Moto g6: Hands on review
Hello Moto. To this day, I’m still nostalgic for the days of the iconic Motorola RAZR flip phone – you can't deny it was pretty epic.
Fast-forward to 2018, Motorola is celebrating its 45th anniversary and I had the chance to have a hands-on look at its latest budget smartphone offering, the moto g6.
With the 18:9 ratio screen, powerful battery and relatively cheap price (RRP £220), on paper, the moto g6 is just my type. The model that landed on my desk was Indigo Blue with 32GB of internal storage.
The moto g6 is dressed front and back in Corning Gorilla Glass giving it a chic, shiny finish. It’s well proportioned, with small bezels, curved edges and a 3D contoured back, so it snuggles comfortably in one hand. It looks good and it feels good but it seems quite easy to scratch, so I would recommend getting yourself a protective case.
These days, most of the phone manufacturers are trying to mimic the iPhone X by incorporating a notch in the display and scrapping the headphone jack (Huawei, I’m looking at you). When I opened the bright green moto g6 box, it was a relief to see that Motorola had not gone down the same path.
Many newly-released phones are IP-certified for water resistance but the Moto g6 is not. Instead, the phone-maker has given it a water-repellent nano-coating. I’ll be honest, I was too much of a scaredy-cat to test this feature so I’m not overly confident that it works but we’ll take Motorola’s word for it.
What’s under the hood
It is a budget to mid-range phone so you can’t expect everything under the hood to mirror a flagship phone. That being said, for the price you’re paying, the tech on offer is definitely worth your while.
The overall performance of the phone is delivered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 450. It’s not the fastest on the market but for a budget phone, it gets the job done. I didn’t have any trouble opening apps and switching between them.
The Moto g6 in Indigo Blue
In terms of memory, again, you get a decent amount for the price you are paying. There is 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage, 6GB of which is taken up by pre-installed software. There is a Micro SD card port so you can expand the storage up to 256GB with the help of a memory card.
Gone are the days of having to remember a passcode to unlock your phone. The g6 comes with a fingerprint reader, situated on the front of the phone, as well as facial recognition.
Both security features work well, the face-unlock technology isn’t affected by subtle changes in appearance such as glasses or a different hairstyle. I asked my colleague to test it with his face and sure enough, the phone remained locked.
Android Oreo 8.0 is the built-in operating system, which isn’t the latest version. It’s not something you’ll instantly notice but over time you’ll realise that Motorola is a bit sluggish when it comes to rolling out the latest Android software updates.
There’s not a lot I can say to fault the battery life, it gets two thumbs up from me. With basic to moderate use, the 3,000mAh battery can last up to two days. If you’re more of a proactive smartphone user, you may not last that long but the g6 charges relatively quickly.
In my case, 45 mins were enough to take the battery from flat to 100%. Power-efficiency is very 2018 so in accordance with this, the AI powered processor automatically closes unnecessary apps running in the background to help save battery life.
There’s no wireless charging capabilities but let’s be honest, who really needs that?
Screen and display
The 5.7-inch screen has a Full HD Max Vision Display with a 2160x1080 resolution. The aspect ratio is 18:9 and the screen maintains 424ppi density. For the average user, this gives you a crisp, clear image on screen and picks up vibrant colours quite well.
While the screen is quite good for watching videos, it’s not great for using outside. We’ve been blessed with a heatwave here in the UK and while the wall-to-wall blue skies are great for topping up your tan, they're not great for actually being able to see your moto g6 screen outdoors. Although you can adjust the screen brightness, it doesn’t work well enough. Not that this is likely to be a problem with the English weather in the long term.
It’s hard to compete with the Huawei P20 Pro’s behemoth camera, or the precision and clarity of the Samsung Galaxy S9 or iPhone X. However, if you’re looking for a camera that’s good enough, the moto g6 is not a bad shout.
It’s packing a dual 5MP and 12MP rear camera with a f/1.8 lens to add true-to-life depth to your photos, and there is a 8MP camera on the front. There are various modes that are quite fun to play with; the filters and time-lapse video mode kept me entertained for ages.
As boring as it sounds, I like the Text Scanner. You can take a picture of a document or article and it will convert the text into editable content. This will definitely come in handy if you often have to quote from textbooks or newspapers. The moto g6 incorporates the Google Lens feature directly from the camera app, so you can search the web by simply taking a picture.
It doesn’t have a gallery app; instead, the g6 uses Google photos which does make it easier to share media across your devices.
Lichfield Square taken with the moto g6 in standard photo mode
Photo taken indoors using the moto g6 (yes, my World Cup sweepstake teams lost, LOL)
Are you even a 2018 smartphone if you don’t have Dolby Atmos? They’re all at it – the Sony Xperia range, the Samsung Galaxy S9, the Huawei P20 range, the list is endless. Don’t forget to add the moto g6 to that.
When testing it out, I did notice a difference but if you’re an audiophile, you may be disappointed. True tech and audio visual fans will understand that to experience true Dolby Atmos, you would have to place 11 speakers around the room to create a surround sound effect. This is not possible from a single speaker on a mobile phone but in this case it does provide a rich, deeper sound that can enhance your viewing.
To put it into perspective, if you’re watching a funny YouTube video (Kevin Hart cracks me up) and you didn’t quite hear what the person in the video said but you don’t want to turn up the volume, crank on the dolby atmos and you’ll get a clearer sound.
Pros vs Cons
One thing I do like about the g6 is it adapts to your habits. The more you use it, the more often it will suggest cute shortcuts and gestures to make the phone more accessible and easy to use.
For example, to turn the torch on, just do a karate chop action with the phone and it switches on. You have to be quite vigorous with the action for the g6 to recognise it but it does work. You may argue that it’s probably quicker to just swipe down the notification bar and click on the icon but where's the fun in that?
The moto g6 gives you quite a clean Android experience – Motorola hasn’t interfered with the interface much. The bloatware has been scaled back as well, leaving you with 25GB of storage to play with.
One small bugbear I have is that Outlook and Linkedin are pre-installed and can only be disabled, not deleted.
I don’t have many other negatives; it’s a pleasant phone that does all the jobs you’d expect from a budget/mid-range phone. The main thing that stood out for me was the fact that nothing stood out about the phone.
Show me the money
To buy it SIM-free, prices vary slightly depending on the retailer but tend to closely orbit around the RRP of £220.
Motorola isn’t as popular as industry-leaders Apple and Samsung, so the moto g6 isn’t as widely available as its counterparts. At the time of writing, Vodafone and third-party mobile services are the only providers offering pay-monthly deals on the g6.
It is what it is. There is nothing that particularly stands out about this phone. Don’t get me wrong – it’s good at being a smartphone but that’s just it, it’s good but not great. If this was an essay and I were a teacher, I’d give it a C+. It does all the right things but nothing that will make it stand out in my memory.
For the money you’re paying, however, you’re getting a great piece of tech that will allow you to do the everyday smartphone tasks. If you’re a bit more tech-savvy, a gamer or hyper-productive, you may want to shell out some more cash for a flagship with higher specs.
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