Motorola G8 Plus (2019) review: Insignificant Upgrade

Motorola Moto G8 Plus
  • Motorola Moto G8 Plus
  • Motorola Moto G8 Plus
  • Expert Rating

    3.25 / 5

Pros

  • Slick design
  • Clean software
  • Good battery life

Cons

  • Uneven camera system
  • Mediocre performance

Bottom Line

The Moto G8 Plus is great in all the ways that modern Motorola phones are but doesn’t really move the needle towards a place where they can readily compete with the increased competition in this particular price-segment.

Would you buy this?

  • Price

    $ 499.00 (AUD)

Should I buy the Motorola Moto G8 Plus (2019)?

How much do you care about the camera on your phone? Because, ultimately, the only meaningful difference between the Moto G8 Plus and Moto G7 Plus that launched earlier is the triple-lens camera on the back. 

Of course, if you really care about your camera, you’re still probably going to be better served by the Pixel 3a. However, if you’re looking for a $499 smartphone, the Moto G8 Plus makes a strong case for itself as the well-rounded and cohesive alternative for after a pretty good camera and a slightly larger screen. 

It’s rarely exceptional but it rarely lets you down. 

Price when reviewed

In Australia, the Moto G8 Plus is priced at an RRP of  AU$499.

Motorola Moto G8 Plus (2019) full review

The Moto G8 Plus brings with it several key design changes but, for the most part, it comes across as a minor update on the look and feel of the previous G7 Plus. 

On the front, there’s a 6.3-inch FHD LCD display with a teardrop notch. On the back, there’s a fingerprint sensor. Then, the speaker grill at the top-edge of the G8 Plus is matched by one on the bottom edge. This sits alongside a 3.5mm headphone jack and a USB Type-C port that’s used for charging and data transfers. 

Though the display is slightly larger than that of the G7 Plus, the overall physical footprint of the G8 Plus doesn’t come across as all that different. It still feels nicer in hand than most mid-range phones do, even if it doesn’t approach the luxe feel-factor of something like the iPhone 11 Pro

The G8 Plus abandons to center-mounted camera setup of its predecessors and embraces the precedent set by the recent Moto One Vision. Sitting on the shoulder of the modest mid-ranger, you’ve got a 48-megapixel primary "quad-pixel" lens, a 16-megapixel "action" lens and a 5-megapixel depth sensor. There's also a 25-megapixel selfie camera.

Credit: Motorola

Despite the addition of an additional ultrawide-angle lens here, I have to admit I struggled to find much difference between the quality of photos that the Moto G8 Plus was able to regularly produce and what the Motorola One Vision could do. The camera app was certainly more responsive but the end results didn’t do much to distinguish themselves. 

Like the Motorola G7 Plus before it, the G8 Plus runs on a mostly clean version of  Android 9.0 with the usual motley crew of Motorola-branded features like gyro-powered gesture controls. Wireless charging remains out of reach for mid-tier shoppers here but the Moto G8 Plus does support fast 15W wired charging via USB Type-C.

If you really care about your camera, you’re still probably going to be better served by the Pixel 3a. However, if you’re looking for a $499 smartphone, the Moto G8 Plus makes a strong case for itself as a well-rounded and cohesive way to go. It’s rarely exceptional but it’s not going to let you down anytime soon either. 

Price

In Australia, the Moto G8 Plus will be available from AU$499 through the Motorola Store, Officeworks, The Good Guys and MobileCiti. You can buy it through:

The Moto G8 Plus is not available on any postpaid plans but you can pair it with a SIM-only plan. Check below for a round-up of the best SIM only plans:

Design - Look, Feel, Features and Camera

When it comes to form-factor, the Moto G8 Plus brings with it several key design changes but still comes across as a minor update on the look and feel of the previous G7 Plus - which launched only a few months ago.

On the front, there’s a 6.3-inch FHD LCD display with a teardrop notch. Though the display is slightly larger than that of the G7 Plus, the overall physical footprint of the G8 Plus doesn’t come across as all that different. It still feels nicer in hand than most mid-range phones do, even if it doesn’t approach the luxe feel-factor of something like the iPhone 11 Pro. 

That might sound a little dismissive but, credit where it’s due, Motorola have a great track record for making cheap phones that feel anything but and the Moto G8 Plus continues that tradition.

Like the Moto G7 Plus, there’s a fingerprint sensor on the back of the device, Meanwhile, the speaker grill at the top-end matched by one on the bottom edge alongside a 3.5mm headphone jack and a USB Type-C port that’s used for charging and data transfers. 

