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Motorola Moto G9 Plus, hands on: Large screen, large battery, low price

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Written by Sandra Vogel on
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Motorola Moto G9 Plus

$509 at Amazon

Motorola has three Moto G9 handsets -- the PlayPower and Plus. The Moto G9 Plus, reviewed here, is the most expensive of the trio -- although at £229.99 (inc. VAT) it's still firmly in the 'budget' camp. Like the Moto G9 Power, the G9 Plus is a 6.8-inch handset, and its LTPS panel has the highest resolution in the range: 2,400 by 1,080 pixels (386ppi). So there's plenty of screen real estate to keep video viewers and gamers happy, with HDR10 support a bonus. 

That 6.8-inch screen makes for a large and somewhat unwieldy phone, measuring 78.1mm wide by 169.98mm deep by 9.69mm thick and weighing 223g. The frame and back are plastic, and although there's no IP rating for dust/water resistance, Motorola says the G9 Plus has a 'water repellent design'. 

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The 6.8-inch Moto G9 Plus is a hefty 223g handset based on Qualcomm's mid-range Snapdragon 730G chipset with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage (expandable via MicroSD if you sacrifice a SIM slot). It's powered by a 5000mAh battery, with 30W fast charging available.

Images: Motorola

To complement the large screen there is a 5,000mAh battery that Motorola claims is good for two days of use. What you'll get in practice depends, of course, on how you use the phone, and a 6.8-inch screen can be a big drain on the battery. Still, the provided TurboPower 30 fast charger will deliver up to 12 hours of power in ten minutes, so quick recharges are possible. In the PCMark for Android Work 2.0 battery life test, the Moto G9 Plus lasted for a creditable 16 hours and 3 minutes.

This isn't a 5G handset, and although it supports two SIMs you'll have to limit yourself to one of them if you want to augment the 128GB of internal storage with a MicroSD card. My review unit had a Navy Blue chassis, and there's also a rather more 'blingy' Blush Gold version. Motorola provides a transparent bumper that makes the handset feel even larger, although it does mitigate both the slipperiness of the backplate and its propensity to gather fingerprints.

SEE: 5G smartphones: A cheat sheet (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

The fingerprint reader is embedded in the power button on the handset's right edge, just below the volume rocker. There's a dedicated Google Assistant button on the left, a 3.5mm headset jack at the top and a USB-C charging/connection port on the bottom.

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The Moto G9 Plus runs on Qualcomm's mid-range Snapdragon 730G SoC, and despite having only 4GB of RAM I didn't notice any serious performance issues during testing. In the PCMark for Android Work 2.0 performance test, the Moto G9 Plus scored 7754. For comparison, flagship-class handsets based on the Snapdragon 865 chipset regularly score 12000 or more.

The OS is Android 10, with only a few embellishments. A Moto icon leads you to an applet that provides access to key tweaks such as gesture controls, setting up the handset for better gaming and audio experience, as well as personalising the look and feel. It's a smart way to accentuate what differentiates this handset and keep that accessible, so you don't have to hunt for things deep in the settings area.

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The Moto G9 Plus in Blush Gold.

Images: Motorola

The 16MP f/2.0 front camera sits in an unobtrusive punch-hole in the top left of the screen. Selfies are of perfectly adequate quality. There are four cameras at the back: 64MP f/1.8 wide angle; 8MP f/2.2 ultra-wide angle (118°); 2MP f/2.2 macro (2.5cm focus distance); and a 2MP f/2.2 depth sensor. Photos are of reasonable quality considering the phone's price point. Point-and-shoot images are fine, although there's no telephoto camera.

Given its budget price, the Moto G9 Plus is never going to deliver much more than an average specification. Still, it does this intelligently and delivers some pleasant surprises, including good battery life, a large screen and some nice customisation features and controls.

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