The famed Moto G has gone double-digits this year – Motorola is offering three numbered entrants in the lineup to go with the G Stylus, G Power and G Play from January, and we now have the Moto G10, G10 Power and Moto G30. Abandoning continuity in search for diversity, the trio occupies different levels of the midrange, with the Moto G30 being the highest-specced one. Let’s start with that one then.
The Moto G30‘s standout feature in this confusing crowd of phones is the high-refresh-rate display – moderately high at 90Hz, but certainly higher than the others. Otherwise, it’s not really a head-turner – an LCD with a 720p resolution on a 6.5-inch diagonal is about as pedestrian as they come.
You could say the same of the Snapdragon 662, though we prefer to frame it more positively – as a balanced mid-tier performer that’s both powerful and frugal, and a noticeable step up from the SD460s of the G10s.
The 64MP main camera, too, puts the Moto G30 above its immediate family, which top out at 48MP. The 8MP ultra-wide appears to be shared with the G10, G10 Power, and the G Stylus, going strictly by the numbers though there could be nuances to that. In any case, we have a G10 for side-by-side comparisons – all in due time.
Video capture:Rear camera: 1080p@30/60fps; Front camera: 1080p@30fps.
Battery: 5000mAh; Fast charging 20W.
Misc: Fingerprint reader (rear-mounted); NFC; FM radio; 3.5mm jack.
Other less standout but still feel-good bits on the Moto G30 include the 5,000mAh battery (which, it seems, has quietly become the standard capacity across many segments) and the 20W charging capability. A classic rear-mounted fingerprint sensor is a nice throwback to simpler times, as are the FM radio and headphone jack. Additionally, you’d be getting Android 11 out of the box, which remains something worth pointing out even some six months after the OS’ release. Speaking of that box.
Motorola Moto G30 unboxing
The Moto G30 ships in Motorola‘s default one-piece navy packaging. Inside lies the phone, already in the supplied transparent soft case – protected even before you take it outside of the box.
You get a 20-watt charger (compare that to the 10W one supplied with the G10) that’s rated at 5V/3A, 10V/2A, and 12V/1.67A. Also included is a USB-A-to-C cable. There is no headset in the bundle, as has been the norm with recent Motos.
The Moto G30 retails for about €180 in Europe (where you can find one) for a model with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, up to €220 for the top-spec 6GB/128GB version. Meanwhile, at the time of reviewing, the base 4GB/64GB version is priced at INR11000 in India, a discounted number from the INR15K MSRP.
The Realme 7 starts at around €180, but that sum will only get you 64GB of storage, albeit 6GB of RAM. The Realme wins for display resolution and fast charging, but it’s a tie for display quality and battery life. Perhaps most importantly, however, the Realme has a vastly more powerful chipset, and that should settle it if you’re into gaming, or 4K recording. The Moto does counter with a newer Android and a more stock look, if that’s your thing. The Realme 7 is comparatively more expensive in India, where it’s the 7i that sells for Moto G30 money, and that’s mostly a tie all around unless you count small victories like Android 11 in the G30’s favor vs. the 7i’s dedicated microSD slot.
The Poco X3 (NFC) is another compelling counter-offer if you’re looking at the Moto G30. It’s got a beefier chipset and a higher-res display, too, but spices things up further with an even higher refresh rate than the Moto’s, plus stereo speakers. The Moto has slightly better battery life and Android 11 already, while the Poco charges faster and has an IR blaster. Again, the Poco X3 NFC makes more sense in Europe for Moto G30 money, while the non-NFC version sold in India is pricier than the G30.
Another Xiaomi, the Redmi 9T, is an interesting alternative as well. It may not have a high refresh rate display, but it’s 1080p. The Redmi also scores points for its stereo speakers and dedicated microSD slot and, in typical Xiaomi fashion, the IR emitter. The Moto, while not flawless, would still be our choice if the camera quality is a priority.
If you’re looking to get a Samsung around the Moto G30’s price point, the Galaxy A21s is perhaps the closest. The Moto wins for performance, for a change, and has the better display (higher contrast, high refresh rate), while battery life and charging speeds are similar, as is camera performance. The Galaxy has the brand name going for it, and perhaps the dedicated microSD slot.
The Moto G30 is not the Moto G from late 2013, which you could recommend as the universal best option for a full-featured smartphone on a budget. The Moto G gradually evolved from that one phone to an entire lineup, and none of the lineup members today is the no-brainer purchase that the original was.
But as current Moto Gs go, the G30 is, in fact, a rather reasonable buy. It stands out from its stablemates thanks to its 90Hz display, which also happens to be one of the highest-contrast LCDs we’ve tested. Photo quality, while not great at night, is actually pretty pleasing in good light, and it’s not like competitors in the price range have spectacular low-light performance anyway. Add to that the current, near-stock Android 11, with just the right amount of features added on top, and the top-notch battery endurance, and the Moto G30 is looking like a very well-rounded package for the money. We wouldn’t straight-up recommend it, but we’d keep it on our shortlist.
High-contrast, high-refresh rate display.
Excellent battery life.
Solid camera performance in good light.
Clean Android 11 experience with a few nice proprietary features on top.
Wireless Android Auto support is something rarely seen built into cars, but the rise of third-party dongles has made it much easier to bring this functionality to cars that don’t already have it. Tomorrow, a new wireless Android Auto dongle under the Motorola brand will officially launch, and – based on our brief first impressions – the Motorola MA1 seems like a great option.
The Motorola* MA1 is a simple USB dongle with one key purpose — to add wireless Android Auto support to any car that already supports the wired form. It’s a goal that AAWireless and other projects have accomplished but with some rough edges during setup due to the nature of “hacking in” this functionality.
The MA1 is the first dongle that’s officially certified by Google to accomplish this goal, and even after just a few minutes of use, its advantages are clear. This dongle is quick to pair and simple to understand. In short, it lacks the extra steps other products currently require.
Setting up the MA1 is as simple as plugging it into your car’s USB port — your car must have a USB-A port, as the dongle’s cable is not removable. Once plugged in, the next step is to pair the dongle through your phone’s Bluetooth menu. It appears under the name AndroidAuto with some additional characters. Unfortunately, there’s no automatic prompt for this, such as Google’s Fast Pair would provide. The only change you may have to do on your phone is ensure the toggle for Wireless Android Auto is enabled, which should be the case by default on modern phones.
Not long after pairing to Bluetooth, the dongle will automatically trigger the Android Auto wireless setup process on your phone and your car, with prompts appearing on both screens to help you get started.
All in all, I was able to get the Motorola MA1 paired and running in a matter of two or so minutes. Reconnecting to the dongle after the car has been powered off takes around 30 seconds on my Subaru Crosstrek.
