Moto G6 vs. Moto G5: Is it time to crown a new budget king?

moto g6 hands on 6
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Motorola’s range of budget kings has a new model with the arrival of the Moto G6 smartphone. But how does the new model compare to the last major installment in the Moto G line, the Moto G5? Though the Moto G5 was never officially released in the U.S., it was still a massive hit around the world. With the new G6 in the wings, how do the two measure up? We took a look to find out.

Specs

Moto G6 Moto G5
Size 153.8 x 72.3 x 8.3 mm (6.01 x 2.85 x 0.33 inches) 144.3 x 73 x 9.5 mm (5.68 x 2.87 x 0.37 inches)
Weight 167 grams (5.89 ounces) 145 grams (5.11 ounces)
Screen size 5.7-inch IPS LCD 5.0-inch IPS LCD
Screen resolution 2160 x 1080 pixels (424 pixels per inch) 1920 x 1080 pixels (441 pixels per inch)
Operating system Android 8.0 Oreo Android 7.0 Nougat (Android 8.0 Oreo update planned)
Storage space 32GB, 64GB 16GB, 32GB
MicroSD card slot Yes, up to 128GB Yes, up to 128GB
Tap-to-pay services No No
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 Qualcomm Snapdragon 430
RAM 3GB, 4GB 2GB, 3GB
Camera Dual lens 12MP and 5MP rear, 8MP front 13MP rear, 5MP front
Video 1080p at 60 fps, slow-mo video 1080p at 30 fps
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 4.2 Bluetooth 4.2
Ports 3.5mm headphone jack, USB-C 3.5mm headphone jack, Micro USB
Fingerprint sensor Yes Yes
Water resistance No No
Battery 3,000mAh

TurboPower Charging

2,800mAh

TurboPower Charging

App marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Network support All major carriers All major carriers
Colors Black, Deep Indigo Lunar Grey, Fine Gold, Sapphire Blue
Price $250 $200
Buy from Motorola Motorola, Amazon
Review score Hands on News

Performance, battery life, and charging

best moto g5 plus cases covers mwc lenovo
Kyle Wiggers/Digital Trends

We didn’t review the Moto G5, due to the aforementioned lack of a U.S. release, but the G-range has generally brought quite zippy performance for a budget handset. We were impressed with the last release, the Moto G5S Plus. While it certainly doesn’t pack flagship-level performance, the Snapdragon 430 in the Moto G5 is reliable and quick to respond. The Moto G6 is packing the more powerful Snapdragon 450, and offers the option of more RAM, which will give the G6 an edge in multitasking.

The G6 also has a larger battery than the G5, rising to 3,000mAh from the G5’s 2,800mAh. Wireless charging is a no-go, but that’s not unexpected on a budget phone. Charging speeds via the USB-C port on the G6 are also faster. Motorola’s TurboPower Charging jumps to 15W, giving enough power for six hours of charge in just 15 minutes. The Moto G5 can still charge fairly quickly via its less convenient Micro USB port, but speeds are capped at 10W. Of course, you have to use the right charger to get those speeds.

The Moto G6 is a straight upgrade in every single aspect. The newer model is the clear winner here.

Winner: Moto G6

Design and durability

moto g6 hands on 10
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

We had some criticisms of the look of the Moto G5 Plus when it was first released, and those criticisms apply to the smaller G5 too. The chunky bezels and rounded style make the G5 look like a much older phone, and while we don’t expect supercar-levels of attractiveness in our budget phones, we do expect a high level of style in 2018. Thankfully, this seems to have been rectified with the Moto G6. The G6 is packing the 18:9 aspect ratio that’s becoming increasingly common, and while the phone isn’t truly bezel-less, the bezels are much reduced while still retaining a style that’s very Moto G and still modern. You’ll also find the fingerprint sensor around the front of both phones.

