Motorola went back to the drawing board with the Moto G6, making it a great, inexpensive smartphone once again.
Motorola introduced the Moto G back in 2013. Since then, the company has taken the industry by storm. Offering a decent smartphone with pretty good specs at an affordable price every year. Sure, the price of the Moto G has changed throughout the years (in fact, the Moto G6 is cheaper than the Moto G5 was), but one thing has stayed the same for Motorola. That is the fact that the Moto G represents a "mid-range" smartphone that can do almost everything a "premium" smartphone can do, but for a fraction of the price. Now Motorola has the Moto G6, which is the sixth generation of the company's most successful line ever, and its specs are seen as a slight downgrade from the Moto G5, but the price has also dropped. But the real question here is does the Moto G6 continue the value-oriented tradition of the Moto G lineup? Let's find out in our full review.
With the Moto G6, Motorola has brought the tall (18:9 aspect ratio) to the sub-$200 price range. It sports a 5.7-inch 2160x1080 resolution IPS display. The Moto G6 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 chipset and that is paired with either 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage or 4GB of RAM and 64GB of RAM (the model we have as a review unit is the 3GB/32GB model, so that is what this review will be based on). There is also a 3000mAh capacity battery included here which is going to keep the Moto G6 running all day long, and there is Motorola's TurboPower included here for quick charging.
On the camera side of things, Motorola has dual cameras on the rear. There's a 12-megapixel main sensor which has a f/1.8 aperture, and then there is a 5-megapixel secondary sensor. This secondary sensor is really only used for depth data, so that the phone is able to do Portrait mode with less software optimization. The front-facing camera is an 8-megapixel sensor with a f/2.2 aperture here. Both the front and rear cameras can do video up to 1080p, though the front is limited to 30fps while the rear cameras can do 60fps. Unfortunately, there's no 4K support here.
Other odds and ends on the spec sheet include WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n and supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks. There's location tracking using GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS and BEIDOU, with Bluetooth 4.2 available as well. Motorola has included a USB-C port for charging, a fingerprint sensor on the front of the device, and the usual sensors are also here. That includes an accelerometer, gyroscope, ambient light, proximity, magnetometer and ultrasonic sensors. Finally, the Moto G6 ships with Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box.
In The Box
Motorola includes the usual array of accessories in the box with the Moto G6. That includes the USB-C to USB-A cable, the Motorola TurboPower charger (15W), and an array of paperwork including warranty information. There's no headphones included in the box, though Motorola hasn't included a pair of headphones for quite some time. But at least the Moto G6 does still have a headphone jack.
The Moto G6 marks the first time that the company has brought glass down to its inexpensive smartphones like the Moto G6. The build of the Moto G6 is very reminiscent of the Moto X4 that it debuted last year. It's a glass unibody design, with the frame also being the same color as the phone (in this case, black), with the headphone jack and USB-C connector at the bottom, with the earpiece doubling as the only speaker. The main difference is the fact that the display is larger, but in the same body-size, due to the fact that it is a taller display this time around.
The backside of the Moto G6 is slightly curved, as Motorola is using 2.5D glass here, which actually helps to make the phone feel more comfortable in your hand, since it curves to your hand. Though, since it is glass now, it is more slippery than the metal that the Moto G5 (and in the US, the Moto G5 Plus) sported. So you will definitely want to put a case on the Moto G6 here. The back is actually pretty clean on the Moto G6. There's a camera bump for the camera module here, which is a bit questionable. Since this is the Moto G6, many would prefer a slightly thicker phone with a bigger battery over a camera bump. With the Moto Z series it's a bit more understandable since the camera bump helps to hold the Moto Mods in place. Just below the camera bump is the Motorola "bat wing" logo, which is pretty dark so it actually blends in quite well on our unit. There's no FCC data on the back either, as that is all located in the settings now. The only other thing on the back is a microphone.
On the front, it appears that Motorola has crammed its logo below the screen and above the fingerprint sensor. The fingerprint sensor this time around is very thin. It's a long and thin fingerprint sensor. Now that doesn't affect the usage of the sensor, it's still quite fast which is good to see. But it could have been a bit bigger without the Motorola logo there. Otherwise, the front is mostly all screen, which is really nice to see, especially in 2018.
