Moto E6 Plus Review

The Motorola Moto E6 Plus feels like an old-school Moto G phone – it's a no-nonsense budget mobile at a great price.

Verdict

Every budget handset is likely to come with a few issues, but like the best Moto phones, the Motorola Moto E6 Plus's aren't in the areas that count. This is a great Android device for the basics, which includes video streaming and light gaming.

Pros

  • Excellent value
  • Good quality, sharp-enough screen
  • Decent general performance
  • Good selfie camera
  • Includes a case

Cons

  • Slow charging
  • Apps and games a little slow to load
  • Poor low-light photos
  • No NFC or compass

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £99
  • 6.1-inch HD+ display
  • 13-megapixel main, 2-megapixel depth rear camera
  • Built in 3000mAh battery
  • Octa-core CPU
  • 2/4GB RAM
  • 32/64GB storage

What is the Motorola Moto E6 Plus?

The Motorola Moto E6 Plus is a handset for money-savers, for the young, for the clumsy serial phone smashers. It’s it’s for those smartphone users who want to stay within a budget, who don’t believe in spending a small fortune on a phone.

At £99.99, the Motorola Moto E6 Plus is right near the bottom of your smartphone options from big names. But it’s far better than most that launch at sub-£100.

Its screen is low-res, but surprisingly good. Its body is plastic, but the look is at least “current”.

Gamers are the only group that would be wise to look elsewhere. The Motorola Moto E6 Plus loads titles slowly, can’t play many of them, and doesn’t run them as well as the Moto G7 phones.

But for the basics – and more besides – the Motorola Moto E6 Plus is a charmer, and one of the better Moto E series phones to date.

Related: Best budget phones

Motorola Moto E6 Plus design – Modern in many ways, but no so much in others

The Motorola Moto E6 Plus is a most unusual device. It’s a phone with a removable rear, of the type seen in handsets dating back half a decade or more.

This is so rare these days that I spent an hour trying to charge the phone, wondering why it wouldn’t turn on – only to discover the battery wasn’t inside. You’ll find it loose in the box on unpacking the handset.

Some will see this as a blessing. For example, when the battery starts to play up, you can simply buy a replacement and switch it out yourself, rather than having to pay someone to sort it for you.

On the other hand, a sealed in unit is often accomplished in concert with some basic weather-sealing techniques, which give a phone a degree of water-resistance – even if officially has none. Other Motos use a “nano coating” to achieve this effect.

In the rain, we’d advice the Motorola Moto E6 Plus is put in your pocket, since there’s nothing to stop water from seeping into the case and onto those battery connectors.

In this regard, the Motorola Moto E6 Plus really has taken a leaf out of the old-school book of phone design.

However, elsewhere it doesn’t look old-school at all; it’s absolutely a handset that belongs in 2019/2020. It has a tall aspect screen, a neat little display notch and a shiny finish. The rear of the phone is plastic, but it has some of the visual impact of treated glass or buffed metal.

Many of the photos in this review don’t quite show what the Moto E6 Plus looks like on the back, since most are taken with a wide lens aperture, which blurs reflections. The Motorola Moto E6 Plus actually sports a high-gloss finish, like seen below:

This model above is “Polished Graphite”; but it’s also available in a “Bright Cherry” red finish.

The plastic doesn’t feel too fancy, and I’d recommend using the included silicone case. Following a week of use, the Motorola Moto E6 Plus has picked up a number of tiny nicks and scrapes. You could, in theory, buy a replacement battery cover – although these don’t seem to be available online just yet.

I switched to the Motorola Moto E6 Plus from the Google Pixel 3A XL, an “affordable” phone that’s almost five times the price of the Moto. Sure, the plastics used in the Moto are cheaper, but it didn’t seem like a major stylistic downgrade.

However, the buttons on the side of the Motorola Moto E6 Plus feel a cheaper, and while the speaker is loud, it’s also quite thin-sounding, which is common for a phone at this price. The E6 Plus lacks NFC, which rules out the use of Google Pay wireless payments. There’s no compass, either, meaning you won’t see the direction you face in Google Maps, which is quite annoying.

Related: Best phones 2019

In addition, the Motorola Moto E6 Plus has super-slow micro-USB charging, so you’ll want to recharge overnight. Motorola’s G7 series phones comes with a much faster Turbo Charger.

While I missed that charge speed and the compass, I didn’t miss much else. The Motorola Moto E6 Plus has a solid fingerprint scanner on its rear, a headphone jack, and even face unlock; I recommend using the finger scanner, though, since it’s usually quicker.

Motorola Moto E6 Plus screen – It isn’t perfect, but for the price it certainly impresses

The Motorola Moto E6 Plus has a 6.1in screen. A number of Motorola’s “Plus” phones over the years have been a bit of a handful; they’ve been unsuitable for children and those who find bigger displays a bit of a stretch.

