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Motorola Moto G13 review: Cheap and cheerful

Our Rating :
$158.00 from
£129.99 from
Price when reviewed : £140

The Motorola Moto G13 is a solid handset for anyone on a tight budget


  • Stylish design
  • Impressive battery life
  • Headphone jack, dual SIM and expandable storage


  • So-so camera
  • 720p screen
  • Weak gaming performance

Motorola’s budget Moto G range has certainly lost some of its simplistic charm. A decade ago, there was just a single Moto G, before the company introduced Play, Plus, S, Stylus and Power models. Now we have a series of numbers to make that muddy water even murkier.

This does make sense, though: the higher, the better (and more expensive). The Moto G13 finds itself at the bottom of this year’s pile, but it’s just over half the price of the Moto G73 5G which certainly gives it mass appeal. However, is it possible to make an acceptable smartphone for £140 in 2023?

Motorola Moto G13 review: What you need to know

The calibre of specifications that Motorola’s cheapest phone can offer for so little would stun buyers of the original Moto G back in 2013. For your money, you’re getting an octa-core 2GHz processor, 4GB of RAM, a 90Hz screen and a massive 50MP camera.

Yes, there are figurative asterisks on the spec sheet. The processor is a MediaTek Helio G85 rather than a Snapdragon, and the 90Hz screen is only 720p resolution, but it still feels like a bit of a bargain.

Motorola Moto G13 review: Price and competition

All of that comes to £140, which is extremely competitive. Much of the competition comes from Motorola’s own G range – the G23 is £170 (more on that in a moment), while the Moto G53 introduces 5G connectivity at £190, and the Moto G73 adds a 1080p screen and other niceties at £270.

Going cheaper, the Nokia C32 (review coming soon) is £129. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 – our pick of the best budget smartphones – started life at £200, but can now be bought for about £165.

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Motorola Moto G13 vs G23: What’s the difference?

I was sent both the Moto G13 and Moto G23 to review, but the differences between the handsets are so minimal that it didn’t make much sense to write (almost) the same review twice. So, here are the differences between the two, but for £30 more, my advice is to buy the G13.

Both handsets are powered by the same MediaTek Helio G85 chipset, with the G23 doubling the RAM to 8GB. As you’ll see in our benchmarks, this makes no discernible difference to performance. While both handsets have a generous 5,000mAh battery, the G23 charges faster with 30W speeds, rather than the 10W cap in place on the G13.

Finally, there are differences in the phones’ cameras. While both have triple arrays led by a 50MP main sensor, the G13 swaps a 5MP ultrawide lens for an admittedly less useful 2MP depth sensor. The front-facing camera also doubles the megapixels to 16MP.

Do these features combine to add £30 more to the value? Maybe, but as this is a low-cost handset, it represents a 21% price increase, and for my money it doesn’t justify that kind of jump. In fact, you’d be better off finding an extra £20 and going for the G53, which bumps performance significantly.

Motorola Moto G13 review: Design

It’s a testament to how far budget handsets have come in the last decade that the Moto G13 looks pretty much like any other smartphone in 2023.

Yes, the screen bezels may be a bit thicker – especially around the chin – but it doesn’t look a million miles away from the priciest (non-folding) flagship, with the 6.5in screen covering the front of the phone, spare for those bezels and a pinhole camera located at the top.

Flip it over and it looks beautifully minimalist, with the triple-camera array contained in a neat curved rectangle in the top left-hand corner. On past Motorola phones I’ve used, the circular logo has doubled up as a fingerprint reader, but here it’s embedded into the power button on the right side.

A fingerprint reader isn’t guaranteed on a device at this price, and neither is a headphone jack – especially not one with the Dolby Atmos logo next to it. On top of that, the phone supports two SIM cards alongside a dedicated microSD slot supporting cards of up to 512GB in capacity.

The phone’s smooth plastic finish won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but you can’t really complain given the price. And some of those consumer-friendly additions are extremely welcome in an age where expandable storage and headphone jacks are going the way of the dodo. Good job, Moto.

Motorola Moto G13 review: Display

You shouldn’t expect a phenomenal viewing experience from a £140 phone, but the Moto G13 delivers quiet competence which is fair enough for the price. The 6.5in screen has a resolution of 1,600 x 720, with a pixel density of 270ppi.

