If you’ve ever owned a Moto G-series phone, then you’ll be aware of the software setup. These devices use a version of Android designed to appear just like the original, and here we get Android 8.0 at launch.
The Motorola Moto G6 Play doesn’t offer exactly the same interface as a Google Pixel 2, though. There are some visual changes. Most notably, the apps menu has a background with a dimmed and blurred version of your wallpaper, rather than a sheet of white.
Otherwise, Android here feels just like it would in a vanilla Android phone. You flick up on a homescreen to bring up the apps menu, and there are no odd extra modules to the main part of the system.
Everything feels clean and simple, although there are a few more extras than in the past. The Motorola Moto G6 Play comes with LinkedIn, Outlook and a Dolby Audio app preinstalled. The first two are arguably bloat and can’t be removed, but I find them so familiar it’s almost like having a couple of extra Google Suite apps that I don’t use.
Motorola does add a few peripheral interface extras, but these add to Android fairly subtly instead of changing it fundamentally or getting in the way. You’ll find these in the Moto app: Moto Key, Actions and Display.
Moto Display is the most obvious Motorola customisation. It phases notifications alerts on and off the display when the G6 Play isn’t used. It’s a little like a lockscreen that appears purely in standby, and if you’ve owned a Motorola device from the past few years it will be familiar.
Moto Actions is another long-standing feature. It comprises a bunch of shortcut gestures: a double karate chop toggles the flashlight; turning the phone onto its screen can silence call ringtones; and a double-flick of the phone launches the camera. Each of these can be switched on and off.
Moto Key is a newer addition. It lets you use the phone’s fingerprint scanner as a replacement for typing-in passwords in apps, much like Google’s own Auto-fill feature.
Moto G6 Play – Performance
General performance is good, with the usual caveat that some apps will take a little longer to load than they would in a phone costing four times the price. And in my experience, scrolling became erratic at one point too. I had to reset the phone to solve this issue, and I haven’t encountered the problem again since.
However, it’s worth noting that the processor in the Moto G6 is significantly more powerful. This phone has a Snapdragon 430; the Moto G6 a Snapdragon 450. According to Geekbench 4, the difference in power is much greater than those similar-sounding model numbers suggest
The Moto G6 Play scores 2340 points in Geekbench 4; the Moto G6 3549. That’s a 60% increase.
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This isn’t too apparent when playing most games, however. Asphalt 8 runs just about as well on the Moto G6 Play as it does on the Moto G6, although Real Racing 3’s frame rate is just decent, not ultra-smooth.
Add a louder, richer-sounding speaker and it’s clear the Moto G6 is a better gaming phone than the G6 Play. Nevertheless, both are solid.