(Pocket-lint) - The Moto G has long been known as the affordable phone to beat. For 2018 it's changed its face, dabbling in a more premium finish for the series. The range has expanded, too, with big-battery G6 Play and higher-power G6 Plus joining the standard model as a trio.
We've already reviewed the Moto G6, which we found impressive in its new looks - but which doesn't quite have the high-end battery and performance to match. The G6 Plus, however, ramps things up in the power department with a hardier chipset, while expanding the screen a modicum to 5.9-inches and boosting battery capacity too.
Is the biggest Moto G the perfect fit, then, improving upon all those areas where its budget brother doesn't deliver 100 per cent?
Best Moto G6 Plus deals
- 3D glass rear, splash-resistant coating used in production (no official IP rating)
- Colours (varies by region): Sterling Blue, Indigo Blue, Silver, Fine Gold
- 3.5mm headphone jack, front-facing fingerprint scanner
- microSD card slot, dual SIM (region dependent)
The Moto G6 Plus looks one and the same as the G6, its larger size not being particularly noticeable by eye or when in the hand.
Although the G6 Plus isn't truly budget priced, its finish looks a step above its £280 asking price. There's no plastic to be seen anywhere, no removable back, no add-on colour trims or gimmicks. The premium look of the glass back looks much like a slimmed-down version of the Moto X4, including the slightly odd-looking circular dual cameras.
There's also a transparent phone cover included in the box to help avoid any unwanted damage - although we've preferred leaving that shiny blue rear exposed for maximum visual appeal.
The Plus's premium look comes paired with some premium features: a USB-C port means fast-charging is possible (although there's no wireless charging here), there's a 3.5mm headphone jack, while a microSD card slot is available to expand the 64GB on-board storage (alongside dual SIM card slots).
There's also a front-facing fingerprint scanner, which features a Motorola written logo above it. We feel the logo could have been ditched to squash the phone's form factor with smaller bottom bezel for an even more refined look. Not that we're questioning the functionality of the scanner, though, as it's worked each and every time without issue.
There's also Face Unlock facial recognition, but you may find this becomes locked out by Google Device Admin (which is required at the setup phase). Once activated the facial recognition system is super easy to setup, can bypass the need for password entry, and it works reasonably well - although it's not Apple-rivalling in its ability in our view.
- 5.9in 'Max Vision' FHD+ resolution (2160 x 1080)
- 18:9 aspect ratio IPS LCD, no notch
Part of the reason for the Plus namesake is down to its screen: at 5.9-inches it's larger than the 5.7-inch panel in both G6 and G6 Play. Which doesn't sound like a lot of difference and, frankly, doesn't feel like a lot either. In many respects that's one of our criticisms of the Plus: it should be larger, say 6.2-inches, to really set itself apart from the other G series models.
Nonetheless, that screen, with its 18:9 aspect ratio, provides a modern and elongated form factor that's easy for one-handed holding. We much prefer this aspect ratio for ease of use.
It's an IPS LCD screen, with no notch, and a fair resolution (Full HD+, which is 2160 x 1080 pixels), which keeps it level-pegged with many flagship handsets these days. Well, on paper at least. The main difference with the Plus is that its brightness just can't match up to the higher-end competition; when auto-brightness is switched off the battery life seems to be considerably affected, too, so you'd best let the phone run its own auto calculations.
In the context of the phone's asking price, the G6 Plus's screen is perfectly ample. It's got all the resolution you could need, in a form factor that keeps it in line with its near competitors.
Hardware, performance & battery
- 2.2GHz octa-core processor (Qualcomm Snapdragon 630), 4GB RAM, 64GB storage
- TurboPower fast-charging via USB-C; 3200mAh battery
- Dolby Audio dynamic equalisation integrated
A large point of the G6 Plus is its affordability, which means you won't find a top-end chipset under the hood. That said, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 platform used is capable enough, paired here with 4GB RAM. That's also a step-up from the Snapdragon 450 and 3GB RAM found in the standard G6.
How you'll find performance will depend on your experience and expectations. We feel the Plus has the chipset that the standard G6 should have, in particular as the more affordable Nokia 6 matches the Plus on the power font, while the Honor 9 has the far more powerful Kirin 960 chipset under its hood.
In the above context, the G6 Plus is bottom of the pack when it comes to power. In reality, however, this isn't a practical problem: ok, there are slight waits to open apps compared to what you'd find with more powerful handsets, but never to the point of becoming a total chore.
Whether you're running all those must-have task-master apps - like Mail for emails or WhatsApp for messages - or some casual games on the side, the Plus runs perfectly well enough. We've been digging into South Park: Phone Destroyer and haven't found its performance on the Plus quite as compromised as it is in the standard G6.
