Not everyone has the cash to spend on a shiny flagship phone or even a well-appointed mid-ranger. That’s why phones like the Motorola Moto E6s exist.
Brought to you by the king of the budget smartphone, the E6s is the cheapest of a recent slew of handset launches from Motorola. In spite of its ridiculously low price, it’s a perfectly pleasant, perfectly usable device, and it costs a mere £100.
If you’re after a decent phone for your kids, or you’ve smashed your iPhone and need something to tide you over until the end of your current contract, you could do an awful lot worse than the Motorola Moto E6s.
Motorola Moto E6s review: What you need to know
Understandably, the Moto E6s is basic, but it has all the essentials covered. There’s a large, mostly edge-to-edge 6.1in IPS screen, a 2GHz octa-core Mediatek processor, 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, which you can upgrade with a microSD card. You get a single 13-megapixel camera on the rear, accompanied by a depth sensor and a 5-megapixel selfie camera at the front. Nothing fancy, but then again, you wouldn’t expect fancy for this sort of money.
This being a budget model, the Moto E6s does have shortcomings. One is that it runs Android 9 and not the latest version, Android 10. Another is that it doesn’t have NFC, so you won’t be able to use it to pay at contactless terminals. Other than that, however, it’s a pretty solid £100 smartphone.
Motorola Moto E6s review: Price and competition
There’s plenty of competition for your cash at the £100 price point. Our current favourites are the Vodafone Smart V10, the Xiaomi Redmi 7A and Motorola’s own Moto E6 Plus, although this is being phased out in favour of the E6s.
Buy the Vodafone Smart V10 from Vodafone
The big differences between the E6s and the Vodafone and Xiaomi handsets are that the latter two phones have Qualcomm processors and slightly smaller screens.
The Redmi 7A is splash resistant, matching the Moto, but the Vodafone handset is not. And both have larger batteries than the relatively small 3,000mAh one inside the Moto E6s.
Motorola Moto E6s review: Design and features
The Moto E6s is a classic budget handset when it comes to aesthetics and build, too. No frills is the order of the day here, with an all-plastic rear and a flat, non-branded glass front. The good news is that it looks okay and there seem to be no major build quality issues.
It’s available in two colourways: the Peacock Blue pictured here, which consists of a matte finish that fades from dark blue at the top to a lighter shade at the bottom; and Sunrise Red that looks similar but in, um, red. I do like the way this sparkles subtly and resists fingerprints but you’ll need to be careful with it; my sample has already begun to pick up small scratches after only a few days of use.
The rest is pretty smart, unfussy stuff. On the front, the selfie camera is housed in a small semi-circular notch at the top of the display and the screen is surrounded by a 2mm thick black border at the sides and top, and a thicker 7mm border at the bottom.
On the rear you get a centrally-located fingerprint reader, inlaid with a neatly stencilled Motorola ‘M’ logo. There’s a solitary speaker grille in the bottom left corner, and the cameras and single LED flash are located in the top left corner. The combined dual-SIM-and-microSD tray is on the left edge and the volume rocker and power button sit on the right side of the phone. There’s also a 3.5mm headphone jack on the top.
The only major disappointment is that the charging port is microUSB, not the more robust and capable USB-C. You can’t have it all at this price, I suppose.
Aside from the layout, it’s worth re-emphasising a few key features. First, that the Moto E6s is water repellent – good news for the clumsy among us, even if it doesn’t have full waterproofing. It means you can spill liquid on the phone and it’ll shrug off all but the worst incidents. The Xiaomi Redmi 7A has this feature, but the Vodafone Smart V10 does not.
Second, and a reason you might want to buy the E6s over the Xiaomi, is the software. As usual, Motorola’s take on Android is nice and minimal and you’ll have to contend with less fussing around with removing unwanted apps when you first set it up.
Motorola Moto E6s review: Display
For your money, the E6s’s display is also pretty good. It isn’t the sharpest on the block but 720 x 1,560 pixels stretched across a 6.1in 19.5:9 aspect ratio screen doesn’t look particularly fuzzy or soft on this phone.
Likewise, general image quality is solid. Long gone are the days when the displays on cheap phones looked washed out and murky. Both photos and video on the Moto E6s’ IPS screen look vibrant and bold and our measurements back this up with a decent sRGB coverage of 85.6%, a solid peak brightness of 423cd/m2 and a contrast ratio of 2,051:1.
Colour accuracy isn’t quite as good and there’s no fancy stuff like support for HDR10, but there isn’t a huge amount else to complain about. It’s pretty good for the money.
Motorola Moto E6s review: Performance
The Moto E6s’s MediaTek Helio P22 processor isn’t particularly nippy and, in use, the E6s feels as you might expect it to: considerably less slick than phones further up the price spectrum. Scrolling and swiping between screens can be a slightly stuttery, laggy experience and you’ll want to keep multitasking to a minimum.
However, in comparison to its main rivals, the Moto E6s keeps up and, in some cases, edges in front. Unsurprisingly, the results are similar to the Moto E6 Plus, which uses the same chip:
This is clearly not a phone you’ll be using to play the latest, most demanding mobile games on but it’ll do you fine for social networking, email and streaming movies. Even battery life is half-decent, although thanks to a fairly unremarkable 3,000mAh battery it isn’t significantly better or worse than any of its rivals.
In our video rundown test, it lasted 14hrs 13mins, which is short of what the Moto E6 Plus and Vodafone Smart V10 achieved, but better than the Xiaomi Redmi 7A. This is where it definitely pays to spend a little more on a phone with a bigger capacity battery. The Motorola Moto G8 Power, for example, lasted a huge 22hrs 26mins in this test, courtesy of its 5,000mAh battery.
Motorola Moto E6s review: Cameras
You don’t get an awful lot when it comes to the cameras, either. There’s only a single 13-megapixel f/2.2 unit on the rear, accompanied by a depth sensor for portrait images, and a single LED flash. On the front, there’s a fairly bog-standard 5-megapixel selfie camera.
As you’d expect, neither of these are brilliant but they take acceptable images in good light. Here’s a snapshot of my back garden in the sunshine, compared with the only current budget phone I had to hand at the time: the £219 Realme 6. You can see there’s a clear difference in the amount of detail with the Moto E6s suffering badly, but it isn’t too awful:
On the positive side, the Moto E6s’s camera software is nice and simple and isn’t overladen with complicated options. It will automatically go into night mode, for instance, when the lights go down and capture a multi-frame image in order to keep image noise to a minimum.
The negative side is that this isn’t particularly great if your subject is moving. And, even then, the results aren’t particularly great. Here’s another comparison shot with the Realme 6, captured in the twilight of my office with the blackout blind drawn:
As for video, that’s pretty standard. You can only shoot at 1080p or 720p at 30fps and there’s no stabilisation in either mode. Videos are reasonably well exposed and nice and colourful but (obviously) a little shaky, and I found there was quite a bit of focus hunting, too. Quality-wise you’re getting footage with an over-processed look that isn’t very sharp.
Motorola Moto E6s review: Verdict
The Moto E6s is another solid effort from Motorola but it isn’t all that exciting. It’s not even a handset Motorola needed to bring out, given the Moto E6 Plus is all but identical. However, it’s just as good and it will replace it on our list of best budget phones. So well done Motorola, I guess.
I would, however, encourage you to stop before you rush to buy a Moto E6s and have a quick think. Although you do get plenty for your money, if you step up in price you’ll get a whole lot more; spending even £50 to £100 extra will get you a phone with a far better camera, better battery life and less laggy performance.
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