It’s an IPS panel and according to our colourimeter, it covers 82.6% of the sRGB gamut with a total volume of 88.1% and an average Delta E of 2.25. Not outstanding, but again, perfectly respectable for a phone that’s not too far into three figures. The contrast is excellent, too, with a ratio of 1,648:1.

Interestingly for a low-cost phone, it refreshes at 90Hz, which means things feel slightly smoother than you might be used to if you’re coming from a 60Hz handset. It’s the kind of thing that quickly seems invisible, but once you’ve got used to it, you certainly can’t go back.

In short, you’d be disappointed with the screen if you were paying £400 or more, but you’re not. On a £140 handset, it’s rather good.

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Motorola Moto G13 review: Performance

To try and eke the most performance bang for your buck, Motorola has eschewed the flash brand appeal of Qualcomm for the less fashionable MediaTek. Specifically, the Moto G13 comes with the 2GHz octa-core Helio G85 processor, backed with 4GB of RAM.

Does the gamble pay off? It’s a mixed bag. As you can see from the chart below, it’s some way off the Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 with its Qualcomm chip. And that’s over a year old now, even if it still tops our list of budget phones.

But it actually eclipses the Xiaomi in graphical performance. Ignore the on-screen figures — that’s down to the 720p resolution (fewer pixels means better frame rate). But when you equalise the two at 1080p offscreen, the Moto G13 squeezes out a few more frames per second.

Don’t get me wrong, this performance is still what you’d call weak if you’re into ‘serious’ 3D gaming, even with the lower resolution output. For light puzzle games, it’ll be just fine, but otherwise, you may want to find an extra £50 for the Moto G53 5G.

Finally, its battery life is absolutely stellar. In our standard looped video test, the Moto was just three minutes away from hitting the 20-hour mark. That’s a bit behind the Moto G10 and the Redmi Note 11, but it’s not enough to lose sleep over. You’ll get a day out of a single charge, and then some.

Motorola Moto G13 review: Cameras

The Moto G13 comes with a triple-camera array composed of a 50MP (f/1.8) main snapper and two additional 2MP (f/2.4) lenses: one for macro, and another for depth.

While close-up macro shots can be fun, I’d personally trade both of these supplemental lenses for a stronger main camera, but I’m evidently in the minority, given budget manufacturers’ insistence that more is better.

In good lighting conditions, however, the Moto G13 takes pretty impressive shots with a surprising amount of detail. Here’s a church near my house on a bright, sunny June day:

Even with a close crop, you can see that the camera has picked up an impressive amount of detail, with distinct individual bricks on the roof clearly visible.

But all phones struggle when the light dips, and budget phones are especially susceptible to this phenomenon. As the sun sets, the Moto G13’s pictures get noticeably blurrier with added visual noise.

It’s not too bad when viewed from a distance, but zoom in for a close crop and you can see exactly how little detail is captured.

The macro lens is fun, but probably the kind of thing you’ll only try once. Here’s a two-Euro coin close enough to see all the scuffs it endured while being passed around mainland Europe.

For selfies and video calls, the front-facing camera is an 8MP affair with an aperture of f/2.0. The results are perfectly serviceable, as you can see from the office selfie below.

Unusually, it doesn’t seem to apply horrendously over-the-top beautification settings, and I couldn’t see any way to add them, either.

That’s a good thing in my book, since they ain’t fooling anybody. Instead, there are a range of colourful/moody filters to apply when you’re using it. It’s a nice addition, but a little unnecessary given apps like Instagram have more to choose from (and apply them more naturally too).

For video, the Moto G13 is capable of capturing 1080p footage at 30fps, which is pretty much standard for a phone of this price. The video isn’t brilliant. While the electronic image stabilisation gets rid of small bumps, the capture is still lacking in detail and tends to turn into a blurry mess with sharp turns.

Motorola Moto G13 review: Verdict

Without wanting to sound like a stuck record, all of these drawbacks are forgivable, and indeed expected, in a handset that retails for £140.

And even with these mild criticisms, it still represents excellent value for money. It looks the part, performs well enough in day-to-day use and packs nice extras like expandable storage, dual-SIM support and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

If you need 5G connectivity, you’ll gain a decent amount by spending £50 more on the Moto G53. But if £140 is your absolute limit, it’s impossible to argue that the Moto G13 works extremely hard for the cash.

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