In 2018, the Moto G series really looks and feels like a premium device, though it does lack that premium price tag, which is a good thing. While the Moto G may need a case, because of how fragile it'll be, it's definitely worth taking a look at, for the build quality alone. You won't find many smartphones in this price range that look this sleek.
It's no surprise that the Moto G6 does not sport a Quad HD display, but it is nice to see that Motorola decided to embrace the tall display trend here and give the Moto G6 a tall full HD+ display here. The display actually looks really nice on the Moto G6. It's an LCD panel still, so it's not going to be as good as something like the Galaxy S9 or Pixel 2 XL, but those are also almost four times the price of the Moto G6. The color temperature on the Moto G6 is pretty accurate, some may find it to be a bit on the cool side, but for the most part, there's no issues here. Now, Motorola does allow users to adjust the temperature in the settings which is nice.
The DPI on this panel is pretty high though, and that's good for those that might be older and need things on the display to be a bit larger. But even when you set the display size to small in the settings, objects on the screen are still larger than other devices. This isn't going to be a deal breaker for everyone, but it means you'll need to do more scrolling in apps like Gmail, Twitter and Facebook, as it is unable to fit as much content onto the display. Otherwise, there's little to complain about with this panel that Motorola is using on the Moto G6.
The Moto G series has mostly used the Snapdragon 600-series of chipsets, with the Moto G Play smartphones using a Snapdragon 400 series, but this year both the Moto G6 and Moto G6 Play are running on Snapdragon 400-series processors, which will make the devices look even lower-end in a lot of people's eyes. But the Snapdragon 450 in the Moto G6 is actually pretty good, in our experience. As mentioned in the specs section of this review, our review unit is the 3GB of RAM model, so this smartphone isn't the most fluid out there, but it does get the job done.
Through the review period, there were some times where the Moto G6 would slow down and even lag, but it wasn't all that often. It was mostly while using apps that were more resource intensive than others. If you are spending the majority of your day using social media apps like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, you will be perfectly fine. But if you are looking to play some games like Asphalt 8 on the Moto G6, then you may (and will) run into issues. The amount of RAM here isn't bad, since Android smartphones can actually run decently on as little as a gigabyte of RAM, but it does struggle with 3GB of RAM here. Luckily there is a more expensive 4GB model available, which should be the more popular option. Overall, performance isn't bad on the Moto G6, remember you get what you pay for here. So if you are looking for something that can run the latest games with console-quality graphics, the Moto G6 isn't the phone for you.
It wouldn't be a smartphone release in 2018 without facial recognition, and the Moto G6 has that as well. Like just about every other Android smartphone released in the past six months, the Moto G6 uses the front-facing camera to recognize your face. This means that it is not that secure, and you definitely shouldn't rely on it. But it is a really cool and fast way to unlock your smartphone. The Moto G6's face unlock is actually quite fast and consistent. But you will want to consider using a fingerprint to secure your device as well.
Speaking of fingerprints, the fingerprint sensor is still here on the Moto G6. And as we mentioned in the hardware section, it's located below the screen and it's a long and thin fingerprint sensor. That was done to make room for the Motorola logo, for some reason. It looks a bit weird and different from other smartphones. But it still works just fine. Place your finger on the sensor and it'll unlock almost instantly, which is really nice to see, and not really a surprise either. Fingerprint sensors are pretty much instant these days, even on smartphones with slower processors and very little RAM, fingerprint sensors have gotten that good. Now, in addition to fingerprints and your face, you can also use a PIN or passcode to secure your device, and you will have to use one to use either your fingerprint or face to unlock the Moto G6 anyways.
Phone Calls & Network
Like most Motorola smartphones released in the past three years, the Moto G6 does work with all four US carriers - AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. This means that no matter which carrier you are using, you can put your SIM card into the phone and it'll just work. You'll get LTE signal on any of these carriers. Though during our review period, we did use it on both T-Mobile and Verizon here in the US, and it worked just as expected. LTE speeds were about what was expected, and comparable to other devices in the same area at the same time. So there's nothing surprising there. Phone calls also worked as expected. Unfortunately, though, there's no VoLTE, WiFi Calling or HD Voice available on the Moto G6, and that is most likely due to the fact that this is sold as an unlocked smartphone.
