- The perfect size
- Well built for the price
- Detailed FHD+ screen
- Fantastic software experience
- Some performance frustrations, especially with the camera
- 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
What is the Moto G6?
The Moto G6 is the true successor to last year’s winner of Best Budget Phone at the Trusted Reviews Awards. It sits in the middle of a range of three new Motorola smartphones, offering the perfect combination of functionality and affordability.
For a shade less than £220/$312 you get a tall 5.7-inch Full HD+ screen, facial and fingerprint unlocking, USB-C fast-charging, dual rear cameras, and an all-glass-and-metal design.
You also get a phone that feels great to hold and runs fantastic software – two things often missing on even excellent phones at this price.
Moto G6 – Design
Following the current smartphone trend, the Moto G6 has an 18:9 screen ratio, meaning 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 more difficult to use than a taller device.
The Moto G6 is slimmer than its predecessor, too, while packing a much larger screen. It’s far easier to slip into your pocket.
It appears that Motorola has even upped the quality of materials used for the device. The Moto G6 sports a metal frame that’s sandwiched between the screen on one side and curved, scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass on the other. Previous Moto G devices have had housings that are mainly plastic, and while they’ve been fine, the Moto G6 feels much better.
There’s a whiff of Samsung Galaxy S9 about the design – never a bad thing – but the Moto G6 feels lighter.
A nicely bevelled power button sits on the side, and it’s flanked by a clicky volume rocker. A USB-C port and headphone jack can be found along the bottom. Below the display is a long and thin fingerprint scanner/home button and a slightly unnecessary Motorola logo.
The Moto G6 lacks any water-resistance, however. There’s an added coating that offers some resistance against splashes and rain, but don’t expect this to protect against an accidental dunking in a bath.
Moto G6 – Screen
Handsets in this price-range often sacrifice a good display to try to keep costs down. However, when you consider the length of time we spend glued to our phone screens, I’d much prefer a quality screen over, say, a few extra gigabytes of RAM and greater internal storage. Thankfully, the Moto G6’s display is very good.
The 18:9, 5.7-inch IPS LCD panel is taller than that featured on the Moto G5, and to fill the extra space resolution has been bumped up slightly from FHD to FHD+. At this size, you’re unlike to notice the difference between this and a QHD+ toting display – unless you get in super-close, that is – and we’re yet to see OLED panels really impress at this end of the market.
That high resolution makes for detailed reproduction of images and videos, with individual pixels that are impossible to spot. Combine this with the super-wide display and the Moto G6 is great for watching Netflix and YouTube.
It isn’t the brightest screen around; you’ll want either to enable auto-brightness or manually jack it up in the settings panel to improve outdoor visibility. Viewing angles are surprisingly good, however.
Another slight niggle is that by default the screen is a little on the cool side: whites take on a slight blue hue; it just feels a little cold. However, whether or not this is an issue is a matter of personal preference, rather than there being something wrong with the display. If it annoys, I’d recommend you head into settings for a tweak.
Moto G6 – Performance
The Moto G6 comes with Qualcomm’s latest mid-range processor, the Snapdragon 450, at its heart along with the Adreno 506 GPU and 3GB of RAM (4GB in certain regions, but not in the UK or the US). This is a step up from last year’s Snapdragon 430 processor in the G5 and cheaper Moto G6 Play.
Aside from packing faster cores, the Snapdragon 450 uses 14nm transistors, which are half the size of the 430’s. The smaller the transistors, the more efficient processors tend to be, and this translates to longer battery life. As such, the Snapdragon 450 offers a notable improvement.
That said, this processor remains in the lower rungs of Qualcomm’s canon and the performance lives up to that. Most folk looking for a device at this price will be happy with how the Moto G6 performs – but it certainly doesn’t set a new bar for budget phones.
