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Lifewire / Andrew Hayward
Very affordable price
Good battery life
Decent camera for a budget phone
Very sluggish overall
No fingerprint sensor
Not suited for 3D gaming
Moto E5 was cheaper, richer on features
The Moto E6 meets the criteria of a functional smartphone, but barely rises above that station. Bump up to a Moto G7 model if you can.
Motorola has long been one of the leaders in the budget smartphone space thanks to its affordable, yet solidly-equipped Moto G line, most recently exemplified by the great Moto G7. However, the company aims even lower down the price scale with the Moto E, its latest and most rudimentary offering.
As you can see with a glance, the Moto E6 is not flashy at all—and that adherence to bare-minimum design carries throughout the experience, with a sluggish processor and low-resolution screen. The price is right at just $150, and if that’s your hard cap on a smartphone budget, the Moto E6 might do the trick. But most people looking for more functionality will want to spend a bit more for better performance.
We weren’t expecting a whole lot in terms of visual appeal, and that’s exactly the mindset you’ll need when approaching the Moto E6. Motorola’s latest budget offering doesn’t go beyond the black slab design, with a fair amount of bezel surrounding the screen. There’s no notch or punch-hole camera in the screen to trim down the size of the phone. It’s about as old-fashioned as can be.
The Moto E6 is also the exceedingly rare modern smartphone with a removable back cover and swappable battery pack. The back cover is a thin plastic layer that’s easily pried off using your fingernail, and it’s black and lightly textured for added grip—the sides are a bit slippery, though.
The single 13-megapixel back camera of the Moto E6 isn’t a powerhouse, but it can take decent photos in ideal lighting.
Curiously, Motorola removed the fingerprint sensor from the Moto E6, even though last year’s Moto E5 had one (and at a lower asking price, no less). That leaves your only option for biometric security as face recognition with the front-facing camera. It works consistently enough, but like everything else on the Moto E6, it’s very slow. You’ll wait a couple seconds before you’re recognized and can flick the lock screen away. Fingerprint sensors are typically so fast and reliable that we’re disappointed to see how slow it is here.
Motorola only packed in a very slim 16GB of internal storage, but you can slide in a microSD card for up to 256GB more space. They’re cheap, so that’s a very reasonable compromise.
The Moto E6 isn’t very fast, but at least setup is straightforward and easy. Just insert your SIM card in the slot behind the back cover, hold down the power button, and follow the software prompts that appear on the screen. You’ll need to log into a Google account, accept the terms and conditions, and check a few boxes, but it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes or so.
The Moto E6’s 5.5-inch LCD screen is about as good as you’d expect from a phone like this. At 1440 x 720, it’s a solid screen for movies and games, but the lack of crispness shows through when browsing the web or reading emails. The overall effect is a bit blurrier than you’d see from a higher-resolution 1080p display. It’s also not especially bright, but overall, the screen met our needs and expectations for a budget phone.
Motorola’s website promises lag-free performance, but that’s flat-out false. The Moto E6 is consistently sluggish throughout the experience, whether you’re flicking through the Android interface, trying to fire up apps, turning on the camera, or even changing basic settings. Most tasks take longer than anticipated—and sometimes a lot longer. While you might eventually get used to the sluggishness, it’ll be disruptive to anyone who’s used a snappier device.
The octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 processor offers a lot less horsepower than other current phones, including the Moto G7 models, and 2GB RAM isn’t a whole lot to help with multitasking. Benchmark testing matches up to the everyday experience, with PCMark’s Work 2.0 test giving the Moto E6 a paltry score of 3,963. By comparison, the Moto G7 scored 6,015, and current flagship phones are typically in the 9,000 plus range.
Motorola’s website promises “lag-free” performance, but that’s flat-out false. The Moto E6 is consistently sluggish throughout the experience, whether you’re flicking through the Android interface, trying to fire up apps, turning on the camera, or even changing basic settings.
The phone’s Adreno 505 GPU isn’t built for modern 3D gaming. Racing game, Asphalt 9: Legends, ran at a choppy frame rate even with significantly lowered visuals, while the battle royale shooter PUBG Mobile was mostly decent due to better scaling. However, it had some rough bouts of slowdown, and textures continually popped into view right in front of you. GFXBench’s Car Chase benchmark registered just 5.6 frames per second (fps), while the simpler T-Rex benchmark demo notched 28fps.
