moto g9 play

This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl.

Motorola Mobility Japan launched two SIM-free smartphones, the moto g9 play and moto g PRO, on October 30. The phones are the ninth generation of the popular moto g series, but the moto g PRO is also the device that was announced overseas as the moto g stylus in February.

And while the Motorola devices have had very little customization to begin with, the moto g PRO is an Android One device that is pure Android. And as befits the PRO name, it's interesting to note that it is differentiated from the moto g play by having a built-in stylus and a wide-angle action camera.

Motorola launches budget SIM-free smartphones 'moto g9 play' and 'moto g PRO'

Comparing the appearance of the moto g9 play and moto g PRO

The moto g9 play features a 6.5-inch HD+ (1600x720 pixels) IPS LCD display. It has an 8-megapixel front camera in a waterdrop-shaped notch.

moto g9 play
moto g9 play with a water droplet-shaped notch

The moto g PRO, on the other hand, has a 6.4-inch IPS LCD, which is one size smaller than that of the moto g9 play. However, the resolution is higher at FHD+ (2300x1080). It has a 16-megapixel front camera in the punch hole.

moto g pro
moto g PRO with a punch hole

The housing size is also a little less than 7mm shorter vertically at 158.55 x 75.8 x 9.2mm for the moto g PRO, compared to 165.21 x 75.73 x 9.18mm for the moto g9 play.

moto g9 play
moto g 9 play (left) and moto g PRO (right)

Both models have a triple camera system on the back, but this configuration is also very different: the moto g9 play has a 48-megapixel main camera combined with a 2-megapixel macro and depth sensor. The camera placement is also a new style with a square bump in the top center of the back. The rear logo is still the same as before with the fingerprint sensor on the back.

moto g9 play
moto g9 play with a square bump

The moto g PRO has the same 48-megapixel main camera and 2-megapixel macro as the g9 play, but instead of a depth sensor, it has a 16-megapixel 117-degree wide-angle action camera. moto g PRO follows the traditional style with four cameras closer to the left edge.

moto g PRO
Traditional style moto g PRO

The power and volume buttons are on the right side of both models, but only the moto g9 play has a dedicated Google Assistant button above the volume button.

moto g 9 play
Only the moto g9 play has a dedicated Google Assistant button.

Both have an earphone jack; the 3.5mm jack is on the top side on the moto g9 play and on the bottom side on the moto g PRO.

moto g9 play
The moto g9 play has a 3.5mm jack on the top side.
moto g PRO
The moto g PRO has a 3.5mm jack on the bottom.

Both models have dual SIMs. And in both cases, the SIM2 slot doubles as a microSD slot.

moto g9 play
Both models have two SIM trays, one of which doubles as a microSD card slot.

Basic camera performance is the same

The cameras are almost identical in terms of functionality for both models, as they have the same lens and are from the same manufacturer. You can also shoot filters, such as spot colors, which are familiar on Motorola devices, which leave only certain colors intact, and cutouts that replace the background of a person.

The 48-megapixel camera is also touted for its ability to handle the dark, with quad-pixel technology that binds four pixels together to provide more light when there's not enough light, and night vision.

In terms of the all-important image quality, both models still seem to be on par.

moto g9 play
Taken with moto g9 play

moto g pro
Taken with moto g PRO
moto g9 play
Spot color that leaves only the specified color

However, the cameras of both models are not exactly the same in terms of functionality either. For example, on the moto g9 play, which has a depth sensor, you can blur the background in portrait mode even for non-people, but on the moto g PRO, you can only blur the background for people.

moto g PRO
moto g PRO's portrait mode is only available for people

Also, the ultra-wide-angle camera on the moto g PRO is only available for video recording. It could not be used for still photography.

moto g PRO
The wide-angle video can only be taken by holding it vertically.

The stylus on moto g PRO

Even more than the camera, the big difference between the two models is the presence or absence of a stylus. moto g PRO has a stylus that can be stored in the lower right corner of the device. You can use the stylus for handwriting and more.

moto g PRO

This stylus isn't as sophisticated as the Galaxy's S Pen or Apple Pencil, it's just that it can be used in place of a finger, which in itself doesn't have any special features. Still, it's not usable on other models and seems to be exclusive to it.

moto g PRO
I thought it was just a capacitive stylus, but it wasn't working on other models such as the moto g9 play.

It's also designed to be easy to use, with the special launcher activated when the stylus is pulled out.

moto g PRO
When the stylus is pulled out, the special launcher is activated.

It's not multifunctional, but the moto g PRO was originally intended for business use as well, so it's likely to be useful for handwritten notes.

The moto g PRO benefits greatly from updates

The moto g PRO is an Android One device, and one of the benefits of this is the monthly security updates.

Android delivers monthly security updates, but almost no manufacturer has been able to keep up with this. However, the moto g PRO with Android One guarantees monthly updates for two years; it also guarantees up to two generations of OS updates, which means you can update to at least Android 12 (Android 10 when it ships). For a device that's also intended for business use, this guarantee could be significant.

moto g9 play

Other main specifications include the Snapdragon 662 SoC for the moto g9 play and the Snapdragon 665 for the moto g PRO. Both have 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage for the moto g9 play and 128GB for the moto g PRO. The numbers are higher for the Snapdragon 665, but the Snapdragon 662 is newer in terms of release date and there doesn't seem to be a big difference in performance.

The AnTuTu score for the moto g9 play is 178957 and that of the moto g PRO is 172434.

moto g9 play
AnTuTuTu scores for moto g9 play (left) and moto g PRO (right)

It's hard to decide which one to choose since the devices have similar specs and are being released at the same time, but if the stylus and update guarantee appeal to you, you should choose the moto g PRO, and if you don't need the stylus and want a good, inexpensive device anyway, you'll choose the moto g9 play.

This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl. The Japanese edition of Engadget does not guarantee the accuracy or reliability of this article.