- Review Price: £219/$311
- 5.7-inch 18:9 FHD+ screen
- Snapdragon 450 CPU
- 3/4GB of RAM
- Dual rear cameras (12MP + 5MP)
- 3000mAh battery
Hands-on with the Moto G6
The Moto G6 is the true successor to last year’s winner of Best Budget Phone at the Trusted Reviews Awards. On first impressions, it looks like Motorola will be hard to dethrone.
It sits in the middle of a range of three new Motorola smartphones running stock Android, and I think it’s the pick of an impressive bunch that all offer great value.
For a shade less than £220/$312 you get a crisp 5.7-inch Full HD+ screen in a body narrower and only slightly taller than its predecessor’s. There’s also facial and fingerprint unlocking, USB-C fast-charging, dual rear cameras, and an all-glass-and-metal design. It packs flagship features at a fraction of the cost.
Of course, something’s got to give to keep the price down, but in the case of the Moto G6 I think the compromises that have been made are the right ones. For starters, there’s no official water-resistance and no wireless charging, which are both nice to have, rather than essential.
The Snapdragon 450 that’s been chosen may only be one of Qualcomm’s mid-range processors, but it’s capable and should suffice for all but the most ardent 3D mobile gamers and multi-taskers. The Moto G5, which packs a less powerful Snapdragon 430 processor, is still as smooth and responsive today as it was last year, so there should be no complaints about the 450.
If you opt for the cheaper Moto G6 Play you will be getting the older Snapdragon 430. Step up to the £269/$382 Moto G6 Plus and you’re getting a bigger screen and beefier Snapdragon 630.
Moto G6 – Design and screen
Following the current trend, the Moto G6 has an 18:9 screen ratio, and that means the screen is taller and narrower than before. This is great for watching widescreen movies or TV and makes sense from a design perspective, too. A wide phone is a lot harder to use than a tall one, and the Moto G6 is now significantly narrower than its predecessor, while packing a much larger screen. It’s also much thinner, making it a lot easier to slip into your pocket.
The quality of materials Motorola is using also feels like a big step up. The Moto G6 has a sleek metal frame sandwiched between the screen on one side, and curved, scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass on the other.
The ergonomics are spot-on; the G6 feels both robust and comfortable to hold, thanks to the metal frame and tapered rear. And taking pride of place on the back are the two new cameras, accented by an etched circle and covered in glass. This really is a pretty phone, but there’s more to the design than just good looks.
Many phones have rear cameras positioned very high up, almost touching the top edge. This makes it tricky to take photos using both hands, as it’s all too easy to cover a lens with a finger. The positioning of the camera on the new G6 phones solves this, and means you can take more stable pics.
The speaker on the Moto G6 has moved from the bottom edge to the front, which is a good move, as it’s much harder to muffle. It also now comes with Dolby Audio
The Moto G6 will be available in one colour at launch, called “Deep Indigo”.
Moto G6 – Camera
Perhaps the biggest upgrades Motorola has packed into the G6 and G6 Plus are dual rear cameras.
We’ve seen a lot of dual cameras on high-end devices over the past few years, and these work in various ways. The Huawei P20 has a monochrome sensor to support the main one, while the LG G6 has opted for a wide-angle second camera to fit more in.
The Moto G6’s approach is more like those of the iPhone 8 and iPhone X. The second sensor is there for you to create slick shallow-depth-of-field effects that keep focus on the objects while softening up the background.
I was testing a pre-production model that didn’t have final camera software, but I took some tests shots and the effect was good – crisp around the subject’s edges and blurry in the background. You can tweak these effects in post-production too, via the Portrait Editor app.
The main rear sensor is 12-megapixel, which is actually down on the 13-megapixel one on last year’s G5. Don’t let that fool you, though. Megapixels aren’t everything and this camera comes with a wider f/1.8 aperture, which should mean better photos in low light. I wasn’t able to test this during my time with the phone, so wait for the full review to find out how well the Moto G6 fares when it comes to photography.
The dual-camera setup also allows for some nifty features. Landmark recognition is one. Just aim the G6 at a famous place and it will pop up information about it. Object recognition is similar but works with anything. I tried it with a small plant and the Moto G6 correctly identified it as a succulent and brought information up on screen. Very clever indeed.
Motorola claims the camera on the Moto G6 is also brilliant at scanning and converting images to text.
It’s worth noting that the Moto G6 Plus comes with a superior rear camera, on paper. It comes with a more advanced Image Signal Processor, has a wider f/1.7 aperture, and features Dual Autofocus Pixel Technology. It can also shoot 4K video. The Moto G6 maxes out at 1080p (60fps).
The front-facing camera is now 8-megapixel and comes with an LED flash and beautification mode – something I need on most mornings. It also lets you unlock your phone using facial recognition, as with the iPhone X. We’re yet to see if it’s as slick as that, or how well it works in the dark.
Moto G6 – Specs and features
The Moto G6 comes with 3GB of RAM (4GB in certain regions) and Qualcomm’s latest mid-range processor, the Snapdragon 450. This is a step up from last year’s Snapdragon 430 processor that you’ll find in the G5 and cheaper Moto G6 Play.
Aside from packing faster cores, the Snapdragon 450 uses 14nm transistors, half the size of the 430’s. The smaller the transistors, the more efficient processors tend to be, and that means longer battery life.
I couldn’t test the Moto G6’s stamina in the time I had with it, but in operation the stock Android 8.0 experience was smooth, and apps opened quickly. Firing up the camera app and taking a quick snap, for example, was a lag-free experience.
Motorola sure has packed a lot into the Moto G6. Aside from the crisp 5.7-inch screen and dual cameras, the phone’s storage has been upped to 32GB from 16GB last year. It’ll also come as a 64GB option, but since there’s a microSD card slot for expanding that, the entry-level model should suit most people.
There’s also a 3.5mm headphone jack – something that’s become a rare commodity these days – and Bluetooth 4.2 for those who’ve discovered the freedom of wireless headphones.
While the G6 Play comes with an old-school Micro USB port for charging, the Moto G6 and G6 Plus have both opted for the newer USB-C connector. Most flagship phones now pack USB-C, but not many of them cost this little. It may mean a lot of your old charging cables become obsolete, but USB-C is a more robust connection and a lot easier to plug in, since it’s reversible.
There’s no wireless charging, but the Moto G6 does come with NFC as standard, which is another step up from last year’s model. Motorola also packs a TurboPower charger and cable in the box. This lets you charge the Moto G6 quickly – in fact, Motorola claims a 15-minute blast will give you six hours of battery life.
The 3000mAh battery should be large enough, especially with the more efficient processor, to take you through a day. If battery life’s a key concern for you, though, then the Moto G6 Play may be a better bet. That comes with a monster 4000mAh battery.
Finally it’s worth noting that, while the Moto G6 isn’t officially water resistant, it has been treated with a P2i nano-coating. This repels water from vital components, and should mean the smartphone survives accidental liquid damage even if it’s not truly amphibious.
Moto G6 – Price and release date
The Moto G6 will cost £219/$311 SIM-free, and the on-sale date is TBC.
While most people will gravitate towards the cheaper G6 Play or larger G6 Plus, I think it’s the Moto G6 that hits the sweet spot between price and features. This is a phone that looks great and comes packed with goodies. It all comes down to the camera, though, and we’ll need to test that further, so check out our full review soon.