In terms of the hardware itself, the MA1 is simple, but it works. It feels well built and not cheap. The rough plastic back seems like it won’t pick up any damage easily, though the top glossy portion certainly looks as though it’s going to pick up scuffs very quickly and easily if it’s sitting in a center console, as mine will by necessity. At the very least, it’s a total dust magnet. There’s only one button, a pairing button on the side that triggers the ability to pair a new device.
I’ve only used the Motorola MA1 for a very brief time at this point, so it’s not fair to talk about it in the context of a full review. We’ll have more to share on that front, as well as a comparison to AAWireless, in the coming weeks.
Motorola MA1 for wireless Android Auto will be available starting tomorrow, January 28 on Amazon.
If you haven’t been able to get in on previous orders, though, it’s important to note that the device has already sold out twice on Amazon according to the company, so further shipments may end up delayed. As of the time of this article going up, pre-orders are once again open, but with no set shipping date.
*The Motorola MA1 isn’t made directly by Motorola. The device is rather only using the brand as a license, while the product is actually manufactured by a Chinese company known as SGW Global. This has been done before, such as with the latest Moto 360 smartwatch.
With the Motorola G 5G Plus, the company ushers its most popular series in the 5G era. The company aims to rekindle its old glory by delivering the best value for money mid-ranger much like the original Moto G did back in its day.
For starters the Moto G5 5G Plus is supposed to be one of the most, if not the most, affordable 5G-compatible smartphone in the European market and at a price of around €350. Of course the 5G penetration greatly varies from market to market, so it can’t rely on that alone to propel it to fame. Here’s what else it has going for it:
Motorola G 5G Plus
Body: 168.0×74.0x9.0mm, 207g; Plastic frame and back; Splash resistant.
Video capture:Rear camera: 4K@30fps, 1080p@30/60fps; Front camera: 1080p@30fps.
Battery: 5000mAh; Fast charging 20W.
Misc: Fingerprint (side-mounted), NFC; FM radio.
The huge 6.7-inch LCD panel offers 90Hz refresh rate and HDR10 support, it has two cameras on the front and a generous 5,000 mAh battery with fast charging support and last. That’s an area where Motorola was behind for the past couple of years often using older, less competitive chipsets.
In fact, the Moto G 5G Plus costs as much as Xiaomi’s phones with the same chipset, which hasn’t been the case for a while. We now need to run our usual tests, because specs can often be deceiving.
Unboxing the Motorola G 5G Plus
The box contains all the usual user manuals along with the 20W-rated charging brick and a USB-A to USB-C cable for charging and data transfer. There’s also a transparent, silicone protective case in the box. Not a bad set of accessories, considering the price point.
As we said earlier, the Moto G 5G Plus is here to take the affordable lineup to 5G land, so support for the next gen networks is one of its biggest selling points. Its availability is limited to Europe for now but will likely reach other markets soon. This comes with a key advantage because there’s a shortage of affordable 5G phones in Europe, but on the other hand the 5G penetration isn’t nearly the same as in China or the US.
The most obvious alternative is the Xiaomi’s Mi 10 Lite 5G. It sports the same chipset, the same set of cameras, but has far inferior battery life. The Xiaomi phone trades the 90Hz smoothness for the superior contrast of an OLED display with HDR10+ support. Oh, and also costs €50, which is no small sum in these price tiers. At the end of the day picking between those two will probably largely depend on your preference of lighter stock Android and the feature-heavy but occasionally clumsy MIUI.
There’s also the freshly released OnePlus Nord. With essentially the same chipset and camera setup, the Nord offers a 90Hz OLED panel and faster charging, but smaller battery. Its UI looks similar to what Moto G 5G Plus has, even if underneath OxygenOS is customized beyond recognition. You’ll be losing the 3.5mm jack and splash resistance too, while you’ll also need to pay €50 more and, again, that can make a difference in this price range.
Xiaomi Mi 10 Lite 5G • OnePlus Nord
Of course, dropping 5G from your priority list would open up some more options like the Realme 6 Pro. It’s a great all-rounder, perfectly fitting in the €350 price category with a proper telephoto camera in addition to the 64MP regular and 8MP ultrawide cameras, faster charging, similar battery life and still has that 90Hz smoothness. Its Snapdragon 720 is inferior to the 765, even without accounting for the modem, though.
Then there’s the Snapdragon 730G-powered Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Lite, which offers an OLED screen and better camera than the Moto G 5G Plus and a similar battery life. It’s €50 cheaper too, but only has a 60Hz screen and the question of MIUI versus stock will inevitably come up again.
Realme 6 Pro • Xiaomi Mi Note 10 Lite
If you are in market for a 5G phone now, but have a limited budget the Moto G 5G Plus is certainly shaping as a very sensible all-rounder. You get a decent 90Hz IPS panel, great battery life, clean Android with a couple of cool customizations and features on top and a capable chipset. And if the cameras didn’t need some extra work and the screen was OLED, this phone would have been an outright steal at that price.
As things stand now it’s trading blows with competitors from Xiaomi and Realme, which in itself is a great achievement for Motorola. The stock Android, 90Hz panel and great battery life will be enough to entice a lot of potential buyers, while a small price reduction similar to what Xiaomi did after the launch of its phones has every chance of turning this into a proper box office hit.
Rather sturdy build.
Smooth 90Hz IPS panel without visible halos around the cutout or the bezels.
Great battery life, adequate fast charging.
The main camera snaps good daylight photos, records great videos.
Clean Android but with more Moto features and customizations than ever before.
The Edge series is Motorola‘s return ticket to the major league. The company gave up making flagships some three years ago. The Moto series remained focused solely on budget and mid-range devices. Until the Motorola Edge duo came to be.
The vanilla edition of the Motorola Edge seems nicely balanced and it may as well earn a place among the renowned flagship killer niche, while its Edge+ sibling is a full-fledged flagship, complete with the premium price tag.
So, the Motorola Edge, one very curved smartphone by the name and the looks of it, features a large OLED with steep slopes, topped with 90Hz refresh rate. The selfie cutout is quite small, and we are already intrigued by the panel for sure.
Motorola Edge next to the Motorola Edge Plus
The vanilla Edge is still cutting edge when it comes to the choice of chipset. The Snapdragon 765G is one of the most recent mid-range Qualcomm chipsets and it’s got promising performance, as well as 5G connectivity.
The chipset is one of the major differences between Edge and Edge+ – the more expensive Plus model comes with the flagship Snapdragon 865 chip instead. The storage is also of a different kind – UFS 2.1 on the Edge vs. UFS 3.0 for Edge+ – but a sort of a silver lining is that only the regular Edge offers a microSD slot.
Finally, the quad-camera on the back is worthy of a flagship even if there is no OIS on either of snappers. There is a 64MP primary, a 16MP ultrawide, an 8MP tele for 2x zoom, and a 3D ToF camera.
