In recent years, Motorola phones from the Moto G series have always been excellent budget devices. In fact, the Moto G7 is our current choice for the best budget phone available today.
Now Motorola, owned by Lenovo, is back with the first of its G8 series of devices. This is the £ 239 (€ 269 or around $ 306) Motorola Moto G8 Plus, which is at the top of the affordable G-series line-up thanks to the more powerful processor and higher resolution main camera. It is available in Europe, Australia, Mexico and Latin America, but it is not currently scheduled to be released in the US.
The Moto G8 Plus is another capable cheap smartphone from Motorola, and to be honest it was a pleasure to use. The battery life is excellent and the adjustments that Motorola has made to Android continue to make devices much more user-friendly without ever feeling that they are in the way. The only real compromise you make here is with the phone's camera and the fact that it will be launched with Android 9 instead of this year's Android 10, but I think these are acceptable considerations for this price.
On paper, it is hard to get excited about the specifications of the Moto G8 Plus, mainly because they are so similar to the Moto G7 Plus from earlier this year. It has received a small spec bump in terms of processor (it now has a midrange Snapdragon 665 instead of a midrange Snapdragon 636), and the storage and RAM are unchanged at 64 GB and 4 GB respectively. The LCD screen is a fraction of an inch larger by 6.3 inches instead of the 6.2 inch of the G7 Plus, but it is still a 1080p affair with a small drop at the top. Oh, and there is still no IP certification, so it's best to keep it away from water.
Motorola has made a more important change to the battery capacity of the phone, which is now a respectable 4,000 mAh. That's not as much as the 5,000 mAh capacity of the G7 Power, but it was still more than adequate for my needs. Although I would not have the confidence to claim that you will get several days of battery life from this phone, I will say that I had trouble draining the phone beyond 50 percent, even on my longest days of use.
It is a shame to see that the 27W fast charging that Motorola on the Motorola G7 Plus contained here has been reduced to just 15W. That means that you probably have to wait almost two hours to reach 100 percent instead of the sub-one that was reportedly possible on the G7 Plus (although this was probably helped by the smaller battery). However, you still get a 3.5 mm headphone jack, which is always appreciated.
The camera performance of the Moto G8 Plus is a bit more complicated. The Moto G8 Plus has a series of three cameras & # 39; s on the back, one more than the double cameras & # 39; s on the G7 Plus. The resolution of the main camera has been increased from 16 to 48 megapixels (although the resolution of the photos themselves is limited to 12 megapixels), but the secondary camera is still a 5-megapixel depth sensor.
Where it gets a bit messy is with the third camera. This is technically an ultra-wide-angle 16-megapixel camera, but instead of using it to take ultra-wide-angle photos, it is actually designed to film videos in the landscape while holding your phone vertically, similar to the Motorola One Action that was announced earlier this year.
I believe about this decision. It's a handy trick to film a landscape video without having to reorient my phone. It makes filming with one hand much easier and the video stabilization of the camera works well. But the videos look noisy and a little fuzzy, and in general I think I prefer wide-angle photos.
Otherwise, the photos that you get from the Moto G8 Plus are fairly average. I was generally happy with their level of detail and it was nice to see that the photos didn't look too saturated. However, the limited dynamic range of the camera is a problem. It often forces you to choose between underexposure of your subject or overexposure of the sky. Although the camera apparently has an HDR function, this did not seem to improve the situation much.
The greatest strength of the Moto G8 Plus is simply how usable it is every day, which has a lot to do with the small additions that Motorola has made to Android 9. These really deliver very small amounts of functionality that is never in the way. Of course, some of the phone's "Moto Action" gesture controls are based on gimmicks, but others, such as being able to perform two "karate-chop" movements to quickly turn on the phone's flashlight, are a great little gain of time.
Then there are the lock screen controls that give you much faster access to your notification options without fully turning on the screen of your phone. You can quickly drag your finger to access notification actions, and I found that the process was much quicker to access than the standard Android notification actions on the lock screen.
None of these features comes as a surprise to anyone who has used one of the recent G-series phones from Motorola, but they continue to work well on the Moto G8 Plus.
There is one problem with these notification actions that I sometimes found very annoying. In theory, the phone's display should only light up when you approach the phone to use it, to show you your existing notifications. However, sometimes I noticed that the telephone lit up repeatedly when it was sitting on the desk in front of me, regardless of whether I reached for it or tried to ignore it. This didn't seem to have an impact on the phone's exceptional battery life, but it became annoying.
In short, the compromises that Motorola has made with the Moto G8 Plus mean that it is unlikely to win someone who would otherwise buy a flagship. The camera is so-so, the specifications are clearly midrange and you provide other nice functions, such as IP-resistant water resistance.
But the Moto G8 Plus is still a very useful device on a daily basis. The battery life is great and the small adjustments from Motorola to Android really contribute to the efficiency of the phone. We are still waiting to find out what Motorola has in store for the non-Plus Moto G8, but for now this is another great budget option from the brand.
Photography by Jon Porter / The Verge
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