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Interface and reliability
- Android 8 Oreo software that looks similar to Google's intended look
- Moto Actions gives you some easy shortcuts to features like the torch
The Moto G6 is running Android 8 Oreo, and it offers an easy-to-navigate interface as well as an attractive look. Motorola has made a few tweaks to the stock interface, but for the most part it looks remarkably similar to what Google intended.
The extras include Motorola’s own Moto app, which brings with it a few features you won’t get from other manufacturers.
This app will let you know if you start to run low on storage or find your battery dying too early in the day, and suggest ways to optimize your phone’s performance. We’ve yet to make use of this feature, but we’ll be sure to update this review when we’ve seen more of it.
The app also enables you to set up Moto Actions, which are motions that act as shortcuts to various functions.
For example, if you make a karate chop motion twice with the phone in your hand the torch will turn on. This could prove useful if you’re in the dark and need the torch quickly, but only if you’ve remembered to set it up in the first place.
You can also enable a variety of other functions, including picking up the phone to stop it ringing, or turning your phone over to put it into ‘do not disturb’ mode.
All of these are useful, but again you do need to remember that they’re there, and set them up, to be able to make use of them.
Another Moto features is something called Night Display. When this is enabled the screen will use more red light and look more yellow than blue throughout the night to reduce strain on your eyes.
Within the Moto app you can also turn on a feature called ‘One-button nav’, which will give you a bit of extra screen space as it eliminates the need for the navigation buttons that appear along the bottom of the display.
Instead you can use the fingerprint sensor for navigation actions such as step back, open your active apps or to return to the home screen. It takes some getting used to the actions you need to use here, but once we’d got the hang of it we found it worked well, and we’d recommend setting it up.
Another nice Motorola touch is that you can simply press and hold on the scanner to lock the phone. It’s not massively useful when you can just press the lock button on the right side of the phone, but again if you remember it’s there it can save you a second or two.
Movies, music and gaming
- Good audio performance considering the price of the phone
- Can use Bluetooth headsets or there's a 3.5mm headphone jack
- Acceptable gaming performance, but not stunning
The Moto G isn’t built to offer top-end audio or video quality, but we don’t think you’ll be particularly disappointed with how it performs in either of these areas.
We’ve listened to music through the speakers, wired headphones – the 3.5mm headphone jack is present and correct here – and a Bluetooth headset, and found the volume and quality to be okay.
There’s an app on the phone called Dolby Audio, which enables you to set up and tinker with sound profiles for different media on your phone. You can create film, music, game and audio profiles, as well as two custom ones.
We played around with the music mode the most, which offers the intelligent equalizer options of Open, Rich, Focused or Off. When listening to music we much preferred the Rich option, although it’s unlikely you’ll want to adjust these settings unless you’re an audiophile and have particularly good headphones connected.
The speakers on the phone are quite powerful, but don’t expect top-end audio like you’d get from HTC or Sony phones with cracking speaker tech built in.
We found the quality of the screen on the Moto G6 to be satisfactory for watching video. The brightness isn’t fantastic, but it’s not something that’s going to affect your enjoyment of the movie, TV show or clip you’re watching unless you’re in direct sunlight.
We’ve played a variety of games on the G6, and while none of them looked as great as they would on top-end devices, all the titles we played ran well, without any graphics or processing issues.
The new Harry Potter Hogwarts Mystery loaded quickly and played well. While it’s a graphically intensive game the action isn’t particularly fast, so we also played Real Racing 3, which also ran well. It’s worth noting how a couple of years ago phones in this price bracket would normally fall down when playing fairly demanding games like Real Racing 3, but on the Moto G6 it’s a perfectly acceptable experience.
Performance and benchmarks
- Features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 chipset with 3GB of RAM too
- 32GB of storage in main option, but there's also a 64GB one
Over a week of testing the Moto G6 we found it to be snappy and perform well considering its price. We tested the version with 3GB of RAM, although as we've mentioned there’s also a 4GB model that’s an Amazon exclusive (and it's only available in some countries).
The phone is running a Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 chipset, which we saw perform strongly in the Sony Xperia XA2 last year, and it punches above its weight in a similar way here. On Geekbench 4 the Moto G6 returned a multi-core score of 3,807. That's much better than the Moto G5S, which scored 2,294 in the same test last year, although it falls short of the Moto G5S Plus, which scored 4,312.
In day to day use, we found the G6 be speedier than some other phones at this price point. You may be a little disappointed by its performance if you’re coming from a higher-end handset, as some popular apps took a little longer to load than we’d like, but we never found ourselves getting frustrated by the phone’s speed.
The standard version of the phone comes with 32GB of storage, which isn’t the most generous offering in 2018 (the Amazon variant doubles that to 64GB ), but there is microSD support up to 256GB.
We found that after installing our usual collection of apps of the G6 we were left with 22GB of space, but that’s likely to get filled with photos, video pretty quickly, so we’d recommend either seeking out the 64GB variant of the phone or buying a big microSD card.
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James is Managing Editor for Android Police. Previously, he was Senior Phones Editor for TechRadar, and he has covered smartphones and the mobile space for the best part of a decade bringing you news on all the big announcements from top manufacturers making mobile phones and other portable gadgets. James is often testing out and reviewing the latest and greatest mobile phones, smartwatches, tablets, virtual reality headsets, fitness trackers and more. He once fell over.