Typically for Moto, the Edge comes with a handsomely sized battery and stereo speakers. It also offers a 3.5mm jack – a rarity nowadays, and it runs on vanilla-looking Android 10 with promised major updates for the next 2 years.
The only thing we are missing on this spec sheet is the rated water and dust resistance. The Motorola edge has P2i water-repelling coating on its internals, but so do much cheaper Moto phones so perhaps IP67 would sit better with the target audience. Well, the Moto Edge is priced reasonably, so it deserves a pass for that.
Unboxing the Motorola Edge
The Motorola Edge comes in a stylish black box that contains the 18W charger and the USB-C cable. Inside you will also find in-ear pair of Moto headphones.
If you look inside the top paper compartment, you will find a thin silicone case to go with your new Motorola Edge. Because of its curved screen, there will be few, if any, third-party case makers, so we appreciate the bundled accessory.
The Motorola Edge is a long overdue step forward and breaks ground for future premium mid-rangers and flagships. Sure, the Edge doesn’t have anything we haven’t seen before – the screen included – but it is a breath of fresh air after a long streak of not very inspiring budget phones.
The Motorola Edge has the right screen and hardware for gaming and the battery to keep doing that for a long time. Its camera kit is quite good, too, and shows real potential in daytime. We were also happy to find a few hard-to-find features – the audio jack, the memory expansion, and the FM radio.
The design of the Motorola Edge is, well, edgy, and we think it will spark some controversy. But we are convinced this particular design feature will be one of the phone’s biggest draws. Along with the attractive pricing, of course.
Granted, the Motorola Edge is not without its faults – most of them fixable. The zoom camera should save photos in its native resolution, and then Moto has to come up with better low-light processing. The popular streaming services should start streaming hi-def content as they do for the Moto Edge+. Overall, there’s nothing a software update can’t easily resolve.
The first alternative that comes in mind is the brand-new Samsung Galaxy A71 5G. It costs the same as the Motorola Edge, has a similarly large Super AMOLED, and matches the Edge’s performance. The A71 lacks a zoom camera but on a positive note – it charges faster.
The OnePlus 8 is probably the biggest threat to the Motorola Edge. The new OnePlus 8 has a similar 90Hz OLED screen, runs on the flagship Snapdragon 865 chip, and recharges much faster. The camera on the back is less impressive and can’t do 2x optical zoom but has OIS and performs much better at night. The OnePlus 8 is €100/$100 more expensive, so it is not an easy pick for sure.
The Mi 10 5G also impresses with the fastest chip on the market plus it does an excellent job at night with its main camera. Then again, the Mi 10 5G has no zoom camera, and it costs €200 over the Edge. Not the best deal for sure.
Finally, the Realme X50 Pro, where available, costs €600 – the same as the Edge. It tops the Edge with a faster Snapdragon 865 chip. It’s got a similar camera on the back but with superior low-light performance. The X50 Pro also brags with a dual-selfie cam, but quite a few screen pixels had to go because of it. Still, the X50 Pro makes a good case, but its limited market availability along with the fact that it comes from a relatively unknown challenger brands puts it at disadvantage.
Even with its omissions, the Motorola Edge is shaping as one of the hottest deals of the season. It has the performance, the battery, and the camera to go with its great looks. It also runs Android 10 buttery-smooth on the 90Hz OLED, so there is a lot to like.
The vanilla Edge is great on that price, and we do recommend it. Motorola‘s recent sabbatical from the upper mid-range tier could be the only thing standing in the way of the new Edge series. The company has to convince consumers it’s got what it takes to make a great high-end phone. The Motorola Edge is certainly a nice step in this direction.
Beautiful design, splash-proof
Large and curvy OLED HDR10 screen with 90Hz refresh rate and small cutout
Excellent battery life
Stereo speakers with excellent audio quality
The fastest midrange chipset
Versatile cameras that excel during the day
We loved the selfies
MicroSD slot, 3.5mm jack, FM radio
No 1080p streaming support for now
Not the fastest charging
The telephoto camera saves upscaled images
Neither of cameras is particularly good at nighttime, though Night Vision helps
Motorola has announced which of its phones will receive an update to Android 11, along with some of the new features to expect. The list of phones is long; if you purchased a Motorola device in the past 12 months or so, chances are you’re covered.
Here’s the full list:
motorola razr 5G
motorola razr 2019
motorola one 5G
motorola one action¹
motorola one fusion
motorola one fusion+
motorola one hyper
motorola one vision
moto g 5G
moto g 5G plus
moto g fast
moto g power
moto g pro
moto g stylus
moto g9 play
moto g9 plus
moto g9 power
moto g8 power
Lenovo K12 Note
According to Motorola, Moto users should expect features like Chat Bubbles, streamlined device and media controls, and improved privacy settings. We also confirmed earlier this month that as part of Motorola’s Android 11 update, some of its phones will support a new Desktop Mode.
It’s unclear which Motorola devices will support the new mode, but we got a brief glimpse at it possibly running on the Moto G 5G Plus. Either that or it was the company’s upcoming Snapdragon 865-powered “nio” handset.
The plan right now is for Motorola to roll out Android 11 “in the coming months.” Unfortunately, we have no exact dates, and Motorola warned that its current plans could change. “This information communicated is not a commitment or an obligation to deliver any product, product feature, software update or functionality and Motorola Mobility reserves the right to change the content and timing of any product, product feature or software release,” Motorola wrote in a blog post.
Motorola said that the rollout of Android 11 is also influenced by partner support. Hopefully, we’ll see Motorola release Android 11 sooner rather than later. There’s a long list of devices expected to get the update, and we’re hoping Motorola can hit every one on the list.
Motorola released a list devices it plans to update to Android 11.
All of the phones on the list came out in either 2019 or 2020.
After all the disappointment 2020 brought with it, you might have hoped a company like Motorola would have tried to end the year on a high note. But that’s not to be the case. The company shared its Android 11 upgrade plans, and they’re no better than anything Motorola has put together over the past couple of years.
As you can see from the list below, if you own a Motorola phone that came out before 2019, don’t expect the company to push the latest version of Google’s operating system to your device. What’s more, even if you own a Moto phone from 2019 or 2020, you may end up waiting a while to get anything. Motorola says it will begin rolling out Android 11 “starting in the coming months, pending partner support.” In other words, expect a potentially long wait, particularly if you don’t own one of the higher-end devices on the list like the Razr 5G or Edge.
If you happen to own a Motorola One Action you bought in North America, you’re also out of luck. Motorola only plans to update the Latin American and European variants of that phone to Android 11 since it’s included in Google’s Android One program in those places. Even by Motorola’s lacklustre support standards, this is not a great showing for the company.
Thankfully, update lists like the one above may become less common in the future. Google and Qualcomm recently announced a partnership to deliver four years of support to future Snapdragon-equipped devices. That pledge is likely to help low-end and mid-range devices the most.
