Motorola announces the 2018 Moto G6 and E5

NEW YORK CITY—Motorola is taking the wraps off its mid- to low-end lineup today. The company is launching four phones at once—the Moto G6, Moto G6 Play, Moto E5 Plus, and the Moto E5 Play. And no matter what Motorola does with these devices, there’s almost no competition in the sub-$300 price range (especially here in the US), making all of these phones worthy of consideration just because of their price point.

Announcing four phones at once (some with multiple configurations!) can get really confusing, so let’s start with a giant spec sheet comparing them all. Right off the bat, there are some notable similarities: all four phones have headphone jacks, MicroSD slots, fingerprint readers, a “water repellent” coating, Android 8.0 Oreo, and all the usual connectivity options except for NFC.

STARTING PRICE $249 $199 unknown unknown
SCREEN 5.7″ 2160×1080 LCD 5.7″ 1440×720 LCD 6″ 1440×720 LCD 5.2″ 1080×720 LCD
CPU Snapdragon 450

(Eight 1.8Ghz Cortex A53 Cores, 14nm)

Snapdragon 427

(Four 1.4GHz Cortex A53 Cores, 28nm)

Snapdragon 435

(Eight 1.4GHz Cortex A53 Cores, 28nm)

Snapdragon 425 or 427

(Four 1.4GHz Cortex A53 Cores, 28nm)

GPU Adreno 506 Adreno 308 Adreno 505 Adreno 308
RAM 3GB or 4GB 2GB or 3GB 3GB 2GB
STORAGE 32GB or 64GB 16GB or 32GB 32GB 16GB
PORTS USB-C, headphone jack Micro USB, headphone jack Micro USB, headphone jack Micro USB, headphone jack
BATTERY 3000Ah 4000Ah 5000Ah 2800Ah
BACK MATERIAL Gorilla Glass 3 Clear plastic Clear plastic Opaque plastic

The Moto G6

First up is the Moto G6. This $249 device is the highest-end phone announced today, packing a Snapdragon 450 into an all-glass body.

Wait, what? The 2017 Moto G5 Plus was $20 cheaper ($229), had an aluminum back, and used a Snapdragon 625 SoC. There is no “Plus” model this year, so sadly, it seems like the highest-end Moto G6 offers a downgrade in the SoC and materials despite being a bit more expensive.

The lower-tier SoC means the Moto G is basically standing still this year in the processing department. The Snapdragon 450 is just a rebrand of the Snapdragon 625: both chips are built on a 14nm processor, feature eight Cortex A53 cores, an Adreno 506 GPU, and X9 LTE modem. The 450 has a slightly lower clock speed (1.8GHz versus 2GHz) and a slower ISP.

Users at least get an upgrade in the screen department. The Moto G6 is now packing a 5.7-inch, 2160×1080 LCD with a flagship-style 18:9 aspect ratio and rounded corners. The Moto G5 Plus only had a 5.2-inch display. But thanks to a reduction in bezels, the G6 can fit a bigger screen in a body that is roughly the same size.

The phone uses on-screen navigation buttons, and below the display is a bottom bezel with a large “Motorola” logo and an old-school front fingerprint reader. Besides the regular navigation buttons, the Moto G6 also supports gesture controls, which are quickly becoming the hot new thing in Android land. You can swipe to the left over the fingerprint reader to trigger Android’s Back button, and a swipe to the right will trigger Recent apps.

Other specs include 3GB or 4GB of RAM, 32 or 64GB of storage, a 3000mAh battery, and an 8MP front camera. There are some luxuries that you may or may not get at this price point. The Moto G6 (and every other Moto phone announced today) has a headphone jack and a MicroSD card. It also has a modern USB-C port for changing and 15W “turbo charging” with the included charger. Unfortunately, NFC is not listed in the spec sheet of any of these phones, so those hoping to do Google Pay are out of luck.

You won’t find an IPx water resistance rating on Motorola’s phones this year, but they all have a “Water repellent coating” from a company called “P2i.” The fine print on Motorola’s spec sheet notes that this will “help protect against moderate exposure to water such as accidental spills, splashes or light rain,” but it is “not designed to be submerged in water, or exposed to pressurized water, or other liquids; Not waterproof.”

Motorola is touting a feature-packed camera on the G6. The dual camera setup pairs a 12MP main camera with a 5MP secondary camera for depth effects. You can apply a depth-of-field effect to a photo after it is shot, thanks to saved depth information. There’s a selective black-and-white mode, a time-lapse feature, Snapchat style “face filters” that can stick virtual props on your face, motion photos that save a few seconds of video with your picture, and even a Google Lens-style visual search that can supposedly identify landmarks, objects, and do OCR (optical character recognition) for text. All your photos can be saved on Google Photos, which is the default gallery app on the G6.

The 2018 G and E phones all come with Android 8.0 Oreo, but the update situation is pretty sad. The Moto G phones are promised one major OS update, to Android P. The E phones are not guaranteed an OS update. Neither will get monthly security updates, but instead security releases will come “every 60-90 days.”

Moto G6 Play

Next up is the Moto G6 Play, a cheaper, $199 version of the Moto G6.

I wish I could say the most expensive G6 is an all-around better option than the G6 Play, but I’m not sure. I prefer the design of the cheaper phone, which dumps the old-school front fingerprint reader for a more modern rear fingerprint reader that is beautifully integrated into the Motorola logo sitting just below the camera. You also get a battery that is 25-percent than the more expensive Moto G6: 4000mAh.

The price savings show up in the display—the Play still offers a 5.7-inch 18:9 LCD, but only 720p—and in the SoC, which is downgraded to a Snapdragon 427. This uses four 1.4GHz Cortex A53 cores made on a bigger, more power-hungry 28nm process with a wimpy Adreno 308 GPU.

RAM and storage is downgraded, too, with options for 2 or 3GB of RAM and 16 or 32GB of storage. You’re down to an older MicroUSB port for charging, along with a slower 10w charging capability. You get one 13MP rear camera and 8MP front camera, all without the pile of extra camera features in the G6.

The other big change to the G6 Play is that the back isn’t glass. The G6 Play introduces us to the concept of a “fake glass back”—a clear back made of plastic but designed to look like glass.

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