Your ultimate guide to Motorola’s 2018 smartphone lineup

Room for one more? Motorola brings the $399 Motorola One to the U.S.

moto g6 hands on 1
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Another year, another Motorola upgrade cycle. With so many upgrades, Motorola’s lineup can get a little confusing, even for those of us who live and breathe in the mobile world. With Moto models ranging from E to G to Z, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d dropped into an episode of Sesame Street, rather than a list of Motorola’s latest and greatest.

But fear not, we’re here to help. We’ve delved deep into the details of each of Motorola’s latest phones to make sure that you know exactly what you’re getting in terms of budget, design, or needs. We’ll be going from the cheapest budget device, the Moto E5 Play, all the way to the Motorola flagship, the Moto Z3.

If you’re looking for a Motorola phone from 2017, check out our guide on Motorola’s 2017 phones.

Moto E5

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Pricing: Around $100

Who it’s for: Anyone who wants a basic but reliable large-screen smartphone for very little money.

It’s not common for Motorola to bring the entirety of one of its ranges to the U.S., so imagine our surprise when it turned out that the Motorola Moto E5 would be coming to U.S. shores after all, joining its E-range 5th-gen comrades.

The Moto E5 is the cheapest of Motorola’s E5 range, coming in at just $100 for a phone on Simple Mobile. It’s well sized, with a 5.7-inch screen in an 18:9 aspect ratio, and a 720p resolution. You’ll find a decently powered Qualcomm Snapdragon 425, along with 2GB of RAM. There’s a tiny 16GB of onboard storage, but you can boost that with a MicroSD card. That’s backed up by a big 4,000mAh battery that should give some long-lived battery life. There’s an 8-megapixel lens on the back, and a 5-megapixel selfie shooter.

However, like the other variants in the Moto E5-range, it won’t get an Android 9.0 Pie upgrade.

Moto E5 Play

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Moto E5 Play Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Pricing: Around $130

Who it’s for: Someone who needs a basic, cheap smartphone.

The Moto E Series has always been Motorola’s bargain budget tier of smartphones, but don’t let that put you off. The specs are modest, as you’d expect: A Snapdragon 425 or 427 processor (depending on the carrier you buy it from), as well as 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, with an optional MicroSD slot for more storage. The draw here is the upgraded looks and display — slim bezels and a 5.2-inch screen with a 1280 x 720-pixel resolution — and though it does have a plastic back panel, it’s removable so you can replace the sizeable 2,800mAh battery if needed. It ran decently in our review, and the 8-megapixel rear camera and 5-megapixel front-facing camera proved capable enough for the price — but avoid low lighting conditions if you want to take pictures.

Unfortunately, Motorola has ruled out an Android 9.0 Pie upgrade for this phone, so that’s something to keep in mind if you like to be up-to-date.

Moto E5 Play review

Moto E5 Plus

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Moto E5 Plus Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Pricing:  Around $180

Who it’s for: Someone who needs a lot of battery life, but isn’t bothered about processing power.

We loved the Moto E4 Plus, and it seems that the follow-up will include that phone’s greatest asset — the fantastic battery life. The Moto E5 Plus is packing an enormous 5,000mAh battery that will likely be able to last upwards of two days thanks to the energy-sipping Snapdragon 435, while still providing plenty of power and storage with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage (with the option of MicroSD card expansion). Like the Play version, the looks have been upgraded, with slim bezels and a cool polymer glass back panel. It also has a huge 6-inch display with a 1440 x 720-pixel resolution, as well as a capable camera suite — a 12-megapixel lens on the back and an 8-megapixel on the front.

Unfortunately, like the E5 Play, this phone will definitely not be receiving an Android 9.0 Pie upgrade — which may be a deal-breaker for some.

Moto E5 Plus review

Moto G6 Play

lenovo moto g6 vs play display
Moto G6 Play Julian Chokkattu / Digital Trends

Pricing: Starts at $200

Who it’s for: Someone who wants a good-looking and cheap midrange device that covers all the bases.

The Moto G6 range comes to the U.S. in two flavors this year, and the Moto G6 Play is the cheapest of those models. You might not realize that at first glance since Motorola has finally gotten around to fully embracing the bezel-less trend we’ve seen slowly taking over the entire mobile industry. Slim bezels surround a huge 5.7-inch LCD screen running a 720p HD resolution. It’s not the sharpest around, but it’s good enough for this price. The whole phone is clad in a polymer glass, which throws some really nice reflections when the light hits it. You’ll also find the fingerprint sensor around the back of the phone, which we definitely prefer to the front-mounted design Motorola has gone with before.

Moving inside the phone, there’s a Snapdragon 427 along with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, but there will also be a model with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. You can also expand that storage on either model of the G6 Play with a MicroSD card. Performance is okay, but don’t expect the G6 Play to keep up with you if you need a powerful phone. Camera-wise, the G6 Play has the only single-lens setup in the G-range this year, and the single 13-megapixel lens held up well, though it still suffers from shutter lag. Still, this $200 phone is a good choice for the price, and it’s been confirmed to be getting an update to Android 9.0 Pie.

Moto G6 Play review

Moto G6

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Julian Chokkattu / Digital Trends

Pricing:  Starts at $250

Who it’s for: Someone who wants a great all-around midrange phone for under $300.