Few brands can boast such a monumental legacy as Motorola – one of the original forefathers and titans on the mobile scene. And it’s not just the brick-like phones of the past that contribute to this special status either. You only need to turn the clock back five years or so from now to see the original Moto G at the forefront of a budget smartphone revolution. One that is continuing to this day, compelling manufacturers to constantly push the envelope on what is possible with a budget device.
Of course, financial turmoils, several buyouts, management and business changes later, these historic Motorola glory days appear to be in the past. But even so, Moto lives on and so does the Moto G. Now in its sixth generation and a sprawling family of three – the G6, G6 Plus and last, but not least, the G6 Play.
All that being said, at $200, the latter can’t really hope for the instant recommendation, many of its predecessors got back in the day. Especially in 2018, with good quality value offers flying in left and right and seriously mounting competition from the likes of Xiaomi, Huawei and even a resurrected Nokia.
Motorola Moto G6 Play
Body: Plastic back; 154.4×72.2x9mm; 175 grams; p2i water repellent nano coating on some markets
Screen: 5.7-inch, 18:9, HD+, IPS LCD, MAX Vision
Rear Camera: 13MP, f/2.0 lens; Secondary 5MP; LED flash; 1080p@30fps video recording
Front Camera: 8MP, 1080p@30fps video recording; LED selfie flash
However, don’t do kicking the Moto G6 Play to the side quite so hastily. The proverbial runt in the Moto G litter still has a lot going for it, besides a legendary reputation. Lenovo managed to cram a massive 4,000 mAh battery, inside the 9mm thin handset and even throw in snappy 15W fast charging support in the mix.
Just like its bigger sibling, the G6 Play has an extra-tall Max Vision display. It’s even complete with rounded corners, for a truly contemporary look. All the while, the Moto G6 Play remains a lot truer to the original Moto G spirit than the rest of the family.
A clean front, with no controls and only on-screen navigation and a the familiar “M” dimple on the back, make for a rather classic experience, that long-time fans of the series might actually prefer. Of course, that’s also complimented by the traditional Vanilla approach to Motorola‘s Android ROMs. Another integral and well-known part of the Moto G mix.
Join us on the following pages, as we explore the new, yet familiar Moto G6 Play in more detail.
Back in the day, the Motorola Moto G had a pretty clear angle going for it. It was the go-to, budget and vanilla Android device of choice for many. Since then, things have become a bit more complicated within the Motorola lineup. Now, there’s a sprawling Moto E family, a growing Moto C and even a Moto E, all filling up the proverbial nooks and crannies of the budget niche as best they can.
While choice is hard to complain about, this new-found market saturation and segmentation do require some involved choices on the user’s end. Thankfully, for the most part, the Moto G6 Play brings a balanced mix of design and features to the table. Just like its older predecessors, the G6 Play is plastic all around and it still works just as well.
There are plenty of advantages to using the relatively light and less dent-prone material. Lenovo has even put in the extra effort to coat the central frame in a metal-like fashion. We’ve seen more believable finishes out there, but still, a good effort.
In place of the more traditional unibody approach, Motorola decided to go for a modern look this time around and a glossy, curved back surface. Naturally, just like the rest of the body, it’s plastic as well, but actually does a pretty convincing job of imitating metal.
This could potentially spell out trouble if you tend to bang and slap your phone around a lot. Plus, chances are you’ll never get to see the surface fingerprint-free from the moment you first pick up the Moto G6 Play. Still, it does make for a decent hand feel.
On a more positive note, the signature Motorola splash-resistant nano coating on the electronics inside is still part of the mix. We are kind of hesitant to get the phone deliberately wet to test it out. But then again, that’s missing the point entirely. It’s just meant to be the extra piece of mind in case of rainy weather or an accidental splash of water.
In many ways, the Moto G6 Play has a traditional setup on the front – no capacitive navigation keys or fingerprint reader, a fairly wide bottom chin, with the entire surface covered by an undisclosed version of Gorilla Glass.
At the same time, however, the new Moto G look is trendier than ever, mostly thanks to an extra-tall, 18:9, LCD panel, shared by all three siblings. It even has rounded corners, in keeping with the trends of the day. Just like the regular Moto G6, the G6 Play gets a decently sized 5.7-inch display – fairly large for a “Play” device.
The only real difference in the display department between the two devices is the resolution – it’s 720 x 1440 pixels on the G6 Play. However, fewer pixels mean less strain on the GPU for on-screen rendering task. A bonus that is sure to shine through in the benchmark section of the review.
We can’t fail to mention that Motorola didn’t find it necessary to fit a notification LED on the front of the G6 Play, but there is still an LED selfie flash.
Like we mentioned earlier, the curved back side of the Moto G6 Plus is plastic and thus not necessarily the most sturdy surface out there. We would definitely recommend using the provided case, which also offers the bonus of not having to deal with the almost unnatural amount of dirt and grease the back accumulates.
The camera module protrudes a bit, but it’s nothing major. One would hope so, considering the G6 Play is 9mm thick. It has this watch dial effect going for it and the lack of a second camera module allowed Motorola to go for a vertical arrangement. So, there are no shocked and surprised smiley configurations on this one.
Right underneath the familiar circular camera module is an even more familiar and traditional “M” dimple. Long-term fans will remember the little signature detail was mostly for show back in the day. Now, it also doubles as a home for the fingerprint reader. Getting the dimple once again looks retro fancy in just the right way. Resting your index finger there during calls feels right.
The fingerprint reader itself is pretty reliable, but not exactly what we would consider speedy. It is more versatile than before now that Motorola can use it as an authentication to manage and auto-fill passwords in apps and websites and even log-on to Windows devices.
There’s not a lot to mention about the sides of the Moto G6 Play. The bottom is almost entirely empty, housing only the dated microUSB port and the main microphone. So, where are the speakers then you ask? Well, turns out the phone only has one and it’s the earpiece. It’s pretty quiet as well, but more on that later.
The top is equally barren, with a pair of holes – one for the secondary, noise-canceling microphone and the other the tried and true 3.5mm audio jack. The left-hand side has a single cut-out for the card tray. Motorola could have done a better job slicing it out and then dampening it since it doesn’t really sit flush and rocks in place a little bit when nudged. However, these are all petty complaints that get dwarfed by the fact that the tray has three whole slots (two in the Single SIM models). Two for SIM cards and a dedicated microSD one. That means you don’t have to choose between another phone line and memory – always a plus in our book.
All the buttons sit pretty high up on the right side of the device. Perhaps a bit too high for comfort, if you have smaller hands. Other than that, they are nice and clicky and well-defined. The power button, while on the slim side, even has an edged pattern going for it, so its very easy to feel around.
Overall, as far as controls go, no real complaints. It seems Motorola has handled the transition to a new extra-tall aspect ratio pretty well.
