It has been a while since Motorola launched the first Moto G back in 2013, and the budget smartphone market has come a long way since then. What made the Moto G special back then was the fact that it offered ‘premium’ features in a more affordable package. That formula has since been adopted by so many other Chinese companies, especially Xiaomi, that it’s no longer unique. What is Motorola offering now that sets it apart from anyone else?
Lenovo-owned Motorola launched the Moto G6 series back in April at an event in Brazil. The company, surprisingly, decided to keep the more powerful G6 Plus off bounds in India, but having spent a while with the Moto G6, that may not be as bad a decision as you might think, and the G6 packs enough of a punch on paper to be called an upgrade over last year’s G5S series.
At a price of Rs 13,999 for the base model, the Moto G6 is poised to take on budget powerhouses like the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro and the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1. The unit we received came with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage, but it’s Snapdragon 450 SoC puts it at a performance disadvantage when compared to the Note 5 Pro and the Max Pro M1. Does that matter, though? Let’s find out!
Build and Design: 8.5/10
The Moto G6 looks stunning with its shiny glass design. The G6 comes wrapped in Corning Gorilla Glass, which does catch its fair share of fingerprints, but that’s a small price to pay for that appealing design. The design is somewhat similar to that of the more expensive Moto X4. The glass does make the G6 slippery, however, so that’s something you have to bear in mind.
In comparison to last year’s G5S Plus, the design is perhaps the most striking difference between the two. Gone is the aluminium unibody design, which did not look bad, but the glass looks and feels far more refined and premium. Motorola’s also done away with the microUSB port this time and opted for a more universal Type-C port.
Given the glass back, the antenna bands are fully covered and don’t hamper the look of the phone.
The power button is a bit too recessed to my liking, making it very difficult to press the button, and even when you do press it, it feels like the button is soon going to be unusable. The large camera bump means that the phone sits a bit awkwardly on flat surfaces.
I also didn’t like the placement “Motorola” branding on the front of the device, below the display area. It just looks tacky.
The Moto G6 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 SoC, which features an octa-core CPU clocked at 1.8 GHz and an Adreno 506 GPU. It comes with 4 GB RAM and 64 GB internal storage, and an option to expand the storage using an external microSD card up to 128 GB in size.
The phone packs a 5.7-inch full HD Plus IPS LCD display with a 2160×1080 resolution. The G6 gets a dual camera setup like its predecessor which comprises a 12 MP primary sensor with an f/1.8 aperture and a secondary 5 MP f/2.2 sensor. On the front, you get an 8 MP camera module with a wide angle lens, f/2.2 aperture and a dual-tone LED flash. Users will be able to shoot 1080p video at 60 fps. The device runs Android Oreo 8.0 out of the box and comes with a 3,000 mAh battery with “TurboPower” support.
Also included is USB type-C, GPS, WiFi 802.11 a/b/q/n, Bluetooth 4.2, 3.5 mm headphone jack and Dual nano-SIM slots in terms of connectivity options.
The Moto G6 sports a taller 5.7-inch full HD+ (2160×1080) IPS LCD display panel with Corning Gorilla Glass protection. The display here is plenty sharp and gave me very little to complain about.
Colours are bright and vibrant with good viewing angles and the colour tone tilts ever so slightly towards the bluish side, but you will get used to it very quickly. If you are used to more saturated colours of an AMOLED display, then you might not find the display very appealing. But don’t worry, at this price range, there’s barely anything to find fault with.
Motorola does throw in the ability to change the white balance to warm or cool, but this is not really a slider so it is better left untouched. You also get the ability to change your colour saturation by a little bit under the display settings, if you feel like playing around with that. Throughout my time with the phone, I prefered to leave it in the standard setting.
Viewing the display under the bright summer sun will be an issue though as the display does not get too bright. This is an issue we had with the Moto G5S Plus as well, so Motorola does need to put in more effort there.
I was expecting the Moto G6 to come with the latest version of Android Oreo, 8.1, but to my surprise, we are still stuck with 8.0. That said, the software is still good and the UI was buttery smooth throughout.
Motorola is known for leaving the launcher as close to stock as possible, and we get exactly that on the G6. Animations are smooth and you will notice just a minor hiccup here and there when swiping fast through the UI. Stutters are more noticeable if you look for them, so it shouldn’t be a problem for most people.
There is not a lot of bloatware to complain about either. Lenovo does include the Microsoft Outlook app, LinkedIn, PhonePe and the Facebook Lite app, but all these can be uninstalled if you want to get rid of them. You do get the Device Help, File Manager, Motorola Notifications app and the Moto app by default.
The Moto app comes with four sub-actions enlisted under it. These are — Moto Actions, Moto Display, Moto Voice and the Moto Key features, which add extra functionality to the device. Moto Voice, which essentially lets you talk to your phone to get things done (like playing a track on Apple Music, etc.), is still marked as a Beta feature so it is not fully ready yet. Apart from that, there aren’t any new features that have been introduced with the new G6 that we have not seen earlier on the Moto X4 or the G5S Plus.