As you might expect for a budget phone, neither has any significant water-resistance, with a “water-repellent” coating being the only real protection against liquids. In terms of physical durability it’s more of a toss-up. The Moto G5 is covered in a fairly flimsy metal, and it’s debatable whether that metal will fare better than the glass on the back of the G6. Glass is prone to shattering, but that risk can be stymied with a good case.

We’re still torn on the durability issue, but we think it’s clear that the Moto G6 is by far the more attractive phone here. The G6 takes it.

Winner: Moto G6

Display

Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus Our first take

Both these phones pack IPS LCD screens with Full HD 1080p screens, and they’re both colorful, sharp, and more than good enough for a budget phone. Outside of that, there’s little else in common with these two phones. The Moto G6’s 5.7-inch display covers significantly more of the phone’s front than the G5’s 5-inch display, while the G6’s 18:9 aspect ratio also gives it a longer screen. In displays, bigger is often better, and although the G6’s display isn’t quite as sharp as the G5’s (due to the larger coverage and similar resolution), it’s not a big enough difference to be able to see with the naked eye.

The Moto G6 gives you a bigger screen that’s oh-so 2018, and it wins this category.

Winner: Moto G6

Camera

moto g6 hands on 14
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Cameras in budget phones have improved a lot over the course of the last year. Since early 2017, we’ve seen dual-lens cameras become more and more prevalent, even on lower-priced phones, and the Moto G6 continues this trend with 12-megapixel and 5-megapixel lenses around the back, and a sizeable 8-megapixel selfie-shooter on the front. We’ll have to see how it performs when we get our hands on it, but even if it’s only just as good as the camera on the G5S Plus we’re fairly sure it’ll be better than the single 13-megapixel shooter on the G5.

In terms of video, the Moto G6 has one-upped the G5 with 1080p recordings at 60 frames per second. The G5 can only manage 30 fps at that same resolution. There’s also support for slow motion recording on the G6, and a time lapse feature.

While we haven’t spent much time with the Moto G6 ‘s camera yet, we’re reasonably sure that it’ll turn out to be the superior of the two.

Winner: Moto G6

Software and updates

Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus Our first take

Motorola is known for shipping its phones with a version of Android reasonably close to stock, and there’s no difference here in that regard. However, you will find an updated version of Android 8.0 Oreo on the Moto G6, while the Moto G5 is currently stuck on the older Android 7.0 Nougat. While an update is planned for the G5, there’s no sign of it yet.

Going forward, Motorola has stated that the G6 will receive an update to Android P, and up to two years of update support — since the G5 is already partway through its update lifespan, similar support is unlikely.

While there’s nothing wrong with the version of Android on the G5, the G6 has all the latest features and is more likely to be supported for longer. The Moto G6 wins here.

Winner: Moto G6

Special features

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Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Since both of these phones are close to stock Android you might think there won’t be much in the way of special Motorola-added features. But you’d be wrong. Features like Moto Actions allow you to use physical gestures with your phone to open specific apps — like double-twisting your wrist to open your camera — while Moto Voice allows you to access some phones features or open apps with the phrase “Show me”.

These features have been pretty standard across most recent Motorola phones, and at this point we’re not aware of any additional features that could separate them. This is a tie.

Winner: Tie

Price

Both of these phones are inexpensive budget beasts with a lot to offer. The Moto G6 will be available in May, with prices starting from $250. The Moto G5 didn’t officially launch in the U.S., but that doesn’t mean you can’t buy an international variant from Amazon, and current pricing has it at a paltry $160. That’s a real bargain for a phone that’s this good.

Winner: Moto G5

Overall winner: Moto G6

We would have really been questioning Motorola if this had been the other way around. While the Moto G5 is still a great budget phone with a lot to offer, it really is outpaced and outshone by the upgraded design and innards of the Moto G6. The newer phone is the clear winner in this bout, and we’re eagerly awaiting more time with the Moto G6 to find out exactly what it’s capable of.

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