Extra-tall displays are an increasingly common sight on budget devices nowadays. Even though the new aspect ratios typically leave you with less horizontal real estate, it is still hard to complain or argue against the practical benefits of more vertical room for most everyday tasks. Especially, when the deal does not include a notch.
Just like many of its competitors, Motorola decided to hunker down and bring 18:9 to the masses, including as part of the affordable Moto G6 Play package.
Users looking to same a few bucks from the regular Moto G6 won’t have to sacrifice on screen diagonal at all.
The Play does come with a slight bump down in resolution. But, 720 x 1440 pixels and a density rating of 282ppi is still pretty decent for an entry-level phone.
Motorola Moto G6 Plus (Max Auto)
Motorola Moto G6 Plus
Motorola Moto G5S (Max Auto)
Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus
Motorola Moto G6 Play (Max Auto)
Xiaomi Mi A1
Huawei P Smart
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) max auto
Xiaomi Redmi 5
Nokia 6 (Global version)
Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017) Max Auto
Motorola Moto G6 Play
Huawei Honor 7X
Motorola Moto G5S
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017)
The IPS LCD panel Moto managed to acquire and fit inside the G6 Play budget is decent, if not particularly impressive. Under normal conditions, its brightness tops off at 476 nits, with respectable enough contrast. Max Auto allows it to shine at up to 554 nits, at the cost of some contrast.
The Moto G6 Play offers a less than stellar experience under strong sunlight, but it’s still usable in most cases.
On a more positive note, color accuracy is surprisingly good, if a few conditions are met. In it’s default mode, the whites on the G6 Play screen have a distinct blue hue. Switching between the Standard and Vivid color modes does little to correct that. The maximum deltaE sits at 6.4, with a maximum of 13.3 in the blue.
However, setting the color temperature from the default setting to Warm does yield tangible results. This way, you can get the color deviation down to a respectable average deltaE of 3.8 and a maximum of 6.5. Almost what we would consider color-accurate.
Moto G6 Play Battery Life
At 9mm thick, the Motorola Moto G6 Play is quite a chunky phone, no question about it. Still, it does compensate for it’s girth, at least to some extent, with a large 4,000 mAh battery. Sure, you could justifiably argue that a lot of the juice end up kind of wasted on the inefficient 28nm Snapdragon chipset. Undoubtedly, something newer, like the Snapdragon 450 would do a better job, with its 14nm node. Failing that, the older and now likely more affordable Snapdragon 625 is tried and true and still a solid choice.
But, we might be getting a bit too picky. The Snapdragon 430 (non-US) review unit, we tested at the office still did a solid job, stretching the 4,000 Mah battery pack to its full extent.
It scored an overall endurance rating of 92 hours – more than respectable.
Looking at the particular numbers in detail, Motorola appears to have done a bang-up optimization job all-around. The near-vanilla Android OS definitely helps a fair bit and as a result, the Moto G6 Play easily breaks the 200-hour barrier in standby.
Even with its older 28nm development process, the Snapdragon 430 and its X6 LTE modem, in particular, manage to clock in over 30 hours of call time. Google’s Chrome browser and File app/video player don’t disappoint either. Both manage to keep pushing content on the HD+ display for over 14hours on a single charge. Overall, while the Moto G6 Play is a bit on the chunky side, it feels quite comfortable away from a power outlet for prolonged periods of time.
Motorola was also considerate enough to include support for its own Turbo power fast charging standard in the Moto G6 Play. It is actually one of the cheapest phones out there, with quick top-off support.
The Moto G6 Play is, theoretically capable of sucking in power at up to 15W. However, we can’t really confirm is a compatible Turbo Power charger will be provided in the box. Package contents frequently differ from market to market and Lenovo has a pretty bumpy track record in this area. So, the best way to go about it is to check with your local retailer of choice.
Motorola was definitely generous in the battery department, but the loudspeaker setup is a whole other story. The Moto G6 Play only has a single speaker – the earpiece, above the display. It is powered to pump out some volume and that’s about it.
Pink noise/ Music, dB
Ringing phone, dB
Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016)
Motorola Moto G6 Play
Motorola Moto G6 Play (Dolby audio)
Xiaomi Redmi 5
Huawei P Smart
Huawei Honor 7X
Motorola Moto G5S
Sony Xperia L2
Motorola Moto G5S Plus
The G6 Play is a bit quiet, especially in its default mode, with the audio equalizer turned off. Speaking of which, it’s a bit odd that Motorola decided to provide a really in-depth audio equalizer, for the single, underwhelming speaker. It even bears the Dolby audio branding.
Still, we can’t complain too much, unlike most smartphone audio tuning suit, this one did not reduce the overall output volume. On the contrary, it increased it slightly, while also managing to open up the soundstage noticeably. If configured correctly, that is.
If you spend enough time tweaking the sliders and toggles, for your content of choice, you can actually achieve tangible results, like a clearer voice in movies or richer simulated bass, if that’s your thing.
Motorola Moto G6 Play matched the splendid clarity of its Plus sibling in the active external amplifier part of the test. Its loudness fell seriously short though, giving away its lower standing.
Loudness remained below average when we hooked up our headphones too, but the clarity was downright impressive. The Moto G6 Play delivered a performance that would be worthy of a device with a much higher price tag. Unless you have high impedance headphones and the volume is actually a deal-breaker, you really can’t wish for much more than that.
IMD + Noise
Motorola Moto G6 Play
Motorola Moto G6 Play (headphones)
Motorola Moto G6 Plus
Motorola Moto G6 Plus (headphones)
Oppo F7 (headphones)
Nokia 6 (2018)
Nokia 6 (2018) (headphones)
Nokia 7 Plus
Nokia 7 Plus (headphones)
Honor View 10
Honor View 10 (headphones)
The Motorola Moto G6 Play was never meant to be a performance powerhouse in any way, shape or forms. Still, in 2018, we are finally a bit past the days when you had to take anything you could get for $200, or so. That being said, we approached the Snapdragon 430, 3GB RAM review unit with clear expectations of a smooth overall experience. Definitely not unreasonable, especially considering the near-stock Moto Android ROM.
To our surprise, however, the Moto G6 Play experiences some noticeable performance dips, even when dealing with everyday tasks.
Frankly, it’s an odd position to find a current Moto G device in. While far from ideal, we know for a fact that the Snapdragon 430 has plenty of power to drive a fluent UI experience, if nothing else. The raw performance numbers out of the Moto G6 Play indicate the same as well. So, we can only surmise, the occasional hiccups and dropped animation frames while browsing the menus and opening apps are due to some odd optimization issue. Hopefully one that gets cleared up quickly.
Before we move on to the actual scores, it is worth noting that certain US carriers and retailers will be offering the Moto G6 Play with an even less-powerful Snapdragon 427 chipset. You should probably stay away from it, if possible. It only has four Cortex-A53 cores and the GPU is downgraded from the Adreno 505 to the Adreno 308. Definitely not ideal.
