Hands-on with the Moto G6 Play

The Moto G6 Play is the baby of Motorola’s brand-new range of budget smartphones. That’s not to say it’s smaller in size, just that it packs slightly fewer features and less powerful components than its siblings, the Moto G6 and Moto G6 Plus. Crucially, it also comes with the lowest price tag at just £169.

The first Moto G did for cheap Android phones what the Nexus 7 did for low-quality Android tablets. It made them obsolete. It was the only choice if you wanted a good smartphone experience for less than £150/$213. It forced every other manufacturer to step up – or go home.

Moto G5 vs Moto G6 Play

Since then Motorola has gradually improved the Moto G, and the range now appears to serve what most folk need, even if it isn’t what they most want. It’s where the smart money is spent.

Motorola’s G series of phones have always offered fantastic value for money, and on first impressions nothing has changed – you can’t get better bang for your buck.

Being the entry-level model means the Moto G6 Play doesn’t come with as many bells and whistles as the Moto G6 and Moto G6 Plus. There’s no facial recognition or dual cameras, for example. And instead of the metal-over-plastic design of the G5, Motorola has opted for a more honest polymer (plastic, to you and me) rear. Nevertheless, it feels good.

The Moto G6 Play has its own party piece, though. It has a massive 4000mAh battery that Motorola claims can provide up to 32 hours of mixed use on a single charge. A battery of that size along with a low-powered processor means the G6 Play should offer stellar battery life.

Moto G6 Play – Design and screen

The Moto G6 Play comes with a new 18:9 screen, which means it feels different to previous models. It’s a little taller and narrower than the G5, but comes with a much larger 5.7-inch screen. That makes it great for watching movies and TV on the go, while still being a good size for slipping into a pocket.

The IPS screen is bright and punchy. It’s a shame it’s a slight downgrade from last year’s Full HD 5-inch screen, but it isn’t too noticeable. It still qualifies for what Apple dubs ‘Retina’ quality, which means you can’t spot pixels from normal viewing distances.

Moto G5 vs Moto G6 Play

The speaker is also plenty loud for video calling, and because it’s now located on the front, isn’t easily muffled when held.

For a phone that costs less than £200/$284 the Moto G6 Play feels solid, if not luxurious. The frame is metal and the bezel thin. It doesn’t have an edge-to-edge display, but it isn’t far off. The back is now made of plastic rather than the metallic style of the previous model. It’s still easy to grip and comfortable in the hand thanks to some ergonomic curves.

Weighing in at 175g means it also has some heft. That’s 30g more than the G5, but not so much that it becomes tiresome to use one-handed. What it does mean is that this feels like a much more expensive phone than it is.

The Play might not have the premium feel of the glass-backed G6 and G6 Plus, but if you’re worried about having two glass surfaces to accidentally smash then it’s the more sensible option.

One thing I do prefer on the cheaper G6 Play is the location of the fingerprint sensor. It’s positioned in a dimple on the rear of the phone, exactly where your index finger might rest. It’s a doddle to use and I find it more handy than the sensors on the front of other phones.

The Moto G6 Play will come in two colours when it is released. These are the blinging “Fine Gold” and the much darker “Deep Indigo”.

Moto G6 Play – Camera

The G6 Play comes with 13-megapixel rear-facing camera with an f/2.0 aperture and phase-detection autofocus. If that sounds familiar then it’s because those specs are identical to the ones on last year’s G5 camera.

As the phone I tested was still a pre-production model, some of the camera software wasn’t finished. However, it’s likely to match the Moto G5 and that means great shots in good lighting and uninspiring ones in low-light.

The front-facing camera has had a lift. This is now 8 megapixels and comes with a front-facing LED flash for selfies in the dark. It also has a “beautification” mode, if what you’re really after is the smooth-all-over look of Action Man or Barbie.

Moto G6 Play – Specs

The Moto G6 Play comes with the same processor as last year’s G5, but that shouldn’t be a cause for concern. I found the Play to be smooth and responsive, just as the G5 still is.

The Snapdragon 430 comes with a solid Adreno 505 graphics chip, meaning you’ll be able to play most high-powered 3D games without noticing many jitters or dropped frames.

The G6 Play now comes with 3GB of RAM as standard, which should keep things running more smoothly compared to the 2GB on the entry-level G5. It also comes with greater storage as standard, 32GB up from 16GB. Of course, there’s also the option of a microSD card to bump up storage further, if you so choose.

One of the biggest benefits of buying a Moto G is that it runs stock Android, with just a few bells and whistles added to certain apps such as the camera one. Google’s Android just keeps getting slicker and it’s rarely an improvement when manufacturers add their own layer on top.

It also means the Moto G6 Play should receive Android updates more quickly than other phones – and that can only be a very good thing.

Many mobiles have jumped onto the USB-C bandwagon, but the Moto G6 Play isn’t one of them. It still uses a micro-USB port for charging and data transfer. However, you do get a TurboPower charger included for fast charging, something Apple doesn’t include with its £1000/$1420 iPhone X. According to Motorola you can get six hours of use from a quick 15-minute blast.

If you like the idea of USB-C then you can opt for the Moto G6 or G6 Plus. These come with the reversible connector, among a host of other upgrades.

Happily, all three phones come with NFC for easy pairing and Android Pay, as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack that is lacking from so many flagships. There’s also Bluetooth 4.2 if you prefer using wireless headphones.

What you don’t get with those more expensive phones is a the huge 4000mAh battery. If battery life is one of your main concerns then the Moto G6 Play should be a very tempting proposition indeed.

Moto G6 Play – Price and release date

The Moto G6 play will cost just £169/$240 SIM-free. The on-sale date is still TBC.

First impressions

The likes of Honor and Xiomi have made the budget mobile arena far more competitive, but the Moto G6 Play remains one of most complete phones you can pick up for less than £200/$284. All signs point to the G6 Play being a great budget phone from Motorola. Our full review will be coming soon.

(trustedreviews.com, https://goo.gl/ARqmPp)