Basic tasks such as scrolling through Instagram, knocking out emails in Gmail and listening to Spotify on the go are all handled with ease. The G6 is also capable of handling less-intensive games without lag or dropped frames: Dots (easily the best mobile game ever), Alto’s Adventure, Threes and even Lara Croft Go all played perfectly well.
It’s with more intensive tasks, and – annoyingly – in the camera that the G6 shows signs of weakness. Resource-heavy apps and actions such as editing photos in VSCO and high-end games such as PUBG Mobile do work, but the experience isn’t great. There’s also noticeable hanging when loading image- and advert-laden websites. While the experience isn’t too bad, it isn’t as smooth as you’d get with flagship phones or even those in the £300-£400 range.
|Single core||Multi core|
|Huawei P Smart||946||3738|
More frustrating is when the camera runs into issues, particularly when it appears to be down to the processor. Focusing is slow and often inaccurate; sliding between modes is juddery; and you’ll see a good few moments of nothing when you go to view a picture.
Other aspects of the performance are suitably reliable: call quality is good, as are the microphones; and the 32GB storage is plentiful. MicroSD support is included to bump up storage needs and there’s NFC for Google Pay. There’s even a headphone jack – something of a novelty in 2018. Bluetooth remains at version 4.1 – you’ll have to plump for the Moto G6 Plus for Bluetooth 5 – but I’ve had no issue with the performance of Bluetooth headphones.
Moto G6 – Software
Having spent a lot of time with both the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Huawei P20/P20 Pro recently, it’s refreshing to once again use a phone that doesn’t run a heavily skinned and modified version of Android. Like previous Moto phones, the G6 ships with a version of Android 8.0 that’s similar to the one you’d find on a Google Pixel.
It’s pretty bloatware-free – aside from Outlook and LinkedIn – and Moto doesn’t ship its own apps. Instead, you’ll use Google’s versions – the excellent Photos for backing up and storing your snaps, for example. Considering Google’s apps are far better than the competition, this is a great move.
Even in instances where Moto has tweaked and added bits to the software, it feels like everything is there for a reason, with the few additions here actually an improvement.
There’s basic facial-recognition, enabling unlocking of the phone with your face. This isn’t anywhere near as advanced as the iPhone X’s Face ID system; instead, the Moto G6 simply uses a snap of your face. It’s more of a time-saving feature than a security one, and you’ll continue to use the fingerprint sensor to unlock your banking app or buying a film through Google Play. Still, it works okay in bright environments and is a nice feature to have at this price point.
Other dedicated Moto features include the ability to use the fingerprint sensor as a gesture pad instead of the typical Android navigation keys, and some shortcuts such as twisting the phone to open the camera and ‘chopping’ it to turn on the flashlight. Both of these have quickly become part of my daily routine.
Switching to a taller display size is move that’s been adopted by numerous manufacturers now, so there shouldn’t be too many apps that have issues adjusting. One of the biggest concerns I have is with Spotify, which doesn’t quite fit the screen properly and inserts a blank black bar at the bottom. Note that there’s no way to manually stretch apps to fit the screen, if they don’t do so automatically.
The device comes running Android 8.0, so you’ll benefit from features such as picture-in-picture multitasking, fantastic autofill support for passwords, and better notifications. Moto has had a so-so record in the past with updates, and the fact this is launching with 8.0 rather than the newer 8.1 doesn’t fill me with much confidence that we’ll see a quick update when Android 9 hits later in the year.
Moto G6 – Camera
Perhaps the biggest upgrade Motorola has packed into the G6, on paper at least, are its dual rear cameras.
We’ve seen numerous high-end devices with dual cameras over the past few years, and these all work in various ways. The Huawei P20 has a monochrome sensor to support the main one, while the LG G6 opted for a wide-angle second camera to fit more in.
The Moto G6’s approach is a little like that of the iPhone X, where the camera is used to aid the primary sensor to create highly stylised portrait images. Unlike the iPhone, however, the secondary sensor doesn’t let you zoom losslessly into the subject.