The Moto G6 does support 2G, 3G and 4G LTE bands for all four carriers, the complete list is below:
GSM: Bands 2, 3, 5, 8
CDMA: BC0, 1, 10
UMTS: B1, 2, 4, 5, 8
LTE: Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7,8, 12, 13, 17, 20, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30, 38, 41, 66
Surprisingly, Motorola also decreased the number of speakers on the Moto G6 compared to the Moto G5, bringing it down to just one. Instead of having a bottom-firing speaker, Motorola has the earpiece doubling as the speaker. Now the earpiece does pretty well, though it does appear to be missing a bit of bass. It's not as bass-heavy as other smartphones that sport a bottom-firing speaker. But overall, the quality here is actually pretty good. It does get somewhat loud, though there are times where it would be nice if it were a bit louder, but for the most part, the volume is fine here.
As mentioned already, Motorola did keep the headphone jack here, so you are able to use your wired headphones with the Moto G6, and not worry about charging them. It's a nice gesture, especially on an inexpensive smartphone like the Moto G6. Wired headphones do sound pretty decent as well here, Motorola doesn't have a special DAC included like LG would, so you're getting decent sound but not incredible sound here. And of course, the quality of that sound will also depend on the headphones that are plugged in.
Of course, we can't forget that Dolby Audio is included here. This allows you to get even better audio sound out of this single speaker and the headphone jack. Allowing you to toggle on/off Dolby Audio and also adjust the presets to your liking. So you can really get some great bass out of this one, or better mids and highs, depending on what you are watching.
On the Moto G6, we ran AnTuTu, 3D Mark and Geekbench 4 to see how well the device really works. And on AnTuTu it picked up a score of 69,159. While 3D Mark gave it scores of 436 in the Sling Shot Extreme - OpenGL ES 3.1 test, and a 387 in the Sling Shot Extreme - Vulkan test. Finally, Geekbench gave the Moto G6 scores of 739 in the single-core test and a 3789 in the multi-core test. These are pretty decent scores for the hardware that is inside of the Moto G6, and as always, you can check out the full results in the gallery below.
There's a 3000mAh capacity battery inside the Moto G6 here, which for most people, would be plenty of battery. But for heavy users, it may not be enough. Luckily, the Snapdragon 450 is pretty good at preserving the battery and is able to get users through a full day. Heavy users should be able to get almost a full day out of it. But light users can get around two full days, depending on the usage. During our time with the Moto G6, we were able to get around six hours of on-screen time, and that was over the course of nearly two days. Which makes it a bit more impressive. And that is because the Moto G6's standby time is also pretty good. It can sit all day in standby and not really lose much juice, maybe drop to around 95%. Which puts it above most other smartphones in its class.
Moto G6 does support Quick Charge 3.0, which is pretty impressive for a smartphone in this price range. Usually Quick Charge 3.0 is reserved for more expensive smartphones. But the TurboPower Charger that Motorola includes in the box is able to do Quick Charge 3.0 and charge up the Moto G6 pretty quickly. Since the capacity is 3000mAh on the Moto G6, users should be able to fully recharge the device in a little over 90 minutes. That was our experience when using the device as well. It's a really nice feature to have, especially when you want to top up before you head out for the night. Now, on a sad note, there's no wireless charging here, despite the glass back. Motorola is still keeping that for the Moto Z line of smartphones.
In the end, Moto G6 users will not need to worry about the battery life on the Moto G6. Since it has less features (read: less stuff running in the background) and a very battery efficient processor, the Moto G6 is able to run all day and then some without a problem.
As of the time of this review, the Moto G6 review unit that is in our hands, runs on Android 8.0.0 with the March 1, 2018 security patch, and it is build OPS27.104-15-10. That puts the Moto G6 on a fairly recent build of Android and security patch, but not the absolute latest. Motorola has been pretty decent in the past with updating its smartphones. While it is not instant like a Pixel or an Android One smartphone, it is still pretty fast. The Moto G6 will be getting Android P, but it may not be until next year (seeing as Android P likely won't roll out to manufacturers until around mid-August, and then Motorola will roll it out to its flagships first before the Moto G6). But it will get Android P, eventually.
