Google Pixel 6a vs Motorola Moto G 5G (2022): A one-sided beatdown

Google Pixel 6a vs Motorola Moto G 5G (2022): A one-sided beatdown

Motorola’s mid-tier phones have been doing quite well in the limited North American mobile scene, and its $350 Moto G 5G is another offering with an appealing price point. But Google’s A series brings perhaps the biggest challenge yet. While Google’s A series has been around for years, the Google Pixel 6a is arguably the search giant’s most polished, and “flagship-like” A series phone ever.

The Pixel 6a is a hundred dollar more expensive, so in this versus we will see if the Pixel 6a is indeed “better enough” to justify the extra Benjamin.

    The Google Pixel 6a brings back a lot of what made the Pixel 6 awesome, but in a more affordable package.
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    The Moto G 5G (2022) is a very affordable entry level mid-ranger with a large screen and a fast, clean Android software.

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Moto G 5G (2022) vs Google Pixel 6a: Specifications

Moto G 5G (2022) Google Pixel 6a
Build
  • Plastic back and side
  • Gorilla Glass 3 front panel
  • Gorilla Glass 3 front panel
  • Plastic back and side
  • IP68 water/dust resistance
Dimensions and Weight
  • 165.4 x 75.8 x 9.44 mm
  • 204 g
  • 158.6 x 74.8 x 8.9 mm
  • 207 g
Display
  • 6.6-inch IPS LCD
  • 90Hz refresh rate
  • 1080 x 2400 pixels
  • 6.1-inch AMOLED
  • FHD+
  • 60Hz refresh rate
  • 20:9 aspect ratio
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 3
SoC
  • MediaTek Dimensity 700
  • Google Tensor
RAM and Storage
  • 4/6GB RAM
  • 64GB/256GB internal storage
  • microSD card slot
  • 6GB
  • 128GB
  • no microSD card slot
Battery and Charging
  • 5,000mAh battery
  • 10W wired charging
  • Charger in box
  • 4,306 mAh battery
  • No charger in box
Security
  • Side-mounted fingerprint sensor
  • Optical in-display fingerprint sensor
Rear Camera(s)
  • 50MP ƒ/1.8 Main (with OIS)
  • 2MP depth sensor
  • 2MP Macro
  • Primary: 12.2MP main
  • Secondary: 12MP ultra-wide
Front Camera(s)
  • 13MP
  • 8MP camera
Ports
  • USB Type-C
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • USB-C
  • No headphone jack
Connectivity
  • 5G
  • LTE
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4G+5GHz)
  • Bluetooth 5.1
  • 5G
  • LTE
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6
  • Bluetooth 5.1
Software
  • Android 12 with My UX
  • Android 12
Price
  • $349
  • $449

Google Pixel 6a vs Moto G 5G: Hardware and Design

pixel 6a and moto g

Considering the relatively low price of the Pixel 6a and Moto G 5G, it’s no surprise that both frames are made up of plastic. But kudos to Google and Moto for applying a nicer coating to the plastic body to give it a more polished, slightly premium feeling texture. Both phones come in a variety of colors, but we are more partial to the Pixel 6a’s options, which include a gorgeous light green.

The Moto G is bigger and heavier, measuring 165mm in height thanks to its 6.5-inch screen and tipping the scale at 204g. The Pixel 6a is dainty by comparison, reaching just 152mm in height and weighing 172g. Both phones are curvy and thus easy to hold, but the Pixel 6a is even more so due to the lighter weight.

Google Pixel 6a in hand with blurred background.

Display

The Moto G 5G’s screen is larger and has a faster 90Hz refresh rate, but the Pixel 6a’s screen will look a bit more vibrant to most people due to it using OLED technology, which can display deeper reds and blacks than the Moto G 5G’s IPS LCD panel. The Pixel 6a screen is higher-res too, at 1080p resolution while the Moto G 5G’s panel is just a 720p panel.

Moto G Stylus 5G rest on a fence post.

Neither phone’s maximum brightness gets as bright as flagships, but they can still be seen under the sun. These panels are absolutely fine at this price point.

The Moto G 5G's screen is larger and has a faster 90Hz refresh rate, but the Pixel 6a's screen will look more vibrant to most people due to OLED technology

SoC

The Google Pixel 6a runs on Google’s own Tensor, which is a flagship level chip developed by Google in 2021 for the flagship Pixel 6 series. Even at a year old now, Tensor is still very capable, particularly at handling machine learning tasks that is the Pixel’s bread and butter. The Moto G 5G, meanwhile, runs on a Dimensity 700 that is clearly a mid-range chip. The Dimensity 700 does have a lower CPU clock score and one less GPU than the Tensor, but it is still a solid performer and can handle any daily smartphone tasks. Unless you’re doing something advanced like rendering 4K videos, the Dimensity 700 isn’t going to leave you wanting.

Google Tensor

The Google Tensor.

But it’s still no match for the Tensor, which has some of the best ML abilities on the market, including giving the Pixel the best voice dictation algorithm in smartphones. The Pixel 6a’s voice dictation is so good, in fact, you can speak entire sentences and the phone can pick it up at 99% accuracy. The Moto G 5G simply cannot compare in this regard.