Speaking of the CPU, the non-US Moto G6 Play, we are testing, has eight Cortex-A53 cores at its disposal, clocked at 1.4 GHz. While that overall configuration is pretty popular in the budget market segment, 1.4 GHz is a pretty low clock.
Single 13MP camera
Unlike its two bigger siblings, the Moto G6 Play doesn’t get the privilege of a fancy dual-camera setup. It is stuck with a single 13MP snapper, with 1.12µm pixels. It sits behind an f/2.0 lens. Nothing really too spectacular. There are still a couple of extras sprinkled in, like phase detection autofocus and a surprisingly decent EIS stabilization for video.
While on the subject, not only does the stabilization work surprisingly well, but it even comes with a real-time preview during capture.
Just like the stills, the 1080p clips, themselves, are actually quite usable. These get recorded in a standard AVC, plus AAC stream, inside an MP4 file, with a bit rate of about 18 Mbps and stereo audio. A bit more detail wouldn’t hurt and the same goes for the dynamic range. Still, we can’t nitpick too much.
The original Moto G from some 5 years ago was a real game-changer in terms of value and an easy instant recommendation. A lot has changed since then. The legendary American brand has been changing ownership quite a bit over the last few years. Internal turmoil and brand-identity aside, the sprawling budget scene the phone launches on looks quite different in 2018.
There are a lot more options to explore. Perhaps even too many. Even Motorola‘s own lineup now features a trio of Moto G devices. And that’s on top of other viable affordable devices, like the Moto E line. Which brings us to our first couple of contenders – the Moto G5S and G5S Plus. Sure, neither features a trendy new 18:9 display, but other than that, specs-wise the Moto G5S is an almost perfect match to the G6 Play. Its bigger brother – the G5S Plus is even more alluring, complete with a much more-potent and power-efficient Snapdragon 625 chipset, as well as a dual 13MP camera setup.
Samsung has some well-rounded devices up on offer around the $200 mark as well. The budget Galaxy J7 (2017) pairs a sizeable battery, with another battery-efficient chipset – the Exynos 7870 and a Super AMOLED panel – sharp, colorful and also easy on the battery. There are some interesting accompanying options as well, like the option for the more compact and slightly more premium Galaxy A3 (2017) instead. Or even saving a few bucks with the older J7 (2016), which still offers most of the models highlights.
The resurrected Nokia has been soaking up quite a bit of attention lately and rightfully so. HMD is putting a lot of effort into build quality and producing reasonably priced devices with a great bill of material and overall durability. The original Nokia 6 from last year seems to match the Moto G6 Play almost spec to spec even down to the overall clean approach to Android. Price-wise the two aren’t far apart either.
Moto G5S Plus • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017) • Nokia 6 • Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro • Huawei Honor 9 Lite
Of course, we can’t glance over Xiaomi’s constantly growing lineup for affordable models. The trendy Chinese brand has become amazingly quick in adopting new tech in its products. The most obvious competitor to the Moto G6 Play would be the Android One running Mi A1. A Snapdragon 625 and dual camera setup make for a more potent hardware platform for pretty much the same price tag. The soon-to-hit-markets Mi A2 looks even more enticing but might be a little outside the budget. Currently, the Redmi Note 5 Pro seems to offer the best value for your buck, with a trendy exterior and pretty potent internals.
Last, but not least, Huawei and its Honor sister-brand have a stable finger on the pulse of the market and some really competitive devices to offer. You can pretty much match the Moto G6 Play spec for spec with the new Huawei Y7 Prime (2018) and potentially even save a few bucks in the process. However, devices like the Huawei P smart and the Honor 9 Lite arguably have even more value to offer, within roughly the same budget.
It’s really hard to make any noticeable dent in today’s highly-competitive and overcrowded budget smartphone scene. Adapting as you go seems to be the only path to survival and Motorola has been doing plenty of it lately. The company’s excellent reputation backed by Lenovo’s distribution network helps it along its way too.
Combines a classic Moto control layout with a trendy new extra-tall display on the cheap
There’s a dedicated MicroSD cars slot on the SIM tray, so you can have to SIM cards and and SD at the same time.
Display has decent brightness, contrast and sunlight legibility. It is surprisingly color-accurate, when set propperly. The only thing you are really loosing compared to the regular G6 is resolution.
Great battery endurance at 92 hours. Quick top-offs, thanks to Turbo Power charging support, up to 15W.
Good, clean audio quality through the 3.5mm jack. A bit quiet, though.
A fine blend of vanilla Android and just the right amount of useful proprietary customizations
Good photo and video quality. Full-featured manual mode. LED selfie flash. EIS for video is a great little bonus and it works surprisingly well.
No notification LED and MotoDisplay isn’t quite like an always on display (not that it automatically renders the LED redundant)
The speaker is not particularly loud or clear. Audio output though the 3.5mm jack is also on the quiet side.
Some noticeable performance dips (skipped transition animation frames and micro-stutters) are observable even while just browsing the UI. Likely an optimization issue that should get fixed, since the Snapdragon 430 can drive a smoother experience.
Video capture is limited to 1080p@30fps.
The selfie fixed focus sweet spot is a bit distant, which resuts in the faces getting blurry at times.
Despite the few minor issues we found with the Moto G6 Play, it definitely won’t steer you wrong. It’s a dependable phone with a nice feature set. However, in this price range you can (and should!) get hardware that provides hiccup-free performance. So if you shop around a bit, there is more value to be had elsewhere. We hope Lenovo sorts things out with the Moto G6 Play performance, otherwise as things stand right now, it’s hard for it to get the recommendation it deserves.
If you recently bought a Moto G5 Plus at a discount, you should reinvest some of that money you saved on a case to keep it in tip-top condition. I’ve rounded up a wide variety of cases here —from heavy duty and rugged to slim and sleek — but I don’t think you can do much better than the exceptional Spigen Rugged Armor.
Spigen Rugged Armor
Spigen’s Rugged Armor lineup offers a great balance between style and functionality without adding a ton of bulk to your phone. This is one of the most popular cases in the world for a reason.
Striking the right balance between protection and thickness, the Ringke Fusion series is one of the most popular for a reason. Get the Moto G5 Plus version in one of three awesome colors: Smoke Black, Rose Gold Crystal, and Clear.
Tudia’s Merge Series may not be the most imaginative style in the world, but it’s dependable, affordable, and offers some distinctive color combos like the grey/green seen here. Get a protective case with personality like the Merge Series.
Supcase Unicorn Beetle Pro with Built-in Screen Protector
The Supcase Unicorn is thick and bulky for a reason: it’ll protect your Moto G5 Plus from anything life throws at you. It comes with a built-in screen protector, too, so you can protect that shiny metal back and shiny glass back in one complete package.
