Motorola Moto G Pure vs Moto G Play: An In-Depth Comparison

Motorola‘s Moto G smartphone line has long been a go-to for those seeking an affordable yet capable Android device. The latest entries at the lowest end of the Moto G range are the Moto G Pure and Moto G Play. These two phones share much in common – with 6.5" displays, clean Android software, and wallet-friendly price points below $200.

However, there are some key differences that may make one model a better fit depending on your priorities. This in-depth guide will compare all the specs and features of the Moto G Pure and Moto G Play to help you decide which affordable Motorola phone deserves a spot in your pocket.

At a Glance: Moto G Pure vs Moto G Play

Before we dive into the details, here is a high-level overview of how the Moto G Pure and Moto G Play stack up:

FeatureMoto G PureMoto G Play
Release Date20212023
Screen6.5" HD+, 720 x 1600 pixels6.5” HD+, 720 x 1600 pixels
ProcessorMediaTek Helio G25MediaTek Helio G37
MicroSD Card SlotYes, up to 512GBYes, up to 512GB
Rear Camera13MP16MP
Front Camera5MP5MP
Battery Size4,000 mAh5,000 mAh
Battery LifeUp to 2 daysUp to 3 days
Charging Speed10W10W
BiometricsFace UnlockFingerprint Sensor
Android VersionAndroid 11Android 12

As you can see, these two phones share a lot of key specs like display size and resolution, memory configuration, battery charging rate, and front camera megapixels. The Play model edges out the Pure with its newer processor, larger battery, third rear camera lens, and more recent Android version. However, the Pure costs around $40 less.

Beyond the spec sheets though, there are some important performance and experience differences between these phones as our detailed breakdown will explore.

Detailed Side-by-Side Comparison

Now, let‘s dive deeper into the key specification differences, as well as real world variances in factors like battery life, camera quality, software support etc.

Design and Display

In terms of design and core screen features, the Moto G Pure and Moto G Play look nearly identical. Both phones have:

  • Large 6.5-inch LCD displays with 720p (1600 x 720 pixels) resolution and 20:9 "Max Vision" aspect ratios – well-suited for video streaming & gaming
  • Teardrop notches for the front camera
  • Minimal top & bottom bezels for sleek looks and high screen real estate
  • Water repellent design that can handle splashes and light rain, but does not claim full waterproofing
  • 3.5mm headphone jacks

Essentially if you placed both phones next to each other when powered off, you‘d be hard pressed to tell the difference. The screens offer the same diagonal size and 720p resolution which equates to a just-okay 269 pixels per inch density.

Don‘t expect the crispest text and images, but color reproduction and contrast levels are excellent for this price bracket. Both models also impress with strong maximum brightness levels (up to 500 nits peak), making them easy to view outdoors.

Verdict: It‘s perfectly even between the Moto G Pure and Moto G Play for core display quality and design aesthetics. Shoppers should choose based on factors like processor performance and battery life detailed below rather than physical appearance or screen resolution differences (since there are none).

Performance and Hardware

Under the hood is where we see more divergence between the Moto G Pure and newer Moto G Play. Let‘s break down the key hardware differences:

  • Chipset: The Pure packs a 12nm MediaTek Helio G25 processor while the Play has an upgraded 12nm MediaTek Helio G37. In benchmarks, this gives the Play model around a 20% compute and graphics boost.
  • RAM & Storage: Both have 3GB of memory and 32GB internal storage. This can be expanded by up to 512GB via the dedicated microSD card slot.
  • Battery & Charging: The Moto G Play pulls ahead with its huge 5,000 mAh battery (up from 4,000 mAh on the Pure). Combined with more efficient processor, this gives the Play up to 3 day battery life versus 2 day longevity for the Pure.
  • Biometrics: The Pure relies on face unlock while the Play brings back the handy rear fingerprint sensor.

Performance should be solid across basic apps and tasks like web browsing, video streaming, maps/navigation etc. More demanding games may stutter a bit on the Moto G Pure but run fine on the Play thanks to the newer MediaTek Helio G37 chipset. Still, don‘t expect buttery smooth high frame rate gameplay that premium phones provide.

The Moto G Play is clearly ahead when it comes to battery life and also offers a more convenient fingerprint unlock method vs face recognition. Unless you want to save $40, the Play is likely worth stretching your budget for.

Verdict: The Moto G Play justifies its higher $149.99 cost (over the $109.99 Pure) with noticeably better processor performance, battery life, and fingerprint unlock convenience.


