. Still, this is unlikely to make a massive difference to its durability, and with the Pixel offering a noticeably crisper display, this round is a win for Google’s device.
Winner: Google Pixel 4a
Performance, battery life, and charging
The Moto G Power is equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 662, while the Pixel 4a runs on a Snapdragon 730. There’s a tangible difference between the two chips, particularly when playing more recent games or juggling multiple apps. Things are made even worse by the fact that the Moto G Power comes with 3GB of RAM as standard, while the Pixel offers 6GB. You can upgrade to 4GB of RAM for an extra $50, but this still isn’t enough for Motorola’s phone to catch up with Google’s.
The Pixel 4a also comes with 128GB of internal storage as standard, while the Moto G Power comes with 32GB. Yes, you read that right: 32GB. This is woefully inadequate in 2021, and while you can pay an extra $50 for 64GB of internal memory, even this isn’t especially generous. That said, Motorola’s phone does contain a MicroSD card slot, so you can at least upgrade it externally, although again at an extra cost.
The Moto G Power redeems itself with its battery, however. At 5,000mAh, it will comfortably last two days if you’re a moderate user, particularly given the less-demanding screen. By contrast, the Pixel 4a comes with a 3,140mAh cell. This is still pretty good, lasting at least a day under moderate-to-heavy use. Unfortunately, it’s no match for the G Power’s battery, but with the superior processor, RAM, and internal storage, we’re giving this round to Google’s phone.
Winner: Google Pixel 4a
The camera is the Google Pixel 4a’s standout feature. With only a single 12.2-megapixel rear lens, it may seem technically inferior to the Moto G Power’s 48MP lens, which is also complemented by 2MP macro and depth lenses. Nonetheless, the Pixel 4a’s effectiveness and versatility are boosted no end by Google’s impressive software, which uses machine learning to take highly impressive photos in nearly all conditions.
On the other hand, the camera is probably the Moto G Power’s weakest feature. Despite having more megapixels, its main rear lens takes fairly muted pictures, with more noise than you’d like in this day and age. On top of this, the macro and depth lenses are largely redundant, so in the end, you’re left with a main lens that punches well below its weight.
It’s also worth pointing out that the Pixel 4a lets you shoot 4K video at 30 frames per second, as well as 1080p video at 120 fps. This isn’t something the Moto G Power can manage, with its upper limit being 1080p video at 60 fps. Combined with the far superior main camera, this is an obvious win for the Pixel.
Winner: Google Pixel 4a
Software and updates
Both the Moto G Power and the Pixel 4a run on stock Android. However, the Pixel 4a has received the Android 11 update, while the Moto G Power is still with Android 10. Having said that, Motorola’s treatment of Android is one of the best of any manufacturer, with the company adding a variety of useful gestures while keeping unwanted intrusions and bloatware to an absolute minimum.
The picture changes when it comes to updates though. Not only is the Moto G Power still stuck with Android 10, but it’s likely to receive only Android 11 as a core update. After that it will receive security updates for two years, while the Pixel 4a will move on to Android 12, and so on.
Winner: Google Pixel 4a
Being pretty inexpensive phones, neither the Pixel 4a nor Moto G Power really have special features. The Google Pixel 4a’s headline feature is its first-rate camera, which is equal to almost anything you’ll find on a more expensive smartphone. It also offers a small handful of Google-exclusive features, such as Google Maps augmented reality directions and the A.I.-based Call Screen, which can weed out spam calls for you.
With the Moto G Power, the only semi-unique thing of any note are the aforementioned gestures, also known as Moto Actions. These let you do such things as use three fingers to take a screenshot, twist the phone to open the camera, and make a chopping motion to switch on the flashlight.
These are nice touches, but they’re hardly a show-stopper. In other words, this round is a tie.
Price and availability
The Moto G Power (2021) is available from Motorola and costs $200, or $250 if you want the model with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal memory. It’s supported by all major carriers, and can also be had from major retailers like Amazon and Best Buy.
The Google Pixel 4a is available for $349. Aside from Google, it’s also being sold by Verizon, US Cellular, and Google Fi, as well as a variety of retailers.
Overall winner: Google Pixel 4a
It may be $150 (0r $100) more expensive, but the Google Pixel 4a is a significantly better phone than the Moto G Power (2021). It has a sharper screen, a more capable processor, more internal memory, and a vastly superior camera. It may not have quite as much battery stamina as Motorola’s phone, but it has enough for most people, while its promise of more updates is also a vote winner.
Even so, if you’re looking to save more money, the Moto G Power is a very good phone for $200 or $250. It may lack a few of the features of more recent rivals, but its huge battery and large screen are certainly a major draw.