Motorola Moto G6 Plus review: Is bigger better?

Price when reviewed

If you’ve read our Motorola Moto G6 review, you’ll already know the Moto G brand is well and truly back after the disappointment of the Moto G5. At £220, the Moto G6 shows up phones £100 more expensive, and it looks the part, too.

But for £50 more, at £269, you can have the Moto G6 Plus. Past Moto owners won’t know what to make of this: the G4 Plus was a weaker buy than the G4, but the G5 Plus was a huge improvement on the G5. So where does the G6 Plus sit?

It’s good. Very good. The question is is it good enough to justify that £50 premium?

Buy the Motorola G6 Plus from Carphone Warehouse

Motorola Moto G6 Plus review: Design[gallery:1]

First things first, what does “Plus” mean in this context? For some handsets, it’s purely a size thing. The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, for example, has the same internals as the regular phone but a slightly larger screen. For others, it’s an enhanced specification. For the Moto G6 Plus, it’s both, though the physical size discrepancy isn’t all that big: just 0.2in.

In fact, unless you put both handsets side by side there’s no way you’d be able to tell one from the other. That’s no bad thing: the Moto G6 is far more handsome than any sub-£250 handset has any right to be, with attractive curves and gorilla glass complementing its long-tall 18:9 display.

And, as with the Moto G6, good design isn’t used as an excuse to jettison popular features. That means that you’re getting a 3.5mm headphone jack and expandable microSD storage as well as a fingerprint reader and dual-camera.[gallery:2]

There are a couple of downsides but they’re pretty minor in the greater scheme of things. First, there’s no waterproofing. Although the handset has been treated with a p2i water-resistant coating, the best this will do is deflect a bit of rain: it isn’t designed to protect the phone from a swim in the Thames.

Second, the phone is both a fingerprint and a dust magnet. The former is easily cleaned with a wipe on your jeans or your shirt tails but the latter is a bit more persistent, especially around the protruding camera lens.

Motorola Moto G6 Plus review: Screen[gallery:6]

The weak point on the Moto G6 is the screen. It isn’t awful by any means but it isn’t the brightest or the most colour accurate.

And yes, the Moto G6 Plus is (mostly) an improvement. While the percentage of the sRGB colour gamut it reproduces is actually slightly lower (83.8% versus the G6’s 86.3%), it delivers considerably more contrast (1,255:1 to 931:1) and is far brighter. While the Moto G6 reaches a mere 408cd/m2, the G6 Plus’ peak brightness climbs to 536cd/m2. In short, that means that while you may struggle to read the G6 screen in bright sunshine, the G6 Plus should be much better.

To be clear, this isn’t the quality of panel you find on more expensive phones but it’s still absolutely acceptable.

Motorola Moto G6 Plus review: Performance[gallery:4]

In terms of performance, the G6 Plus also gets a nice little bump over the standard G6, which is clearly visible in the benchmarks. Before I get to those, however, this is what you’re getting: an octa-core 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 processor, backed by 3GB RAM. That’s a fairly big boost from the 1.8Ghz Snapdragon 450 and 3GB RAM combo powering the Moto G6.

To put that into perspective, this is the same processor that powers the £379 Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra, a phone I still have an awful lot of time for. It doesn’t look half as impressive when viewed alongside the G6 Plus, however.

As you’d expect, performance is pretty much identical, and the G6 Plus not only matches the XA2 Ultra but comfortably beats the Honor 9 Lite and Honor 7X while it’s at it.moto_g6_plus_benchmarks

Suffice it to say, this ensures a phone that feels fast and responsive and has no trouble with relatively intensive tasks. When it comes to pushing 3D graphics, the Moto G6 Plus gets a substantial boost on the G6 too.moto_g6_plus_gfx_benchmarks

13fps may sound awful, but bear in mind the Manhattan test is deliberately intensive. In real-world conditions the Moto G6 Plus can comfortably handle games like PUBG Mobile – just not with as much glorious detail as the latest and greatest handsets from Samsung and Apple.

One weak spot with the Moto G6 was the battery, which would stretch to a day’s use, but only just. The G6 Plus only gets an extra 200mAh battery life but this translates to over three extra hours of stamina in our test.moto_g6_plus_battery_benchmark

It seems the Snapdragon 630 is considerably more energy efficient than the 450 – enough that the slightly larger screen doesn’t result in any significant battery life penalty.

Motorola Moto G6 Plus review: Camera[gallery:3]

The camera was the unexpected trump card of the Motorola G6. For a £219 phone to produce photographs that could credibly be mentioned in the same breath as £600+ flagships was a major achievement.

The good news? The Moto G6 Plus is even better.

Like the Moto G6 you get a dual-camera array on the back of the camera: one 12-megapixel, one 5-megapixel. The latter adds depth data to shots taken by the former, meaning you can do some neat editing after a photograph has been taken. It’s a fun gimmick, and something that has been pretty well implemented but the camera is actually strong enough to stand on its own.motorola_moto_g6_plus_review_-_buildings

The improvements are three-fold. First, it has a f/1.7 aperture – a touch brighter than the f/1.8 found on the Moto G6. Second, it has dual-pixel autofocus, meaning focusing should be quicker and can lock onto subjects without hunting back and forth. Finally, the faster processor means the G6 Plus can shoot video in 4K at 30fps where the G6 is stuck at 60fps 1080p. Sadly the faster processor doesn’t fix the shutter lag I experienced on the Moto G6, which makes me wonder if this is a software issue that may be fixed at some point.motorola_moto_g6_plus_review_-_tower_hdr

Anyway, these improvements combine to make an excellent camera even better. The pictures, as you can see from the examples below, are packed with detail and bursting with realistic, vibrant colours. The camera’s HDR is incredibly good, too, able to dig out an astonishing degree of detail in darker and lighter areas without lending an unnatural look to your photographs.motorola_moto_g6_plus_review_-_low_light_hdr

Low-light photography is an Achilles’ Heel on all phones, and it proves tricky here, too, but the G6 Plus performs admirably, achieving results well beyond its price. Without flash, there’s a little noise, but enabling the flash on produces clear images without an unnatural tint.motorola_moto_g6_plus_review_-_flash

Oh, and the selfie camera isn’t bad, either, and while it isn’t quite as impressive as the rear camera, it produces well-balanced exposures that, in good light, have plenty of detail to them. The fact that there’s a front-facing flash helps here, too, providing a little extra assistance for indoor shots.

Motorola Moto G6 Plus review: Verdict[gallery:7]

Buy the Motorola G6 Plus from Carphone Warehouse

Ultimately, the Moto G6 Plus is an improvement on the G6 in almost every way: it’s faster, has a better screen and a better camera. The thing is, it’s not that any of these were a big issue with the G6 and, yet, the G6 Plus is £50 more expensive.

The bottom line, though, is this: both phones are terrific value and you’ll be happy with either. The Moto G6 Plus does just about enough to justify the price increase but you won’t be missing out on too much if you can’t afford to make the jump.

Whichever one you pick, you’ll be getting a top-notch phone at an impressively low price. And that is the name of the game at this end of the market.

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