Motorola's Android experience hasn't changed a whole lot in recent years. It's still mostly the same, with a stock version of Android - for the most part - along with a few enhancements that Motorola has included on top of Android Oreo. For the most part, there are four features included on top of Android Oreo on the Moto G6. These include Moto Key, Moto Action, Moto Display and Moto Voice. The options and settings for these are all included in the Moto app on the Moto G6, which means that Motorola is able to update these features without pushing out an update to the phone.
With Moto Key, you have a built-in password manager. So you can easily login to websites and apps without needing to remember your password. This is a feature that many smartphone makers are starting to include on their devices, of course there are already plenty of password managers out there that many people use already. So there may not be many Moto G6 users using Moto Key for that reason. Then there's Moto Voice. This is in beta on the Moto G6, which is not a new feature, but it is for the Moto G lineup. This allows you to give commands to your phone without touching it, and talking to Google Assistant. This is a feature that Motorola has had since the original Moto X back in 2013 - even before Google Assistant was a thing. So it's nice to see it on the Moto G6 finally.
The other two features are ones that we've seen on Motorola smartphones for the past few years, Moto Actions and Moto Display. Moto Display is the always-on display feature that Motorola has been using since the Moto X debuted in 2013 as well. Though it has improved and changed a bit since then. It doesn't stay on all the time, but it will "breathe" when you wave your hand over the display or when you have notifications. So you can see what notifications you have without picking up the phone and turning it on. The Moto Display will show the time, date, and battery percentage with the notification icons at the bottom. Many say that this is the best always-on or ambient display solution out there, and I'd agree here. Now Moto Actions are essentially gestures that you can use on the Moto G6 to do different things, like chopping twice to open the camera, using gestures for navigating the operating system, or even picking up the phone to turn off the ringer on an incoming phone. There are plenty of others available as well. These can be turned on or off individually, so they aren't all on or all off.
On the software front, Motorola continues to keep it clean and simple. This is part of the reason why its smartphones run so well, on slower processors and less RAM. Because there is less stuff going on in the background and less resources being used all the time. Which makes lesser hardware work even better. The software experience on the Moto G6 keeps it simple, without a whole lot of bells and whistles, which is also a good thing to see on the Moto G6.
The camera on the Moto G6 is well, okay. It's not the best, but it's far from the worse. You will get some great looking pictures out of this camera, as always, depending on the lighting situation. Motorola has added a second camera on the Moto G6 this year, which is a depth-sensing lens. So you do have Portrait Mode here, which works decently. As is always the case with smartphone cameras, it does have trouble with edge-detection, making it a bit difficult to really blur the background. For instance, if you are taking a photo of a person, you may see part of their hair or shoulders get blurred out, as the camera thinks it is the background and not a person.
Motorola has added a few other modes on the Moto G6 this year, including Cutout, Spot Color, Text Scanner and Face Filters. Allowing users to really have some fun with the camera on the Moto G6. On the video side, there's slow-motion, time-lapse and YouTube Live available, so you can go live on YouTube straight from your smartphone, which is actually a pretty cool feature to have, especially for creators out there. The camera does actually do pretty well in auto mode, though it is far from perfect. As long as you have plenty of lighting though, it won't be too bad. This is one of those cameras that can take good pictures but not great pictures. It'll get the job done, but it won't blow you away. Now as always, you can view the images we took with the Moto G6 in the Flickr gallery below. As always, these are in auto mode or portrait mode, no manual mode used here.
Fingerprint & Face Unlock
Fragile Glass back
The Moto G6 is a pretty good smartphone from Motorola. It does continue the pedigree of the Moto G lineup, which is offering a good phone at a cheap price, without really skimping out on features and such. For under $249, it's hard to beat the Moto G6, even though it may come up short in a few areas, it's still hard to beat it.
Should I Buy the Moto G6?
Definitely. Since the Moto G6 does work on all four major US carriers, it's a great smartphone to pick up and use, no matter which network you're on. And again, the price of the Moto G6 is pretty fantastic, but you can save even more by buying it from Amazon. It's a Prime Exclusive smartphone which means it does have some Amazon apps pre-installed, but otherwise, it's pretty much the same as the regular Moto G6, only a bit cheaper.