Since Motorola went through a reorganisation under first Google, then Lenovo we’ve seen a number of product lines come and go. The mainstay has always been their mid-range G-series which Motorola has consistently referred to as their best seller.
As their best selling phone series, Motorola has tended to lavish a goodly amount of attention on these phones, so when a new review unit crosses the desk, we take note. The Moto G8 Plus has just hit store shelves in Australia with a price tag of $499, so it’s time to dig in and see how it goes.
Hardware and Design
The Moto G series has never really been outrageous in design and the G8 Plus hasn’t changed this. It’s a simple design though in a gorgeous Cosmic Blue colour that is understated yet catches the eye in the right light.The rear is glossy, so it’s a bit of a fingerprint magnet, but if you use the free TPU case included in the box you’ll avoid this issue while still showing off the gorgeous colour.
The casing is ‘water repellent’, though Motorola hasn’t given an IP rating, so it’ll be best to keep the phone as dry as possible.
The front of the phone is dominated by the 6.3-inch IPS LCD display which at 1080p resolution is clear, though a little hard to read in bright daylight. A teardrop notch at the top hides the 25 MP selfie camera and there’s minimal bezel on the sides or top, though you do get the usual Android phone ‘chin’ beneath the display.
There’s a big speaker at the top which gives you stereo sound boosted by Dolby Audio, frankly the speakers sound great. You get a bit of hiss when listening to music through the headphone jack, but Motorola definitely scores points for retaining the headphone jack.
The rear is similarly designed to the Moto One Macro I looked at recently, with the triple-camera array on the rear aligned to the left, while the fingerprint scanner sits in the middle.
There’s something that feels right when I pick up a Moto handset these days. Motorola took a fair while to come around to the idea of rear mounted fingerprint sensors but come around they did and it feels right in the hand. My finger instinctively gravitates towards the scanner in the centre of the phone and it’s lovely to be able to unlock the phone while taking it out of my pocket.
I still find the volume rocker location above the power button on the right to be slightly inconvenient, but overall the G8 Plus feels great in the hand.
Under the hood the G8 Plus includes a Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 processor with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of on-board storage that can be expanded with a microSD card in the hybrid SIM tray on the left side of the phone.
In terms of performance the The CPU/RAM combo included handles the load pretty well, but if you’re into gaming you may find performance gets a little rocky when you multi-task.
The 4000 mAh battery included in the G8 Plus is a step up from last years G7 Plus which included a 3,000mAh battery though a step down from the Moto G7 Power which sported a whopping 5,000 mAh battery.
The good news is that the Moto G8 Plus gives you outstanding battery life. I was regularly hitting 11-13 hours use with 6-7 hours of screen on time which included heavy gaming, podcast listening and YouTube as well as plenty of email, web surfing and more.
Motorola has stepped down the Turbo Power charger included in the box for the G8 Plus. Last year’s G7 Plus had a 27W Turbo charger, while the Moto G8 Plus this year includes an 18W Turbo Charger with the phone supporting 15W Turbo Charging. It’s not a huge deal as re-charge times are still consistently fast with up to 8 hours of use from a 15 minute charge.
Motorola has included a triple-camera array on the rear of the phone, which includes:
- 48 MP main sensor (f/1.7, Quad Pixel technology, 1.6um),
- 5 MP depth sensor (f/2.2, 1.12um),
- Action Cam (16 MP sensor, f/2.2, Quad Pixel technology, 2.0um, dedicated ultra-wide FOV 117° video).
The G8 Plus camera is fairly serviceable, though I tended to note a lack of definitiion in some of the shots, meaning details looked flat when not in the foreground of the shot. Photos in bright light tend to be fairly decent though, so you’re not going to be terribly disappointed by the final shot.
An interesting note is that the ‘48MP’ sensor uses ‘Quad Pixel’ technology which basically means your image is stacked, with the resultant image around 12MP.
The Quad Pixel technology also helps with the G8 Plus dedicated ‘Night Mode’, which seems to be fairly decent, though not in the same class as the ‘Night Sight’ from Google’s Pixel, nor the offerings we’ve seen from Samsung or Huawei.
One interesting inclusion on the camera side is the ‘Action Cam’ which allows you to hold your phone vertically, though the wide angle lens captures in horizontal orientation.
Selfies? Well, the selfie camera is there, it works. Motorola has enabled the ‘Face Beauty’ mode on the front-facing camera by default, though the camera app does warn you that it’s on and it’s simple to turn off. It’s fairly aggressive in auto, though the manual mode which places a slider on the display lets you soften it a little.
Of course you can do video with 4K supported, though there’s no option to choose 60fps here. You can also do Timelapse and Slow motion video on the G8 Plus.
I’m on record as being a fan of the Motorola software experience. The clean, almost stock Android 9.0 (Pie) interface is sitting on the 1st September security patch. I had what Motorola called a ‘security update’ while using the G8 Plus, but the Android Security patch date remained the same.
While Motorola phones run an almost stock Android experience, there’s some enhancements included which make using Android a little easier, and fun. Moto Actions allows you to enable gestures like the flick to enable the torch, or a double karate chop to quickly launch the camera. Motorola has also improved Always On Display notifications to the point where I will very much miss them when I finished using the phone.
Should You Buy It?
Motorola has again delivered a solid handset with the Moto G8 Plus. There’s some rough edges on the camera but the majority of users will be quite happy with the results.
The solid standout for the Moto G8 Plus are the great quality sound from the stereo speaker setup and the phenomenally good battery life.
At $499 the phone is a pretty good value purchase in the mid-range without jumping up into the more premium ‘Super mid-range’ options where you’ll find the Pixel 3a, Huawei Nova 5T, Samsung A70 and more.
It’s lovely to look at, and hold, it has a very nice stock Android interface and that battery life is amazing. If you’re in the market this is definitely a good phone to check out.