Moto G6: Full, in-depth review

Motorola G6
  • Motorola G6
  • Motorola G6
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • Great price-point
  • Superb build quality

Cons

  • Not great for games
  • AI camera features a bit finicky

Bottom Line

If you’re someone who doesn’t care about more-intensive applications like mobile gaming and photography, it’s difficult to think of an easier standout budget device that the Moto G6.

Would you buy this?

The Pitch

Nobody’s saying that Motorola’s flagship Moto Z and its MotoMod ecosystem aren’t compelling in their own right.  But they’re not always the easiest smartphones to actually recommend. Often, they’re as exciting and innovative as they are uneven and under-specced.

By contrast, Motorola’s budget and mid-tier offerings have continued to impress year-on-year. It’s a trend that has been largely headlined by the company’s mainline G-series. And the new Moto G6 compounds this legacy in strong form.

Like its predecessors, it combines solid specs and robust design with a razor-sharp price-point. It’s not a boundary-pusher like the Galaxy Note 9 or Find X. But if you’re after an everyday device that’s easy to recommend to pretty much anyone - the Moto G6 delivers the goods.

Specs

Display size:  5.7-inches

Display type: IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, FHD+

Processor:  Qualcomm Snapdragon 450

Weight:  167g

Dimensions: 153.8 mm x 72.3 mm x 8.3 mm

Operating System: Android 8.0

Fingerprint Sensor: Yes

Face Unlock: Yes

RAM:  3GB

Storage: 32GB + MicroSD

Durability: Corning Gorilla Glass 3, Splash Resistant

Ports: 3.5mm headphone jack, USB Type-C

SIM:  Dual SIM

Battery: 3000mAh

Connectivity: Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n), Bluetooth 4.2, NFC

Rear Camera: 12 MP (f/1.8 and PDAF) + 5 MP (f/2.2 with depth sensor)

Front-Facing Camera:  16-MP (f/2.2)

Colors: Indigo

Price:  $399

Design - Look, Feel and Features

There’s a not a particularly lengthy story to be told when it comes to the look, feel and general aesthetics of the Moto G6. Courtesy of the rounded corners and circular rear-facing camera, this thing looks like pretty much every other Moto handset out there.

This time around, however, the Moto G6 also comes accompanied by two variant models: the Moto G6 Play and Moto G6 Plus.

The latter is a little more top-end, featuring a dual-lens rear camera (12-megapixel + 5-megapixel), 16-megapixel front-facing camera, 5.9-inch FHD+ display (with an 18:9 aspect ratio), Snapdragon 630 processor, 3200mAh battery plus 4GBs of RAM and 64 GBs of on-board storage.

Meanwhile, the Moto G6 Play comes in a little cheaper but features a few more cut-corners on the spec sheet. It features a single-lens rear camera (13-megapixel with phase detection autofocus), 8-megapixel front-facing camera, 5.7-inch HD+ display (with an 18:9 aspect ratio), Snapdragon 430 processor, 4000mAh battery, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of on-board storage.

Credit: Motorola

The middle-of-the-road Moto G6 was the device we actually spent our time with. So it’s the one we’re going to spend this review actually discussing. And it’s to Motorola’s credit that the Moto G6 looks and feels as good as it does.

Like most 2018 smartphones, the G6 opts for an 18:9 display and a liquid glass design - and feels all the better for it. Even if it does attract some fingerprints along the way, the difference here in feel-factor between this and something like the LG G7 and HTC U12+ isn’t nearly as large as you’d expect it to be. And for $399, it’s really thrilling to behold.

In the past, material design and build quality has been a major difference separating budget tier and mid-tier devices from more expensive fare. But if the Moto G6 is any indication, this might not be the case for too much longer. In line with its predecessors, the G6 is all about taking the high-end features of the current smartphone zeitgeist and making them more affordable. To that end, the Moto G6 features dual-SIM, a headphone jack, 15W fast charging (via USB Type-C) and face-unlock.

If there’s any clear weakness in the design, it’s the fingerprint sensor. Rather than move this feature onto the back of the device like most other 2018 devices, Moto have kept it at the footer of the G6’s display. This isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker. After all, you can just opt to use face unlock instead. But the tallness of the 18:9 screen sometimes puts the fingerprint sensor a little too close for comfort.

Camera - How does it compare to the competition?

Another weakness here is the camera.

The Moto G6 delivers smartphone photography that’s reasonably good but not especially great. It sits at about where you’d expect it to, given the price-tag.

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

If you’re big into photography, I feel like there’s probably enough of a difference between this and something like an Oppo R11s or R15 Pro to justify spending a little more. If you’re not, it feels like it’s adequately-equipped to be deliver just-about-adequate smartphone snaps.

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

Still, for the most part, the Moto G6 managed to deliver decent results when it comes to daylight environments. Close-ups looked a little better than wider, landscape shots.

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

Meanwhile, low-light performance was more mixed. A significant number of our shots turned out more blurried than we expected. However, in the G6’s defence, these results are very much in line with where most sub-$500 smartphones are nowadays.

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

Motorola have implemented a somewhat-more rudimentary version of the intelligent scene recognition tech found in more expensive flagship offerings from LG, Huawei and others. Unfortunately, the interface and UI around this feature sometimes proved a little frustrating to deal with.

Credit: Motorola

It’s nice to see this feature make its way down the sub-$400 smartphone niche but there’s definitely room for improvement here when it comes to the exact implementation.

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

Performance - Software, Performance and Battery Life

In terms of performance, I found that the limited processing power of the Moto G6 only really held me in one specific area: gaming.

When it came to gaming, the device just didn’t deliver the smooth results I’m used to on other (more-expensive) devices. If you’re looking for the any biggest practical point of difference between the G6 and the flagships out there - it’s this.

Credit: Motorola

Because aside from gaming, the Moto G6 pretty much handled everything else I threw it with aplomb.

Web pages loaded fast enough, apps opened and closed with irresistible smoothness and the Moto G6 rarely if-ever let me down during the week and change I relied on it as my primary smart device.

It certainly helped that Motorola’s particular strain of Android is pretty good when it comes to optimisations and light on bloatware. There are a few unique Moto-specific quirks here but for-the-most part, it’s pretty close to stock Android and there’s very little in the way of letting you make the experience your own.

When it came to benchmarks, the Moto G6 lagged behind the bulk of its potential competition but necessarily by the hugest of margins.  

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

In terms of everyday battery-life, we’d easily make it through the usual 9-5 work day and often into a second day of active use as well. Even if we accidentally forgot to leave the device on charge overnight, we’d still plenty of juice left to work with.

We’re talking fourteen or more hours of average use here, though - as always - your mileage may vary. Particularly, if you watch or film a lot of video content or crank the brightness way up.

Frustratingly, however, one weakness I did find in the fast-charging on the Moto G6 was that while it charged very fast with the bundled charger kit, it outright refused to charge on several of my other USB Type-C charger cables and kits. There’s also no wireless charging.

The Bottom Line

If you’re someone who doesn’t care about more-intensive applications like mobile gaming and photography, it’s difficult to think of an easier standout budget device that the Moto G6. It’s got stellar build-quality and effortlessly-flush design, consistent performance, runs on a slimmed-down version of Android and can handle most everyday tasks with minimal fuss.

In the absence of any official Australian presence from OnePlus, it feels like the Moto G6 has made a strong claim here to the Chinese brand’s value-driven positioning. It’s not without a few candid flaws, but those looking for a solid device with few compromises will likely find what they’re looking for here.

Credit: Motorola

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Read more on these topics: Motorola, Moto, Moto G6
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