When the first Moto G first appeared back in 2013, no-one predicted it would wind up being one of the most popular phones of all time. Of late, though, Motorola has seen its lead eaten into by other brands such as Honor and Chinese upstarts Xiaomi.
Now, though, there’s a new collection of Moto G phones – the Motos G6, G6 Play and G6 Plus – and the most impressive of the lot is the Moto G6 Plus.
Motorola Moto G6 Plus review: What you need to know
This is the largest of the G6 phones. The display measures 5.93in from corner to corner, a smidge over 0.2in larger than the regular Moto G6.
That’s not a lot. In fact, you have to place the two handsets right next to each other to spot the differences between them and even then, to the casual observer, they look pretty much identical.
But there is a distinct difference on the inside. The processor is more advanced and the camera is more capable as well. In fact, in terms of its specification and capabilities, the Moto G6 Plus is more a match for the Sony XA2 and XA2 Ultra handsets than the Moto G6.
Motorola Moto G6 Plus review: Price and competition
The Motorola Moto G6 Plus is currently available exclusively through Carphone Warehouse for £269 on pay-as-you-go. You can buy one on contract, too, but currently, prices aren’t all that tempting.
That pitches it against some interesting rivals, such as the Honor 7X at £250, the Honor 9 Lite at £159 and, its sibling, the regular Moto G6 at £219; all of which have an 18:9 display.
Take away the elongated display and there’s competition from the likes of the Honor 9 at around £300, the £220 Moto G5S Plus, and the £380 Sony XA2 Ultra and the £329 HTC U11 Life, all of which have the same processor as the G6 Plus.
Motorola Moto G6 Plus review: Design and key features
It’s uncanny how similar the G6 and G6 Plus are to each other, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. As with the Moto G6, the Plus has Gorilla Glass 3 on the front and back, and it’s curved at the rear too.
The circular camera housing attracts dust and pocket detritus like it’s going out of fashion, and fingerprints are also attracted to the phone’s glossy design, but it’s reasonably easy to clean with a quick wipe on your shirt.
As with the regular Moto G6, the fingerprint reader is on the front below the screen. With it, the phone unlocks rapidly, but as an added bonus Motorola also includes face-unlock. You have to turn the phone on for this to work, either by swiping or clicking the power button, but it works pretty effectively once you’ve done that.
Other than that, there’s nothing particularly out of the ordinary here. The volume and power buttons sit on the right edge, the single nano-SIM, microSD combo tray is on the top edge and the USB Type-C port and 3.5mm headphone jack are on the on phone’s bottom edge.
It’s worth pointing out, though, that most of the Moto G6 Plus’ competitors, namely the Honor devices mentioned above, use micro-USB for charging. That gives the G6 Plus an advantage in terms of how quickly it charges. Indeed, with a “TurboPower” mains adapter included in the box, you’ll be able to give the Moto G6 Plus an emergency boost of power in just a few minutes.
On the downside, the model I received for review has only a single card SIM slot, which is a bit of nuisance if you’re an avid traveller. There’s no IP rating, either, although the phone has been treated with p2i water-resistant coating; while you’d be advised not to jump in the pool with it, it’s not likely to die instantly if you soak it accidentally in latte mochaccino.
Motorola Moto G6 Plus review: Display
The G6 Plus has a 5.9in IPS display that runs at an FHD+ (1,080 x 2,160) resolution. Like an increasing number of phones at all prices, this phone has an aspect ratio of 18:9, making it a more pleasurable experience for watching movies and flicking through your Twitter feed.
Tested with our X-rite i1 Display Pro calibrator, the phone achieved a sRGB gamut coverage of 83.8% in its Standard mode. This places it on a par with rivals such as the Honor 7X.
Colour accuracy isn’t bad, though naturally, it can’t hold a candle to the phones like the Galaxy S9. With an average Delta E of 2.93 and maximum of 7.57 (lower is better and anything below 2 is superb), colours are a touch off-beam. Still, the screen is vibrant and punchy, more so when you set the phone to ‘Vivid’ mode, through the display settings.
Its contrast ratio of 1,255:1 is respectable, although the Honor 7X beats the Motorola here with its extraordinarily high contrast ratio of 2,109:1. The star of the show is the G6 Plus’ peak brightness. At a measured 536cd/m² in “standard” mode and 573cd/m² in “vivid” mode, it’s nothing short of incredible for a budget phone. You’ll have absolutely no problems with readability no matter the ambient light.
Interestingly – if you were looking for a reason to buy the Plus over the regular G6 – that phone has a contrast ratio of 931:1 and a peak luminance of 408cd/m². This is worse than the G6 Plus (though still acceptable).