If you’re looking for a lightweight rugged case, Incipio’s NGP case is the right voice for you. It’s a no-fuss choice that provides considerable protection, specifically around the sides and back. The black is more reserved, but it also comes in hot pink.
If rugged protection is the name of the game for you, you’ll want to consider this Poetic Revolution case for the Moto G5 Plus. It offers full protection for your phone, including a front plate with a built-in screen protector that also adds water resistance to the mix.
These thin hardshell cases from ORNARTO may not offer as heavy-duty protection as Poetic Revolution, but it will protect that shiny metal finish from scratches while adding a bit of grip and a lot of color. I’m partial to this genie blue, but the green and red pop, too.
While the Moto G5 Plus may not have quite a much room for card carrying as other phones, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a cute folio case that can carry the essentials. Skip the purse and grab this slim magnetic folio in one of six colors instead.
Tudia’s carbon fiber Ultra Slim case is the perfect way to cover your Moto G5 Plus with minimal bulk. A stylish and inexpensive solution for not a lot of money, and it’s available in three colors to give you a choice beyond the Spigen Rugged Armor’s boring black.
The Moto G5 Plus is one excellent-looking all-metal budget phone, but that shiny metal finish is very easily scratched. While all of these choices are fantastic, I really love the Spigen Rugged Armor, which offers the best of all worlds of protection for your phone.
If you want a little more flair in your case, there are still great options out there like the clear-backed Ringke Fusion or the TUDIA Merge Series, which has some muted and bold color options. After all, life’s too short for boring tech, so get a case with some personality to it!
The Moto X Pure Edition was a great device for those looking for something with a bit more of a personal touch from a smartphone. However, the device isn’t as young as it once was and with apps getting more resource demanding, you could find the Moto X Pure Edition to be slowing down. Luckily there is a hidden feature that you can change that will instantly speed up your device.
This tip will help speed up your Moto X Pure Edition by reducing the impact of the aging processor and resource hungry apps, as well as the lower processing power in the device, by reducing unnecessary animations that will make it feel the device is quicker. The best bit is there’s nothing extra to install or tons of settings to change, just a simple case of changing a setting with developer options enabled.
The little hack revolves around the animations applied to transitioning between windows and turning the device on or off. By simply turning this off, it contributes to making the device seem extremely snappy and fast by reducing the delay applied to the animation.
First, you’ll need to enable the Developer Options hidden menu. To do this, go into Settings -> About Device and scroll down to “Build Number”. Now, tap on “Build Number” five times and you’ll see a notification saying that “Developer mode has been enabled”.
With that hidden menu now enabled, we can head on into it to begin fastening up our Moto X Pure Edition.
Head on in to Developer Options in Settings.
Scroll down to the Drawing section.
Of interest here is the Window Animation Scale, Transition Animation Scale, and Animator Duration Scale.
Click on them individually to change the scale.
You are able to turn the animations off completely, or set them to 0.5x (default is 1x) so the animations will be double speed for those who would like to retain them.
You’ll notice your Moto X Pure Edition feels substantially quicker without any hacks that affect your software, warranty, or device battery life.
This year Motorola decided to expand its line of smartphones, and now it has so many devices that they’re starting to compete with each other. This is the case with the Moto Z2 Play and the more recently launched, Moto X4, both of which are about $400. But what are the pros and cons of each device when compared to each other? Let’s take a look.
Moto X4 vs Moto Z2 Play: software
Both phones come with Android Nougat and are projected to update to Oreo in the future. Motorola still has one of the purest Android experiences on the market even if in the past few years, they’ve added more apps and changed the interface a bit, especially the icons. There’s not much difference between the two, but the Moto X4 has a slight edge with a couple decent features that Motorola created for especially for it.
Among those is one app that Motorola calls Moto Experience and it gives users the ability to connect their smartphone with up to four Bluetooth devices simultaneously. There’s also a quick screenshot feature which lets you take a picture of the screen by pressing on the display with three fingers at the same time. And lastly, Moto Key, where you can unlock password protected sites, for your phone or laptop, just by touching the multi-functional fingerprint reader. It’s not a massive advantage, but it still sets the Moto X4 apart from the Moto Z2 Play.
Moto X4 vs Moto Z2 Play: display
The display is one of the most significant differences between these two devices. The Moto Z2 Play has a Super AMOLED display while the X4 comes with an IPS LCD display. The screen on the Moto Z2 Play is 5.5 inches, and the Moto X4’s is 5.2 inches. As for resolution, both come with 1,080 x 1,920 Full HD resolution, with a 16:9 aspect ratio. As we all know though, AMOLED displays offer much better brightness than IPS LCDs.
This is one aspect that the Moto X4 might have a slight edge when compared to the Moto Z2 Play, considering it has a dual camera. The rear camera on the Moto Z2 Play does have a few exciting pieces of tech, though: dual autofocus pixels and laser focus, which can reach up to three times as far as the last generation, capturing images at up to 5 meters away. The 5 MP front camera comes with an 85 degree open angle and dual flash with color balancing.
On the other hand, the Moto X4 comes with a smart dual camera on the back, with advanced features such as selective focus, color highlighting, object recognition, all in addition to panoramic selfies with a 16 MP front camera. Among the upgrades that the camera’s software has received is Landmark and Object Recognition, which displays information about the objects that are being shot and shown on the screen.
You can even quickly scan business cards and add them to your contacts. Another sweet feature is the animations and graphic effects, which let you add a layer of design to photos or videos using augmented reality. This is something we’ve seen on other phones from the brand, but it’s still impressive.
The software of the dual rear camera lets you blur the background, similar to that Bokeh-type effect, choose black and white for the first or second plane of the image, or you can even change the background entirely as we saw with the Moto G5S and Moto G5 Plus.
Another update on the Moto X4 is the color highlighting, where you can enhance one of the colors within the photo, leaving the rest black and white. Plus, the camera on the Moto X4 also has dual autofocus pixels for quickly focusing in low-light situations. If the back camera isn’t enough to win you over, then maybe the 16 MP front camera will do the job.
There really isn’t much to say here about the battery. In the end, they both come with a 3,000 mAh battery equipped with TurboPower, which gives you up to six hours of use from only a 15-minute charge.
Moto Z2 Play vs Moto X4: Moto Mods
This might just be the Moto Z2 Play’s secret weapon against the Moto X4, only if you want to spend more money buying mods that is. You’ll only be able to find specific battery and camera accessories for the Moto Z2 Play. You could even get a speaker or portable projector.
Of course, before we wrap this up, we have to take a look at the hardware on both devices. As for the Moto Z2 Play, it comes with a Snapdragon 626, GPU Adreno 506, 4 GB RAM and 64 GB memory, and the Moto X4 comes with a Snapdragon 630, GPU Adreno 508, 3 GB RAM and 32 GB memory.
