“Our in-depth look at Motorola’s latest contender in the affordable segment – the Moto G6”
There was a time when buying an affordable smartphone was easy – you could just pick up the latest handset from Motorola’s G-series lineup and be content with your purchase. However, courtesy strong competition from Chinese smartphone brands in India, the scenery has changed quite a bit. Brands like Xiaomi and Honor have managed to convert a huge chunk of Motorola loyalists and are enjoying the majority share in the affordable segment. Can the recently-launched Moto G6 turn the tables back in the company’s favour? Well, that’s what I’m here to find out.
Specs at a glance
|Resolution||1080 x 2160 pixels|
|CPU||Octa core, 1.8 GHz, Snapdragon 450|
|Internal memory||64 GB|
|External memory||Up to 256 GB|
|Capacity||3000 mAH, Li-ion, Non removable|
|Primary camera||12 MP|
|Secondary camera||16 MP|
|Network support||Dual SIM 4G|
|Other options||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS|
|Operating system||Android 8.0 Oreo|
Design and Display
With the Moto G6, the company has gone back to the drawing board and has given the handset a massive facelift. Unlike its predecessor, the Moto G6 has been constructed entirely out of glass, similar to the pricier Moto X4 (review) launched last year. Now, I am going to say this right out of the gate – the Moto G6 is THE benchmark to beat in terms of design in the affordable segment. From its stunning curvy back, to the subtle yet fancy Indigo Black colourway, the Moto G6 looks captivating and is without a doubt the most premium looking G-series smartphone to date. In all honesty, I think I might have spent more time glancing at the smartphone’s back, than the display. For the price, the design of the Moto G6 is just other-worldly.
Now, as good as the design of the smartphone is, it still isn’t perfect. The Moto G6 is a smudge magnet and regardless of how many times you wipe it during the day, it’ll rarely ever stay in pristine condition. Moreover, since the smartphone has been constructed using glass, it’s more fragile than say, a unibody metal design toting Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro (review). Making matters worse is the fact that the G6 is quite slippery and Motorola has opted to layer the back and the front of the device with Gorilla Glass 3, which is two generations old. As a result, I handled it with kid gloves during my review period.
On the flip side, the Moto G6 comes with a p2i-rated water-repellent coating, making the smartphone immune to damage from splashes of water when you’re out and about in the rain. To my knowledge, no other manufacturer is offering a splash-proof design in the affordable segment, so kudos to Motorola for staying ahead of the competition.
Motorola has taken a page from the ‘hottest smartphone trends magazine’ and has furnished the G6 with a nearly bezel-less design. Now, while the bezels on the sides are quite slim, the smartphone still retains a significant chin on the top and the bottom. So much so, Motorola managed to squeeze a fingerprint sensor on the bottom bezel of the smartphone. While this doesn’t bode well for the G6’s aesthetics, you’ll at least be able to unlock the smartphone comfortably even if it’s laid flat on a surface.
Unfortunately, the sensor doesn’t offer a whole lot of surface area to align the fingers properly and therefore, you might have to tap it multiple times in the beginning to unlock the phone. However, once you get used to the placement, you’ll have no issues unlocking the device as the sensor is extremely accurate and responsive.
The Moto G6 also comes with face unlock, though I’d recommend you steer clear of that feature. For one, it takes multiple tries to record face data even in well-lit environments. Moreover, during my testing, I could never unlock the smartphone effortlessly using face unlock as I had to position my arm and hold the phone at a particular angle for the phone to scan my face. On the rare occasions I did manage to unlock the device, I found the unlocking animation to be extremely slow. Bottom line: stick to the fingerprint sensor on this one.
In terms of the display, Motorola has equipped the G6 with an 18:9 aspect ratio-toting 5.7-inch full HD+ IPS panel. The display on the G6 is downright excellent as it features ample brightness levels, satisfactory viewing angles and reproduces punchy, vivid colours which are pleasing to the eyes.
The cameras on Motorola’s smartphones have always been a mixed bag of beans. Take for instance, the Moto G5 (review), which impressed us immensely with its lowlight performance thanks to support for dual-pixel autofocus tech and f/1.7 aperture. Therefore, you’d expect that the company would’ve bettered the camera experience a year down the line, right? Unfortunately, even though the camera setup of the Moto G6 checks all the right boxes on paper, the handset fails to deliver when you actually press the shutter button.
Before I dissect the smartphone’s camera performance, let’s take a step back and talk about the camera configuration first. With the Moto G6, you will get a dual-camera setup at the back, comprising 12MP and 5MP sensors with f/1.8 aperture. For selfies, you’ll be smiling into a 16MP shooter. Moreover, Motorola provides a dedicated LED flash module to assist both, the front as well as the rear cameras of the G6 in lowlight scenarios. Motorola has also bundled a multitude of features with the G6’s cameras, though most of them are either gimmicks or just don’t work as they were intended to.
