Motorola’s Moto G series smartphones have long been popular in the budget segment. After launching a slew of new One series models, such as the Motorola One Macro and Motorola One Action (Review) over the past few months, Motorola has now updated its Moto G series, with the new Moto G8 Plus now on sale in India. Available in just one configuration, the main focus of the Moto G8 Plus is its cameras and Dolby-backed stereo speakers.
The latter isn’t a feature we typically find in the sub-Rs. 15,000 segment, which could make the Moto G8 Plus an interesting option for some people. At its retail price of Rs. 13,999, this Motorola smartphone contends directly with the Realme 5 Pro (Review) and the Samsung Galaxy M30s (Review). Even the Redmi Note 8 Pro (Review) is available around the same price bracket.
So, does the Moto G8 Plus have enough features and performance to make it a worthy alternative? Let’s take a look.
Moto G8 Plus design
The Moto G8 Plus is reminiscent of the Motorola One Macro (Review) in terms of its exterior design, especially the arrangement of the camera sensors at the back. The polycarbonate body in the Cosmic Blue colour trim looks nice, and also has a little purplish highlight depending on how you hold this phone against the light. There’s also a Crystal Pink option. The back does look a bit like glass and is quite resilient to scratches and scuffs, but if you want to be careful, you can opt to use the bundled silicone case.
This phone isn’t too heavy but it’s on the thicker side at 9.09mm. The sides are glossy, and can get a little slippery at times. The textured power button has good tactile feedback and so does the volume rocker, but the latter is placed a little too high. The tray on the left can accept two Nano-SIM cards, and the second slot can accept a microSD card (up to 512GB) in lieu of a SIM. We would have liked a dedicated microSD card slot instead of a hybrid one.
The Moto G8 Plus has a headphone jack on the top and a USB Type-C port at the bottom. The earpiece and the bottom speaker work in tandem to create a stereo effect. Motorola has used a 6.3-inch LTPS IPS display with Panda glass for scratch protection. The resolution is full-HD+ (1080×2280) and the aspect ratio is 19:9, which Motorola calls a Max Vision display. The panel produces vivid and punchy colours, brightness is good enough for outdoor use, and viewing angles are decently wide. You also get some basic colour adjustments in the Settings menu.
The bezels around the display aren’t too slim but they’re not too intrusive either. There’s a waterdrop notch on the top, which houses the selfie camera. The G8 Plus also features Moto Display, which is an ambient display mode so you can see missed notifications, the battery level, the time, etc on the lockscreen.
The rear cameras protrude a little, creating a bit of imbalance on an otherwise flat surface. The fingerprint sensor has a Moto logo on it and is quite dependable in terms of its performance. You can also use face unlock, which works well as long as there’s enough light around. In the box, you get a case, a 15W Turbo Charger, a SIM eject tool, and a Type-C cable.
Moto G8 Plus specifications and software
The Moto G8 Plus runs on the Snapdragon 665 SoC, which we’ve seen in phones such as the Realme 5 (Review), Xiaomi Mi A3 (Review), and Redmi Note 8 (Review). There’s only one version of this phone available, which has 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. You also get dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 5, dual 4G VoLTE, NFC, support for three satellite navigation systems, FM radio, and the usual suite of sensors including a compass and a gyroscope.
Motorola also claims that the Moto G8 Plus is water resistant, even though it doesn’t have any official IP rating. It’s said to be able to withstand light splashes of water or light rain, but isn’t waterproof, so you should avoid submerging it in any liquid.
The software is quite lean and is very close to stock Android. There isn’t any bloatware and the default apps don’t spam you with unnecessary notifications or ads, unlike some other custom Android skins. The Moto G8 Plus ships with Android 9 Pie, and our unit had the September 2019 security patch. Digital Wellbeing and the standard Android gestures are present, in addition to some from Motorola. The Moto app lets you select Moto Actions and set up the Moto Display. Moto Actions are shortcuts and gestures for quickly turning on the camera and torch, taking a quick screenshot, and many other things.
There’s also the Dolby Audio app, which helps boost the volume and quality of sound through the speakers, wired and wireless headphones. Some Google apps such as Slides, News, and Sheets are preinstalled but not many others.
Moto G8 Plus performance and battery life
With day-to-day usage, the Moto G8 Plus managed to cope quite well. We were able to multitask quite effortlessly; it was easy to find what we wanted thanks to the near-stock Android UI and we didn’t face any heating issues. It is a bit difficult to reach the upper end of the tall display, but thankfully there are plenty of gestures to help. For instance, you can swipe down on the fingerprint sensor to pull down the notification shade, or perform a simple on-screen gesture by swiping your finger diagonally to either of the bottom corners, to shrink the contents of the screen. The ability to wave your palm over the phone to wake up the display is also very convenient. You can even take a peek at your notifications by holding down its icon on the lockscreen.
Moto G8 Plus Benchmark numbers were pretty decent too. In AnTuTu, we got a score of 170,004 points while the T-Rex test in GFXbench returned 34fps. The framerate in the latter test was a little low since the full-HD resolution taxes this processor. The same is reflected when playing heavy 3D games such as PUBG Mobile. It defaulted to the ‘Low’ graphics preset, which didn’t look very good, but at least gameplay wasn’t affected too much. The phone got a little warm when gaming, but not to an alarming extent.
