Motorola Moto G8 Plus review: Lacking polish
Thought you’d had enough of Motorola smartphones? Following the Moto One Macro, Motorola is back with yet another option in the mid-range segment. The Moto G8 Plus, part of the legendary Moto G line up that has been central to the company’s mid-range strategy, brings some much-needed feature updates as well as a gimmick or two up its sleeve.
Will that be enough to challenge the wide range of excellent options available to consumers? We try to find out in the Android Authority review of the Motorola Moto G8 Plus review.
Motorola Moto G8 Plus review: The big picture
The Moto G8 Plus brings sweeping changes in terms of design, internals, and the camera modules. Building on the design legacy of the Moto G7, the phone manages to push forward in all the right ways and tick all the checkmarks for current-gen mid-rangers.
That said, the competition hasn’t been sitting quietly either. Phones like the Redmi Note 8 Pro have pushed what the definition of a mid-range smartphone should be. Between the high-quality imaging, excellent performance, and top-notch build quality, it is hard to overlook the Redmi hardware.
There are also several options from Realme and Nokia, amongst others, that offer a boatload of hardware features, and in the case of the latter, even stock Android.
In other words, Motorola has a lot to prove here.
What’s in the box
- Moto G8 Plus
- 15W Turbo Charger
- USB-C cable
- SIM tool
- Protective cover
The Moto G8 Plus ships with a pretty standard package that includes a 15W fast charger and USB-C cable. You’ll find a SIM ejector tool and quick start guides. The included TPU case isn’t of the highest quality, but you’ll definitely need it to prevent fingerprints and smudges. Given the lack of Gorilla Glass or a similar solution, it would have been nice to see a screen protector thrown in the box as well. There are no headphones.
- 158.35 x 75.83 x 9.0mm
- Polycarbonate build
- Waterdrop notch
- Headphone jack
The 6.3-inch display takes center stage on the Moto G8 Plus. Equipped with a waterdrop notch, it keeps up with current design trends. The bezels on the sides of the screen are reasonably sized and don’t detract from the user experience. Even the chin isn’t particularly big. The large earpiece grille at the top has me concerned about water damage, but Motorola claims that the phone has a water repellant design so you should be alright. The phone sports a nano-coating layer which should make it resistant to splashes, but you’ll want to be careful around the pool. IP68 certification, it seems, is still reserved for higher-end devices.
The tactile feedback of the buttons on the side isn’t quite the best. The volume rocker and power button sit on the right side of the phone, and there’s an inherent wobble to them. The buttons have mushy feedback that isn’t very reassuring. The headphone jack is placed on top of the phone, while the USB-C port and speaker grille are placed on the bottom.
I have mixed opinions about the quality of materials used in the construction of the Moto G8 Plus. On one hand, the polycarbonate feels strong enough to take a beating. The phone’s heft comes across as reassuringly solid. However, the plastic is a fingerprint magnet and definitely cheapens the look of the phone. The black/purple colorway of our review unit looks smart, as long you are able to keep it free of fingerprints. It just doesn’t feel premium in the hand.
You’ll want to invest in a quality case if you plan to buy a Moto G8 Plus, if only to prevent fingerprints.
Motorola placed a fingerprint scanner in the middle of the rear panel and it has the classic Motorola batwing logo in the center. The scanner was as fast as anything else on the market, and unlocking the phone is fast and hassle-free. The phone supports NFC as well, which comes in handy when trying to quickly pair with headphones and wireless speakers.
- 6.3-inch LTPS IPS LCD
- Full HD+
- 19:9 aspect ratio
- No Gorilla Glass or similar protection
The first thing you notice about the display of the Moto G8 Plus is the extreme skew towards blue tones. The color accuracy is way off, and with peak brightness levels of about 450nits, outdoor visibility in bright sunlight can be challenging.
Switching over to the natural color profile compensates for the blue tint to a degree. Beyond that, this is a strictly run-of-the-mill panel. There is also a bit of color shift when viewed at extreme angles. Black levels aren’t that deep due to the LCD tech, so if you prefer watching darker content, you might not enjoy it much here.
