- Sleek redesign
- Long-lasting battery life
- Decent budget camera
- No NFC
- Bit of a beast
With the launch of the original Moto G back in 2014, Motorola blew apart the mid-range mobile game. That colourful little smartphone boasted a 720p HD screen – which was technically sharper than the iPhone 5s’ display – as well as nippy performance and a decent camera. All for just 135 quid. Pure craziness.
Fast forward to 2018 and the market has shifted considerably. Now several brands such as Honor and Nokia offer great value handsets packing premium features for under 200 pounds. Which means plenty of healthy competition for the latest G on the scene – the Moto G6.
This smartphone family has completely transformed since the original G. For one, gone is the colourful, customisable design, replaced with a more mature and refined finish. At its heart however, the G6 still represents strong value for money. This makes it a great choice for fairly demanding users who aren’t packing a fat stack.
Moto G6 Review: Design
Let’s get this out of the way immediately. The Moto G6 is easily one of the best-looking smartphones we’ve reviewed around this price point.
That shiny frame is completely constructed from Gorilla Glass 3, with pleasingly sleek results. Of course, like all glass smartphones, the G6 does pick up greasy prints and grime throughout the day. Thankfully the dark surfacing of this Deep Indigo model does a pretty good job of masking the smudges. You can also pick up the phone in a few different hues here in the UK.
While the original Moto G was just 4.5-inches, the G6 has grown to a whopping 5.7-inches in size. It’s certainly quite the handful, although the curved backing and rounded corners make for a comfortable grip. One-handed is still an issue, however. That’s why Motorola has thoughtfully included a screen-shrinking feature to compensate. Thankfully with this enabled, you don’t have to snap your thumb out of joint to reach the notifications bar.
After a full week of use, our G6 review model is yet to pick up any scratches or chips. If you are a bit cack-handed however, Motorola has kindly bundled a transparent protective sheath in the box. The G6 actually comes wrapped in the thing too, so you don’t even have to slap it on yourself. Lovely stuff.
And while the handset isn’t fully water resistant like some previous Moto G models, Motorola has added P2i’s renowned ‘splash-proof liquid repellent nano coating technology’, inside and out. We had a few opportunities to test the G6 in a proper British shower and a healthy drenching didn’t do it any harm at all.
Moto G6 Review: Screen and media
Motorola’s G series has never disappointed when it comes to the display tech, and the Moto G6 thankfully doesn’t stumble either.
That 5.7-inch IPS panel is the first display on a Moto phone to rock the fashionable 18:9 aspect ratio. This is particularly well-suited to movie playback, with reduced letterboxing. Images are perfectly crisp despite the generous size thanks to the Full HD+ resolution. And colours really pop on the default ‘vibrant’ mode. You can change that up in the display settings if you prefer more realistic visuals instead.
Prefer carrying around all of your movies instead of streaming over the web? Well, that 32GB of storage space is going to fill up fast. Good news, however. The Moto G6 also supports microSD memory cards, up to 128GB in size. And if you want more built-in storage, Amazon will exclusively be selling a 64GB model here in the UK.
Audio is blasted out of the earpiece alone. While the maximum volume is strong enough to startle, sound quality is super tinny and flat. We definitely recommend using headphones instead.
Thankfully there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack if you want to connect a pair of wired ‘phones. You also have Bluetooth 4.2 support if you fancy going wireless. Oh, and on the subject of wireless, there’s sadly no NFC connectivity here. You won’t be able to use the Moto G6 for contactless payments any time soon.
Moto G6 Review: Features
Android Oreo is presented on the Moto G6 in its full naked glory. Motorola hasn’t smothered it with an overlay to change up the look and feel and that’s fine with us. We just hope that the G6 gets Android updates quicker than some of last year’s G5 models, which are still waiting on a sweet bit of Oreo.
Although this is vanilla Android all the way, Motorola has – as usual – pre-installed its own Moto app. This adds a fair few bonus features, including plenty of gesture support. For instance, in addition to the aforementioned one-handed mode, you can also quickly screengrab something with a swipe of three fingers.
