Moto G6 vs Moto X4: there's a new sibling for the big brother to contend with

Moto G6

Motorola has officially unveiled the new Moto G6, successor to the Moto G5S, and the latest entry in its popular budget G series. The Moto G line has recently been in the habit of bringing some premium smartphone features into the budget smartphone market, and the Moto G6 is no exception.

However, the mid-range Moto X4 from 2017 has its fair share of premium aspects, and it's within a reasonable distance price-wise to give the Moto G6 some competition. Both phones have incredibly diverse mobile carrier support as well, so they can ostensibly be reaching for the same potential customers.

Let's take a look at the story for each phone, and determine if one manages to be a more compelling buy than the other.

Moto G6 (left)

Moto G6 (left)

Design

At first glance, the Moto X4 and Moto G6 could easily be confused for one another. The Moto G6 borrows a lot of design features from the other. Both have a glass back with curved sides. The dual-lens cameras on both are centrally mounted toward the top of the phone, and both have an raised ring around them. 

Both also have a metal frame, fingerprint scanner on the front below the screen, USB-C plugs, and even 3.5mm headphone jacks.

The visible differences are fairly subtle, and mostly have to do size and port location. Aside from having its flash below the camera instead of above, the Moto G6 is bigger than the X4. It measures in at 153.8 x 72.3 x 8.3mm and 167 grams compared to the Moto X4's 148.4 x 73.4 x 8mm and 163 grams. 

There are some slight difference with the buttons as well. The Moto G6 features small, separated buttons for power, volume up, and volume down. It also has a wide but curiously slim fingerprint scanner. Meanwhile the Moto X4 has a larger power button and a single volume rocker. It's fingerprint scanner is more of an oval.

Both phones do share an obnoxious amount of Motorola branding, as both have a Motorola logo on the back, while the G6 says, "Motorola," on the front, and the X4 front says ,"Moto."

While so far, the aesthetic design differences are fairly insubstantial, internal design choices have more impact. The Moto G6 is water resistant thanks to a p2i coating, but it's not meant to handle water pressure or submersion. The Moto X4 fairs much better in water, with an IP68 rating that means it can spend a half hour in waters up to almost 5 feet. 

Moto G6 (left)

Moto G6 (left)

Display

When it comes to displays, the Moto G6 wins out over the Moto X4 easily.

The Moto G6 follows the industry trend of maximizing the screen and reducing everything else on the front of the phone. The screen is 5.7 inches and takes up a large portion of the phone's face. It's not bezel-less by any stretch, but it has a fairly premium look.

The Moto X4 screen is a smaller 5.2-inch display flanked above and below by a considerable amount of bezel.

It's not just size that the G6 has over the X4 though. The bigger screen also comes at a higher resolution, Full HD+. The Moto X4 screen, meanwhile, is the standard Full HD. 

Both screens are IPS, sadly, so they don't enjoy the pure blacks offered by an OLED display. In some instances, this can make the Moto X4 screen preferable to the Moto G6's 18:9 screen, since it won't use letterboxes that suffer from backlight bleed when viewing video in the extremely common 16:9 aspect ratio. However, no smartphone screen is going to be terribly cinematic anyway, so bigger tends to be preferable.

OS and power

The Moto X4 regains some of its ground against the Moto G6 when it comes to performance thanks to its higher-end Snapdragon 630 chipset. Both devices feature octa-core processors, but the Moto X4's CPU runs faster than the Snapdragon 450 powering the Moto G6, saving the Snapdragon 630 for the Moto G6 Plus that isn't coming to the US.

Graphically, the Moto X4 can be expected to outperform the G6 as well. The Moto G6 has Adreno 506 graphics, but the X4 has Andreno 508 graphics and a lower resolution screen, so it can run smoother with fewer pixels to power.

Both phones come with 3GB of RAM at their base configuration, but the Snapdragon 630 also gives the Moto X4 faster RAM speeds. It also supports more external storage, with up to 256GB of additional storage possible with microSD. The Moto G6 can expand with microSD, but only up to 128GB.

Both phones run Android Oreo, though the Moto X4 launched with Android 7.1 and may come out of the box needing an update depending on where it's purchased. The Moto X4 also comes in an Android One variant, offering a clean Android experience and faster access to new updates. It's worth noting that both phones are all but guaranteed to receive the Android P update.

Though the Moto X4 edges out the Moto G6 in this category, neither are performance powerhouses.

Moto X4 (right)

Moto X4 (right)

Camera and battery

Adding to the similarities between these phones are their identical 3,000mAh batteries with 15W TurboPower charging.

Though the dual-lens cameras on the back look similar, there are some significant differences. And, those differences lean in the Moto X4's favor.

The Moto X4 features a 12MP f/2.0 lens and an 8MP f/2.2 lens with a 120-degree field of view on the back, offering some extra versatility for photo composition. It can also shoot video in 4K at 30fps or Full HD at 60fps. The front-facing camera has a high-resolution 16MP sensor with a wide f/2.0 aperture.

The Moto G6 doesn't offer quite as much in the camera department. It has a 12MP and 5MP sensor on the back with slightly more open f/1.8 apertures, offering a minor improvement in low-light photography. But, it can't record video any higher than Full HD at 60fps. The selfie camera has a lower-res 8MP sensor.

While we'll have to wait an see just how well the Moto G6 camera performs in our testing, the numbers are on the Moto X4's side.

Price

The Moto G6 is launching at a base price of $249 (£219, no word on AU pricing yet). This is well below the Moto X4's original base price of $399 (£199, AU$599), and still a solid chunk of change below its currently reduced price of $349.

Since both phones are available on a wide range of mobile networks, they compete head-to-head. The Moto G6 is fairly compelling at its price point with the features and styling it has. For shoppers on a strict budget, the leap to the Moto X4 may be too big to justify the minor improvements it offers. 

That price differences is made even worse when considering that the Moto X4 isn't even hands down better. The screen is an incredibly important part of a phone, and the Moto X4 display falls short (by exactly 0.5 inches) of the Moto G6.

Moto G6 (left)

Moto G6 (left)

Takeaway

Between the Moto G6 and the Moto X4, which phone gets the crown is largely a matter of priorities. 

The Moto X4 appears to have slightly better hardware, with higher-end performance, a more capable camera system, and vastly superior water resistance. But, it's also 40% more expensive.

Visually, the Moto G6 is even more stunning than the X4. And, though it falls short of the X4 in performance, it should hold up for most daily activities just fine. What sells it is the lower cost and bigger screen. Motorola does a phenomenal job packing desirable features into a solidly budget phone. 

So, if performance and protection are what you're after and you can spare the money, the Moto X4 will likely be the right choice. (If performance is really key though, you may want to look into the Moto Z2 Play or Moto Z2 Force instead)

If you're after a big screen on a low-cost phone that still looks great, the Moto G6 is a great option.