The Moto G6 is an Android smartphone with a lot of baggage. Five years ago, Motorola was a company struggling to find its identity but it hit upon a golden strategy almost by accident with the original Moto G. Since then, the G has gone from strength to strength and has become firm’s most popular ever phone.
With last year’s Moto G5, however, Motorola stood still and we were reluctant to recommend it over its predecessor, the Moto G4. It quickly followed up with the more accomplished Moto G5S in an attempt to paper over the cracks, but the damage was done. Can it get back to winning ways with its latest budget phone, the Motorola Moto G6?
Motorola G6 review: What you need to know
The short answer is yes. If you have £220 to spend on a smartphone, this is the phone you want. It has a big 5.7in, 18:9 screen, runs the latest version of Android and looks like a mini Samsung Galaxy S9.
For a budget phone, the Moto G6 is nothing short of exceptional. It doesn’t have quite the same level of specifications as flagships costing hundreds of pounds more, but it delivers astonishingly good value for money and has a great camera, too.
Motorola Moto G6 review: Price and competition
Although the price has risen over the G5 and G5 S, £220 is still pretty reasonable for what you get with the Motorola Moto G6, and with the price of flagship phones rising exponentially it actually looks pretty reasonable.
The Moto G6 isn’t lacking key rivals at this price. The strongest competition comes from the Honor 9 Lite, which like the Moto G6 is built from glass and metal, has an 18:9, 1080p display and costs a mere £199.
There’s also Motorola’s own Moto G5S, which you can pick up for £180 and the forthcoming Honor 7A (£140) and Honor 7C (£170) to consider, both of which also have large 18:9 screens. You have plenty of choice. The question is, do you need it?
Motorola Moto G6 review: Design and key features
Just to reiterate, the Motorola Moto G6 is one seriously good-looking smartphone, but the beauty is not just skin-deep. It’s clad in Gorilla Glass 3 at the front and back, so it’s easy to clean and should be resistant to scratches, scuffing and cracks – and those curved edges at the rear lend it a seriously classy look. A colour-matched chrome-finish frame and a circular camera housing that gleams an expensive watch finish off the high-class look.
On the negative side, the camera housing sticks out quite a long way and it does tend to pick up and harbour pocket dust at an alarming rate. There’s also no full waterproofing or IP rating here. You get a p2i water-repellent coating instead, which at least should keep it safe from harm should you spill your tea on it.
There’s also a fingerprint reader on the front below the screen, which is a touch awkward to reach, and inside is a 3,000mAh battery. That’s on the small side, given the size of the screen, but Motorola says it’s good for a day’s use and, with a “TurboPower” charger supplied in the box, you should be able to gain around six hours’ use from 15 minutes of charging.
There are a couple more positives about the design of the Motorola Moto G6. It has a microSD slot, which can be used to expand storage by up to 128GB, and a 3.5mm headphone jack, so no messing around with adapters. It has most of the important boxes ticked.
Motorola Moto G6 review: Display
The Motorola Moto G6’s display is more than acceptable. It’s big, at 5.7in from corner to corner; it uses IPS tech; and the resolution is 1,080 x 2,160, which is about as sharp as you need at this screen size. It’s colourful, too, and in the default “Vibrant” mode, graphics, photographs and video all look pleasingly rich.
When it comes to the crunch, though, it’s clear this isn’t the best screen around. Brightness is the main issue. It reaches only 408cd/m2, which means in really bright conditions it can be a challenge to read.
Colour accuracy isn’t wonderful, either, and sRGB coverage in Standard mode is a disappointing 86.3%. The display’s contrast ratio is fine at 931:1, but even this is a long way behind the best screens on flagship phones.
What is perhaps more damning is that it isn’t even as good as the screen on the Honor 9 Lite, which is 24% brighter, has a more impressive contrast ratio of 1,531:1 and only slightly worse sRGB coverage in its equivalent mode.
All things are relative, though, and while the Moto G6’s display is undoubtedly its weakest suit, most folk will find it perfectly adequate.