With the E6 Plus, Motorola brings to market a device that’s similar to “normal” phones at a much higher price. Add 1.5mm of horizontal screen border to each side of the Samsung Galaxy S10e and it would feel similar to the E6 Plus.

Still, if you’re buying a first phone for a younger child then you might want to consider the Moto G7 Play. It doesn’t look as slick as the Moto E6 Plus but is slightly smaller when it comes to overall dimensions.

The Motorola Moto E6 Plus’s 6.1in display is one of the best you’ll find at the price, even though its 1560 x 720 pixel resolution doesn’t sound impressive on paper.

Full HD is the optimal resolution for a budget phone, but I didn’t find the pixel drop here obvious. This is a result of two factors. Android seems to be much better at resolution scaling than it has been in the past, applying anti-aliasing to small interface fonts so they look smooth, not blocky. The Motorola Moto E6 Plus’s LCD screen doesn’t make the pixels too visible.

You can see the grid of pixels in some lower-end LCDs, and low-res OLEDs tend to look fuzzy. But here? A perfectly satisfying image.

Even the colour reproduction is sound. Sure, the deep red of the YouTube logo doesn’t have the pop of a higher-end phone, but this is the kind of colour you might see when using the “accurate” mode of a more expensive mobile.

The Motorola Moto E6 Plus has no such customisable modes, most likely because the handset is already maxing out the screen’s capabilities.

There are two shortcomings that show up in day-to-day use. The first is that the Motorola Moto E6 Plus’s screen doesn’t look hugely bright on a sunny day. The second, at times the Auto Brightness mode isn’t good at judging the level required for indoors lighting. Neither should put you off, given the price.

 

Motorola Moto E6 Plus software – It looks like Android One, and is lacking any extras

The Motorola Moto E6 Plus runs Android 9.0, and doesn’t have quite the same approach as the previous Moto E5 range or the Moto G7 family.

Those phones have a light custom interface, but the Motorola Moto E6 Plus’s looks exactly like Android One. The number of Motorola extras is completely stripped back, too.

Almost all Motorola phones, even Android One models, come with a bunch of Moto extras. These include the Moto Display standby screen and gestures such as turning the “flashlight” (camera LED flash) on with a double-flick of the phone. None are present here.

It really does look and feel almost exactly like an Android One phone.

The Motorola Moto E6 Plus has 32GB of storage, but there’s a microSD slot under the back cover. I currently have 7.85GB remaining, having installed a handful of apps, three fairly large games, downloading a few audiobooks and taking 100 or so photos.

Space isn’t limitless, then, but for the kind of person who wants a cheap phone for the basics it will do the job.

The Motorola Moto E6 Plus also has more recent Android features for those who might use those “basics” too often. Google’s Digital Wellness suite is present, allowing you tomonitor and control how much you use certain apps. Disclaimer: some willpower is still required.

Motorola Moto E6 Plus performance – It’s reasonably quick, but this isn’t a device for serious gaming

The Motorola Moto E6 Plus has the MediaTek MT6762 Helio P22 processor, a lower mid-range CPU that can be seen in the Nokia 3.1 Plus.

It’s an octa-core CPU with Cortex-A53 cores and a PowerVR graphics chipset. That’s an ageing core and one of the least common brands of mobile GPUs.

But, on the whole, it gets by just fine. Android 9.0 feels reasonably quick. It isn’t as fast as a mid-range phone, with a short delay to almost all transitions – but these aren’t such that you’ll wish you had something more powerful while simply browsing and looking through Twitter.

Coming from the Google Pixel 3A XL, it’s with app loads that the differences are most obvious. There’s always a little wait for an app to initialise, and that wait can be quite long in the case of some games.

You’ll see these loading pauses more regularly than in other phones, too, because the Motorola Moto E6 Plus has only 2GB of RAM (4GB version available in some countries). Phones use this kind of memory to “park” apps when not in use, to avoid closing them down completely in case you return after a few minutes.

Little spare RAM makes the Motorola Moto E6 Plus close down these parked apps quickly. This isn’t an ideal multi-tasking phone, but I can’t say I’ve found it irritating in this regard. The Honor 7S’s performance made me want to microwave the thing, but the Moto E6 Plus is just fine.

Gaming is a mixed bag – but, again, good enough for the money.

The Motorola Moto E6 Plus doesn’t yet support the Vulkan graphics API, so certain titles such as Ark: Survival Evolved simply won’t work as they should. The game runs, but none of the 3D elements appear.

