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Motorola Moto G6 Play review: An affordable phone with a huge battery

It gets nearly four hours more battery life per charge than the iPhone X and costs one-fifth the price.

Patrick Holland Managing Editor
Patrick Holland has been a phone reviewer for CNET since 2016. He is a former theater director who occasionally makes short films. Patrick has an eye for photography and a passion for everything mobile. He is a colorful raconteur who will guide you through the ever-changing, fast-paced world of phones, especially the iPhone and iOS. He used to co-host CNET's I'm So Obsessed podcast and interviewed guests like Jeff Goldblum, Alfre Woodard, Stephen Merchant, Sam Jay, Edgar Wright and Roy Wood Jr.
Expertise Apple | iPhone | iOS | Android | Samsung | Sony | Google | Motorola | Interviews | Coffee equipment | Cats Credentials
  • Patrick's play The Cowboy is included in the Best American Short Plays 2011-12 anthology. He co-wrote and starred in the short film Baden Krunk that won the Best Wisconsin Short Film award at the Milwaukee Short Film Festival.
Patrick Holland
4 min read

Editor's Note, Dec. 13: Best Buy currently sells a 32GB unlocked Motorola Moto G6 Play for $144 if you activate it on a carrier at the time of purchase. Target sells a 16GB Verizon prepaid Moto G6 Play for $130. The original review, published on July 3, follows.


Motorola Moto G6 Play

The Good

The Moto G6 Play's battery is bigger than phones that cost much more money.

The Bad

In everyday use, the speed is fine, but it got one of the lowest scores in our speed tests this year. The screen is difficult to see in bright sunlight and it lacks waterproofing.

The Bottom Line

The Moto G6 Play has a long battery life for the cost, but smart buyers would uplevel to the Moto G6 for just a little bit more.

The Moto G6 Play has a secret weapon that its pricier Moto G-siblings don't: A big ol' honking battery. For many people including myself, an affordable phone with a seemingly endless battery is the smartphone paradox. The iPhone X and Pixel 2 cost much more than the Moto G6 Play but still get less battery life.

The Moto G6 Play -- without discounts -- costs $199, £169, AU$329. To put it another way, for the price of one iPhone X, I could buy five Moto G6 Play phones .

Motorola  smartly planned its budget friendly, feature-rich G family. There's not one or two, but three different affordable models: The  Moto G6 Moto G6 Plus  and the Moto G6 Play.

Moto G family prices

Moto G6 PlayMoto G6Moto G6 Plus
US price $199$249not sold in US
UK price £169£219£269
Australia price AU$329AU$399AU$499

Moto G6 Play design

In terms of design, the Moto G6 Play gets all the hand-me-downs from the Moto G6 family and the Moto G5 family before it -- some fit better than others. The Moto G6 Play doesn't have the slick-looking Gorilla Glass 3 back of the Moto G6 and G6 Plus. It uses a micro-USB port instead of the more fashionable USB-C one and it lacks dual-cameras. Again, it's $50 less than the Moto G6, so I didn't exactly expect the works here.

In hand, the Moto G6 Play feels dense and solid. It's not water-resistant, but Motorola says that it's splash proof aka don't spill your coffee on it or at least no more than a few drops. On the back, is a fingerprint reader that's cleverly incorporated into the Motorola logo. Out of all the rear fingerprint readers I've used, the belly button-shaped reader on the Moto G6 Play is the absolute easiest to find and use without looking.

Eyes-on Motorola's Moto G6, G6 Play, E5 Plus and E5 Play

See all photos

The Moto G6 Play's software isn't flashy. It runs a fairly stock version of Android 8.0 Oreo and has minimal extra apps. The tweaks Motorola does add are thoughtful and fun. I mean who doesn't love making a double karate chop motion to turn on the flashlight?

Like the Moto G6, the Moto G6 Play has a 5.7-inch 18x9 ratio display. However, the resolution is only 720 HD instead of the 1,080 HD displays found on the Moto G6 and G6 Plus. In use, this isn't as horrible as it sounds. Images, websites and videos look good on the display. The only time I ran into trouble was in direct sunlight trying to take photos. The display was nearly impossible to use as a viewfinder.