There is also the inclusion of a software-enabled face unlock feature which works as promised (even under relatively dim conditions) but it’s not as advanced as Apple’s FaceID and is not advisable for use if you’re worried about security.
Performance on the Moto G6 was surprisingly good despite the fact that many might think that Motorola has opted for a relatively inferior processor in the form of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 when compared to the faster Snapdragon 625 SoC on last year’s G5S Plus. While the SD450 is a good chip, Xiaomi and ASUS are already offering the more powerful SD636 at the same price. Thankfully, the difference in raw horsepower doesn’t appear to have hurt real-world performance.
From gaming to running daily and processor-intensive tasks, the G6 handled everything with no hiccups no matter how much I pushed it. I played heavy titles like Tekken, PUBG and Asphalt 8: Airborne on the phone and returned with absolutely no instances of the phone hanging or even any issues related to overheating. Even with extended sessions of PUBG, the G6 was able to keep temperatures under control, with only certain parts of the rear-facing camera ring beginning to feel a little hot.
The earpiece speaker on the G6 pulls double duty as a phone speaker as well. There is no other speaker on the phone. I was worried at first, but the audio was loud enough for movies and games, and I didn’t feel the loss of the bottom speaker. As a bonus, it’s front firing.
The phone also comes with Dolby Audio support, which works especially well with headphones.
As for audio quality through the earpiece, the experience was excellent.
The defining feature of the Moto G6 is, sadly, not good enough to dethrone the excellent Redmi Note 5 Pro. The G6’s camera is good, and it’s a vast improvement over last year’s model, but it can’t beat the best in the sub-Rs 20,000 segment.
Images shot in daylight came out flawlessly and showed great detail and excellent colour reproduction. There is no over-sharpening or over-saturated colours in any outdoor shot, and the dual-camera setup, which felt a little incomplete last year, feels right in place this year. HDR does a decent job too in bringing out more details in difficult lighting.
There is barely any shutter lag in the auto mode, but taking images in portrait mode does take about three-four seconds to happen. Results while using portrait mode, however, were pleasing, with the camera doing a good job in separating the subject even in odd and difficult lighting conditions.
Thankfully, Motorola doesn’t tack on the much-overused “AI” buzzword here, but the camera in itself is capable of identifying faces, object and landmarks. There’s a new ‘Object recognition’ feature which works a lot like Google Lens and Bixby, telling you more about what you are pointing the camera at. This worked fine with grocery items like a bag of chips or a bar of soap, but it didn’t work with much else.
We also find options such as ‘Selective Focus’ and ‘Replace background’ options in the ‘Depth Editor app’ from the Moto G5S Plus. There are a few other options as well which I found quite impractical, like the ‘Cut out’ feature which lets you choose an object you have clicked and then make a cut out of it and place it into another picture of your choice.
Motorola also took the trouble of adding face filters in the camera app. Unfortunately, I thought the filters were hideous. Some of you might like them, however. To each his own.
You also get a fully capable manual mode for shooting images, if that’s your thing.
As far as video is concerned, you are limited to 1080p footage with the rear camera, which is a limitation of the Snapdragon 450 chip. The only stabilisation option is EIS (Electronic Image Stabilisation), which works quite well on this phone.
The Moto G5S had an impressive battery life last year, and this year’s G6 seems to have only improved on that. The smartphone easily lasted a day for me on moderate to heavy usage, which included gaming for an hour or so, loads of emails and voice calls, Netflix, WhatsApp and Telegram messages and listening to music on my commute for roughly 20-30 minutes at a stretch.
The device scored 10 hours and 40 minutes in our standard PCMark for Android Work 2.0 battery test, reaffirming that the battery performance in the device is even better than it was last year.
However, its competitors, the Redmi Note 5 Pro and the ZenFone Max Pro M1, offer larger batteries, and consequently, better battery life. Motorola bundles a 15 W TurboPower charger inside the box, which ensures that the G6 takes roughly 90 minutes to fill up from 10 percent to 100 percent. That’s very good, especially for a device in this price range.
Verdict and price in India
The Moto G6 is certainly a huge step up from its predecessor the G5S, and also the more powerful G5S Plus. For the price of Rs 13,999 (3+32 GB model), you get a beautiful-looking smartphone which not only offers a very capable camera, but also stellar battery life and good overall performance. Is that enough to take on the competition, however?
I think not. The Redmi Note 5 Pro is simply too good at its price point. Its offerings, including a stellar camera, superior performance and higher battery life at a similar price, are simply too good to be ignored. The ASUS ZenFone Max Pro M1 is also impossible to beat for the same reasons.
At this price, it is safe to say that the Moto G6 is one of the best-looking smartphones you can get. For anything else, simply pick up the Redmi Note 5 Pro or ASUS ZenFone Max Pro M1.