The Moto G6 is the next rung up on the midrange ladder, and it’s one heck of a rung. For $250, you get a phone that’s close to being bezel-less, a 5.7-inch screen running a full HD 1080p resolution, and some decent specs on the inside. The Moto G6 is wrapped in glass (Gorilla Glass 3), and it sits nicely in the hand. Performance is smooth, thanks to the Snapdragon 450 and 3GB of RAM. There’s 32GB of storage, but that’s upgradable by MicroSD card, and if that’s still not enough, there’s a model with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. It’s also fairly set up for the future, with a confirmed update to Android 9.0 Pie in the works.

The fingerprint scanner is back underneath the display, like the previous Moto G models, which is good if you like that placement. There’s a dual-lens camera on the back — a 12-megapixel lens and a 5-megapixel lens — and these are primarily used to give a blurred “bokeh” effect to images. It did a pretty good job in testing, but there’s still a hint of that shutter lag that always seems to plague Motorola phones. In a first for the G-range, there’s also a USB-C port at the bottom of the phone.

Note: There is also a Moto G6 Plus with the faster Snapdragon 630, a bigger battery, and a slightly larger 5.9-inch display — but it won’t be coming to the U.S.

Moto G6 review

Moto X5

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Pricing: Under $400

Who it’s for: Someone who’s after an upper-midrange phone and likes a notched display.

It used to be that the Moto X was Motorola’s flagship range — but it’s since been supplanted by the Moto Z range. That doesn’t mean that a Moto X doesn’t deserve to be your daily driver though, as there’s historically been a lot to love in a Moto X. The Moto X5 has yet to be officially announced, but the rumors surrounding its existence point to an iPhone X-style notch at the top of the screen. There are precious little details on the Moto X5 at this stage though, save a possible 5.9-inch screen.

We’ll let you know as soon as there are more details available on this device.

Moto X5 news

Motorola One

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Pricing: $399

Who it’s for: Someone who wants a decent midrange phone for a good price.

One of the few Motorola handsets not to come with a single letter name, the Motorola One is Motorola’s midrange handset that doesn’t come with access to Moto Mods. It’s powered by the midrange Snapdragon 625, and comes with 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage with MicroSD card expansion of up to 256GB. Those aren’t bad stats for a midrange phone, and it should keep it ticking well. The display may be a disappointment to some though, and though it has a 19:9 aspect ratio, the resolution tops out at 720p. Not really what we expect in a $399 phone. Still, the 3,000mAh battery is decent, and access to Android One should mean plenty of software updates.

Note: There’s a slightly higher powered version of the Motorola One, called the Motorola One Power. It comes with a more powerful processor and a huge 5,000mAh battery — but it’s likely it won’t be coming to the U.S.

Motorola One news

Moto Z3 Play

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Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Pricing: Around $500

Who it’s for: Someone who wants access to Moto Mods, but in a cheaper package.

The Moto Z Play range has always been the best route for anyone who wants a great phone at a low price, but also can’t resist the allure of Motorola’s Moto Mods. 2018’s Moto Z3 Play comes with the improved Snapdragon 636, 4GB of RAM for easy multitasking, and Android 8.1 Oreo — as well as a confirmed update to Android 9.0 Pie. It’s all powered by a 3,000mAh battery, and while that seems small, it’ll easily give you a day of play — two days with the included battery Moto Mod. There are an upgraded camera and a new bezel-less design, with Motorola bringing the best of 2018’s trends to the table. The Moto Z3 Play is a great choice for a Moto Mod enthusiast on a budget.

Moto Z3 Play review

Moto Z3

Moto Z3 review
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Pricing: Around $480

Who it’s for: Someone who wants flagship performance with their Moto Mods.

The Moto Z3 represents Motorola’s flagship range and is the most powerful phone that Motorola has revealed to date. It provides excellent performance, thanks to the powerful Snapdragon 835 and 6GB of RAM. A 128GB hard drive should give enough room for all but the most app-hungry of individuals, and there’s even a MicroSD card slot to boost that ample storage. It’s running an almost-stock version of Android 8.1 Oreo, though it does have Motorola’s usual complement of added apps — but it’s also one of the Motorola phones confirmed to get Android 9.0 Pie. You’ll get a day’s worth of life out of the 3,000mAh battery, and Motorola’s TurboPower fast charging is as speedy as ever. The camera is definitely a weak spot though, and while capable in good lighting, it disappoints in less well-lit environments. In terms of design, it looks exactly the same as the Moto Z3 Play — and it’ll work with all the same Moto Mods too.

With the Moto Z3 Play coming in at around $500, you might have expected the flagship Moto Z3 to come in at a higher price than its lower-powered brethren — however, you might even find the Moto Z3 for less than the Z3 Play at times. Why? Motorola is discounting the Z3 in order to push the 5G Moto Mod that’s arriving next year. This mod will allow the Z3 to access significantly faster speeds on 5G mobile data, and Motorola is hoping the lower asking price for the Z3 will make the 5G Mod’s price more palatable. Still, this is a great phone for the money, and the best way to access the suite of Moto Mods.

Moto Z3 review

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