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Moto G6 Review: This one’s a mixed bag

The original Moto G defined the sub-Rs 15,000 price segment, and the latest entrant in the G range hopes to take the legacy further.

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Photo Credit: Rehan Hooda

MotorolaMoto G6 3 5
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  • The Moto G6 is priced from Rs 13,999 and will go on sale from midnight June 5.

  • The phone comes with either 3GB RAM and 32GB storage or 4GB RAM and 64GB storage.

  • The phone is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 SoC, which is meant for affordable devices.

It’s been close to five years since the Moto G was launched. That smartphone was revolutionary in many ways, primarily because of its approach to what an affordable smartphone should be. It showed that buyers shopping for a smartphone at under Rs 15,000 don’t have to settle for something inadequate, and you can have a good phone with great software for the price. People who bought the Moto G on my recommendation back then still haven’t stopped thanking me for it.

The Moto G range through the years has maintained its level of quality, keeping with the times, and offering enough improvement to continue justifying the price. However, what has changed is the competition. While the original Moto G may have defined the segment, other brands such as Xiaomi – and more recently Asus and Honor – have aced. What’s more, Lenovo-Motorola has lost a fair amount of favor – it recently dropped out of the top five smartphone brands in India.

The Rs 13,999 Moto G6 hopes to carry on the good work, but it faces tougher competition and more reasons to consider alternatives than ever before. We explore the latest iteration of the Moto G range, to see if it can keep the momentum going.

Moto G6 Design and Display

The Moto G6 changes one big element in its design from the Moto G5S, with the phone sporting a glass back. The phone therefore looks more like the Moto X4 than any previous Moto G-series device. The frame remains metal, and the layout remains typical of Motorola with the dedicated dual-SIM and micro-SD tray at the top, power and volume buttons on the right and USB Type-C and 3.5mm jack at the bottom.

The glass back has just the iconic batwing logo at the center, with the dual-camera setup sitting on a significant camera bump. The front of the phone sees Motorola finally embrace the 18:9 tall screen aspect ratio, and you get a 5.7-inch full-HD+ screen. Unfortunately, Motorola hasn’t quite got the gist of the tall-screen design; the non-screen space is still a bit much. Below the screen is the Motorola logo, and a narrow fingerprint sensor that looks rather awkward but does the job.

As a result of all of this, the phone barely looks like a typical 18:9 screen device, and any size advantage it could have gained is wasted on the design. However, the screen is good, considering that Motorola has gone with a full-HD resolution. It’s sharp and gets the colors right for the most part. Peak brightness is good as well, and it’s as good as you can expect on a smartphone that costs under Rs 15,000.

Moto G6 Specifications, Software and Performance

While the Moto G range started on Qualcomm Snapdragon 400-series chipsets and has typically maintained that tradition, there have been some variants – usually Plus or Turbo-branded devices – that have gone with Qualcomm’s 600-series Snapdragon chipsets. That continues with the Moto G6 as well; the device is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 SoC, while the G6 Plus that hasn’t been launched in India yet gets the Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 SoC.

This would ordinarily be fine, but Motorola’s pricing does come across as expensive in this case. At Rs 13,999, the Moto G6 seems underpowered with the Snapdragon 450 SoC, while competing devices from Xiaomi and Asus offer the superior Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 SoC at around the same price or less. Motorola’s argument of being a ‘superior’ brand might work to some extent, but it’s hard for us to recommend a device such as this when the competition is better in terms of specifications.

Leaving all of these factors aside, the Moto G6 and its Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 SoC are good in practicality, when judged on its own. Announced last year, the chipset is the first 400-series chipset from Qualcomm to be fabricated on the 14nm process, and strikes a good balance between affordable performance and power efficiency.

You get either 3GB RAM/32GB internal storage or 4GB RAM/64GB internal storage, depending on the variant you buy, a 3,000mAh battery and Motorola’s Turbo Power fast charging standard. Charging is quick enough, and you can top up the battery in about 90 minutes. Charging is particularly fast in bursts when the battery is low, letting you get it up to acceptable levels quickly. Interestingly, you get a USB Type-C port on the phone, which is still a relative rarity in this price range.

The phone comes with Android 8.0 Oreo out-of-the-box, under Motorola’s near-stock user interface. There’s nothing new on offer here, and indeed the whole near-stock Android pitch isn’t something that’s unique to Motorola anymore. Brands such as Nokia, Asus and even Xiaomi have offered either Android One or near-stock Android devices that are arguably superior to the Moto G6 at the price. Nonetheless, it’s light software that will suit anyone that’s been using a Motorola smartphone over the last couple of years.

You also get face unlock, which is enabled out-of-the-box, and works as advertised. It isn’t quite as quick as what you’ll see on high-end smartphones, but it does work well once you’ve managed to input your face data. You can also choose to bypass the lock-screen and go straight into the phone with this, which saves a bit of time.

Moto G6 Camera

With the dual-camera setup becoming a common feature on smartphones priced at under Rs 15,000, the Motorola Moto G6 includes the feature. The setup consists of a 12-megapixel primary camera and a 5-megapixel secondary camera at the rear, along with a 16-megapixel front camera with flash. Video recording up to 1080p at 60fps is possible with the rear camera, and the dual-camera setup functions to offer depth-effect for portrait shots.

Apart from the basic portrait mode, the depth-sensing ability of the dual-camera setup also enables a few other software-based tweaks, including selective black-and-white, which keeps the subject in color and turns the rest of the frame monochrome, along with cutout, which lets you change the background while retaining the subject.

Additionally, you can also choose ‘spot color’, which achieves a similar effect to selective black-and-white. Active photos shoot a short video clip which adds a bit of motion to still shots which is visible on the phone, and on Google Photos. It’s all a bit gimmicky, but users in the price category do tend to enjoy these kinds of features. The rest of the camera features are fairly standard, including face filters, slow-motion and time-lapse video, and more.

(Moto G6 Camera Samples – Resized for web)

In terms of actual performance, the camera on the Moto G6 is ordinary, and on par with most devices priced at under Rs 12,000 or so. As is usually the case, pictures in good light come out well, with sharp outlines and decent colors. In low light, performance drops significantly. But once again, this is about on par with what you can expect from devices in this price range.

Close ups and portrait mode shots are alright, with the latter being a bit better in terms of quality. The extra features and software-based tweaks do add a bit of value and quality to the photography, and buyers in the affordable smartphone category will find these options enjoyable.

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Purely on face value, the Moto G6 is a good phone. Its powered by the capable Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 SoC, has enough RAM and storage for entry-level users and looks good too. The 18:9 full-HD screen, fingerprint sensor and face unlock also mean that the phone feels suitably high-end. However, at its price, the Moto G6 isn’t the best option around.

Competing options such as the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro and Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 are better equipped, offer better performance, and have arguably better cameras as well. While Motorola earlier had the advantage of superior software, this has faded a bit, primarily because other manufacturers have caught up with the software offerings.

All things considered, the Moto G6 makes sense if you’re a Motorola fan and want the comfort of switching from an older Moto device to this new one. But if those factors don’t apply, the Moto G6 may not be the best bet for you.

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  • Published Date: June 4, 2018 12:53 PM IST

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