The Moto G6 Play at £150 is the cheapest phone in the G6 series of phones produced by Motorola, the other two being the Moto G6 itself which cost £200 and the priciest in the range the Moto G6 Plus with a price of £250. Being the cheapest phone in the range, it’s obvious that Motorola has had to make sacrifices in some places compared to its siblings, such as the use of a plastic rear instead of glass and a lesser SOC. That said the Moto G6 Play feels like a stunning reminder that phones don’t have to be expensive or packed full of the latest technology to be decent.
Moto G6 Play Review: Design
Despite being cheap and having a plastic rear (Glass Polymer as Motorola calls it), instead of a glass one as found on its siblings, the Moto G6 Play is actually a rather stunning looking device and rather surprisingly it actually feels just as good in the hand as its siblings do. The plastic rear also features the same shiny S effect that appears under certain lighting on the other models. The only real issue here is just how much of a fingerprint magnet this phone is, I can guarantee that there’s never going to be a moment where the rear of the phone isn’t covered in greasy fingerprints unless you use a case that is. Talking of cases, Motorola has included a basic but functional TPU case with the phone.
As well as that stunning looking shiny S effect, the rear of the Moto G6 Play is of course home to other things such as a protruding round camera area complete with LED flash and more interestingly a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, which is actually located within the famous little Moto dimple, that usually just sits there as a logo space. I have to say I love that Motorola has used the dimple for this purpose. On the G6 and G6 Plus, the fingerprint scanner is on the front of the device, however for cost reasons Motorola, decided to place it on the rear of the G6 Play, but in all honesty, I feel the rear is the best place for a fingerprint scanner. I also have to say I find the fingerprint scanner to work quite well, as long as my hands are 100% dry. If they are wet it can be hit and miss to get a proper reading.
The front of the Moto G6 Play is home to a front facing camera with flash, your typical sensors and an earpiece. For cost reasons and possibly sizing issues the earpiece you see on the front is also the Moto G6 Play’s loudspeaker, however, it’s quite capable and delivers some great audio. The screen on the Moto G6 play is an edge to edge display and is 5.7 inches in size, which puts it equally with the G6. Sitting on the bezel just below the screen is the full Motorola branding instead of just ”moto”.
Despite having a 5.7-inch display, the Moto G6 Play is actually not as big as you’d expect, in fact, it’s not much bigger than my old 5-inch Moto C Plus that it has replaced. This size is thanks to Motorola’s choice to equip the G6 Play with an aspect ratio of 18:9 instead of the typical 16:9 found on older phones and other phones in this price range.
There’s a slight curve around the edges of the rear of the device, which makes it quite comfortable to hold, however, the smooth glossy back can be quite slippery in hand, so be very wary if you have sweaty palms. As well as a curved back, the phone also has curved corners at both the top and bottom.
Down the right-hand side of the Moto G6 Play, you will find a volume rocker at the top with a power button located just below it. To prevent any confusion during button presses, the volume rocker is smooth, while the power button is textured. On the opposite side, you will find the sim/MicroSD card tray.
Thankfully Motorola has kept the ever popular 3.5mm audio jack on the G6 series and on the G6 Play you will happily find it sharing the top edge with a secondary microphone.
Slightly confusing and seen on the bottom of the device is Motorola’s choice to use the older dying out MicroUSB port instead of the newer, Type C standard as found on most smartphones including the G6 and G6 Plus.
Moto G6 Play Review: Display
One of the areas that Motorola has made a sacrifice for the purpose of price, is the screen resolution, which on the G6 Play is 720p, instead of 1080p like the displays used for it siblings. While the display itself isn’t bad, you can certainly see the difference between this and the Moto G6’s 1080p display. For example, the display of the G6 Play just isn’t as crisp as the G6’s display and text and graphics are much softer in appearance. That said though the display is good in its own right and while not as sharp it certainly is much brighter than the one found on the G6. There’s also adaptive brightness, which automatically adjusts the brightness based on your current lighting situation and also present is a settings menu where you can choose between vibrant colors or standard colors. Lastly, the viewing angle is pretty decent no matter how bright it is outside. I can’t say I wouldn’t have preferred a higher resolution though and given that the G5’s featured 1080p displays, this does feel like a step backward from Motorola.
Moto G6 Play Review: Specifications and Performance
Moto G6 Play: Specifications (U.S Differs)
- Android 8.0 Oreo
- 5.7in 18:9 IPS LCD HD+
- 1.4GHz Snapdragon 430
- 3GB RAM
- 32GB storage (expandable to 256GB)
- 13Mp rear cameras, f/2.0 aperture
- 8Mp front facing camera
- 802.11b/g/n 2.4 GHz
- Bluetooth 4.2
- 4000mAh non-removable battery
- 154 x 72 x 9mm
Given its low price, it’s understandable that the Moto G6 Play isn’t a powerhouse of a device, however for day-to-day tasks it performs exceptionally well, especially when doing things such as taking calls, listening to music, browsing the web and watching YouTube videos. Under the hood, the SoC powering it is the budget-friendly Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 consisting of a 1.4 GHz Cortex-A53 Octa-core processor paired with an Adreno 505 GPU. Compared to the Snapdragon 450 powering the Moto G6, this is quite a low-grade chip.
