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How do you follow up last year's wonderful budget-friendly Moto G5 Plus? Well, you could start with the outside. Add a second rear camera for portrait mode photos. Trade that Micro-USB port for a USB-C. Get rid of the 16:9 screen ratio and go tall with a trendy 18:9 display that shows more vertically. Say bye to the metallic back side and hello to a glass back with curved edges, specifically Gorilla Glass 3.
The overall result would be a phone that looks decidedly 2018, but with pretty much everything we loved about last year's Moto G5 Plus. And that's exactly what the Moto G6 is.
Last year's Moto G5 Plus hit a sweet spot between features, design, performance and price. The Moto G6 hits most of those, but just misses with a shorter battery life than last year's Motos.
The Moto G6 looks sleek and modern. It has a groomed slicked-back hair vibe that makes it seem anything but affordable. But at $249, £219 or AU$399 it's crazy affordable compared to the $1,000 iPhone X.
Roughly the same size as the Moto G5 Plus, the Moto G6 has thinner bezels and a glass back that curves at the edge for a comfortable grip. Like nearly every phone with a glass back, it collects more fingerprints than the stars of CSI.
But the Moto G6 isn't the only affordable Motorola phone to consider. If you're outside the US and your budget has some wiggle room, the Moto G6 Plus deserves a serious look. If you're okay with last year's styling, check out the Moto G5S Plus which is still being sold.
I tested the Moto G6 with 32GB of storage, 3GB of RAM and no NFC. I bring this up because there are three new G-series phones for 2018. To confound things further, each model is tweaked a bit depending on where you live.
|Moto G6 (US, UK, Australia)||Moto G6 (UK)||Moto G6 Plus (UK, Australia)||Moto G6 Play (US, UK, Australia)|
|Price (without discounts)||$249, £219, AU$399||£239||£269, AU$499||$199, £169, AU$329|
|Processor||1.8 GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 450||1.8 GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 450||2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 630||1.4GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 427|
|Storage||32GB||64GB||64GB||16GB (US only), 32GB|
|RAM||3GB||4GB||4GB, 6GB (UK only)||2GB (US only), 3GB|
|Battery||3,000 mAh||3,000 mAh||3,200 mAh||4,000 mAh|
|Rear camera(s)||12-megapixel & 5-megapixel||12-megapixel & 5-megapixel||12-megapixel & 5-megapixel||13-megapixel|
|NFC||Yes (UK, Australia), No (US)||Yes||Yes||Yes (UK), No (Australia)|
The dual-rear cameras take solid photos, but your shots aren't going to be on the same level as pictures shot on the Pixel 2, iPhone X or even the OnePlus 6. You'll get the best results when taking photos under bright even light. The Moto G6 has an "active photos" mode which, like Apple's live photos and Google's motion photos, records a tiny amount of video before and after you take a picture.
Motorola added a bunch of fun modes to the camera one of which is portrait mode. The Moto G6 takes serviceable portrait mode shots. Despite the background being blurred out, portrait mode photos don't "pop" as much as they could. I like that the Moto G6 lets me change the focus point and the amount of background blur after I take a portrait mode photo. These little adjustments, like on the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus, can turn a less-than-perfect portrait into something pretty good.
Selfies are just OK, but there is a front-facing flash which can be handy. There's also a group selfie mode that prompts you to move the phone left and then right, like when you take a panorama photo. The phone then "stitches" the selfie panorama together. The results are hit-or-miss. For example, it "glitched" and doubled the back of my friend's making her look like an alien wearing two pairs of sunglasses on her head -- see the photo above.
The Moto G6 uses artificial intelligence (AI) to identify objects, landmarks and text and optimize things accordingly. It can record video at 1080p. But there's no 4K and no slow-motion mode. And that's fine because I'm not buying this phone to be the next Steven Spielberg. I'm buying it because it's cheap.
Here's a video I recorded with the Moto G6:
The G6 runs Android 8.0 Oreo and has Google Assistant and the Google Lens augmented reality tool. Both of them worked well: I enjoyed pointing the Moto G6's camera at buildings and tapping the Google Lens icon to get more information about the things around me. It was like I was on my own private architecture tour.
But any phone that costs a couple hundred dollars is going to have sacrifices and the Moto G6 is no different. In speed tests, the Moto G6 was slower than the Moto G5 Plus, but not by much. In real world use, it handled everyday tasks such as messaging, Instagram, watching YouTube videos and playing games well. I was even able to play PUBG Mobile with the frame rate set at medium -- it's ridiculous that I did this on a phone that costs $250.
The Moto G6's battery fared worse than the Moto G5 and G5 Plus. During our looped video battery tests (in airplane mode), the Moto G6 lasted an average of 9 hours, 41 minutes compared to the Moto G5, which lasted 13 hours, and the Moto G5 Plus, which lasted 13 hours, 22 minutes. Though in real-world use, the Moto G6 had no problem getting through the day on a single charge even after heavy use.
Despite having a glass back, the Moto G6 doesn't have wireless charging. But to be fair, only a few super premium phones support wireless charging. It's not unusual for a budget phone to omit it.
The Moto G6 can be charged fast via its "Turbopower" charger which seems more useful than wireless charging to me. The Moto G6 has a "splash proof" coating but isn't IP rated for water resistance -- so don't drop it in a toilet. But if you do, rest assured that buying a replacement Moto G6 won't break your bank.
|Motorola Moto G6||Motorola Moto G6 Plus||Motorola Moto G6 Play||Motorola Moto G5||Motorola Moto G5 Plus|
|Display size, resolution||5.7-inch; 2,160x1,080 pixels||5.9-inch; 2,160x1,080 pixels||5.7-inch; 1,440x720 pixels||5-inch; 1,920x1,080 pixels||5.2-inch; 1,920x1,080 pixels|
|Dimensions (Inches)||6.1x2.8x0.3 in||6.3x3x0.3 in||5.1x2.8x0.4 in||5.7x2.9x0.37 in||5.9x2.9x0.3 in|
|Dimensions (Millimeters)||153.8x72.3x8.3 mm||160x75.5x8 mm||154.4x72.2x9 mm||144.3x73x9.5 mm||150.2x74x7.7 mm|
|Weight (Ounces, Grams)||5.9 oz; 167g||5.9 oz, 167g||6.2 oz; 175g||5.1 oz, 145g||5.5 oz, 155g|
|Mobile software||Android 8.0 Oreo||Android 8.0 Oreo||Android 8.0 Oreo||Android 7.0 Nougat||Android 7.0 Nougat|
|Camera||12-megapixel and 5-megapixel||12-megapixel and 5-megapixel||13-megapixel||13-megapixel||12-megapixel|
|Processor||1.8 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 450||2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 630||1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 427||1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 430||2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 625|
|Storage||32GB/64GB||64GB||16GB/32GB||16GB, 32GB||32GB, 64GB|
|RAM||3GB, 4GB||4GB, 6GB||2GB, 3GB||2GB,3GB||2GB, 3GB, 4GB|
|Fingerprint sensor||Below screen||Below screen||Back||Below screen||Below screen|
|Special features||Dual-SIM, Splash-proof, time lapse video, Turbo Charger||Dual-SIM, Splash-proof, time lapse video, Turbo Charger||Splash-proof, 10-watt fast charger||Dual-SIM, splash-proof||Dual-SIM, splash-proof|
|Price off-contract (USD)||$249||NA||$199||NA||$229 (32GB); $299 (64GB)|
|Price (GBP)||£219 (32GB); £239 (64GB)||£269||£169||£169, £179||£249|