If you’re worried about having enough storage space on your phone, that’s something that gives the Moto Z2 Play a slight edge. Honestly, the Moto Z2 Play seems to be ahead in almost every category, unless you’re looking for a dual camera and a few new software features. You should probably go with the more recent launch.
This is Motorola's most prestigious budget phone, but you can do better.
You’d be forgiven for not paying close attention to the release of the Moto G5S Plus; it snuck into the company’s lineup in early August alongside the Moto G5S.
The ‘S’ stands for “Special Edition” (Moto G5SE Plus was too much of a mouthful?), and they’re moderately improved versions of the existing Moto G5 line that debuted earlier in the year. Why would Motorola introduce slightly updated versions of existing phones less than six months after their release? Who knows?!
What I do know is that the Moto G5S Plus, which is available unlocked in the U.S. for $279, is one of the better budget phones you can buy, but the slightly better build quality, additional camera, and larger display don’t justify the additional cost over the existing Moto G5 Plus.
There’s a lot to like about the phone when you consider its $279 starting price: the metal build quality is unimpeachable, its 5.5-inch 1080p LCD display is vivid and relatively sharp, and its software is among the best in the business, replete with truly useful additions to Android that I actually rely on.
Moto G5S Plus specs
The improvements to build quality over the existing Moto G5 Plus — which, also mostly metal, is no slouch — are immediate. Dense and sizeable, the phone belies its budget status with clicky buttons, chamfered edges, and precise etching that wouldn’t be out of place on a device three to four times its asking price.
This phone looks like a slightly larger version of the same budget phone Motorola‘s been selling for nine months.
Immediately recognizable as a 2017 Motorola device, too, the phone looks pretty good, especially in the new Blush Gold hue that, in the right light, appears lusciously copper. I like it — a lot. There’s a fingerprint sensor below the screen, a rounded “Batwing” divot on the back, and a circular camera module with — and this is new — two sensors instead of one. We’ll get to that a bit later, but suffice it to say if you’ve seen a Motorola phone recently, this one will not be difficult to get used to.
That’s fine because the design is perfectly serviceable; count me among the people that will take a fast, reliable front fingerprint sensor over whatever shenanigans Samsung is up to these days. Here, that’s exactly what you get: you can choose to use the sensor as just that (as well as an on/off button by holding it down for a second), or as a navigation tool with Motorola‘s One Button Nav feature. I’m still not comfortable recommending it for daily use given the tiny amount of reclaimed screen real estate, but others I’ve spoken to swear by it, so give it a try.
Along for the ride is Motorola‘s industry-leading notification system, Moto Display. Thank goodness Lenovo, Motorola‘s not-so-new parent company, hasn’t messed with a good thing here, because there’s no better way to triage Android notifications than with Moto Display. No other ambient display, from Samsung to LG to Google itself, comes close.
The Moto G5S Plus has the same 1080p screen as its G5 Plus counterpart, but it’s ever-so-slightly less dense. And it’s still LCD, not OLED. That’s not a slight against the screen — it’s fine — but if you’re looking for next-gen resolution here, you’re out of luck.
Here’s what’s significantly better than the Moto G5 Plus, though: the bottom-firing speaker is much louder and clearer than the single front-facing speaker on the smaller phone; the base model comes with 3GB of RAM instead of 2GB; and the front-facing camera gets upped to 8MP with a wider ƒ/2.0 lens and a real LED flash compared to 5MP/ƒ2.2/display flash. That front-facing camera is legit.
The phone also works with all four U.S. carriers out of the box, which is a huge boon to carrier portability. (This review focuses on the U.S. model only.)
Moto G5S Plus What needs work
The same processor, screen resolution, battery size and charging port doesn't scream "special edition".
I having nothing inherently against iterative improvements, but there is very little “special” in the Moto G5 Plus Special Edition. Its larger display, as mentioned, doesn’t add anything to the experience, and the modicum of additional metal, while certainly appreciated from a density perspective, can’t alone justify the added cost over the G5 Plus.
Motorola also chose to keep the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor inside the phone, too, which is a fine chip, but since it debuted in the Moto Z Play last year, it has since been displaced by the Snapdragon 626 and, more recently, the 630 (where it finds a home in the excellent Moto X4). Similarly, the 3000mAh battery inside the phone hasn’t changed either, which means battery life hasn’t improved over the Moto G5 Plus. Again, fine, but it would have been nice to see the phone achieve better uptime than its predecessor, since that phone wasn’t particularly impressive in that area.
All of these decisions would be understandable were it not for the phone’s biggest change, the inclusion of a dual camera setup — two seemingly-identical 13MP camera sensors with ƒ/2.0 lenses. Having two sensors obviously allows for shots with artificial bokeh, but they lack the additional connective tissue to justify what is clearly a downgrade in traditional photography from the Moto G5 Plus.
That phone has a single 12MP sensor with 1.4-micron Dual Autofocus pixels and a wide ƒ/1.7 lens. It’s not the best camera — it struggles in low light — but it’s damn good for its price class. In fact, it’s probably unmatched under $300. Motorola sacrifices fidelity for a gimmick with the Moto G5S Plus; the 13MP primary sensor, which will be used far more often than both together, has smaller pixels, less reliable autofocus, and much less impressive low-light prowess. For all but a few situations, this is a worse camera experience than its cheaper counterpart.
In fact, even that depth gimmick is undermined by some abysmal performance in the camera app; switching to it causes the frame rate to drop precipitously, making it difficult to line up a good shot. And as we discovered with the Moto Z2 Force, which contains better camera hardware, Motorola‘s depth algorithms need a lot of work. The Note 8, this isn’t.
That isn’t to say the G5S Pluscan’t take great daylight photos — look at some of the ones I captured above for proof — but they’re not particularly impressive, with muddy details.
Lastly, Motorola decided to maintain the Micro-USB port, which has been eliminated from nearly every other phone being released today, budget to premium. In fact, Motorola‘s own $399 Moto X4 is all-in on USB-C, as is the excellent Moto Z Play lineup. The company missed an opportunity to move the needle with its Moto G lineup here.
Moto G5S Plus Buy the other one
I have no idea why the Moto G5S Plus exists. It’s a nice phone, and it sure looks and feels great — certainly better than any budget phone Motorola has made before. But it’s just not a true upgrade over the Moto G5 Plus.
I’m not telling you to go out and buy a Huawei or a ZTE; I’m telling you to buy another Motorola. Specifically, if you’re looking at the entry-level $279 Moto G5S Plus, which comes with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, look instead at the upgraded Moto G5 Plus, which features 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. At $299, it’s around the same price and, in my opinion, better prepared to handle the onslaught of the real world.
If you do insist on buying the Moto G5S Plus, you do get a few advantages: a bigger screen, a better front-facing camera, a slightly newer version of Android, and the knowledge that you’re getting a special edition. If that’s enough for you, grab it from Motorola directly.