Motorola Moto G6

Phones

The Good The Motorola Moto G6 has a near-stock version of Android Oreo, good dual-rear cameras, fast charging and a sleek design. And it’s amazingly affordable.

The Bad The battery life is not as long as last year’s Moto G5 or G5 Plus.

The Bottom Line The Moto G6 is a sublime value, despite its minimal drawbacks.

8.0 Overall
  • Design
    8

     

     

  • Features
    9

     

     

  • Performance
    8

     

     

  • Camera
    8

     

     

  • Battery
    6

     

     

 

Editors’ note, April 3: The Motorola Moto G7 is now out and improves on the Moto G6 in a few ways with an increased battery life, a faster processor and larger display. It costs $300 which is $50 more than last year’s Moto G6. While it is a significant increase, we think all the improvements are worth it. In fact, the G7 earned a CNET’s Editor’s Choice award. Check out our in-depth Moto G7 review here.

How do you follow up last year’s wonderful budget-friendly Moto G5 Plus? Well, you could start with the outside. Add a second rear camera for portrait mode photos. Trade that Micro-USB port for a USB-C. Get rid of the 16:9 screen ratio and go tall with a trendy 18:9 display that shows more vertically. Say bye to the metallic back side and hello to a glass back with curved edges, specifically Gorilla Glass 3.

The overall result would be a phone that looks decidedly 2018, but with pretty much everything we loved about last year’s Moto G5 Plus. And that’s exactly what the Moto G6 is.

Last year’s Moto G5 Plus hit a sweet spot between features, design, performance and price. The Moto G6 hits most of those, but just misses with a shorter battery life than last year’s Motos.

The Moto G6 looks sleek and modern. It has a groomed slicked-back hair vibe that makes it seem anything but affordable. But at $249, £219 or AU$399 it’s crazy affordable compared to the $1,000 iPhone X.

Roughly the same size as the Moto G5 Plus, the Moto G6 has thinner bezels and a glass back that curves at the edge for a comfortable grip. Like nearly every phone with a glass back, it collects more fingerprints than the stars of CSI.

But the Moto G6 isn’t the only affordable Motorola phone to consider. If you’re outside the US and your budget has some wiggle room, the Moto G6 Plus deserves a serious look. If you’re okay with last year’s styling, check out the Moto G5S Plus ($175 at Amazon) which is still being sold.

019-motoe5-plus

View full gallery

 

On the left is the Moto G6 and on the right the Moto G6 Play. The dual-camera unit on the Moto G6 looks like a shocked face emoji.
Sarah Tew/CNET

Moto G6, G6 Plus, G6 Play: What’s the difference?

I tested the Moto G6 with 32GB of storage, 3GB of RAM and no NFC. I bring this up because there are three new G-series phones for 2018. To confound things further, each model is tweaked a bit depending on where you live.

  • Moto G6 Play: This is the most affordable of the three phones. In the US, it costs $50 less than the Moto G6. The Moto G6 Play has a lower resolution display and only a single rear camera, but it also has the biggest battery of the three — a 4,000-mAh whopper more capacious than the one found in the Galaxy S9. Read CNET’s full Moto G6 Play review.
  • Moto G6: Though it’s roughly the same size as the Moto G6 Play ($84 at Walmart), the Moto G6 has a higher resolution display, dual rear cameras and a more powerful processor. In the UK and Australia, the Moto G6 comes with NFC, and there’s a “step up” UK version with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.
  • Moto G6 Plus: Despite not being available in the US, the Moto G6 Plus is the highest-end option in the Moto G family. It has a 5.9-inch display instead of the 5.7-inch ones found on the G6 and G6 Play. Its battery is slightly larger than the one in the G6. The UK model has NFC and an optional 6GB of RAM.

Moto G6, G6 Plus, G6 Play top features and prices

Key features of the Moto G phone family

Moto G6 (US, UK, Australia) Moto G6 (UK) Moto G6 Plus (UK, Australia) Moto G6 Play (US, UK, Australia)
Price (without discounts) $249, £219, AU$399 £239 £269, AU$499 $199, £169, AU$329
Screen 5.7-inch 5.7-inch 5.9-inch 5.7-inch
Processor 1.8 GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 1.8 GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 1.4GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 427
Storage 32GB 64GB 64GB 16GB (US only), 32GB
RAM 3GB 4GB 4GB, 6GB (UK only) 2GB (US only), 3GB
Battery 3,000 mAh 3,000 mAh 3,200 mAh 4,000 mAh
Rear camera(s) 12-megapixel & 5-megapixel 12-megapixel & 5-megapixel 12-megapixel & 5-megapixel 13-megapixel
NFC Yes (UK, Australia), No (US) Yes Yes Yes (UK), No (Australia)

 

img-20180630-071843506-hdr

View full gallery

 

Here’s a photo of a cable car taken with the Moto G6. The photo has good dynamic range keeping the sky in-balance with the cable car.
Patrick Holland/CNET

Moto G6 has dual-rear cameras and portrait mode

The dual-rear cameras take solid photos, but your shots aren’t going to be on the same level as pictures shot on the Pixel 2, iPhone X or even the OnePlus 6. You’ll get the best results when taking photos under bright even light. The Moto G6 has an “active photos” mode which, like Apple‘s live photos and Google‘s motion photos, records a tiny amount of video before and after you take a picture.

img-20180629-150629146-portrait

View full gallery

 

It’s impressive that a phone that costs $249 has a portrait mode.
Patrick Holland/CNET

