The 9 Best Motorola Phones to Buy in 2018

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The Rundown

  • Best Overall: Moto Z3 at Motorola, “The first phone with 5G capabilities, which would allow for speeds ten time as fast.”
  • Best Budget: Moto G5 at Amazon, “A superb device that offers good value for the money.”
  • Best Value: Moto G6 at Amazon, “The G6 is a satisfying release for Moto fans.”
  • Runner-Up, Best Value: Moto G5 Plus at Amazon, “The best overall Motorola phone due to its affordable price, fast operating speeds...and other modern expectations.”
  • Best Camera: Moto X4 at Amazon, “An affordable, mid-range phone with top-notch cameras that rival competitive flagship devices.”
  • Best for Modifications: Moto Z2 Play at Amazon, “Combines good looks and a unique design.”
  • Best for Kids: Moto E4 at Amazon, “This no-frills smartphone is a strong contender for the best kid’s phone across the board.”
  • Best Basic: Moto E5 Play at Best Buy, “If you’re not a power user, this phone’s performance is more than good enough.”
  • Best Battery Life: Moto E5 Plus at Amazon, “This phone has a 5000mAh battery that, with moderate use, should give you two full days of life.”

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Moto Z3

Moto Z3

 Courtesy of Motorola

With the Moto Z3, Motorola has ushered in a relatively standard mid-tier phone with one primary distinguishing feature: it claims to be the first phone with 5G capabilities, which would allow for speeds ten times as fast. The Moto Z3 also manages to come in at under $500, offering a reliable, affordable device, 5G potential aside. Featuring a six-inch Super AMOLED screen and barely-there bezels, the smartphone is incredibly thin, useful when you’re snapping on physical Moto Mods, which range from everything from a battery to a projector to a 360-degree camera, although the phone’s 12-megapixel dual cameras take decent-quality photos without it. Running on Snapdragon 835, storage clocks in at 64 GB and the 3,000mAh battery can last up to 14 hours.

However, the promised 5G upgrade should not be the sole draw as the necessary attachment isn’t expected to go on sale until early 2019, around the same time there will begin to be 5G becomes available.

Best Budget: Moto G5

Moto G5

 Courtesy of Amazon

Like its older sibling, the G5 Plus, the Motorola G5 is a superb device that offers good value for the money. This is a sharp-looking phone: Small enough to be used one-handed, its aluminum rear panel adds a little heft for extra sturdiness. The G5 has a five-megapixel front-facing camera (decent quality if you aren’t too picky about selfies) and the rear camera is a 13-megapixel shooter that adds strong low light performance with good detail.

A five-inch display offers 1920 x 1080 HD resolution on an LCD screen. The size adds to its friendliness for one-handed use. The Snapdragon 430 processor pairs with 2GB of RAM for reliable everyday use with quick-loading apps and seamless multitasking. With a 2800mAh battery, you can expect to get all-day battery life with average use.

As an unlocked device, the phone is compatible with both AT&T and T-Mobile’s 4G LTE networks.

Best Value: Moto G6

When it comes to how the Moto G6 stacks up against the rest of the market, this is a solid new release, doing its best to keep up with the other flagship releases while maintaining a much lower price point. The 5.7-inch full HD+ IPS display sits pretty low on the pixel spectrum at 1080 x 2160, but at the dollar amount, it’s more than sufficient for your general browsing and streaming. The housing is glass, with sturdy Gorilla Glass 3 on the front, and the entire casing coated in a water-repellant material. They’ve chosen to keep the 3.5 mm headphone jack, and you charge the phone via the quick-charging USB-C port. There’s a 3,000 mAh battery, which is pretty good considering it only weighs about 167 grams. It runs the latest Android (Oreo), and offers 3GB of RAM, 32GB of built-in flash storage, and a micro SD card slot that lets you expand that storage up to 128GB. But perhaps what’s best about the Moto G6 is the tried-and-true skin that Moto puts over the Android OS. It runs smoothly and offers some great features, including a rudimentary face unlock, AI to predict the subject of your photos (so the phone can optimize the treatment of said photos), and more. All in all, the G6 is a satisfying release for Moto fans.

 

Runner-Up, Best Value: Moto G5 Plus

The well-rounded Moto G5 Plus wins as the best overall Motorola phone due to its affordable price, fast operating speeds, quick battery charging, HD display and other modern expectations, including a fingerprint sensor and major carrier network compatibility.

The Moto G5 Plus uses fast 4G LTE speeds for quick wireless connections (able to download 5 to 12Mbps) with a CPU system that acts much like a little computer with 2GB of RAM and a 2.0Ghz octa-core processor, so you can run apps smoothly without any slow down. It has a 12MP HD back camera, a 5MP wide-angle front camera and a display that measures 5.2 inches, giving a full 1080p HD picture. The Moto G5 Plus also has quick battery charging — its TurboPower charger gives it six hours of battery life in just 15 minutes. It comes in lunar gray and fine gold colors, as well as a 32GB storage plus 2GB RAM or 64GB storage plus 4GB RAM models.

