This latest budget phone launched alongside the Moto G6 Plus and Moto G6 Play at a global unveiling in Sao Paolo, Brazil and it looks a bit special.
As you’d expect, the design has taken a step forwards in 2018 and the Moto G6 joins in with the rest of the industry in offering an 18:9 aspect-ratio screen, here measuring 5.7in corner to corner.
That isn’t all that unusual. What’s nice about the Moto G6 is, though, that it surrounds this all with a glass and aluminium body that wouldn't look out of place on a flagship smartphone. And although the price has risen – this is the most expensive standard Moto G ever – £219 is still pretty reasonable for what's on offer.
Specifications, price and release date
- Screen: 5.7in IPS, 1,080 x 2,160
- CPU: 1.8GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 (14nm, Adreno 506 graphics)
- RAM: 3GB or 4GB
- Storage: 32GB or 64GB
- Rear camera: dual 12MP + 5MP, phase-detect autofocus, dual-LED flash
- Front camera: 8MP, front flash
- Price: £219 (£239 for 4GB/64GB model, exclusively available on Amazon)
- Release date: First week of May 2018
Design, key features and first impressions
It all looks pretty impressive, but others have got there first. Just a few days ago Motorola’s big budget phone rival, Honor, released two impressive-looking budget phones: the Honor 7A and the Honor 7C, of which we’re most impressed with the £140 Honor 7A. Just like the Moto G6, it has an 18:9, 5.7in screen.
The Motorola Moto G6’s display is an IPS 1,080 x 2,160 panel with a pixel density of 424ppi, and it looks pretty slick. It's colourful, bright and appealing to the eye in all the right ways. We won’t know exactly how good until we put it through our testing procedure, but first impressions are that it’s more than competent.
Where the Moto G6 steps in front of the Honor 7A and 7C is in its glass and aluminium chassis. The Honor looks fine but the glossy glass of the Moto G6 (Gorilla Glass 3 on the front and rear) gives it an edge. It's simply more glamorous and it’s curvaceous, with 3D glass at the long edges on the rear swooping up to meet the phone’s colour-matched chrome frame.
It’s good to see, too, that Motorola has retained a little Moto G design DNA in its new phone. Instead of sheep-like following the crowd, the G6’s slightly bowed-out top and bottom edges and softly rounded corners give the phone its own identity in a sea of bland lookalikes. The circular camera surround on the rear completes the look, protruding by a couple of millimetres from the rear panel. The phone looks smart.
On the negative side, there’s no full waterproofing or IP rating here, but the phone does have a p2i water-repellent coating, which should keep it safe should you spill your tea on it. There’s also a fingerprint reader on the front below the screen, and inside is a 3,000mAh battery – the smallest battery of the three new Moto phones. Motorola says it’s good for a day’s use and, with the firm’s TurboPower charger in the box, it also says you should be able to gain around six hours use from 15 minutes of charging.
Inside the Motorola Moto G6 is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 – an octa-core 14nm processor running at 1.8GHz – with 3GB of RAM and a rather measly 32GB of storage to back it up. It’s a modern chip and that 14nm manufacturing process suggests it should be able to deliver decent levels of stamina. It's worth noting, though, that the Honor 7C has the same specification and costs £60 less.
While performance is far from storming, it is at least a step forward over the Moto G5 and G5S. As you can see from the graphs above, the CPU is quicker - by around 17% - and the Qualcomm chip's Adreno 506 graphics are also more rapid, by 8%. You still won't be playing demanding games at high detail levels, however, as an average frame rate of 9fps proves.
There are a few more positives about the Motorola Moto G6, too. You get a microSD card slot, which you can use to expand storage by up to 128GB, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
And, as with previous Moto G phones, the phone also runs pretty close to stock Android (8 Oreo in this instance) with some useful extras tacked on. I’ve always like the Moto phones' gesture controls, which allow you to launch the camera or enable the torch by twisting the phone or shaking it, and those are still in place here.
New this year is the addition of Dolby Audio processing. Accessible from the notifications menu, this allows you to tweak the EQ, apply volume levelling or choose from a number of different sound profiles, which include music, game and voice.
You also get Moto Voice, which comes in addition to support for Google Assistant. This works with the screen off and allows you to control do some things you can't with Google's voice recognition system. Finally, there's also face unlock, which seems pretty effective.
As for the quality of the images the dual-camera produces, that's far more positive. Unlike on the iPhone X or Samsung Galaxy S9, the second camera isn't there to add a zoom or wide-angle capabilities. It’s intended primarily to help the camera with depth perception, so it can more effectively apply the background-blur portrait effect, or cut out the background.
Pop the camera into portrait mode, snap your subject and then you can go into the gallery and apply various different effects based on the depth data. You can blur the background to varying degrees, or replace or desaturate the background. This works reasonably well, but the edges of in-focus objects do take on a bit of a ragged edge.
Otherwise, it’s a fairly standard-looking setup. The main camera is a 12-megapixel unit with an aperture of f/1.8 and phase-detect autofocus. It can’t shoot 4K video – only 1080p at up to 60fps. The secondary depth camera is 5-megapixel and the selfie camera on the front is 8-megapixel and comes with a front flash.
First impressions are that it's a very good camera. In favourable light, photos snapped with this camera look great: bursting with texture and colour, with bundles of sharpness. It's not as impressive in low light, with plenty of noise creeping in, but if you’re careful, you can get usable results from it; the images aren't over-soft or over-processed.
The Moto G6 is a sweet-looking budget phone and, although I have been comparing it to the Honor 7A and 7C here, it’s a level above those phones, particularly for design. For £219, the Moto G6 is just stunning.
I’ll wait to deliver my final verdict on the camera, but so far it looks good and, coupled with the new design and decent camera, it appears that Motorola is back on form with the Moto G6.