Interestingly, we've found the Plus has far greater longevity than the G6 too. Sure, this would be logical given its battery bump (3,200mAh compared to 3,000mAh respectively), but our first full day of use with the Plus saw us only cut through 33 per cent in the first nine hours of use (with a further 20 hours remaining, according to the phone's prediction), which would likely have delivered a full 24 hours of use.
In use over following days, with a little more gaming undertaken, we've been seeing the Plus provide in the region of 20 hours per charge, which is great innings. Just don't switch off the auto-brightness setting, as we've previously said, as that seems to affect the battery life a little too much.
Should you go too hard on those power-heavy apps and need to top-up the battery, the G6 Plus embodies USB-C charging, dubbed Moto TurboCharge (think of it like a rebadged Qualcomm Quick Charge), which means recharging in double-quick time. Half an hour at the plug will add hours of use again.
- Google Android Oreo 8.0 operating system; Moto Voice 2.0, Display & Actions
One of Motorola's selling points is that it uses an Android operating system that's close to Google's stock, making for a clean and easy-to-use experience. There are some additional apps and additions on top, all of which are routed in the Moto app front and centre, but none that get in the way to disrupt the experience. Well, so long as you ignore the optional apps when setting up the phone from scratch.
Fronting the Moto specials in the Moto app is Moto Voice, now in version 2.0, which introduces additional contextual understanding. It's like Google Assistant in with some extra strings to its bow. Say you want a late night pizza: "Hey Moto, find me a pizza place that's near to me and open after midnight" and the system will thread together those multiple query points (type, location and time) and return an answer. Whether you care for voice control is another matter, however.
Moto Display, Moto Actions and Moto Key are the three aspects of the Moto app. From keeping the display on as you look at it, to silencing calls when flipping the phone, or using the device to unlock a Windows laptop when in proximity, these are all beneficial software features - all of which can be controlled individually, too.
One other fun incorporated feature is Dolby Audio, accessible from a swipe down to open the shade. We love what this feature can do - there's a manual band equaliser, in addition to pre-sets for music, film and other custom settings - but do wonder if such a premium feature is relevant in an affordable phone. After all, Dolby licensing always costs cash.
- 12MP & 5MP dual rear cameras with f/1.7 aperture
- Dual autofocus pixels for faster autofocus
- Auto HDR, Portrait, Face Filters, Panorama
- 8MP front-facing camera (16MP capable for low-light)
The G6 Plus has the most advanced dual camera setup of the G series, advancing beyond the G6 with a faster aperture lens and dual autofocus pixels for faster focusing times.
A core part of the camera setup is that there are two lenses on the rear, so the Plus can now cater for the now staple Portrait mode (think blurred background when shooting a person/portrait), which can be found separately to the main and manual camera modes from within the app. It's an ok mode, which has its imperfections just as any competitor does, but nonetheless it's ticked the box on the trendiest mode for a 2018 phone to have.
Quality-wise, the Plus can have a slight edge over the G6 in low-light, due to that wider aperture, but differences are slight. Still, shots straight from camera are rather good. We've been shooting in a (finally) sunny London, with colours showing as nicely saturated, while low-light conditions have come out reasonably, too. There's not as much dynamic range as some competitors, while sharpness isn't the absolute best going, but the G6 Plus is fitting of its grade.
Performance wise the Plus has a slight boost over the G6 standard, too, with that faster focus often being felt. That said, however, close-up focus has been a problem, while sometimes the focus snaps back and resets which isn't too helpful. There's also a little lag when firing the shutter, so it's not the most immediate camera experience going.
Overall, if you're not going to spend two-and-a-half times more on a phone camera solution then the Plus does a solid job in the camera department. Just keep your expectations in check.
The Motorola Moto G6 Plus is the best of the G series, representing a considerable shift for the series and push towards premium.
That said, we do find the presence of three different handsets (G6 Play, G6 and G6 Plus) a little confusing. The Plus is barely any larger than the standard G6, too, which feels like a missed opportunity. And the power available can be found for less cash in the Nokia 6, which puts the Plus in a tricky spot in some respects.
Taken in isoltation, however, and the G6 Plus offers aplenty. There's a dual camera, fast-charging, an 18:9 aspect ratio screen, modern glass design, fingerprint scanner, and decent battery life to boot (far better than the G6, we found). The power boost compared to the standard G6 also puts this phone in a much more comfortable position.
Alternatives to consider
It might be smaller and about £10 pricier, but the more powerful Honor handset also features dual cameras and, for our money, an even more exciting finish. That's what Moto is up against, so if you want greater power then this is a savvy option to take.
Read the full article: Honor 9 review