Bill Thomas is a writer for Lifewire who covers technology, music, film, and gaming. Bill has also held editorial positions at Future and TechRadar.com.
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Lifewire / Jordan Provost
Clean Android installation
Slow network connection
Can’t really game
If you’re looking for an affordable smartphone that won’t require a lease or lengthy contract, the Motorola Moto G6 is a great option. It’s fast enough to get you through everyday workloads and even has a decent camera. Just don’t expect out-of-this-world performance.
We purchased the Motorola Moto G6 so our expert reviewer could thoroughly test and assess it. Keep reading for our full product review.
The way we look at it, the best smartphones are those that strike a golden balance between price and performance, and the Motorola Moto G6 strikes this balance. Especially since the smartphones that get all the press these days are filled to the brim with high-end features and price tags to match, finding a great budget phone is getting harder every day.
The Motorola Moto G6 isn’t going to blow anyone’s mind with its performance or feature list, but the low price alone makes it worth your attention. We recently got the Motorola Moto G6 in for testing—this was our experience with one of the most wallet-friendly smartphones on the market.
The Motorola Moto G6 is wrapped in Gorilla Glass 3, and while this makes it resistant to scratches from keys or coins in your pocket, it also means that your phone will shatter if dropped. So just go ahead and add the cost of a case to the purchase price for the Motorola Moto G6.
The case requirement is a shame because the Moto G6 is a good-looking device, especially considering the price point. The Gorilla Glass gives it a premium feeling, and the contoured shape fit our hands perfectly.
This build allows for a 5.7 inch full HD display with narrow bezels on the side. The top and bottom bezels are much thicker—the Moto G6 hasn’t jumped on the bandwagon of bezel-less displays that are all the rage in 2019.
Even the fingerprint sensor, which might seem small at first glance, works well from pretty much every angle. You can also unlock the phone with your face using the front-facing camera. It’s not the fastest or most secure facial recognition technology, but it’s a cool design feature for a budget device.
As for ports, you get USB-C for charging (something we wish more smartphones would offer) and a headphone jack. You’ll also find two buttons on the side, a volume rocker, and a textured power/lock button. There’s also a dual camera on the back.
Because it essentially runs on stock Android with very little specialized software, setup for the Motorola Moto G6 is a breeze. You enter your Google login information when you first turn it on, decide whether to restore it from a backup, and you’re basically done. Once you get that out of the way, you can run the Moto app, which will let you customize gesture controls and unique notification settings.
For a phone that will likely find its way into the hands of a lot of kids and first-time smartphone users, the simple setup process hits all the right notes.
Images and videos really pop off the screen, which makes the Moto G6 seem like a much more expensive device.
The Motorola Moto G6 is definitely a budget phone, so you shouldn’t expect record-shattering performance. With that in mind, we found the performance to be solidly “good enough.”
In our benchmark tests, the Motorola Moto G6 scored 4,499 in PCMark for Android, 3.3 fps in the GFXBench Car Chase test and 20fps in the T-Rex GFXBench test. These results aren’t great, but don’t write the device off quite yet.
While gaming on this phone is a non-starter (“Asphalt 9” was basically unplayable), everyday usage was just fine. We were able to browse Facebook, read the news, check our email and watch the odd YouTube video without any issues. It’s not instantaneous like it is on modern flagships, but unless you have a high-end device to compare it to, you probably won’t notice a difference.
After all, the Moto G6 is only packing a Snapdragon 450, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. This isn’t a phone for power users—it’s more suited to someone who needs a lightweight device for basic smartphone tasks like texting and internet browsing.
Maybe we’re just spoiled—we have AT&T service in the middle of a suburban area with fantastic coverage—but the Moto G6 had significantly slower network performance for us than almost any other device we’ve used.
We ran several speed tests on an LTE connection and it peaked around 44Mbps, which is much lower than we see on our daily driver. There was even one occasion where we saw network speeds dip as low as 3.87 Mbps down. That last one is obviously a fluke, but be aware that network performance isn’t as reliable as you may want it to be.
This doesn’t make the phone unusable, but it did mean it slowed down more often than we’d like. Again, it boils down to the use case and target audience: if you’re just doing some texting and social media, you shouldn’t have a problem. But if you need a device that can reliably stream video or download files, you’re more likely to feel these network performance slowdowns.
Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best Android smartphones.