The Moto G6 Play has a big friendly battery

The Moto G6 Play's low-resolution screen combined with its large battery gives the phone a terrific battery life on a single charge. In our looped video battery tests (in airplane mode), the Moto G6 Play's battery lasted an average of 15 hours and 16 minutes. That's five and a half hours longer than the Moto G6, which lasted 9 hours and 41 minutes.

I used the Moto G6 and G6 Play side-by-side for the better part of a day. By the time 5 p.m. rolled around the Moto G6 had 56-percent of its battery charge left. The Moto G6 Play has 81-percent left.


On the left, a picture taken with the Moto G6. On the right, a picture taken with the Moto G6 Play.

Patrick Holland/CNET

A single 13-megapixel rear camera

The camera on the Moto G6 Play is good. In good light, it was actually difficult to tell pictures from the Moto G6 and the Moto G6 Play apart. To my eyes, the cameras on the Moto G6 have a slightly better dynamic range and handled digital zooming better.

In darker environments, like a restaurant or a nighttime street scene, the Moto G6 Play did OK. Low light photos looked softer and had more noise -- those blurry specs that show up in darker colors.

Surprisingly, the Moto G6 Play offers slow motion video albeit at a 960x540-pixel resolution. And I should note that the selfie camera like on the Moto G6 has its own flash.

Moto G6 Play processor and speed

When it comes to speed, the Moto G6 Play earned one of the lowest scores of any phone we tested this year. However, in use, and maybe because it runs on Android Oreo, it did well at everyday tasks like scrolling through Instagram, Twitter, messaging and taking photos. It handled games like Super Mario Run and Monument Valley well.

For a phone that costs just a couple hundred dollars, the Moto G6 Play is a good daily driver. But if you're looking for more speed check out its slightly more expensive siblings the Moto G6 and G6 Plus.

Spec comparison of the Moto G6 Play, G6, G6 Plus, G5 and G5 Plus

Motorola Moto G6 PlayMotorola Moto G6Motorola Moto G6 PlusMotorola Moto G5Motorola Moto G5 Plus
Display size, resolution 5.7-inch; 1,440x720 pixels5.7-inch; 2,160x1,080 pixels5.9-inch; 2,160x1,080 pixels5-inch; 1,920x1,080 pixels5.2-inch; 1,920x1,080 pixels
Pixel density 282ppi424ppi409ppi440ppi424ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 5.1x2.8x0.4 in6.1x2.8x0.3 in6.3x3x0.3 in5.7x2.9x0.37 in5.9x2.9x0.3 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) 154.4x72.2x9mm153.8x72.3x8.3mm160x75.5x8 mm144.3x73x9.5 mm150.2x74x7.7 mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 6.2 oz; 175g5.9 oz; 167g5.9 oz, 167g5.1 oz, 145g5.5 oz, 155g
Mobile software Android 8.0 OreoAndroid 8.0 OreoAndroid 8.0 OreoAndroid 7.0 NougatAndroid 7.0 Nougat
Camera 13-megapixel12-megapixel and 5-megapixel12-megapixel and 5-megapixel13-megapixel12-megapixel
Front-facing camera 8-megapixel8-megapixel8-megapixel5-megapixel5-megapixel
Video capture 1080p1080p4K1080p4K
Processor 1.4GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 4271.8 GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 4502.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 6301.4GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 4302GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625
Storage 16GB/32GB32GB/64GB64GB16GB, 32GB32GB, 64GB
Expandable storage 128GB128GB128GB128GB128GB
Battery 4,000mAh3,000mAh3,200mAh2,800mAh (removable)3,000mAh
Fingerprint sensor BackBelow screenBelow screenBelow screenBelow screen
Connector Micro-USBUSB-CUSB-CMicro-USBMicro-USB
Headphone jack YesYesYesYesYes
Special features Splash-proof, 10-watt fast chargerDual-SIM, Splash-proof, time lapse video, Turbo ChargerDual-SIM, Splash-proof, time lapse video, Turbo ChargerDual-SIM, splash-proofDual-SIM, splash-proof
Price off-contract (USD) $199$249NANA$229 (32GB); $299 (64GB)
Price (GBP) Converts to £140£219 (32GB); £239 (64GB)£269£169, £179£249
Price (AUD) Converts to AU$256AU$399AU$499Converts to AU$291Converts to AU$300

Motorola Moto G6 Play

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 8Performance 7Camera 7Battery 9