- Snapdragon 665 chipset
- 4 x 2.0GHz Kryo 260 Gold & 4 x 1.8GHz Kryo 260 Silver
- Adreno 610
- 4GB RAM
- 64GB storage
- MicroSD expansion via hybrid SIM slot
The Moto G8 Plus is powered by a Snapdragon 665 chipset, which is a minor update to the Snapdragon 660 platform. The chipset architecture is based on the 11nm process, compared to the 14nm process of the Snapdragon 660. This should make the chipset a bit more frugal. Elsewhere, the GPU received an upgrade, too. Interestingly, this is the same chipset powering the Redmi Note 8 and the Realme 5. Both these phones retail at much lower price points.
4GB of RAM is good enough for day-to-day use, but heavy multitaskers might miss having an option for more.
Performance on the Moto G8 Plus is aided by the stripped-down, clean Android build. In my time with the phone, I did not observe any noticeable lag or deal-breaking issues with performance. Daily use of music streaming apps, email, and social media presented no challenge for the phone. For that matter, the 4GB of RAM proved to be sufficient. However, if you plan to hold on to your hardware for a year or longer, this could become a multitasking pain point down the road. Competing devices offer options with up to 8GB of RAM, and it would have served Motorola well to create a 6GB or 8GB variant on the G8 Plus for performance seekers.
I tested out popular games such as PUBG on the phone and the performance was satisfactory. Pushing graphics to high settings definitely puts a strain on the hardware, and you can easily see a drop in frame rates. The phone heats with extended gaming, too, but never to the point of being uncomfortable.
Benchmark results were exactly in line with what we expected from the Snapdragon 665 chipset. The AnTuTu score of 167,860 points is slightly behind the 170,973 scored by the Redmi Note 8. The Moto G8 Plus, however, pulls ahead in the 3DMark benchmark. Regardless, the overall performance is well behind the Redmi Note 8 Pro, which is the real competitor for the Moto G8 Plus.
- 4,000mAh battery
- 15W fast-charger included
While we’re starting to see mid-range phones move towards 5,000mAh batteries, the 4,000mAh cell on the Moto G8 Plus is perfectly good for all-day use. The phone ships with a 15W USB-C charger in the box, which allows you to top it off pretty quickly. A full charge from empty took just 140 minutes, which is in line with the charging speeds of the Redmi Note 8.
The included 15W charger tops-off the phone in a little over 2 hours.
My daily activities include heavy use of Slack, email, and social media applications, as well as a few hours streaming music. By the end of the day, the G8 Plus would be down to about 20%, which is reasonable. Extended gaming will, of course, put a bigger dent in battery longevity.
We ran our standard battery tests on the Moto G8 Plus. It managed just under 14 hours of continuous playback in our video loop test. Similarly, continuous web browsing results clocked in at over 15 hours.
- Android 9 Pie
My favorite aspect of Motorola hardware is the near-stock build of Android. Other than the Motorola app, which adds a suite of actions and gestures, the phone is free from extraneous additions. The phone ships with Android 9 Pie out of the box and Motorola has promised an update to Android 10 soon.
The software stack includes the standard Google apps suite. The Moto app adds useful gestures to quickly capture photographs (twist your wrist) or to turn on the flashlight (chop with your wrist). You can turn on attentive display so the screen stays on as long as you’re looking at it. None of these are particularly new, but that doesn’t take away from their usefulness.
I particularly like the peak display gesture that enables a pseudo always-on-display function. Waving your hand over the phone will display your notifications along with the current time.
- 48MP primary camera, f/2.0
- 5MP depth sensor, f/2.2
- 16MP action camera, 117-deg FoV
- 25MP, f/2.0
- 4K at 30fps, Full HD at 120fps
- Action camera Full HD at 120fps
The Moto G8 Plus is equipped with three different camera sensors. Unfortunately in this case, more doesn’t necessarily mean better. Image quality is lackluster. There is a distinct lack of detail, though the phone tries to make up for it by including a unique action-camera setup.
In our first test of a close-up subject, the phone doesn’t do too poorly. It focused quickly and there is a decent amount of detail. However, highlights are blown out drastically and the camera tuning — like the display — tends to highlight blue tones. This makes the image look much cooler than it was in to my eyes.