The Moto G6 Play also comes equipped with 3GB of RAM, which is more than enough these days for anyone who uses their phone for phone stuff and smartphone stuff. Pair this with a generous 32GB of onboard storage which can be expanded with a MicroSD card up to 256GB in size and it’s easy to forget your sitting at the very low end of the G6 range.
I should point out to potential buyers in America that there is an American version of the G6 Play that has slightly lesser specifications compared to other countries. The SoC is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 427 with a Quad-core processor, the RAM has been lowered to 2GB, the GPU is the Adreno 308, while the onboard storage sits at 16GB. It’s fair to say that the American variant of this phone is not as good as the worldwide variant.
Playing games on the Moto G6 Play is a pretty smooth affair for the most part. Some of the more demanding games such as Asphalt 9 and PUBG: Mobile have their share of problems owing to the mid-range hardware in use.
Moto G6 Play Review: Battery Life
The biggest advantage the Moto G6 play offers over the G6 and G6 Plus is its larger battery. At 4,000mAh it’s 1000 more than the G6 and 800 more than the G6 Plus, which is how it earned its name.
On standby, Motorola claims the Moto G6 Play will hit no less than 32 hours, which is, by all means, amazing and I can verify is true. I have been able to go up to 2 whole days without charging when using the phone very little. When using the phone quite a lot over the period of two days, I manage to get around 8 hours of screen-on-time, leaving me with about 10% left every other day. These are quite pleasing results when compared with similar phones running on batteries with less capacity.
Another little ace up the sleeve of the Moto G6 Play is Motorola’s Turbopower technology, which as you can guess by the name, speeds up the charging speed drastically. It’s so fast in fact that during my use the phone gains 50% battery from flat within 40 minutes. The first 50% is always the fastest but for safety reasons and other technical wizardry, the rate slows down slightly after the first 50%. It’s still fast though and charging from flat to 100% takes under two hours. To ensure you can get started right away with Turbopower, Motorola has included a Turbocharge wall plug in the box, which is a lovely surprise for a phone that costs so little.
Moto G6 Play Review: Software
The Moto G6 Play comes installed with Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box, with an upgrade to Android 9.0 currently in the pipeline, although there’s no word on when we can expect this update to drop.
Since the original Moto X and Moto G dropped back in 2012 when Motorola was under the watchful eye of Google, Motorola has stuck to avoiding any OEM skin on top of Android, which for anyone not in the know, means you get stock Android as Google intended it to look, which is, in my opinion, the best version. If you want an example of not-stock Android, have a look at a Samsung phone or an LG phone.
Thanks to this Vanilla Android software, the Moto G6 Play has a clean U.I that remains uncomplicated all the way through. It also means there’s less of a hit to the phone’s performance, which makes navigating the phone a smooth hassle free experience.
Motorola has also included its Moto App on the Moto G6 Play, which contains some really nifty features like Moto Actions which allows you to do things like turn the torch on with two quick karate chop motions or twist the phone twice in quick succession to launch the camera and Moto Display which allows you to set up some nifty display features. Moto Voice, however, is missing from the Moto G6 Play.
Moto G6 Play Review: Camera
The main camera on the Moto G6 Play is a 13-megapixel shooter featuring an f/2.0 aperture, while the front-facing camera is an 8-megapixel shooter. Both cameras are complete with LED flash. Unlike the G6 and G6 Plus, the Moto G6 Play doesn’t feature dual lenses for the rear-facing camera.
In well-lit conditions, the Moto G6 Play camera is a decent enough performer for social media photos/videos. The images provide a good enough level of detail with vivid colors that ensure a slightly above average result.
While well-lit conditions offer good enough photos/videos, taking photos or recording videos in low-light conditions yields some less than desirable results. Details are limited and colors appear muted with a major hit on the overall quality.
The 8-megapixel camera on the front of the device is good enough for anyone who likes to take selfies every couple of seconds and post them on Facebook, but anything more and you’ll be less than impressed.
Moto G6 Play Review: Final Verdict
It’s hard not to love the Moto G6 Play as it’s such an amazing device for such little money. Feature packed and a decent little performer it definitely a decent phone for anyone on a tight budget. If you could stretch your budget a bit more, then obviously the better choice would be the Moto G6 with a faster processor and higher screen resolution.
As someone who has owned a Moto G1, Moto X1, Moto G3 and a Moto C Plus in the past, I am happy to see that Motorola is still designing budget phones with decent enough specifications and gorgeous looks. The G6 Play is proof that Motorola has yet to still lose its touch in the budget smartphone market.
- Low price
- Gorgeous design
- Great battery
- 720p display
- Awful low light photos
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