Best Camera: Moto X4

Motorola has never really hidden its desire to lead the industry in smartphone camera development. With the Moto X4 they found the magic. This is an affordable, mid-range phone with top-notch cameras that rival competitive flagship devices. A 12-megapixel telephoto lens adorns the rear of the device next to an eight-megapixel wide-angle lens. Together, they snap great photos with plenty of detail. Review and edit them on the 5.2-inch HD display.

Whether you’re on vacation or just wandering around town, the X4’s 3000mAh battery keeps the phone charged all day. In the event you need to quickly power up, TurboPower charging is built-in, which enables 50% charge in about 30 minutes of charging. A 2.2GHz Snapdragon 630 processor and 3GB of RAM help you switch between camera and other apps in a flash. The X4 adds Android 8.0 with promised Android upgrades in the future. As a fun extra, the device is available as an Amazon Prime exclusive which adds additional Amazon apps and Alexa for hands-free voice commands.

Best for Modifications: Moto Z2 Play

You can’t go wrong with the Motorola Moto Z2 Play, which combines good looks and a unique design. At first glance, the Z2 Play looks like most smartphones. However, it's compatible with the brand's "Moto Mods," a bunch of specially-designed modifications that attach to the rear of the device. That means that if you’re away from a charger all day, snap on the battery pack. If you want to turn up the music, attach the speaker and jam away. Motorola even adds a Polaroid printer modification so you can print photos on the spot. With more than a dozen modifications available, Motorola has truly brought something new to the smartphone market.

It would be a big disappointment if all of those modifications were paired with just an average smartphone. Luckily, the 5.5-inch display is beautiful, surrounded by a brushed aluminum frame that’s sleek and comfortable to hold. A beefy Snapdragon processor ensures the modifications and Android 7.0 run smoothly. The Z2 Play’s 12-megapixel camera captures sharp photos with 4K video recording while a five-megapixel front-facing camera can accommodate even large group selfies.

Best for Kids: Moto E4

Parents who are searching for a child’s first smartphone should definitely consider the Motorola E4. An inexpensive device without too many extras, this no-frills smartphone is a strong contender for the best kid’s phone across the board. A five-inch display is large enough for social media and texting, which are likely your child's most-used apps. The 720p quality display is one of the more “budget” features, but given the size of the screen, the lower resolution isn’t as noticeable. And it works wonderfully with the 2800mAh battery — with fewer pixels to power, the battery lasts noticeably longer.

A quad-core Snapdragon 425 processor with 2GB of RAM keeps apps running smoothly and delivers the performance you’d expect for the price with minimal signs of slowdown with long-term use. There’s even 16GB of storage for downloading music and additional games or apps. When you look around the exterior of the device, the focal point is the eight-megapixel rear camera. It produces decent results that are more than ready for sharing on social platforms. The five-megapixel camera is equally suitable for selfies.

Best Basic: Moto E5 Play

Moto E5 Play

 Courtesy of Best Buy

The budget-friendly smartphone market is just as competitive as the high-end flagship market these days. Enter the Moto E5 Play. Following Motorola’s seemingly standard design language, the E5 is a sharp-looking device. A 5.2-inch IPS HD display covers most of the front of the device with bezels at the top and bottom. The rear of the device is made from a single piece of plastic that covers the removable battery. Motorola also adds a water-repellent coating to protect against splashes, but this device won’t survive a drop in a sink.

If you’re not a power user, the performance of the E5 Play is more than good enough. With Android 8.0, the hardware is designed to run smoothly with fast-opening apps. That’s assisted by a Snapdragon 427 processor and 2GB of RAM. Motorola added 16GB of internal memory plus a microSD card slot for expandable storage. That’s going to come in handy with the eight-megapixel camera that captures surprisingly good photos. All of this combines with a 2800mAh battery that will definitely get you through the day.

Best Battery Life: Moto E5 Plus

Smartphone users who value battery life above all else may find their new favorite device in the Moto E5 Plus. This phone has a 5000mAh battery that, with moderate use, should give you two full days of life. That’s not something a lot of smartphones can claim these days. To make things even more attractive, Motorola added 15W TurboCharging that can recharge up to 50% in under 60 minutes and fully charge in around 2.5 hours.

On the front of the E5 Plus sits a six-inch HD display that’s quite beautiful. Powering the display is a Snapdragon 435 processor along with 3GB of RAM. Overall, the hardware runs quite well with almost no perceptible slowdowns. The battery life also comes in handy with the 12-megapixel rear and eight-megapixel front-facing cameras. 

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