For years, Motorola has proven budget smartphones don’t need to be total junk.
That tradition continues with its new Moto G6, G6 Play, E5 Plus, and E5 Play. The new Android phones are budget-priced, starting at $199 for the G6 Play and $249 for the G6. But don’t let the low pricing fool you, they offer a lot of bang for your buck.
I’ve tried every one of Motorola’s Moto G and E phones and they keep getting better every year. From the materials, to the performance, to the cameras, Motorola’s given the two phone series some nice upgrades.
Moto G and G Play
The Moto G and G Play are similar, but also vastly different. Let’s start with the $249 Moto G, which is the most expensive of the four phones the company’s just announced.
It’s the most premium of the quartet of new phones with a curved 3D Corning Gorilla Glass 3 back design reminiscent of the company’s mid-range Moto X4.
The 5.7-inch IPS screen with 1080p Full HD+ resolution keeps pace with the new trend towards taller 18:9 aspect ratios instead of the traditional 16:9. There’s also a pill-shaped fingerprint sensor below the screen.
Inside, the Moto G6 is rocking a Snapdragon 450 chip, 3GB or 4GB of RAM, 32GB or 64GB of internal storage, an expandable microSD card slot, and a 3,000 mAh battery with Motorola’s TurboPower fast charging via USB-C.
There’s no IP-rated water resistance, but at the very least the phone’s water repellent. And unlike more expensive phones, there’s still a headphone jack.
Software-wise, the Moto G6 is running a near stock version of Android 8.0 Oreo, which was pretty zippy and responsive in my brief hands-on with it.
On the back, there’s a dual-camera system, one with 12 megapixels and the second with 5 megapixels and f/1.8 aperture, and on the front is an 8-megapixel selfie camera.
The camera has some new tricks that use AI. For example, you can point the camera at a landmark or object to get information on it. There’s another mode that lets you scan text from a document and then select only the parts you want to copy. And other shooting modes such as portrait mode and a “spot color” mode that lets highlight a selected area’s color while turning the background black and white.
Furthermore, the G’s finally got a slow-motion and timelapse recording feature.
The Moto G6 Play is cheaper at $199, and you’ll feel it. Instead of glass, the back’s made of a 3D polymer glass that isn’t as scratch-resistant as Gorilla Glass.
The processor is a slightly punier Snapdragon 427 chip. There’s less RAM, 2GB or 3GB. Storage is also half as much as the Moto G6: 16GB or 32GB depending on the model.
The Moto G6 Play’s screen has an 18:9 aspect ratio, but the resolution is lower than the Moto G6 at 720p HD+.
There’s also only a single 13-megapixel camera on the back and an 8-megapixel camera on the front. The rear camera does slow-motion capture, but doesn’t record timelapses. The back camera also doesn’t have any of the aforementioned AI-infused shooting modes the Moto G6 has.
The only feature the Moto G6 Play has that’s seemingly better than its pricier brother is battery life. Motorola crammed a 4,000 mAh battery into this phone, which the company claims will give it up to 36 hours of mixed usage (same as the Moto G6).
Moto E5 Plus and E5 Play
Paying $200-$250 is pretty reasonable for a budget smartphone, but if that’s still too much — as it often is in many parts of the world — Motorola’s E5 Plus and E5 Play may be easier on your wallet.
Motorola hasn’t announced pricing for the E5 Plus and E5 Play, but expect them to cost under $199. The previous E4 Plus went for $180 (recently discounted to $150) and the E4 was $130. The final prices determined by wireless carriers.
The lower pricing does mean less performance across the board. The E5 Plus has a 3D polymer glass build, a Snapdragon 435 processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage (expandable via microSD card), a 6-inch HD+ (1,440 x 720 resolution) IPS LCD screen, and a rather enormous 5,000 mAh battery.
Oddly enough, the phone is saddled with an Micro USB port instead of a USB-C port. There’s also a headphone jack. On the back, you’ll find a 12-megapixel camera and on the front there’s an 8-megapixel shooter with LED flash.
The E5 Play is the weakest of the new Motorola phones. The screen is a smaller 5.2-inch HD resolution LCD, the processor is either a Snapdragon 425 or 427, there’s only 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage (expandable through memory card), and the battery’s a small 2,800 mAh capacity charged via Micro USB.
On the bright side, the battery is removable. Yes, I was just shocked to see this on a 2018 phone. The removable back cover also means the phone’s made of plastic.
The E5 Play’s rear camera is only 8 megapixels and the front is 5 megapixels (with LED flash, though).
I’d complain about how mediocre these specs are, but if the phone’s as cheap as the previous E4’s were, then, well, you get what you pay for. They’re usable phones by 2018 standards, but they’re obviously not in the same class as an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy or even a OnePlus phone.
All four of Motorola’s new phones appear to be solid budget Android phones. With the new Moto G’s and Moto E’s, Motorola is bringing premium features to more people. That means features like the dual cameras on the G6 and better performance for the E5’s.
I’m all for it. Not everyone can afford a $500, 800, or $1,000 phone. Not everyone needs all those features, either.