The speakers on the Moto G8 Plus sounded excellent, thanks to Dolby Audio. The earpiece got just as loud as the bottom-firing speaker, which created a good stereo effect. You can leave the Dolby setting at ‘Auto’ or manually tinker with the bass, mids, and vocals depending on your style of listening. This effect works when playing audio through the speakers as well as wired and even wireless headsets. This added to the bright and punchy colours of the display made for an enjoyable multimedia experience.
The Moto G8 Plus supports Motorola’s 15W Turbo Charging feature. You even get a little logo in the clock widget which tells you when the phone is charging quickly. The phone can also be fast-charged using any standard Quick Charge 3.0 charger. In our battery loop test, the Moto G8 Plus ran for 14 hours and 10 minutes, which is a good show.
With normal usage, which involved playing games, using the camera, and surfing the Internet, we easily sailed past a day and into the next. With more frugal usage, we were averaging about a day and a half. With the bundled Turbo Charger, we were able to charge the Moto G8 Plus battery from zero to 36 percent in half an hour; up to 70 percent in an hour, and fully in about two hours. These aren’t particularly good times, but still a lot better than having no fast charging at all.
Moto G8 Plus cameras
The Moto G8 Plus has three sensors at the back — a 48-megapixel primary camera with an f/1.8 aperture; a 16-megapixel wide-angle camera specially for GoPro-style videos; and a 5-megapixel depth sensor. The phone also has a laser autofocus module and an LED flash. The camera app is easy to master, thanks to a simple layout. Besides the main shooting modes, you can access a separate menu of additional modes such as Portrait, Panorama, and Night Vision, plus some fun modes like Spot Colour and Cutout.
In daylight, the primary camera captured good-looking landscapes and close-ups. It handled HDR well, balancing the exposure of light and dark areas nicely. Colours were vivid but not overly boosted, and details were good. This phone saves 12-megapixel oversampled photos by default and there’s no option to shoot at the full 48-megapixel resolution. In Manual mode, you can capture RAW files too.
Close-up shots looked good, with plenty of detail, vivid colours, and very good sharpness. In low light, close-ups still looked decent with little to no noise. Landscape shots on the other hand had muddy details in low-light, and blacks in the shadow regions were crushed easily.
Night Vision own the Moto G8 Plus did make a noticeable difference. Colours were punchier and bright areas were metered better, but details didn’t really improve much. As long you don’t zoom into a photo too much, results will look pleasing. However, it’s not foolproof and there were instances when Night Vision ended up making photos worse than the standard mode. Also, it takes a while before you can see the final result, as the phone processes it in the background after you’ve taken a shot.
The depth sensor did a good job of detecting edges around our subject and blurring backgrounds. The blur effect can be adjusted before and after a shot has been taken. Lighting effects can also be added for drama.
The 16-megapixel action camera can only be used for shooting videos and not stills, which is a little disappointing. Considering how pretty much every manufacturer is slapping wide-angle cameras onto their phones now, it’s a shame we can’t use it for photos on the Moto G8 Plus. The wide-angle camera can be accessed through a little toggle near the shutter button when in video mode. The phone needs to be held vertically in order to record landscape video, just like on the Motorola One Action. We found this to be very convenient when we were moving about quickly.
Videos taken with the wide-angle action camera on the Moto G8 Plus are stabilised at 1080p 30fps, but not at 60fps. In daylight, video quality was good and the electronic stabilisation worked decently well, albeit with mild jerkiness when we made any sudden movements. Video quality was a lot weaker in low light, with noticeable grain and softer details.
Switching to the primary camera, you can set the resolution all the way up to 4K at 30fps, but without stabilisation. Here, colours looked wildly exaggerated depending on the subject being shot. Videos are electronically stabilised at 1080p 30fps, and footage looked good, with better colour reproduction. In low light, the quality dropped and we noticed focus hunting when shooting landscapes.
The 25-megapixel selfie camera on the Moto G8 Plus has an f/2 aperture and you can set it to capture selfies at that full resolution or oversampled to 6 megapixels. We didn’t find any discernible difference between the two resolutions, so it’s worth saving storage space with the lower resolution. Selfies looked decent in the daytime, with good colours and details. You can enable Face Beauty mode, which smoothened skin textures.
In low light, image quality was generally below average. Details were weak, there was visible noise, and skin tones looked off. You do get a lot of shooting modes for the selfie camera, such as Spot Colour, Group Selfie, Portrait, and even slow-motion video.
All things considered, the Moto G8 Plus manages to pack in a decent set of features, with its strengths being the lean Android experience, very good stereo speakers, solid battery life, a crisp display, and above-average camera quality when shooting in daylight. Compared to Motorola’s One series models such as the One Macro (Review), One Action (Review), and One Vision (Review), which all hover within the same price range, we’d pick the G8 Plus for its better display and slightly faster SoC.
Compared to the competition including the Realme 5 Pro (Review) and the Redmi Note 8 Pro (Review), the Moto G8 Plus falls a bit short. The processor isn’t the most powerful, especially for this screen resolution, which shows when it comes to playing heavy games. Most of the competition at around this price offer more powerful processors for this reason. The cameras on the G8 Plus aren’t the most versatile either, since you can’t shoot wide-angle stills, and the low-light performance of all the cameras was underwhelming.
The Moto G8 Plus isn’t the best all-rounder, but if stock Android, a good display, and stereo speakers are high on your priority list, you might find it worth your while.