Motorola Moto G6 Plus review: Performance
Housed inside the G6 Plus is a 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 processor and 4GB of RAM, where the regular G6 has a 1.8GHz Snapdragon 450 processor and 3GB of RAM.
The G6 Plus’ combination sets it apart. To put this into perspective, these are the same internals as the more expensive Sony XA2 Ultra and the benchmark results are as you’d expect – ahead of the Moto G6 and Honor 9 Lite, and on a par with the Sony.
This combination of components means the phone feels responsive and it flies through intensive tasks, too. Throw games like PUBG Mobile at it, and it’ll run – not as smoothly as a flagship device – pretty well for a sub-£300 smartphone.
The results listed in the table above speak for themselves. The Moto G6 Plus returns an average 15fps in the intensive GFXBench Manhattan 3 benchmark (onscreen), which is double that of the Honor 7X and the Honor 9 Lite.
As for the battery life, that’s another strong point. At 13hrs 57mins in the Expert Reviews video-rundown test, the Moto G6 Plus outclasses the Moto G6, the Honor 9 Lite and the Honor 7X. It’s still a fair bit behind Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra, though.
As for software, Motorola opts for a near-stock installation of Android 8 Oreo. There are a few useful tweaks here, such as the gestures for launching the camera and toggling the torch on and off, plus a Dolby Audio equaliser, which is new to this generation of Moto G phone. Other than that, though, it’s largely Android as Google intended it, which has to be a good thing.
Motorola Moto G6 Plus review: Camera
The Moto G6 Plus is such a strong phone in so many areas that it’s tough to pick out any one area as its strongest, but the camera is definitely in with a shout. At the rear, you get a dual camera setup: one rear-facing 12-megapixel shooter and a 5-megapixel secondary camera, the latter being used to provide depth information for portrait mode and other depth-based effects.
That bit is the same as the Moto G6. What’s different is the aperture and autofocus system, with the Plus benefiting from a brighter f/1.7 aperture (f/1.8 on the regular G6) and dual-pixel autofocus. Video recordings differ, too, with the faster processor enabling the Motorola Moto G6 Plus to record in 4K at 30fps, where the Moto G6 is limited to 1080p at 60fps.
On the roof of our offices, on a rare sunny day in London, I found the G6 Plus produced jaw-dropping photos of the city skyline, packed with detail and bursting with realistic, vibrant colours. The results are so good, it even competes with flagship phones that cost near twice the price – it really is that good.
The Moto G6 Plus’ implementation of HDR is also incredibly good. Take a look at the two images below, paying attention specifically to the building with curved brick frontage in the bottom-left corner. In the second image, where HDR is enabled, you’ll see there’s far more detail, while the rest of the image retains a balanced colour palette. Details throughout the image are a touch improved, too. The foliage at the foreground is brighter and the grey building with the big white box on top is more clearly defined.
^ HDR disabled (click to view fullscreen for a closer look)
^ HDR enabled (click to view fullscreen for a closer look)
In low-light photography, HDR also plays a part. It brightens the image a smidge and suppresses image noise, but the results with or without HDR are truly remarkable. Again, the G6 Plus’ camera competes with some of the best phones out there – and remember, this costs less than £300.
^ Low light HDR disabled (click to view fullscreen for a closer look)
^ Low light HDR enabled (click to view fullscreen for a closer look)
If you want to get rid of image noise, whack on the flash. Here, the phone produces a clean, detailed image without altering the colour temperature.
^ Low light flash enabled (click to view fullscreen for a closer look)
As for the front-facing 8-megapixel camera, the results are good, although arguably not as impressive as the Honor 9 Lite with its dual front-facing 13- and 2-megapixel cameras. Here, the G6 Plus lacks a touch of detail and tends to overexpose bright areas. But it does have a front-facing LED flash, which is handy for indoor selfies in poor light.
For videos, the G6 Plus records at 4K at 30fps, and 1080p at 60fps, while its smaller sibling, the Moto G6 is limited to 1080p at 60fps. It doesn’t let you apply electronic image stabilisation (EIS) or optical image stabilisation (OIS) in 4K, though, so you’ll have to keep a steady hand or use a mobile gimbal if you’re on the move.
Motorola Moto G6 Plus review: Verdict
The big question here is whether the Motorola Moto G6 is worth the extra investment over and above the Moto G6? While it looks and feels identical to the Moto G6 and costs around £50 more, the G6 Plus is worth every single penny.
For that extra dime, you get a more fluid experience due to a faster processor, a camera with better video-recording capabilities, an extra 0.2in of viewing pleasure and, more importantly, significantly better battery life.
If your budget is around £300 you won’t find anything better than the Motorola Moto G6 Plus – it’s an incredible phone and deserves all the accolades. Seriously, what are you waiting for? Get out and buy one.
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