The Moto Key feature is an alternative to Google Autofill, using your fingerprint in place of account passwords and the like. In other words, it’s a bit more secure, as well as a bit more flexible. And Moto Voice is another alternative option, this time to the Google Assistant. Quite handy for hands-free access when driving and so on. It’s just as inflexible as well, however – you’ll have to learn some pretty precise commands, or the damn thing won’t have a clue what you’re on about. For instance, ask what your schedule looks like tomorrow, and you’ll helpfully get a Google search on that exact phrase.
The Moto G6 is pretty clued up when it comes to security as well. You have a fingerprint sensor for fast unlocking, although sadly this isn’t the funky rear-mounted logo scanner found on the Moto G6 Play. Instead, the standard G6 rocks a narrow sensor around the front, beneath that display.
Although it’s absolutely tiny, I found that scanner did a great job of accurately reading my print, no matter which angle I attacked it from. And the reason it’s housed around the front is because Motorola has given us the option of using sensor gestures to replace that on-screen navigation bar. You can tap and swipe the scanner to perform the usual back, home and recent apps commands, thus freeing up a bit of space on your desktops.
This method of navigating around Android certainly works and it’s surprisingly intuitive, just like Huawei’s version in its Emotion UI overlay. That said, the Moto G6’s mighty 5.7-inch screen is still perfectly spacious even with the old-school navigation bar, so the sensor gestures aren’t exactly an essential feature.
We’re impressed to see Motorola adding its own facial recognition tech to the G-series handsets too. Proper face unlocking tends to only hit more expensive handsets, and the Moto G6 version works in much the same manner. Just tap the power button and make sure the front-facing camera is pointed at your mug, and the phone will take a bloody good look at you. If it likes what it sees, you’ll skip past the lock screen. It’s handy if you can’t use your fingers, for example if you’re wearing gloves, and it works pretty well too.
It’s unsurprisingly quite hit and miss in low light, although not baffled by glasses or stubble.
For more on all of these features, check out our full Moto G6 tips and tricks guide.
Moto G6 Review: Performance and battery life
Smushed inside the Moto G6 is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 450 chipset, an affordable platform launched almost a year ago. This is backed by 3GB of RAM and the result is quite satisfying. Although last year’s Moto G5s Plus still beats this handset in benchmarking scores, we only saw the occasional stumble and freak-out. You can even multi-task with split screen mode without too much stuttering.
If you like to get your game on, then the Moto G6 should suffice also. The likes of PUBG played fine on the low detail levels, with only the odd missed frame. Of course, if you’re going to do a lot of gaming, we’d recommend checking out the Plus model instead, which will offer smoother performance.
Battery life is even better. On a full charge, the Moto G6 lasted through even the most demanding of days – we’re talking a couple of hours of satnav action, plenty of camera use and a fair bit of video streaming and gaming. If you’re a bit more reserved, the G6 will last up to two days quite happily before you need to plug it in.
And with Motorola’s TurboCharge tech on board, the G6 will power back up in no time at all. Just over an hour at the plug is enough to fully fill that 3000mAh battery.
Moto G6 Review: Camera
Like the Moto X4 and G5s Plus before it, the G6 sports a pair of camera lenses sat side-by-side on the back end. The primary 12-megapixel shooter is backed by a secondary 5-megapixel snapper. This doesn’t offer optical zoom or a wide-angle view of the world – it’s simply there to allow Motorola’s Portrait mode to produce a proper depth of focus.
You can record Full HD video at up to 60 frames-per-second and there are quite a few funky features packed on there too – like the excellent Spot Colour mode.
For all you need to know, check out our full Moto G6 camera review.
Moto G6 Review: Verdict
The Moto G6 is another great entry in Motorola’s value-packed smartphone family. That sleek redesign gets a big thumbs up from us, while the vanilla Android experience is backed by some worthy Moto features. And while the performance is limited, this handset will prove perfectly satisfying to most everyday users.