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Motorola Moto G6 review: Hands on with Motorola’s latest budget phone

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For several years, Motorola’ Moto G range of handsets were the only budget phones worth buying. In the simplest terms, they offered the best screen, performance, camera and battery you could find around the £150 mark.

Unfortunately, this changed with the Moto G5, which had superior build quality but somewhat sub-par performance compared to its closest rivals. Motorola quickly followed up with the more accomplished, albeit more expensive Moto G5S, but the damage was done.

So how does the Moto G6 stack up against other new budget handsets?

Motorola G6 hands-on review: Design, spec and features

The Moto G6 launched today alongside the Moto G6 Plus and Moto G6 Play at a global unveiling in Sao Paulo, Brazil and from what we’ve seen, it looks mighty impressive.

Despite costing £220, this is a phone that much more closely resembles a flagship device than bargain-bucket handset. The Moto G6 has followed the wider trend of offering an 18:9 aspect ratio with a display that measures 5.7in corner to corner, and it surrounds this all with a glass and aluminium body that features a dual-rear camera.

This isn’t a first for a budget phone. Just a few days ago Honor released the Honor 7A and the Honor 7C, and, like the Moto G6, the £140 7C has an 18:9 screen. The Honor 9 Lite, which costs £199, also features an 18:9 aspect ratio.

The Moto G6’s display is an IPS 1,080 x 2,160 panel with a pixel density of 424ppi and it looks as colourful and bright as you could hope for at this price. We won’t know exactly how good it is until we’ve run some tests, but first impressions are that it’s perfectly competent.

There’s no full waterproofing or IP rating, but the phone does have a p2i water repellent coating, which should keep it safe when you use your phone in the rain. There’s also a fingerprint reader on the front and inside is a 3,000mAh battery. Although this is the smallest battery of the three new Moto phones – the cheaper Moto G6 Play features the largest battery of all, at 4,000mAh – Motorola says it’s good for a day’s use and that you should be able to gain around six hours use from only 15 minutes connected to its TurboPower charger.

As far as internals go, there’s a Qualcomm Snapdragon 450, a 1.8GHz octa-core processor, and 3GB of RAM, with a rather underwhelming 32GB of storage. For an extra £20, however, you can upgrade to the 4GB RAM, 64GB storage Amazon-exclusive model.

There are other positives too. There’s a microSD card slot, which you can use to expand storage by up to 128GB, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and the phone runs Android 8.0. Like previous Moto phones, this is pretty close to stock Android, with some useful extras added on.

Overall, the Moto G6 feels pretty zippy, although we did experience some moments of sluggishness when trying out the camera – in particular, there can be a delay after pressing the shutter before a photo’s taken, which means it’s easy to miss the moment.

Motorola Moto G6 review: Camera

The Moto G6’s dual-camera setup doesn’t add zoom or wide-angle capabilities, but rather enables it to apply a background-blur portrait effect, or even cut out the background altogether. After capturing your subject in the phone’s portrait mode, you can then apply various different effects based on this depth data.

Otherwise, there’s nothing especially remarkable about the camera setup. The main snapper is a 12-megapixel unit with an f/1.8 aperture and phase detect autofocus. It can’t shoot 4K video – only 1080p at 30fps. The secondary depth camera is a 5MP snapper and the selfie snapper on the front is an 8-megapixel sensor with a front flash, which features across the Moto range.

First impressions are that the back cameras are excellent for a phone at this price. In good natural light, images we captured were bursting with texture and colour, with plenty of sharpness. It isn’t so good in low light, with plenty of noise creeping in, but you can get useable results if you’re careful.

Motorola Moto G6 review: Early verdict

The Moto G6 is a great-looking budget handset. Although we first compared it to the Honor 7A, it’s a level above this phone in both its design and performance.

We’ll need to run some more vigorous test before we can deliver a final verdict on its camera, but so far it looks good and, coupled with the all-new design, it looks as though Motorola is finally back on form. 

Specifications, price and release date

Screen 5.7in IPS, 1,080 x 2,160
CPU 1.8GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 (14nm, Adreno 506 graphics)
RAM 3GB/4GB
Storage 32GB/64GB
Rear camera dual 12MP + 5MP, phase detect autofocus, dual-LED flash
Front camera  8MP
Price £219 (£239 for 4GB/64GB model, exclusively available on Amazon)
Release date First week of May 2018

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