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Moto G6 vs. G6 Play vs. E5 Plus: A budget phone comparison

If you're trying to save money on your next phone, consider one of these Motos.

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From left-to-right: Moto E5 Plus, G6 and G6 Play. It's hard to tell them apart, but we compared the three to see which one is better at what.

Patrick Holland/CNET

I live in San Francisco, which is one of the most beautiful cities in the world but also one of the most expensive. For that reason, I'm always on the lookout for ways to save money. Fortunately, Motorola has my back with a slew of budget and ultra-budget phones that don't skimp out on features.

In the US, there are three to consider: The Moto G6, G6 Play and E5 Plus. Each phone costs under $250.

Moto E5 Plus, G6 Play and G6 prices compared

Phone Moto E5 Plus Moto G6 Play Moto G6
US price $180, $288 $199 $249
UK price £149 £169 £219
Australia price AU$229 AU$329 AU$399

All prices are before any discounts are applied.

I should note that the Moto E5 Plus in the US costs $288 on Sprint, $180 on Cricket and Boost mobile. I have no idea why it costs so much more on Sprint. The takeaway here: Don't pay $288 for a Moto E5 Plus.

All three of these phones are definitely affordable, but figuring out which one is for you can be tricky. To help, I compared their design, cameras, features, battery and performance to see which one is better.

Now playing: Watch this: Moto G6, G6 Play and E5 Plus budget phone comparison
4:11

Design: Moto G6's glass body or G6 Play and E5 Plus' chunky looks

With its curved edges, thin bezels and polished Gorilla Glass 3 on the front and back, the Moto G6 looks sleek and modern. There's also a USB-C port at the bottom and a sliver of a fingerprint reader on the front that works well with Moto's navigation shortcuts.

The Moto G6 Play and E5 Plus on the other hand each opt for a chunkier look that foregoes the Gorilla Glass 3. The fingerprint sensor is cleverly incorporated into the Motorola logo on the back, and a smartly placed indentation makes it one of the easiest rear fingerprint readers to find and use.

The biggest difference here is screen size and resolution. Both the Moto G6 and G6 Play have a 5.7-inch display, but with different resolutions: 1,920x1,080-pixel full-HD on the Moto G6 and 1,280x720-pixel HD on the Moto G6 Play. The Moto E5 Plus has a 6-inch display at 1,280x720-pixel HD. In use, I found myself drawn more to the higher resolution of the Moto G6, because video and apps looked sharper and colors were more saturated.

Winner: Moto G6's design doesn't look like a budget phone by any means. And Gorilla Glass 3 helps protect it from scratches and some drops.

Camera: Moto G6 has dual cameras and portrait mode

The Moto G6 has dual-rear cameras while the other two don't. The second camera on the Moto G6 is used for portrait mode photos and depth effects.

The Moto E5 Plus looks like it has a second, but that's actually just the phone's laser autofocus system. Interestingly enough, all three phones have a flash for selfies.

As far as photos, none of these phones are going to compete with the likes of the Google Pixel 2 or Samsung Galaxy S9. Image quality for the Moto G6 is decent with a slightly better dynamic range than the Moto G6 Play and E5 Plus. All three perform well under even light, but in darker environments all three struggle.

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It's impressive that the Moto G6 costs $249 and has a portrait mode.

Patrick Holland/CNET

Portrait mode photos from the Moto G6 look decent. I like that I can adjust the focus and background blur after taking the photo. These little adjustments can turn a less-than-perfect portrait into something pretty good.

The phones all shoot 1,920x1,080-pixel video, but as with the photos the edge goes to the Moto G6 for image quality. Here's a video I recorded with the Moto G6:

Winner: When it comes to photos and videos, I'd go with the Moto G6. However, I'd still post snaps from either the Moto G6 Play and E5 Plus to Instagram any day.

