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Interface and reliability
- Android 8 Oreo more or less as Google intended
- Moto Actions provides useful gesture shortcuts
Motorola has always offered one of the best smartphone software experiences around, precisely because it doesn’t mess with the Android formula too much. In keeping with that, the Moto G6 Plus runs on an extremely clean version of Android 8 Oreo, and is all the better for it.
From the super-fluid home screen animations to the finest drop-down notification menu in the business (well, it’s better than iOS), this take on Android is a delight to use.
Accessing the app drawer is a case of dragging up from the bottom of the home screen these days, while the multitasking menu contains a simple and effective drag-and-drop split-screen facility. In all this there are no flabby UI elements, ugly app icons, or bloatware.
That said, Motorola does include pre-installs of the Outlook and LinkedIn apps. The former is excellent, but also essentially duplicates the stock Gmail and Calendar apps, while LinkedIn will be of interest to a fairly small proportion of business-oriented users.
It grates a little more, however, that a fundamentally useful app like Google Pay isn’t pre-installed.
Elsewhere, Motorola makes its own (largely) thoughtful enhancements to the Android OS. The Moto app provides helpful pointers to these enhancements, including a Night Display mode and guidance on your storage and battery life, as well as a rundown of items you’ve taken an interest in through the aforementioned Smart Camera feature.
Moto Actions, meanwhile, are Motorola’s always handy (and entirely optional) gesture-based shortcuts. We’ve mentioned the twist-twice action for launching the camera, but others include a double chop motion for activating the torch, flipping the phone over to place it in ‘Do not disturb’ mode, and swiping to the bottom corners to shrink the screen for easier one-handed usage.
Less welcome are the now slightly obnoxious (to these ears) default Moto message tones and ringtones and the dreary default wallpaper, but there are plenty of sprightly alternatives to each.
We also found the way the screen partially lit up to reveal basic time and notification information whenever you move your hand over the display to be a little overenthusiastic – something you notice when you have the phone resting on a table in a bar or restaurant.
Movies, music and gaming
- 3.5mm jack included
- Bright 5.9-inch display makes it great for video
- Solid gaming performance
With the biggest and brightest display in the range, the Moto G6 Plus is the one you should turn to if media consumption is a major priority.
The 5.9-inch display is the star of the show here for things like watching movies and playing games. It’s considerably brighter than your average budget phone screen, meaning watching downloaded Netflix films in the park isn’t a complete write-off.
The audio for such a venture can be provided the old fashioned way, courtesy of a 3.5mm headphone jack to the right of the USB-C port. Combined with the pre-installed Google Play Music app and 64GB of internal storage (with a microSD slot for up to 256GB of expansion), it also makes for a well-rounded audio player.
While there’s only one speaker here, it is at least front-facing, so you won’t find yourself blocking it with your hand while watching videos or playing games.
Speaking of which, that large, bright display makes for a great gaming canvas. It’s particularly handy for 3D action games such as PUBG, Guns of Boom and Shadowgun Legends, where the screen is often full of virtual buttons and other UI elements. There’s just that little bit of extra room to breathe here.
Such advanced games run reasonably well on the Moto G6 Plus too, though it’s worth pointing out that PUBG defaulted to Low settings. We encountered smooth performance even with the technically demanding Into the Dead 2, which has brought many a budget phone to its knees in recent months.
Third-person action game Hero Hunters defaulted to Medium graphical settings, which looked a little rough blown up to 5.9-inches. However, we were able to manually bump it up to High without a major performance penalty.
Specs and benchmark performance
- Snapdragon 630 CPU is a minor upgrade from G6
- 4GB of RAM is arguably a more significant upgrade
We couldn’t fault the general performance when navigating through menus, hopping between open apps, unlocking the phone with the fingerprint sensor and jumping into the camera. It’s not flagship phone fast in any of these tasks, but if you’re not dropping down from such a lofty level (as most people won’t be) you won’t notice anything amiss.
That said, it’s not like the Moto G6 is a massive slouch either. Through a combination of the surprisingly capable Snapdragon 450 and Motorola’s light-handed approach to software, the regular handset punches well above its weight. As a result, the range-topping Moto G6 Plus doesn’t seem significantly faster.
This isn’t just a woolly experiential thing either. While the Moto G6 Plus scored a strong 4,167 average on Geekbench 4’s multi-core test, that’s not massively higher than the Moto G6’s 3,807.
All things considered, it doesn’t provide quite as much of a boost over the Moto G6 as you might expect. It’s even a little slower than its immediate predecessor, the Moto G5S Plus, on 4,312. We suspect the extra pixels in the G6 Plus’s stretched-out display to be responsible for that particular anomaly.
The main point to take from this is that the Moto G6 Plus is a smooth performer that won’t lag or hold you back in any task shy of the most demanding games.
Unless you really want to be able to shoot 4K video, however, it’s tricky to see where the day-to-day performance benefit is in choosing the Moto G6 Plus over the Moto G6.
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