Friday, April 20, 2018

Mobile Review: Moto G6 Review

Motorola is bringing 18:9 screens to its most popular phone series


At first sight, everything seems to add up to the Moto G6. Everything you’d expect from an affordable phone is here, plus a whole lot more, with an 18:9 display, high-end design and new camera features that look to blow other affordable handsets away.


Bright and clear 18:9 display
Much improved design over predecessors


The design isn’t waterproof
Most will be limited to 32GB storage

Motorola’s G series has gone from strength to strength, which is a real achievement considering the first phone in the line from 2013 set a new standard for affordable phones, and racked up sales to match.

The company's aim with the Moto G line is to bring those features you’d normally expect on the high-end phone to a cheaper handset. It’s never the same experience as buying an actual high-end phone, but it does allow you to get a taste of those top-end features without spending a fortune.

With the Moto G6, the company has focused on bringing the 18:9 display ratio we’ve seen so often on top-end phones, from the Samsung Galaxy S8 to the LG G6, Huawei P20 to the Asus Zenfone 5, to an affordable handset.

It’s not the first company to do this – Alcatel released a whole series of phones earlier this year that even included a phone under £100 with an 18:9 display – but it’s the first time this feature has come to the Moto G, and that’s a big deal.

We’ve been lucky enough to try out the Moto G6 for a whole day, and below you'll find our initial thoughts on the handset. While we have been using a final sample of the phone, it’s one optimized for the Brazilian market so some features may be different depending on where you are.

Moto G6 release date and price 

The Moto G6 is already available in some markets. In the UK you’ll have to wait until the first week in May, while it’s currently unclear when the phone will be coming to the US and Australia. 

As for the price, we know it’s set to cost £219 / $249 (about AU$320) for the standard version, which has 32GB of storage and 3GB of RAM. There's also a high-end version that’s exclusive to Amazon, with 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM, which will cost £239, and you may well think it's worth that extra £20 to double your storage – we don't have US or Australia pricing for that phone yet, but we'd expect a similar premium.

Moto G6 design and display 

Both the design and display have been dramatically improved over the Moto G5S from 2017. The Moto G6 comes with an 18:9 aspect ratio display, and that’s an IPS LCD at 5.7 inches.

You get a Full HD+ resolution, so it’s slightly higher than Full HD phones because of the taller screen size. It doesn’t look as stunning as the displays on high-end handsets, but it looks great considering the price of the phone.

The new aspect ratio isn’t just good for the look of the handset, it means there’s more screen packed into a smaller body; it's the optimum size for the phone's overall size (we found the G6 easier to hold than the Moto G6 Plus), and the screen seems bright with strong viewing angles too. 

The phone is made with 3D glass, so the back looks shiny and premium, although it does pick up fingerprints rather easily – after using the phone for only a day we had to wipe it down to keep it looking good.

Color-wise you’ve just got the choice of black or gold at the moment, but there may be more colors to come from Motorola in the future. We had the black handset for this hands-on review, and while it does look good we’d prefer to have a bolder color for the phone in our pocket.

The edges on the rear of the G6 are curved, and that allows it to sit much more comfortably in the palm of your hand than previous models – if you've seen the Samsung Galaxy S7, it’s a similar curvature on the back.

Motorola says the G6 is "splashproof", but it hasn't yet revealed the phone's exact IP rating, so you'll want to take care around water as it won’t survive being fully submerged.

On the bottom of the phone you’ll find a USB-C slot in the middle and – thank you Motorola – a 3.5mm headphone jack, so you can use your wired headphones with this phone.

Below the display is a small fingerprint sensor. We found that this worked efficiently, and it’s barely noticeable when you hold the phone in your hand. One interesting feature of the sensor is that you can hold your finger on it for a second or so and the phone will then lock again.

It’s not a revolutionary idea, as there’s still a power button on the right-hand edge of the phone that you can use to easily lock it, but it’s an interesting idea that we think you’ll get used to and start using once you know it’s there.

Moto G6 specs and performance 

In our hands-on time with the Moto G6, we’ve found it to be snappy and perform well considering its price. The version we’ve been using has 3GB of RAM, although as we've mentioned there’s also a 4GB model that’s an Amazon exclusive (and it's only available in some countries).

The phone is running a Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 chipset, which we saw perform strongly in the Sony Xperia XA2 last year, so we’ve got high hopes that this chipset will continue to punch above its weight. We've not yet had the opportunity to benchmark the G6, but we'll be doing so for our full review.

The standard version of the phone comes with 32GB of storage, which isn’t the most generous offering in 2018 (the Amazon variant doubles that to 64GB ) but there’s also microSD support up to 256GB.

Moto G6 battery and OS 

The Moto G6 is packing a 3000mAh battery, which is the smallest in the three new handsets the company has launched – and that’s a worry considering that there’s more to power here than on the G6 Play.

As we've only been using the phone for a day we don’t want to judge the battery just yet, as it’s currently bedding in, so its performance isn't representative of what we can expect in longer-term day-to-day use.

The phone is running Android 8 Oreo, which is the latest version of Google’s mobile OS, and it's a stock version, so it’s largely the same as what you’d see on the Google Pixel 2. There are a few Motorola tweaks here, but there’s no bloatware to be seen, and the interface is slick and easy to use.

 Moto G6 camera 

The rear camera on the Moto G6 isn’t going to take the most gorgeous phone camera shot you’ve ever seen, but based on our limited testing it can hold its own against other phones around this price and some more expensive mid-rangers too. Below you can see a few shots we’ve taken with the phone.

It’s a dual-sensor setup, with a 12MP sensor working in tandem with a 5MP sensor to the side of it. It's not as powerful a combination as you'll see on other phones, though, and you don't seem to get the same benefits. The secondary sensor seems to be used to sense depth in the portrait mode, although Motorola hasn’t been too clear about how that works yet.

The image quality seems good enough, and its similar to that from previous Moto G phones and other handsets of this type, but we’ve found that it can be slow to take a photo at times. That means you have to hold the phone steady for a little bit longer than we’d like, but if that isn’t an issue for you there are some good features here.

We particularly like the portrait mode, which allows you to create effects such as making the background black and white while keeping the foreground subject in color – it’s an interesting take on a feature we’ve seen in other high-end handsets, such as the Huawei P20.

On the front of the G6 is a 5MP selfie camera, which we’ve found to be okay for taking shots of our face, but again there’s nothing here that's going to blow you away. There is a filters mode that overlays Snapchat-like frippery such as cat features or bunny ears on your mug, but this is a temperamental feature at the moment, and it takes a long time to process images.

Early verdict 

It looks like Motorola has once again achieved what has become its trademark feat: taking the kinds of features you’d normally expect to see on a phone costing $500 / £500 or more, distilling them down a little and packing them into a more affordable handset.

The Moto G6 still doesn’t dip below the $200 / £200 price point that many people expect of a cheap phone, but it does so much more than any other phone at this level, and we can’t wait to properly put it through its paces in our full review very soon.

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