Since the range launched in 2013, Motorola’s G-series smartphones have always been good value for money - and the new G6 is no exception. It’s hard not to be charmed by this low-budget dialler.
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At a time when many smartphone manufacturers are cutting features (or essentials, some would argue), it’s nice to see the G6 remaining steadfast.
Starting from the bottom there’s a fingerprint scanner, a headphone jack (hooray!) and a USB-C port for charging the 3000mAh battery (which should comfortably last all day, even if you’re listening to music or watching videos on your commute).
The G6 has a 5.7in Full HD+ display, with the same pixel density as a regular Full HD display but slightly more pixels to accommodate the G6’s 18:9 aspect ratio (compared to the normal 16:9).
At the top is the front-facing camera – 8MP, which should prove adequate for selfies – while on the back is a dual 12MP and 5MP set-up. This isn’t as powerful as other Android phones but, on a budget model like this, it’s acceptable.
The rear camera also features image recognition software that gives you information about what it’s looking at in the form of Google Lens, so you can download contact information from business cards or get information about this or that place of interest you're snapping on your holiday.
A Snapdragon 1.8GHz octa-core processor, combined with the Android Oreo 8.0 operating system, keeps this phone running reasonably smoothly. It’s responsive when loading apps, and boot-up times are snappy enough to avoid annoyance.
There are also a number of other Moto-specific features built into the phone.
It will let you know when you start running low on storage or if your battery is close to depleting. It can also be used to set up ‘Moto Actions’, which trigger specific functions when you move your phone about - putting it screen-down toggles a ‘do not disturb’ mode, for instance, while a karate chop action turns the torch on.
It’s another charming Motorola feature, and anything that gives users more variety in how they use their device is fine by us (but do be careful you don’t drop your phone when executing a karate chop).
Overall, the quality of the Moto G6’s screen is as good as you might reasonably expect from an £200ish smartphone.
We’d recommend going into the settings first, and making sure the adaptive brightness setting is turned off - this way the picture isn’t affected by ambient light. There’s a ‘colour mode’ too, letting you switch between two presets ('Standard' and 'Vibrant'), as well as giving you the choice of a warm, cool or neutral colour temperature. Ultimately, we prefer the 'Standard' preset and neutral colour range.
Watching Parks and Recreation via the Amazon Prime Video app, there’s a good amount of richness and depth to the colour of to the animals at the Pawnee Zoo, Leslie Knope’s (Amy Poehler) bright blonde hair, or the wood panelling of the office doors.
In darker scenes, it also manages to go blacker than other phones we’ve tested at this price point. During a scene set in an aquarium, there’s greater depth to Justin Anderson’s (Justin Theroux) black hair and shirt, while still managing to contrast decently against the grey-blue background.
The G6 also handles detail well, giving good presentation of texture, hair and pores in close-ups. However, this is something of a mixed bag - dark colours can suck away some of the insight into dimly lit areas.
It’s also worth noting that while the G6 has a rich colour palette, it’s not particularly natural. Skin-tones are a little overcooked, grass can be too green and the blueness of the sky can make it look like you’re constantly enjoying the peak of summer.
We’d like it to go a bit brighter too, as even on maximum brightness this phone struggles to make whites look as white as they should. This also means it’s more difficult to make out what’s on the screen when using the phone outside, which is a known difference between LCD screens and the AMOLED displays on more expensive phones.
Viewing angles could be better too - the moment you move off-centre, the contrast starts to fade and detail goes astray. This won’t be much of a problem when you’re using it by yourself, but if you want to show anyone else your holiday snaps, you might need to think about positioning.
When listening to music (through the 3.5mm jack and a pair of AKG K550 headphones) the G6 does a decent job, providing very acceptable sound.
It’s worth noting Dolby audio processing is built into the phone by default, giving you the option to play with sound profiles and EQ settings. There are options for film, music and game modes, as well as “intelligent equalizer” options of 'Open', 'Rich', 'Focused' or 'Off'.
Of those options, we prefer 'Rich' – although the difference between having it on or off is minimal. 'Focused' is a little too midrange-orientated and makes the rest of the track sound a little thin, while 'Open' lacks cohesion and loses some of a song’s grip.
Playing Karma by Years & Years, the G6 has pretty punchy bass when it comes to the padded drum that acts as the foundation for the song – and it doesn’t feel like it’s dragging down the rest of the track to get there. The synth pop sounds remain light and airy, while Olly Alexander’s vocals (both in their normal range and when he hits the high notes) come through clearly.
While the G6 has more difficulty with complex tracks - it struggles to properly convey the ramshackle sounds of Neutral Milk’s Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea – it still manages to be rapid and lively when needed.
However, it’s still lacking in dynamism and the cohesiveness required to really bring a track together. Listening to Laura Marling’s Hand Hold Hero and, when her vocals come in, the Motorola loses its grip on the backing elements somewhat. It feels like the G6 is stuck in third gear, unable to really open up and give you something powerful.
It also doesn’t go as loud as competing models from LG or Samsung, which means that those with less sensitive headphones might have trouble getting the volume they need.
Nevertheless, the Motorola G6 is certainly a good place to start when looking for a phone that can not only handle the essentials but take a decent photo as well.
The fact that it also brings its own flair to the table is a welcome bonus and, while there’s some refinement needed when it comes to picture and sound, it does its job well.
Our Motorola Moto G6 review sample was supplied by Vodafone (opens in new tab)