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Motorola moto g34 5G - Some Phones Just Feel Nicer

Publish Date
Wed, 1 May 2024, 1:05pm

Motorola moto g34 5G - Some Phones Just Feel Nicer

Publish Date
Wed, 1 May 2024, 1:05pm

Over the years I have become a real phone snob. It's not my fault. When you review phones all the time you get to try the latest and greatest and that means you miss all those premium features if your daily handset doesn't have them.

Do I actually need a phone with a terabyte of storage, wireless charging and the ability to be dropped in the ocean and survive? Probably not.

But knowing there are other people out there using phones like that... well that just drives me crazy.

So it's easy for someone like me to slip into the mindset that no phone under $2000 is even worth taking out of the box.

This is, of course, ridiculous. Every now and then I need to give myself a couple of uppercuts, take a reality check and see just how far down the price-range I can go while still getting what I really need from a phone.

Turns out, it's pretty far.


The Motorola moto g34 5G retails for NZ$319.00. That's ten times less expensive than some phones I've reviewed.

Okay, I'm exaggerating. It's actually more than ten times less expensive than some phones I've reviewed.

And yet, I've been using it for a week or so now and you know what? My life is not ten times worse as a result. In fact, you could argue things haven't changed much at all.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Ironically, unlike many far more expensive handsets, the moto g34 ships with a 20W charger in the box. The bigger irony is the moto g34 is possibly the first phone I've ever reviewed to be packaged already in its included case. Don't get me wrong, I love it when a cover is included. Sure, it's a relatively basic, transparent TPU case with opaque edges but that's better than no case at all... Except... This phone has a vegan leather back which feels absolutely incredible in your hand. There's no way I'm depriving myself of that tactile experience by tucking it away in a plastic case.

I absolutely love holding this phone. There's a slight catch - in order to get vegan leather you have to opt for the Ocean Green variant. If you prefer the Charcoal Black option alas that only comes in a smooth, acrylic glass finish.

Either way, the handset is light and slim - the display is large but in a tall and skinny way which makes the phone easy to operate with one hand. It's a 6.5-inch LCD panel with a 120Hz refresh rate - I don't love an LCD screen on my phone because means it's hard to see when I'm wearing my polarised sunglasses however, that high refresh rate certainly belies the budget-friendly price-tag. 

Which hints at quite a list of other "premium" features I was surprised to find... like NFC payment, a stereo speaker array and eSIM capability. Get used to this last feature - in places like America, many phones are now eSIM-only. However, this one still accommodates dual physical SIMs as well and you can add a microSD (up to 1TB) for extra storage space.

There's already 128GB built in - which is pretty much my bottom line for any phone now, otherwise you'll be scratching around for space to store your high-quality pics and vids.

I would have also said 8GB of RAM is my bare minimum these days but the moto g34 only rocks 4GB. Luckily, thanks to RAM Boost, the phone can use some of the available storage as virtual memory. This seems to work surprisingly well and while this is no gaming powerhouse, the only time I've experienced any major stutters or slow-downs is transitioning in and out of the Camera app.

Which is not to take anything away from the camera performance as a whole. Again, because of the moto g34's low price, I was bracing myself for substandard photo and video performance in anything but the most ideal of conditions. Yet sure enough, my expectations were exceeded by quite some margin. The moto g34 performs quite well in dim lighting and generally produces clear, bright, colourful shots.

Both the 50MP primary shooter and the 16MP selfie-cam consistently came up with the goods - it's always those split-second, spontaneous shots you only get one chance at that are the true test of a phone camera's performance. I thought this one of my "Wine-ing" dog came out pretty well.

Back to the camera app - although the phone is a little sluggish swapping between its live view and the camera roll, yet again there are some nice-to-have features here that actually work. There's a Dual Capture option that lets you shoot from both front and rear cameras simultaneously and there's even a Magic Eraser tool which I used to blot out a distractingly over-lit leaf on the right of this bunch of flowers.



I'm not much of a fan of macro lenses though - especially 2MP sensors like the one on the back panel here. We often find macro lenses like these on budget phones and I don't really know why - is it just to make the camera array look more impressive in a bit of "two lenses must be better than one" logic? Doesn't really bother me given the overall camera performance here is well above average - even the portrait shots I took looked pretty good to me.

Battery life is excellent. The 5000mAh cell gets me through two days easily, although that 20W charger doesn't juice things up particularly quickly. Unfortunately, wireless charging is one high-end feature this phone does not have. While that's a deal-breaker for me, most "normal" people don't seem to mind plugging in.

The moto g34 is also described as "water repellent". It's hard to know exactly what this means as it doesn't carry any IP rating and it certainly isn't submersible. I think the idea is it won't matter too much if you sweat, get rained on or accidentally spill a drink in its vicinity.

As for the My UX operating system, built over Android 14 - it's so stripped-back, it's barely noticeable - and that's just the way I like it. Most features and settings are easy enough to find and customise, although because of the display's tall 20:9 aspect ratio, there's only room for four icons across the home screen. It's a small niggle, but when you're used to five it's a tough decision which app you'll lose from your favourites bar at the bottom.

I'd like to be able to comment on the fingerprint and face unlock functions but for some reason my loan agreement forbade me to set these up so maybe they work, maybe they don't.

What does work is everything else - and it all works well. I never thought I'd be this satisfied with the performance, camera setup, look and feel of a sub-$350 handset, and yet, here I am. This is a phone that fits very nicely in my pocket.




Click here for more information on the Motorola moto g34 5G.

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