For example, the saturated blue tones are visible here in the sky. The image tuning is very unnatural looking. The dynamic range isn’t great either, even with HDR mode switched on. The shadow region under the canopy of the gazebo is entirely lacking in details. Pixel peeping on the leaves shows signs of aggressive noise-reduction algorithms, as details have been reduced to smears.
The camera’s tendency to blow out highlights is obvious in this outdoor shot where the sky was totally overexposed. You can barely make out details in the distance. Similarly, dark regions around the foliage don’t have much detail. Simply put, it’s not a very good camera, particularly when pitted against stellar performers like the Redmi Note 8 Pro and the Realme XT.
The action camera lacks the ability to capture still images. This is a strange omission by Motorola. Video capture looks passable at best, with detail lost thanks to heavy noise reduction algorithms. Moreover, the video camera overexposes the footage quite a bit. There is no stabilization available and the videos tend to be incredibly shaky when shooting by hand.
I found the portrait mode of the Moto G8 Plus to be lacking in its implementation. Subjects had a cut-out like silhouette with an overly aggressive bokeh effect. The fall-off is too sharp to appear natural.
The front-facing camera has a 25MP sensor and can use pixel-binning to improve low-light results. Compared to the rear camera, the results here were a bit more natural-looking with a fair amount of detail showing up in photos. If capturing selfies is important to you, the Moto G8 Plus won’t disappoint.
You can take a look at full resolution samples here.
- Headphone jack
- AptX support
Audio playback via the headphone jack from the Moto G8 Plus is not great. I heard a constant hiss in the background, and music lacked dynamics. The overall presentation was completely devoid of character.
Motorola includes a range of Dolby enhancements that you can toggle on or off, but the out-of-the-box experience just isn’t that great. I found the Dolby setting made a noticeable difference while watching movies. There was an improvement in soundstage and dialogue clarity. With music, the Dolby option seemed to emulate a surround sound effect with a shift towards a V-shaped sound signature. Regardless, it definitely was not to my liking and I found myself promptly toggling it off.
Speaker output is reasonably loud and clear. It would be a bit much to expect bass here, but for what it’s worth, it’ll serve in a tick to listen to YouTube videos or podcasts.
Bluetooth audio sounds fine, since that is more dependent on the DAC and amp built into your headphones. The Bluetooth range was good, and I didn’t observe any dropouts while walking around my apartment while listening to music.
|Moto G8 Plus|
|Display||6.3-inch FHD+ display
2280 x 1080
LTPS IPS LCD
Adreno 610 GPU
48MP primary camera, f/2.0
5MP depth sensor, f/2.2
16MP action camera, 117deg
Front: 25MP, f/2.0
|Battery||4,000mAh with 15W fast charging|
|Expandable storage||Yes (Hybrid SIM slot)|
|Software||Android 9.0 Pie|
|Dimensions||158.35 x 75.83 x 9.09 mm
Value for money
- Moto G8 Plus – 4GB RAM, 64GB storage: Rs. 13,999 (~$197)
The Moto G8 Plus is priced reasonably well for what it brings to the table. Between the action camera and stock-like build of Android, the Moto G8 Plus brings something unique to the mid-range segment. Unfortunately, the lackluster image quality holds it back from being truly competitive. Performance isn’t best-in-class either, and is matched by the much cheaper Redmi Note 8. Add to these the average materials, and it becomes even harder to recommend the Moto G8 Plus.
At a similar price point, you should consider the excellent Redmi Note 8 Pro. For an additional Rs. 1000 (~$14), the Note 8 Pro packs a much more powerful Mediatek Helio G90T processor, between 6GB and 8GB of RAM, and an excellent camera. More importantly, the high build quality belies the price and matches that of much costlier phones.
The Realme XT is another great option, with solid imaging credentials and hardware that is a step above what the Moto G8 Plus offers.
Motorola Moto G8 Plus review: The verdict
The Moto G8 Plus isn’t a bad phone. However, it is outpaced by the sheer number of excellent options available to buyers in the mid-range segment. Sure, it delivers a stock-like Android experience, but this isn’t a good enough reason for you to live with a sub-par camera and mediocre internals. Finally, toss in the inaccurate display and smudge-prone body, and the Moto G8 Plus just doesn’t come across as a very good deal.