One area most buyers want good performance in is photography. Let‘s explore the Moto G Pure vs Moto G Play camera quality:

  • Rear Cameras: The Play ups the sensor resolution with its 16MP primary camera over the Pure‘s 13MP lens. More megapixels equates to more detail when lighting is sufficient. The Play also adds a depth helper lens for portrait shots.
  • Front Camera: Both have 5MP sensors up front. These capture passable selfies but often struggle in low light.
  • Features & Modes: Since Motorola uses nearly identical camera software, you‘ll have access to the same modes like portrait, night vision, spot color etc. on both phones. AI-powered smart composition and shot optimization features are also standard.
  • Video Capture: Footage tops out at 1080p 30 frames per second on both models. No 4K or 60FPS high frame rate options.

The Moto G Play certainly looks great on paper with its triple 16MP camera setup. And quality should edge out the Pure‘s single 13MP shooter, especially for portrait shots. However, without advanced hardware like optical image stabilization or powerful image processing chips, these budget cameras can struggle in low lightscenes.

Don‘t expect incredible quality that matches flagship phones – but the Play model delivers the best bang for buck at $150 with its extra rear sensor and higher resolution.

Verdict: The Moto G Play offers a better rear camera setup than the Moto G Pure. But quality is merely okay for this price range, not spectacular based on side-by-side comparisons of sample shots in reviews.

Software and Updates

On the software side of things, the Moto G Play holds a clear advantage:

  • It ships with the newer Android 12 operating system versus Android 11 on the Pure model. This brings updated features like better privacy controls and microphone/camera indicators.
  • Motorola guarantees 1 major OS upgrade and 3 years of bi-monthly security patches. This means the Play will likely see Android 13 down the road, but the Pure is set to remain stuck on Android 11.

In daily use, Motorola‘s "My UX" skin on top of Android provides a clean, almost stock-like experience. You‘ll enjoy minimal bloatware and smooth performance. Moto Actions gestures – like twisting to launch the camera – are also fun shortcuts.

Just expect the software support window to be much shorter for the Moto G Pure versus Play. The Play‘s newer Android 12 build and possibility for an Android 13 upgrade keep it highly relevant on the software front.

Verdict: With Android 12 already onboard and better long term update prospects, the Moto G Play is the easy choice for software experience and longevity.

Which Should You Buy: Moto G Pure or Moto G Play?

So when all‘s said and done, should you go with the cheaper Moto G Pure or pricier Moto G Play? Here is some buying advice based on different user priorities:

User ProfileRecommendationReason
Camera FocusedMoto G PlayIts 16MP triple camera captures better shots and portraits
Seeking Max Battery LifeMoto G Play5000mAh capacity & efficient chip = up to 3 day runtime
Tightest Budget (Under $120)Moto G PureIt still packs decent performance at a $110 price point
Frequent Software UpdatesMoto G PlayHas newer Android 12 OS now and better upgrade prospects
Uncertain, Best Overall ValueMoto G PlayYou get quite a bit more for your $40 price bump

In our opinion, the Moto G Play makes for a better option for most shoppers. Yes you‘ll pay $40 more, but the upgrades across the board in processor performance, battery life, main camera, and software experience justify the higher cost. It retains everything that makes the Moto G series so appealing – solid build, smooth software, usable cameras – while stretching battery life and components to rival even more expensive budget phones.

The Pure only makes sense for those with firm $100-120 budgets or more basic needs from their device. Given the minimal price difference and big improvements under the hood however, we believe the Play is clearly worth the extra cash.


Q: Are the Moto G Pure and Moto G Play waterproof?

A: No, these phones only have a water repellent coating that can handle minor splashes and moisture. They don‘t claim serious water or dust resistance ratings and should not be submerged deliberately for any length of time.

Q: Do these phones work with all major US carriers?

A: Yes, both the unlocked Moto G Pure and Moto G Play support all major postpaid and prepaid networks like Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile. They have wide band support for reliable service across urban and rural areas.

Q: How does camera quality compare to premium phones?

A: You can certainly capture decent snapshots and selfies with these phones. But the lack of advanced hardware for noise reduction and the small aperture sizes limit photo quality versus leading camera phones. Expect graininess in low light shots and average detail/dynamic range in good light.

Q: Can I use a microSD card to store photos and media files?

A: Yes! Both phones feature dedicated microSD card slots supporting cards up to 512GB. This allows you to greatly expand the base 32GB internal storage for media collections and files.

Q: Which phone will get more software updates & upgrades?

A: The Moto G Play ships with newer Android 12 software and Motorola guarantees 1 major OS update for it. This gives it a slight edge in longevity and relevance over the Moto G Pure launching with Android 11.

The Bottom Line

While these two affordable Moto G phones share plenty in common, the Moto G Play ultimately proves itself as the better overall value buy. For just $40 more than the Moto G Pure, you get noticeably improved performance, battery life, main rear camera, and software profile. Unless you have a strict sub-$120 budget, the upgrades across the board with the G Play make it the obvious pick between these two.

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