This $249 Motorola is my sleeper pick for the best Black Friday phone deals — and it even has a stylus

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Person holding Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G (2023).

June One/ZDnet

What are Black Friday deals?

Motorola G Stylus 5G (2023) is on sale at an all-time low price $249 ($150 off) Across numerous retailers. Amazon Prime members may even qualify for free next-day shipping.

Why this deal is ZDNET-recommended

When you first pick up Moto G Stylus 5G (2023), the all-plastic build, the flimsy stylus, and the admittedly cheap vibration motor make it clear what price tier of phone you’re dealing with. With this, Motorola isn’t shooting the iPhone Pro or the Samsung Galaxy S series for lunch.

Also: The best Black Friday deals available right now

Instead, it seeks to dominate the ever-competitive downmarket, where manufacturers must play a balancing game, strategically adding and removing features to arrive at a value package good enough to win over budget-minded buyers.

Despite the hardware cuts – which is a story we’ve seen before; sell apples $449 iPhone SE With a nine-year-old design — Motorola actually Much is correct with the new Moto G Stylus 5G. Qualcomm Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 has a new and better processor, a new camera system with bigger pixels and most importantly, a new price tag that is lower than last year: $399.

All in all, I feel good enough to say that this is the $400 phone in 2023.

Person holding Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G (2023).

Recommended by ZDNET

Moto G Stylus 5G (2023)

One of the few phones on the market with a built-in stylus, and the $399 price point also gets you 6GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.

The Moto G Stylus 5G is one of the few phones on the market that still has a built-in pen for precision inputs. It’s a key differentiator from other slates in the mid-range market and one that should engage visual learners, journalists, and users who prefer to write rather than type things.

Review: Motorola Razr Plus (2023): The best flipping foldable right now

The stylus is siled in the bottom-right corner of the phone, which I’d argue is a better position than the left-side bias with Samsung’s Ultra phones, and I like that I can pop it out while the Moto is locked and a notepad appears naturally.

Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G (2023) on a table

Pulling out the stylus with an unlocked phone toggles Motorola’s Quick Menu with GIF Maker

June One/ZDnet

Remember, the stylus experience on the Moto G Stylus isn’t perfect; There’s no palm rejection and pressure sensitivity is next to zero when you’re writing against the new, smaller 6.6-inch display. But, for stylus-supported classics like Bejeweled and Fruit Ninja, it can’t be beat for the price.

and the like Galaxy S23 Ultra, you can make a case for buying a Moto phone even if you don’t plan to use the onboard accessories. With the Qualcomm Snapdragon 6 Gen 1 processor powering the unit, everyday apps and services run very fluidly. Sure, the YouTube feed took a second longer to load than on a more expensive phone, but I was generally impressed with the Moto G Stylus’s snappiness and how well it maintained its 120Hz refresh rate.

Then there’s the exceptional value you’re getting with memory and storage; The $399 model comes with 6GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, beating out its closest competitors. Samsung Galaxy A54 5G (128GB), Google Pixel 7a (128GB), and iPhone SE (64GB). You also have the option to expand the memory via microSD card.

Motorola took a gamble with this year’s camera setup, opting for a 50MP main sensor and a new 8MP ultrawide that doubles as a macro lens instead of last year’s two lower-resolution macro and depth sensors, and it’s paid off — sort of.

Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G (2023) Back Cover

Underneath the matte-frosted Cosmic Black finish is a 5,000mAh battery that supports 20W fast charging.

June One/ZDnet

Undersaturation is still an issue with Moto’s camera system, and the lack of optical image stabilization on the main lens makes it difficult to take steady, low-light photos (because the phone will ask you to hold the phone for 2-3 seconds each time). But in the most general case, which is what most people will care about, I found the 50MP main sensor reliable enough for quick flicks of family photos, landscapes and social-worthy experiences.

Also: The best stylus phone right now

With the Moto G Stylus 5G (2023), the company promises the usual one OS version upgrade (Android 13 to Android 14) and three years of security support. It’s a tier below what Samsung and Google offer for their mid-rangers, but if access to the latest software features and less than a year or two of security patches means little to you, I digress.

Ultimately, you get a lot for what you pay for the new Moto G Stylus. We’re seeing an influx of well-rounded, more-than-adequate smartphones in this sub-$500 price range that I can easily recommend three to four picks that were released in the last three months alone. And in that list, Moto G Stylus 5G (2023) — I promise I’ll type the full name last — sits at the top if you’re shopping for a phone under $400.

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