Cameras

This area is a landslide victory for the Pixel 6a, as it brings a near flagship level camera experience while the Moto G 5G brings a very clearly mid-tier camera experience. The Pixel 6a’s main system consists of a pair of 12MP shooters covering the wide and ultra-wide focal lengths, while the Moto G 5G has really a single camera situation, a 50MP main camera flanked by a pair of useless 2MP sensors. The lack of an ultra-wide focal length limits what the Moto G 5G cameras can do. But more importantly, the Pixel 6a’s main camera is just miles ahead in terms of image processing thanks to the Tensor SoC, which includes Google’s own ISP (image signal processor) for handling images. Expect crisp, balanced, dynamic-looking shot from the Pixel 6a in almost any condition, while the Moto G 5G will suffer under anything less than ideal lighting.

In terms of selfies, the Moto G fares better, as its 13MP camera is a bit more up to 2022 standards compared to the Pixel’s 8MP shooter. Google’s computational photography still produces some excellent selfies, but 8MP is a bit lacking, and you can begin to see individual pixels if you zoom in and pixel peep.

The camera module of the Moto G Stylus 5G on a table.

Memory and other hardware bits

The Pixel 6a comes in only one configuration so far: 6GB RAM with 128GB of storage, while the Moto G5G comes in either 4GB RAM/64GB or 6GB RAM/256GB options. More importantly, the Moto G 5G supports microSD card for additional memory. This could be somewhat crucial, as the Pixel 6a’s lack of expandable memory and only 128GB of storage could be limiting to some people.

But Google’s phone does get IP67 water- and dust-resistance while the Moto G 5G only has a supposedly “water repellent design” without official IP ratings. The Pixel 6a also one-ups Motorola with a stereo speaker setup while the Moto device only has one bottom-firing speaker grill. But you do get a headphone jack in return.


Google Pixel 6a vs Moto G 5G: Software

Both phones run Android 12. The Pixel 6a has Google’s very whimsical and customizable Pixel Launcher on top, while the Moto G 5G uses Motorola’s My UX software that looks a bit more like a straightforward version of vanilla Android. Both software are relatively clean and light compared to a typical Samsung software experience, but the Pixel software has a bit more personality in our opinion, with more customizable options and whimsical animations thanks to the “Material You” theme engine. There are plenty of Pixel exclusive features that are very useful that other phones simply do not have access to, such as the aforementioned excellent voice-dictated typing, and the Pixel’s ability to listen to and identify music playing in the surroundings. The latter has been very helpful for me as I often go to coffee shops or bars and wonder what song is playing. I can just glance at the Pixel 6a’s lockscreen or settings page and see the information there. You can, of course, turn this off if the idea of your phone listening to background music creeps you out.

Motorola’s My UX does come with some additional shortcut gestures such as twisting the phone twice quickly to turn on the flashlight, and an intuitive swipe gesture to quickly go into split-screen multitasking. Pixel Launcher is relatively light in shortcut options. Everything requires a few taps, it seems.


Google Pixel 6a vs Moto G 5G: Performance

Generally speaking, for average consumers, both phones are going to perform roughly the same in terms of launching apps, sending emails, scrolling through Instagram, etc. But more demanding users will notice the Tensor’s superiority in anything image related. The Pixel’s version of Google Assistant is also more intelligent than the one available for the Moto G 5G, as the Pixel version can be triggered easier, and carry a contextual conversation longer.

If you plan on doing any type of creativity-driven tasks like snapping photos and making tweaks, or making short edits to videos to post to Instagram or TikTok, the Pixel 6a will be a better and faster performer.

Moto G 5G

However, the larger screen and battery of the Moto G 5G may make it a more ideal gaming and movie consumption machine, provided you use headphones or earphones because the single speaker is just average. The Pixel 6a’s 6.1-inch screen starts to feel a bit cramped if you’re gaming.

Battery life

The Moto G 5G should provide better battery life in most cases because it has a larger 5,000mAh cell, and the screen is slightly lower res at 720p. The Pixel 6a’s battery life can be hit or miss according to XDA’s official review. By no means is battery life bad, but it isn’t a guaranteed all-day phone the way the Moto G 5G should be. The Pixel 6a doesn’t include a charger too, while the Moto G 5G does include a charger, although it’s a measly 20W charging brick that will take well over 90 minutes to top up the phone.

Overall, we’d have to still give the performance section to the Pixel 6a because Tensor is quite a bit faster at doing anything speech or image related.

Google Pixel 6a box with the Pixel 6a behind it


Google Pixel 6a vs Moto G 5G: Which one should you buy?

Although the Pixel 6a is $100 more expensive, we’d have to give it a clear recommendation over the Moto G 5G. The Pixel 6a camera being near flagship quality, while the Moto G 5G camera underwhelms even by mid-range standards is a huge deal for many of us at XDA. There’s also the Pixel software experience, such as having access to a more intelligent Google Assistant. We also think the Pixel 6a is a better-looking phone, although that is subjective.

Chalk Pixel 6a on white background.

The Moto G 5G needs to be more than $100 cheaper than the Pixel 6a to stand a chance

That’s not to say the Moto G 5G has no merits: it offers a large, modern 90Hz screen that makes reading emails or watching videos easier, and at $350, it’s a very affordable option that almost drops into the budget category rather than “mid-tier.”

Ultimately, the Pixel 6a is just a better overall phone. The Moto G 5G needs to be more than $100 cheaper to stand a chance in this versus.

    The Google Pixel 6a brings back a lot of what made the Pixel 6 awesome, but in a more affordable package.
    The Moto G 5G (2022) is a very affordable entry level mid-ranger with a large screen and a fast, clean Android software.

About author

Ben Sin
Ben Sin

I'm a senior editor at XDA Developers. I have been a journalist for a decade, the last five years covering the mobile tech scene closely, reviewing just about every phone and attending trade shows and launches. I also run a gadget review channel on YouTube.

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