Motorola added a bunch of fun modes to the camera one of which is portrait mode. The Moto G6 takes serviceable portrait mode shots. Despite the background being blurred out, portrait mode photos don’t “pop” as much as they could. I like that the Moto G6 lets me change the focus point and the amount of background blur after I take a portrait mode photo. These little adjustments, like on the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus, can turn a less-than-perfect portrait into something pretty good.

moto-g6-selfies

View full gallery

 

The top is a selfie taken with the Moto G6. The bottom is a “group selfie” that is kind of a mix of a selfie and panorama. In this case, it made Lexy’s head double in size.
Lexy Savvides/CNET

Selfies are just OK, but there is a front-facing flash which can be handy. There’s also a group selfie mode that prompts you to move the phone left and then right, like when you take a panorama photo. The phone then “stitches” the selfie panorama together. The results are hit-or-miss. For example, it “glitched” and doubled the back of my friend’s making her look like an alien wearing two pairs of sunglasses on her head — see the photo above.

The Moto G6 uses artificial intelligence (AI) to identify objects, landmarks and text and optimize things accordingly. It can record video at 1080p. But there’s no 4K and no slow-motion mode. And that’s fine because I’m not buying this phone to be the next Steven Spielberg. I’m buying it because it’s cheap.

Here’s a video I recorded with the Moto G6:

Moto G6 battery life, speed and everything else

The G6 runs Android 8.0 Oreo and has Google Assistant and the Google Lens augmented reality tool. Both of them worked well: I enjoyed pointing the Moto G6’s camera at buildings and tapping the Google Lens icon to get more information about the things around me. It was like I was on my own private architecture tour.

But any phone that costs a couple hundred dollars is going to have sacrifices and the Moto G6 is no different. In speed tests, the Moto G6 was slower than the Moto G5 Plus, but not by much. In real world use, it handled everyday tasks such as messaging, Instagram, watching YouTube videos and playing games well. I was even able to play PUBG Mobile with the frame rate set at medium — it’s ridiculous that I did this on a phone that costs $250.

The Moto G6’s battery fared worse than the Moto G5 and G5 Plus. During our looped video battery tests (in airplane mode), the Moto G6 lasted an average of 9 hours, 41 minutes compared to the Moto G5, which lasted 13 hours, and the Moto G5 Plus, which lasted 13 hours, 22 minutes. Though in real-world use, the Moto G6 had no problem getting through the day on a single charge even after heavy use.

Despite having a glass back, the Moto G6 doesn’t have wireless charging. But to be fair, only a few super premium phones support wireless charging. It’s not unusual for a budget phone to omit it.

The Moto G6 can be charged fast via its “Turbopower” charger which seems more useful than wireless charging to me. The Moto G6 has a “splash proof” coating but isn’t IP rated for water resistance — so don’t drop it in a toilet. But if you do, rest assured that buying a replacement Moto G6 won’t break your bank.

Spec comparison of the Moto G6, G6 Plus, G6 Play, G5 and G5 Plus

Motorola Moto G6 Motorola Moto G6 Plus Motorola Moto G6 Play Motorola Moto G5 Motorola Moto G5 Plus
Display size, resolution 5.7-inch; 2,160×1,080 pixels 5.9-inch; 2,160×1,080 pixels 5.7-inch; 1,440×720 pixels 5-inch; 1,920×1,080 pixels 5.2-inch; 1,920×1,080 pixels
Pixel density 424ppi 409ppi 282ppi 440ppi 424ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 6.1×2.8×0.3 in 6.3x3x0.3 in 5.1×2.8×0.4 in 5.7×2.9×0.37 in 5.9×2.9×0.3 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) 153.8×72.3×8.3 mm 160×75.5×8 mm 154.4×72.2×9 mm 144.3x73x9.5 mm 150.2x74x7.7 mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 5.9 oz; 167g 5.9 oz, 167g 6.2 oz; 175g 5.1 oz, 145g 5.5 oz, 155g
Mobile software Android 8.0 Oreo Android 8.0 Oreo Android 8.0 Oreo Android 7.0 Nougat Android 7.0 Nougat
Camera 12-megapixel and 5-megapixel 12-megapixel and 5-megapixel 13-megapixel 13-megapixel 12-megapixel
Front-facing camera 8-megapixel 8-megapixel 8-megapixel 5-megapixel 5-megapixel
Video capture 1080p 4K 1080p 1080p 4K
Processor 1.8 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 427 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 625
Storage 32GB/64GB 64GB 16GB/32GB 16GB, 32GB 32GB, 64GB
RAM 3GB, 4GB 4GB, 6GB 2GB, 3GB 2GB,3GB 2GB, 3GB, 4GB
Expandable storage 128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB
Battery 3,000mAh 3,200mAh 4,000mAh 2,800mAh (removable) 3,000mAh
Fingerprint sensor Below screen Below screen Back Below screen Below screen
Connector USB-C USB-C Micro-USB Micro-USB Micro-USB
Headphone jack Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Special features Dual-SIM, Splash-proof, time lapse video, Turbo Charger Dual-SIM, Splash-proof, time lapse video, Turbo Charger Splash-proof, 10-watt fast charger Dual-SIM, splash-proof Dual-SIM, splash-proof
Price off-contract (USD) $249 NA $199 NA $229 (32GB); $299 (64GB)
Price (GBP) £219 (32GB); £239 (64GB) £269 £169 £169, £179 £249
Price (AUD) AU$399 AU$499 AU$329 AU$299 AU$399