Motorola has long held the title for the best budget smartphone with its Moto G family, and it continues to do so this year with the Moto G6.
On the surface of it, the Moto G6 Plus seems to be a bit of a free hit for the Lenovo-owned manufacturer. This is a chance to release some of the bottom-line squeeze of the G6, and perhaps look to emulate whatever alchemy makes the OnePlus 6 and the Honor 10 such mid-range champs.
Sure enough, bolstered performance and an improved screen go some way to achieving that goal. The question is whether the margin of that improvement is sufficient to justify the existence of the Moto G6 Plus.
It’s certainly remarkable how little we missed the flagship experience in moving to the Moto G6 Plus, but then the same thing could be said of the Moto G6. So are there enough additions to make the Plus worthy of the name?
Moto G6 Plus price and availability
- Available to buy in the UK for £269 / AU$499 (about $380)
- No US release
The Moto G6 Plus completes a trio of budget-priced 2018 phones from Motorola alongside the Moto G6 and Moto G6 Play.
If the name didn’t tell you that the Moto G6 Plus was the top performer in the range, then its £269 / AU$399 (about $380) price tag probably should. It’s £50 more expensive than the regular G6, and £100 dearer than the Moto G6 Play.
We don’t know if or when the Moto G6 Plus will be arriving in Australia as yet.
Design and display
- 5.9-inch display is bigger and brighter than G6
- Curved glass design much closer to Moto X4 than Moto G5
Motorola has taken a very different approach to design with the Moto G6 Plus, at least compared to previous Moto G devices.
Just like the Moto G6, out goes the somewhat nondescript combination of plastic and metal in favour of a sleeker amalgam of metal and glass. While the edges of the phone have a slightly cheap and plasticky feel to them, the curved rear panel is all-glass.
You only need to look above the Moto G listing on the Motorola website to realise that this isn’t a completely fresh approach from the company. Last year’s Moto X4 looks and feels extremely similar.
There are telltale signs that the Moto G6 Plus is a less-premium handset, however. Our test model seemed to have a slightly loose USB-C port on the bottom edge, causing the connector to wobble rather disconcertingly.
Then there’s the cheap plastic SIM tray that had scratched to a much lighter color, evidently where some previous user had gone in a little too forcefully with a tray key.
Another sign that this is isn’t a premium phone is the lack of proper water-proofing. Motorola claims that it’ll stand up to splashes with a 'water repellent nano-coating inside and out,' but there’s no IP rating to be found. The omission of such is much less of a criticism than it is in something like the OnePlus 6, but it’s still worth pointing out.
One way in which the Moto G6 Plus design has evolved from the X4 is with the screen-to-body ratio. While this is far from a bezel-less display, the top and bottom edges of the phone have definitely receded in line with the 2018 trend.
This can also be seen by looking at the size and shape of the fingerprint sensor below the display. The Moto G6 Plus's sensor is much flatter than the X4’s, though it’s recessed enough to be easy to find, and it remains fast and accurate.
By expanding closer to the edges, Motorola has been able to keep the general size and feel of the Moto G6 Plus relatively modest, with dimensions of 160 x 75.5 x 8mm and a weight of 167g. It’s still a fair handful, and you won’t be using it comfortably with one hand, but it sits comfortably in the pocket, at least.
This is despite the fact that the Moto G6 Plus has the largest display in the family - just. At 5.9-inches it’s only slightly bigger than the 5.7-inch G6 and G6 Play, and there’s an argument to be made that there should have been more of a difference here.
Another way Motorola has kept its large-screen phone feeling slim, of course, is by making it longer and thinner. With an 18:9 aspect ratio, it joins the general trend for stretched-out smartphone displays.
It means that a lot of video content you encounter will have side borders by default, particularly when it comes to YouTube. However, most fresh gaming content is being made to fit such screens, and properly mobile-optimised websites are definitely more pleasant to navigate on the longer display.
As for the screen itself, we have absolutely no criticisms. Like the rest of the G6 family, you’re looking at an FHD+ (1080 x 2160) resolution, which you might think would be a problem given the sheer size of the display. While it’s less pixel-dense than the G6 - let alone QHD displays like the Samsung Galaxy S9 - it remains plenty sharp enough.
It also seems to be better than the G6 display when it comes to maximum brightness and color contrast, which matters an awful lot more than a few inconsequential pixels.