The Problem With Motorola Phones: Software Updates, No NFC, and More

Apparently, Motorola thinks you don’t need to make contactless payments. Digital payments can be more secure than traditional credit cards, and they’re more convenient. I never bring my wallet when I walk my dog, but if I want to grab a quick cup of coffee, I can pay for it with my phone. It’s not a huge problem if I can’t do that, but of the dozens of $200+ budget phones I’ve tested in the past three years, only those from Motorola have lacked this feature. That’s not to say that no Motorola phone supports it—you’ll just need to pay $400 or more to get a model that supports contactless payments. 

This is increasingly hard to ignore as the pandemic fueled the growth of touch-free payment systems. In-store mobile payments grew by 29 percent in the US in 2020, according to eMarketer, and more than 101.2 million Americans are expected to use some form of contactless payment by the end of the year. The research firm forecasts half of all US smartphone owners will regularly use this method of payment by 2025.

“For the average consumer, they might not even understand what NFC is exactly unless you explicitly market it to them,” Sag says. “In the US, we’re just starting to see credit card companies use contactless; we might not be mature enough as a market, outside of Apple, to really pick up enough momentum for NFC to be a deal-breaker for the average consumer.”

Just like with frequent software updates, there aren’t a great number of people clamoring for NFC. But we recommend several great mobile phone options in the low-to-mid price range with the capability. You’ll be really glad to have it when you accidentally leave your wallet behind. Motorola, it’s time to finally add it to the Moto G lineup. 

Flooding the Market

Buying a smartphone is already complicated in the US, thanks to carriers’ policies of locking devices to only work on their respective networks. (That’s why we recommend only buying unlocked phones). It’s worse when the market is filled with dozens of phones with confusing names and few features to distinguish them. Motorola isn’t alone in this practice (looking at you, Samsung and Nokia), but it might have an easier time issuing updates if it had a more uncluttered product line. 

Should you buy the Moto G Stylus 2021 or the Moto G Stylus 2021 5G? Or the Moto G Power 2021 from January or this new Moto G Power 2022? The answer isn’t always clear-cut. There’s now a MediaTek processor inside the new G Power instead of a higher-performing Qualcomm chip, and based on my brief hands-on time with the phone, its performance is noticeably slower. It also launches with Android 11, so you’ll have to wait several months for Android 12.

Motorola is clearly succeeding as a business by selling smartphones to eager customers. But even if people aren’t asking for it, Moto should lengthen its software update window so buyers aren’t left holding out-of-date devices after only a year or two. Give people the choice to pay for coffee or groceries with their smartphone like nearly every competitor. And you, the buyer, have some power here too. Take a look at what else is out there. By voting with your wallet, you might be able to convince this rising giant to start making more consumer-friendly decisions and potentially save it from the fate of so many legacy brands before it.

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Erlando F Rasatro

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