The Motorola Moto G6 has a 5.7-inch Full HD display with an 18:9 aspect ratio, which puts it on par with most other budget smartphones in its class. The display is sharp enough to make images and photos look good, but not amazing. It is, however, surprisingly colorful. Usually, phones that are this cheap have really washed out displays, but that’s not the case here. Images and videos really pop off the screen, which makes the Moto G6 seem like a much more expensive device.
The Moto G6 had significantly slower network performance for us than almost any other device we’ve used.
Where the display manages to punch above its weight class, the audio quality does not. The Moto G6’s lone speaker is located in the top of the phone, and it’s not great. It’ll get the job done if you’re just entertaining yourself with a YouTube video or talking on the phone, but once you start trying to watch a movie or listen to music, it all falls apart.
We tried playing music through this phone and it didn’t go well. Not only were the vocals washed out, but there was also an incessant hissing noise in the background—it almost sounded like we were listening to vinyl that had been mishandled for decades. That might be someone’s aesthetic, but it probably isn’t a selling point for most.
But a cheap-sounding speaker doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker: luckily, there’s a standard 3.5mm audio jack on the Moto G6. We’d recommend you use an external speaker or some headphones (there’s a pair included in the box).
There are a lot of smartphones out there that make a big deal out of their cameras, but most people just need something that gets the job done without a million different settings. The Motorola Moto G6 features a dual-sensor 12MP and 5MP rear camera, along with an 8MP front-facing lens.
The Moto G6 takes some decent photos—especially through the rear camera—without any super-advanced camera features. Indoors and out, we didn’t notice any weird pixelation or fuzz in any of our photos. The camera also includes a portrait mode, which we tested on a couple of selfies. The background blur effect was pleasant if a bit underpowered.
We felt the same about the video recording quality. The Moto G6 is competent, but nothing to write home about. It’s capable of 1080p, 60fps video capture and slow motion, both of which worked without a hitch. You’re not going to take professional-looking footage with this phone, but the quality is definitely good enough for everyday uses.
During our first day of testing the Motorola Moto G6, we took the phone off the charger around 8 pm and let it idle overnight, expecting that the battery would stay powered up. Unfortunately, the phone lost quite a bit of charge throughout the night, even when no one was touching it. Nine hours later, the device was down to 70% battery. (For anyone who leaves their phone off the charger at night, you may need to change your habits with this one.)
Luckily, that 70% lasted through the next day with moderate use, including our benchmark testing for this review. That was a bit surprising—after we saw how much juice disappeared overnight, we were expecting to have to toss this phone on the charger by lunch. But when it’s in use, the Moto G6 holds its charge pretty well. And it should last you through a whole day of normal use without much trouble.
Bloatware—the software that manufacturers preinstall on a device to promote their own services or bring the cost down—is one of our biggest pet peeves. It’s also a recurring problem for many budget smartphones. Surprisingly, the Moto G6 has a distinct lack of bloatware.
It comes with a single Motorola app, which is used to toggle gesture controls, and that’s about it. Everything else is stock Android. This was an excellent choice for this phone, as there is no extraneous software to drag down the weak hardware. And you don’t have to go through and delete a million unwanted apps.
If you’ve been paying attention to the smartphone world, you’ve probably noticed a trend towards the ultra-premium and ultra-expensive. These days, most high-end flagships are priced in the ballpark of $1,000. While the Motorola Moto G6 definitely doesn’t compare to those devices, it hits the budget smartphone sweet spot at $249. That’s a quarter of the price of the iPhone XS, which makes it a much more realistic option for a lot of users.
If the idea of leasing out a phone or signing a contract for a device rubs you the wrong way, the Motorola Moto G6 makes a lot of sense. You sacrifice the flashiness and cutting-edge features of the fanciest flagships, but you also save about $700 and still get a phone that does everything you need it to do.
The Motorola Moto G6 is a great value, but it also doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Equally-affordable devices like the LG Q6 can give it a run for its money.
While the Q6 only has a single camera, it features a more rigid metal frame with better drop protection. It falls short of the Moto G6 in CPU performance and also lacks a fingerprint scanner. But, if you’re the type that drops their phone all the time, you can find the LG Q6 available online for around $170.
Great for the price.
While the Motorola Moto G6 has its fair share of flaws, like lackluster speakers and poor network performance, it still has great bang-for-your-buck. Thanks to a clean install of Android and a surprisingly good camera, this phone is a solid, affordable option that will meet most users’ needs.
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