The Moto G6 is a great smartphone for $250, and it continues to carry the value torch for the G-series. What’s most impressive here is the level of refinement this device brings to the table at this price point.
It’s hard to believe it’s already been five years since Moto introduced the first G-series phone. Before the Moto G, buying an affordable handset meant getting stuck with crappy hardware, inferior software, and a terrible user experience. Moto changed the game forever by blending quality hardware, stock software, and best-in-class features at an unbeatable price. It paid off: the Moto G consistently ends up on everyone’s recommended list.
The Moto G6 is this year’s iteration, and it brings some impressive new features to the G-series. So, does it live up to the Moto G legacy? Is it still the best phone under $250? Let’s find out.
The Moto G6 takes most of its design cues from last year’s Moto X4, including the premium materials and build quality. It’s an all-black Gorilla Glass sandwich, with a 5.7-inch 18:9 display in front, aluminum alloy frame, and 3D curved glass in the back. Ergonomics are top notch: it feels great in hand, lightweight yet sturdy, and narrow enough to grip with one hand. Some flagship only recently reached this level of refinement (I’m looking at you, OnePlus), and while aluminum unibody designs are getting more common at this price point, glass-clad phones are not.
Bezels are minimal all around, leaving enough room for a fingerprint reader below the screen, plus an 8-megapixel camera, earpiece, and LED flash above. There’s a circular camera pod in the rear, which looks like a giant wink emoticon, and houses the 12MP and 5MP dual shooter, along with an LED flash. A textured aluminum power/lock button and volume rocker are located on the right, the SIM tray lives on top, and the bottom edge is home to the headphone jack and USB Type-C power/data connector.
Ultra-wide displays are quickly becoming the norm on most new handsets these days, so it’s no surprise the Moto G6 sports a 5.7-inch 18:9 1080p IPS panel. It isn’t anything particularly special, but it’s good enough in this price range, with decent viewing angles and pleasant colors. Contrast ratio and maximum brightness leave room for improvement, but most folks will be well served by this screen. As a bonus, the rounded corners are a nice touch.
Moto put a lot of emphasis on the G6’s camera, and it certainly packs some unique and interesting features. The main shooter combines a primary 12MP f/1.8 lens with a secondary 5MP f/2.2 sensor for depth effects. It captures video up to 1080p 60fps. For selfies, there’s an 8-megapixel f/2.2 camera capable of 1080p 30fps video recording. Beyond the usual modes — like panorama, slow motion, time-lapse, manual, and portrait — the Moto G6 includes additional creative options.
The portrait editor makes it easy to readjust focus or set part of the shot to black and white. Cutout turns the background black, effectively keeping only the foreground.
Spot color isolates a specific color while turning the rest of the image black and white. Text scanner converts any text in the viewfinder into actual editable text (OCR). Group selfie captures a wider angle by stitching three pictures into one. Face filters are similar to Snapchat’s face lenses and Apple’s Animoji. Object and landmark recognition is similar to Google Lens.
Photos taken with the Moto G6 are surprisingly decent considering this isn’t a flagship device. HDR pictures are particularly good, and night shots generally came out better than I expected. There’s a definite loss of detail in low light since the camera lacks OIS, but Moto’s image processing keep things manageable. Other than a lack of electronic stabilization, video recording is perfectly fine.
Reception and sound quality
I didn’t experience any problems with reception, call quality, and data speeds while using the Moto G6 on Verizon in San Francisco, CA and Portland, OR. Yes, this phone supports both GSM/LTE and legacy CDMA carriers like Verizon and Sprint – something that’s rare on sub-$250 handsets. The G6’s earpiece doubles as a speaker and is extremely loud and clear. Audio through the headphone jack sounds better than average, too, with great levels of detail and a wide soundstage. It’s somewhat limited in terms of volume, however, especially when driving higher-end headphones and in-ear monitors.