Battery: The Moto G6 Play and E5 Plus run laps around the Moto G6

Of the three, the Moto E5 Plus has the largest battery capacity, while the Moto G6 has the smallest. As expected, in everyday use the Moto G6 lasted the shortest amount of time, about a day on a single charge, while the Moto G6 Play and E5 Plus made it two days on a single charge.

But things got a little bit more interesting in our battery tests for continuous video playback on airplane mode. The Moto G6 lasted 9 hours, 41 minutes, the E5 Plus 14 hours and the G6 Play 15 hours, 16 minutes. That means that despite the Moto E5 Plus having a larger battery, the G6 Play lasted longer. This could be in part to the E5 Plus' larger display.

Winner: Moto G6 Play has an amazing battery life for the price, and the E5 Plus is not too shabby either.

Performance: Moto G6 flexes its budget power

None of the processors in these phones are going to win any speed awards, but out of the three, the Moto G6 has more muscle to open apps, process photos and play games. I was even able to play PUBG Mobile at medium frame rate on the Moto G6 without stutters or lag.

Both the Moto G6 Play and E5 Plus handled everyday use fine. I never felt like I was waiting for either phone to complete a task. In our benchmark tests, however, both phones earned some of the lowest performance scores of any phone this year.

For more information on these phones, check out CNET's in-depth review for each:

Geekbench v.4.0 single-core

Moto E5 Plus
646
Moto G6 Play
630
Moto G6
740

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Geekbench v.4.0 multicore

Moto E5 Plus
2360
Moto G6 Play
2357
Moto G6
3940

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

3DMark Sling Shot Unlimited

Moto E5 Plus
634
Moto G6 Play
604
Moto G6
818

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited

Moto E5 Plus
9992
Moto G6 Play
9578
Moto G6
12792

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Winner: Moto G6 gives you enough oomph for everyday use and future software upgrades.

And the winner is…

With its dual-rear cameras, modest processing power and sleek design, the Moto G6 is an excellent value for the price. Out of the three, it's the one I'd choose.

However, if your primary focus is battery, grab the Moto G6 Play. It's truly wonderful that a couple hundred dollars can get you such a good phone. 

Spec comparison of the Moto E5 Plus, G6 Play and G6


Motorola Moto E5 Plus Motorola Moto G6 Play Motorola Moto G6
Display size, resolution 6-inch LCD; 1,440x720 pixels (18:9 screen ratio) 5.7-inch LCD; 1,440x720 pixels (18:9 screen ratio) 5.7-inch LCD; 2,160x1,080 pixels (18:9 screen ratio)
Pixel density 268 ppi 282 ppi 424 ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 6.4x3x0.4 in 5.1x2.8x0.4 in 6.1x2.8x0.3 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) 161.9x75.3x9.4 mm 154.4x72.2x9 mm 153.8x72.3x8.3 mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 7.1 oz; 200g 6.2 oz; 175g 5.9 oz; 167g
Mobile software Android 8.0 Oreo Android 8.0 Oreo Android 8.0 Oreo
Camera 12-megapixel (f2.0) 13-megapixel (f2.0) 12- and 5-megapixel (f1.8)
Front-facing camera 8-megapixel 8-megapixel 8-megapixel
Video capture 1080p 1080p 1080p
Processor 1.4GHz octacore Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 1.4GHz octacore Qualcomm Snapdragon 427 1.8 GHz octacore Qualcomm Snapdragon 450
Storage 32GB 16GB/32GB 32GB/64GB
RAM 3GB 2GB or 3GB (varies) 3GB or 4 GB (varies)
Expandable storage 128GB 128GB 128GB
Battery 5,000 mAh 4,000 mAh 3,000 mAh
Fingerprint sensor Back Back Below screen
Connector Micro-USB Micro-USB USB-C
Headphone jack Yes Yes Yes
Special features Splash-proof, 15-watt fast charger, FM radio Splash-proof, 10-watt fast charger Splash-proof, 15-watt fast charger
Price off-contract (USD) $180, $288 $199 $249
Price (GBP) £149 £169 £219
Price (AUD) AU$229 AU$329 AU$399