Asphalt 9 runs but its frame rate is slow enough to seem slightly juddery. PUBG is pretty smooth but will only run at the lower graphics settings, missing out on anti-aliasing and some higher-end textures.

3DMark scores of the Motorola Moto E6 Plus aren’t miles behind some phones that include mid-range Snapdragon CPUs, suggesting some of this passable performance is down to a lack of GPU-specific optimisation.

But for £100? I’m happy with the results here, and I’ll be even happier when/if Vulkan support is added. Such support has been added to previous budget Motos post-launch.

Motorola Moto E6 Plus camera – Day time shots are good, but low-light performance is as you’d expect from a budget handset

The Motorola Moto E6 Plus has two cameras on its rear, giving it an advantage over the slightly more expensive Moto G7 Play.

One is a 13-megapixel sensor and f/2 lens. The other is a 2-megapixel depth sensor. It enables the background blur of the “aperture” mode that sits right at the top level of the custom camera app.

This is a basic camera array that can take some nice-looking photos during the day, thanks to Auto HDR, dynamic range enhancement. The Motorola Moto E6 Plus is no master of colour, or at avoiding blown highlights regardless of the light contrast in a scene. However, on a bright day it can take some pleasant shots.

I’m also reasonably impressed by the background blur mode, and I haven’t been impressed by the Moto version in the past. As usual, there are often messed-up parts of a shot, sections that are blurred that shouldn’t be blurred as a result of the low quality of the depth map. But Lenovo/Motorola seems to have worked on its algorithms in the last couple of years, and can now deliver artistic looking effects even in a sub-£100 phone.

The Motorola Moto E6 Plus’s blur mode also lets you choose the virtual aperture. Its widest f/0.95 setting throws everything out of focus bar your subject, with a pleasing level of progressive blur on show.

In terms of what this camera doesn’t handle so well, low-light performance is poor. Images become super-soft and colour takes on the usual crude look you’ll see from other low-end cameras.

Also, in daylight the noise reduction algorithms tend to turn some natural textures such as grass into mush. There’s often too much purple hue in the browns of nature scenes, highlighted by the Motorola Moto E6 Plus’s tendency to slightly overexpose images when there’s no sky in the shot to act as an exposure guide.


By manually reducing the exposure you end up with more realistic-looking results in some scenes

Some types of photo also take an age to process. Those background blur images are the clearest example.

Here are some more photo samples:

The Motorola Moto E6 Plus has an 8-megapixel selfie camera. I didn’t expect much from this, but it’s great. Shooting selfies indoors with some natural light coming from a nearby window, detail is excellent, skin tones look natural. And you can even use the background blur mode seen in the rear camera view.

The camera holds up well in dark rooms, too, brightening up photos far beyond their “real” level while holding onto a remarkable amount of detail for a sub-£100 phone. These low-light images tend to look a little milky, but I’ve seen worse results from phones double the price.

Why use such a solid selfie camera in a cheap phone? The world loves selfies, and this makes sure the face unlock feature works in all kinds of lighting.

There are no similar surprises in the Motorola Moto E6 Plus’s video. The phone can shoot at 720p or 1080p resolution with either camera, but there’s no software stabilisation and no 4K capture. Video is poor.

Motorola Moto E6 Plus battery life – For light users, it’s fine; but charge times are slow

Unlike the G7 Power, which comes packing a truly huge battery, the Motorola Moto E6 Plus has a 3000mAh unit. As such, it doesn’t last a truly remarkable length of time.

Like most Motos, it’s fine. Moderate use might see it hold onto around 20-30% by bed, but I’ve drained it further most days. This is because use has included a lot of streamed audio, a fair amount of YouTube and some public transport navigation by CityMapper.

The Moto G6 Play or Moto G7 Power are better “low maintenance” phones for light users who want to think about charging as little as possible.

The E6 Plus loses more maintenance points for its ultra-slow charger, mentioned earlier in this review. It’s an extremely slow 5W charger, which is far less powerful than the 15W Turbopower charger included with most of the G-series Motorolas.

This won’t matter too much to light users who charge phones every night. But for those quick top-ups before you go out for the evening, the E6 Plus will power-up at sloth-like speed.

Should I buy the Motorola Moto E6 Plus?

The Motorola Moto E6 Plus is an excellent buy for anyone looking to spend as little as possible on a phone. It may be affordable, but it doesn’t present in that way: it looks good and has a large, fairly high-quality screen that makes movies and casual games look nearly as good as though would on a phone costing five times the price.

There are compromises, of course. It lacks NFC, plus the best phones in the £150-200 range handle some games better and load apps more quickly. And, like every phone at the price, low-light photos are poor.

But at £100, the Moto E6 Plus shows the Moto range at its best – providing a no-nonsense phone for those who want a device that can handle the basics without issue.

 

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