As an example, the spot colour feature allows you to retain just one colour in a scene to make the images pop, at least in theory. In practice however, I couldn’t get this to work properly and always ended up with an image which had irregular splashes of grey here and there. In a similar fashion, the text scanner feature is really useful, although it’s iffy at best and rarely ever scans the text properly, even under proper lighting.
As far as the quality of the photos is concerned, they are average at best and exhibit poor details with washed-out colours. Turning on the HDR mode helped boost the contrast levels, though I was still left wanting for more details in the pictures. The dynamic range is nothing to write home about either and the shooters fail to impress in low-light scenarios too.
The selfie camera attempts to redeem the smartphone’s image (pun intended) by clicking decent portraits in well-lit environments. However, upon zooming in, I noticed that the camera was softening my skin and I was also losing out on details. The lowlight performance of the selfie-camera follows the same script, and try as I might, I couldn’t get the selfie shooter to click a good picture at night.
Making matters worse for the smartphone in the photography department is the fact that the phone overheats if you click a lot of pictures in a go. This, in turn, throttles the default camera app and slows down the smartphone’s focusing and shutter speeds, and even makes the viewfinder laggy. However, this could be a problem specific to our unit, and we’ll update the review if we don’t find it in another G6’s unit. I also hope that some of these camera issues can be fixed via a software update.
Performance and Battery life
Turns out, numbers do lie as the Moto G6 with its ‘budget’ Snapdragon 450 processor and 4GB of RAM is quick enough to keep up with my day-to-day usage. I live off social media and therefore, I’ve always got multiple applications like Instagram, Fenix 2 (my Twitter client of choice), WhatsApp and Snapchat running in the background. Now, these apps require a lot of resources to function smoothly but the G6 churned out incredible performance which didn’t leave me wanting for a higher-tier processor.
The smartphone is even capable of handling less intensive games like Clash of Clans and Clash Royale without any frame-drops or stutters too. Moreover, heavier titles like PUBG and Asphalt 8 are also playable on the smartphone, albeit at the lowest graphics settings. Everything considered, the Moto G6 is a testament to the fact that you don’t always need cutting-edge hardware to deliver smooth performance.
Motorola has cleverly placed a mono speaker unit inside the earpiece of the G6, making the smartphone a joy to consume media on. The clever positioning makes it so that your fingers don’t muffle the sound coming out of the speaker. Moreover, the unit gets plenty loud and can easily entertain you and your friends if you’re watching movies on the phone.
The Snapdragon 450 SoC powering the Moto G6 has been fabricated using the latest 14nm technology and therefore, I had high hopes from the smartphone in the battery department. Unsurprisingly, the G6 surpassed my expectations and I was regularly getting a screen-on time of around 5 hours with the device. What’s even better is that the included Turbo charger can refuel the handset’s 3,000mAh battery completely in a little under two hours.
If I have to sum up the software on the Moto G6 in one word, I would say that it’s reliable. The smartphone boots a near-stock version of Android Oreo which is free from bloat and unnecessary clutter you might’ve seen on other devices. The software has been optimised to gel well with the hardware too and you won’t find any jitters while navigating through the smartphone’s UI. Moreover, you’ll also get a bunch of nifty features baked into the OS which have always made using Motorola’s smartphones a treat, including various built-in gestures such as the ability to turn on the flashlight by doing a karate-chop motion and so on.
Now, even though Motorola was a late adopter of the bezel-less trend, the company was one of the first manufacturers to experiment with gestures. If you’re looking to ditch the on-screen buttons on your new Moto G6, then you can head on over to the Moto application and turn on one-button nav. Once enabled, you can use the fingerprint sensor to navigate your way around the phone. Learning to use the gestures in no rocket science either, and you’ll get a hang of it within the first few hours of using the phone.
The 3GB RAM variant of the Moto G6 retails for Rs 13,999 whereas the 4GB unit I reviewed will set you back by Rs 15,999. For the price, the Moto G6 offers a stunning design, solid performance and impressive battery life. Unfortunately, the cameras fall short of expectations and its pricing pits it directly against the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro as well as the ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 (review), both of which offer much superior specs and better cameras. Therefore, as much as I’ve enjoyed using the Moto G6 as my daily driver, the smartphone is difficult to recommend as it pales in front of the competition.
That being said, I would still not outrightly dismiss the Moto G6 as the cameras can possibly be improved by means of a software update. Should that happen, and/or the company decides to slash a couple thousand from its price, the Moto G6 could pose a credible threat to the Xiaomis and ASUSs of the world.
Editor’s rating: 3.5 / 5
- Stunning design
- Excellent battery life
- Good day-to-day performance
- Unimpressive cameras
- Face unlock is gimmicky
- Heavy games take a toll on performance