The main rear sensor is 12 megapixels, which is actually down on the 13-megapixel unit in last year’s G5. Don’t let that fool you, however. Megapixels aren’t everything, and this camera comes with a wider f/1.8 aperture to let more light into the sensor. That secondary sensor sits at 5 megapixels.
Pictures taken with the Moto G6 are good, mostly when taken in decent lighting. Shoot during the day in favourable conditions and you’ll get detailed snaps with decent colour reproduction and accurate exposure. Skies are blue, plants have a burst of green and bright colours don’t lose all vibrancy. You’re not going to be printing out these shots, but they’re fine for Instagram or Facebook.
As with most cheaper handsets, the camera starts to struggle when the light and conditions aren’t so good. To be fair to the Moto G6, on a few occasions I’ve achieved surprisingly great low-light shots from this camera – but most of the time, they’re fairly dull.
Shooting inside with a few lamps on sees the exposure struggle to compensate, noise is cranked up and all the detail seems to disappear. Bar shots, again, lack detail and are often very noisy. All of this is okay, though; it’s still very much the case that you have to pay more for a phone with a decent camera.
I’ve actually been quite impressed with the aspects of the camera that utilise the secondary camera. You can cut-out objects and alter their colours and blur the background in portraits. These effects work quite well and they’re fun to play around with. You won’t get the precise cut-outs you’d get with the Huawei P20 Pro (which isn’t completely accurate all the time anyway) and it does struggle with hair.
Another trick tucked inside the camera app is landmark and object recognition. Point the camera at a famous monument and it will tell you what is it, bringing up some handy additional information too. Landmark recognition works far better than the object recognition, which I found to be wildly inconsistent. For instance, taking a photo of a number of different phones only ever suggested it was the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.
The 8-megapixel selfie camera is okay, but it overexposes easily and you’ll find detail is very smooth. Video is capped at 1080p (30fps and 60fps) and while it looks crisp, the lack of any image stabilisation does lead to some shaky footage.
Moto G6 – Battery life
3000mAh has just about become the universal battery size – whether it’s a mid-range device or even a £600+ flagship. The Moto G6 sits alongside the Galaxy S9 and HTC U11 with this sized cell, and while a bigger unit is always be welcome, battery life here is stellar.
An hour of SD Netflix streaming consumed roughly 11-13%, while 30 minutes of Lara Croft Go took off 20%. The battery fares much better in general use, though, with a loss of only 2% when left unplugged overnight. Considering the Huawei P20 Pro loses between 10-15% in the same test, that’s an impressive return.
Moto’s fast-charging tech, dubbed Turbo Power, is included and you get a compatible charger in the box. It isn’t the quickest charging method around, however, taking about 1hr 55mins to go from 0-100%.
Another nice inclusion is USB-C. 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, though; but USB-C is a more robust connection and far easier to plug in as it’s reversible.
Why buy the Moto G6?
The G-series is Moto’s best-selling line and it really isn’t hard to see why. Whereas the brand’s higher-tier devices don’t do enough to stand out against the competition from Apple, Samsung and others, the G6 really does offer a tempting package. Don’t come here expecting a device that completely rewrites your expectations of what a £220/$312 phone can do, but do expect one that will perform the majority of tasks you’d carry out on a phone with ease.
This is easily one of the nicest sub-£300/$426 phones to use and it helps that the screen is great and the software slick. Huawei might offer more features with the P Smart, but I prefer using the Moto G6.
Typical sticking points of a budget phone remains: the camera is ‘meh’ and the performance has a tendency to become bogged down. Neither really ruined my experience with the phone, however, and these issues are likely to be addressed with the Moto G6 Plus. The Plus model offers improvements to the processor and camera – and, of course, raises the price.
It isn’t quite the budget pioneer it once was, but the latest Moto G is still a fantastic phone for £220/$312.
With a phone this good for £220/$312, you might reconsider splurging on your next upgrade.