Credit: Motorola

Of course, the reverse-side of the Moto G8 Plus is the most visually-effective difference between it and its predecessor. To begin with, the G8 Plus abandons to center-mounted camera setup of its predecessor and embraces the prettier aesthetic precedent set by the recent Moto One Vision. Then, sitting on the shoulder of the modest mid-ranger, you’ve got a a 48-megapixel primary "quad-pixel" lens, a 16-megapixel "action" lens and a 5-megapixel depth sensor. There's also a 25-megapixel selfie camera.

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

There’s a sharpness to the detail and crispness to the colors here that really comes through in the results produced by the G8 Plus’ camera kit. I found it particularly good for food photos. 

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG
Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

Outdoor shots also looked nice but were often a little off when it came to exposure and contrast. Results in low-light situations were a little more uneven. There’s a dedicated night vision mode but results using it didn’t have the pop or fidelity you’d find out of a similar feature on a Huawei, Google or Apple device. Likewise, there's a significant degradation in quality once you start to play with zoom - so you have to get pretty close to your subject to get the best results. 

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

Despite the addition of an additional ultrawide-angle lens here, I have to admit I struggled to find much a difference between the quality of photos that the Moto G8 Plus was able to regularly produce and what the Motorola One Vision could do. The camera app was certainly more responsive but the end results didn’t do much to distinguish themselves. 

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

Performance - Specs, Software, Benchmarks and Battery Life

Specs

  • Processor:  Snapdragon 665

  • Operating System:  Android 9.1

  • RAM:  4GB

  • Storage: 64GB 

  • MicroSD slot: Yes

  • Headphone Jack: Yes

  • Fingerprint sensor: Yes

  • SIM: Dual

  • Battery:  4000mAh battery

  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth 5, 4G

  • Rear Camera: 48-megapixel (f/1.7) + 16-megapixel (f/2.2) + 5-megapixel (f/2.2) depth sensor

  • Front-Facing Camera: 25-megapixel (f/2.0)

  • Dimensions: 158.4 x 75.8 x 9.1 mm

  • Weight: 188 g

Software 

In terms of software, there’s not much to write home about here. Like the Motorola G7 Plus before it, the G8 Plus runs on a mostly clean version of  Android 9.0 with the usual motley crew of Motorola-branded features like gyro-powered gesture controls. These can be easily disabled if they’re not your thing but they’re easy enough to live with. 

All the above being said, it is very frustrating to see the Motorola G8 Plus launch without Android 10 out of the box. In a world where that was the case, it’d be much easier to recommend. Motorola are usually pretty good about these things but there’s no word yet on when that upgrade will happen.

Benchmarks

When it comes to benchmarks, the Moto G8 Plus lagged behind both the RealMe XT - which matches Motorola’s $499 price-tag - and the RealMe 5, which undercuts it by about $200.

Credit: Fergus Halliday | IDG

Even if the experience of using the Moto G8 Plus was smooth and responsive, that’s pretty disappointing to see. Particularly, if you were hoping to get much gaming done on this thing. 

  • PCMark Work 2.0: 6518

  • 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme OpenGL ES 3.1: 1121

  • 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme Vulcan: 1034

  • Geekbench: 313 single-core, 1367 multi-core

  • Geekbench Compute: 369

Battery Life

In terms of reliability, the Moto G8 didn’t deviate much from what the Moto G7 Plus offered. Fortunately, that meant I could comfortably go two-days of regular usage on a single charge. The Moto G8 Plus isn’t going to hit the heights of something like the Galaxy Note 10 for power users but it is going to last a long time.

Wireless charging remains out of reach for mid-tier shoppers here but the Moto G8 Plus does support fast 15W wired charging via USB Type-C.

The Bottom Line

Though it’s less of a significant upgrade than it might first appear to be, the Moto G8 Plus still more-or-less makes its predecessor obsolete in a big way. All the familiar strengths you’d expect are present and accounted for with a more-likable design and a more flexible camera system rounding out the package nicely.

If you really care about that camera, you’re still probably going to be better served by the Pixel 3a. However, if you’re looking for a $499 smartphone, the Moto G8 Plus makes a strong case for itself as a well-rounded way to go. 

The Moto G8 Plus is decent in all the ways that modern Motorola phones are but doesn’t really move the needle towards a place where they can readily compete with the increased competition in this particular price-segment. It's a step up from what came before it but a small one at that. 

Credit: Motorola

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