We saw inconsistent speeds on Verizon’s 4G LTE network just north of Chicago, with occasional download peaks around 50Mbps and more frequent valleys closer to 10Mbps. Using the Ookla Speedtest app in our familiar testing area, we sometimes landed in the 30-40Mbps sweet spot that we often see with other, pricier smartphones, but there were more ups and downs with the Moto E6 than usual. It also works with both 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi networks.
There’s no dedicated playback speaker on the Moto E6, so the earpiece serves double duty for both calls and pumping out all music and other audio. It worked just fine for calls, in our testing, and wasn’t bad for music playback. It’s not capable of pumping out large, robust sound, but it does the job for watching videos or playing a bit of music at your home or office.
The single 13-megapixel back camera of the Moto E6 isn’t a powerhouse, but it can take decent photos in ideal lighting. It tends to blow out highlights, plus detail suffers when you zoom into most shots. However, viewed on a phone screen or social media feed, you can snag some pretty good snaps from this budget phone.
The Moto E6 starts to suffer in lower-light scenarios. When you’re inside, you’re not going to have much luck getting decent nighttime shots. We’ve also had a few situations where the phone registered a snap, but when we looked at the result, it was actually from a second or two later—usually when the phone was no longer pointed at the subject. You might miss some key shots due to the phone’s persistent lag.
Video recording is limited too, as the Moto E6 can only hit 30fps max at either 1080p or 720p resolution. That’s the best it can do in terms of resolution, so it’s not the crispest or smoothest.
The Moto E6’s battery life is actually pretty solid, thanks in large part to the weak processing power and low-res display. The 3,000mAh cell is the same seen in the larger, more powerful Moto G7, but it’s more efficient here—we’ve finished days with about 40 percent left on a charge. Granted, you’re unlikely to use the Moto E6 for heavy-duty gaming, given the aforementioned performance limitations, but it should give you more of a buffer for streaming Netflix and such.
The battery life is pretty good, the camera is fine, and the screen will do the job—but the sluggish performance really drags down the entire experience.
There’s no wireless charging, however, and the Moto E6 doesn’t come with a fast-charger either—just a simple 5W power brick. It also has a micro USB charging port instead of the increasingly-standard USB-C, but that’s more of a quirk than a functional complaint.
Motorola’s version of Android 9 Pie arrives intact. As seen on other devices such as the Moto G7 and Moto Z4, the company takes a thankfully light touch to skinning leaving it pretty close to stock Android, with all of the features and functionality you expect from the operating system. The problem, of course, is that everything runs super slow on the Moto E6. It’s not a great experience here, but that’s a hardware problem more than an Android one.
Even so, anyone planning on using the Moto E6 should explore the various optional Moto Actions gesture controls that Motorola adds to Android. Accessible via the included Moto app, these include abilities such as making a double “chopping” motion to turn on the flashlight, or flipping the phone on its face to enable Do Not Disturb. You can also enable gesture navigation via the One Button Nav option, giving the phone an iPhone-esque, swipe-centric interface.
We reviewed the Verizon edition of the Moto E6 (although it’s now available unlocked), and it came with a heap of junkware apps that we had to manually delete, such as several Yahoo! Apps, and games such as Coin Master and World War Rising.
On the surface, $150 seems like a reasonable price for the Moto E6. It’s a sluggish, utilitarian handset, but it’s still a functional Android smartphone. That said, the Moto E5—with a larger screen, larger battery, and fingerprint sensor—launched for $100 last year, and it’s unclear why Motorola opted to bump the price point for a seemingly lesser device this time around.
More crucially, you don’t have to spend much more money to get a significantly better handset. For example, Motorola’s own Moto G7 Play has a much faster processor, a slightly larger screen, and a fingerprint sensor for $200, plus we’ve seen it on sale for less than that. There are even better phones in the $200-300 range if you can afford to aim a little higher.
The Moto G7 Power costs $250, so it’s a bit more cash than the Moto E6, but that extra investment gets you a more powerful processor that’s much snappier in usage, a larger 6.2-inch screen—albeit at the same resolution—and a fingerprint sensor on the back. Most impressively, it also gets you an enormous 5,000mAh battery pack, which can realistically last you about two full days of usage, plus it has a fast-charger to fill it back up quickly. And since it has been out for a few months, you might find a solid deal on it, too.
Spend a little more if you can.
If your budget can’t stretch far past $150 and you want a current, functional smartphone, then the Motorola Moto E6 is a fair option. The battery life is pretty good, the camera is fine, and the screen will do the job—but the sluggish performance really drags down the entire experience. The Moto E6 is usable, but rarely pleasurable.