/>
X
Why you can trust ZDNET : ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Our process

'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.

Close

Motorola Moto G8 Plus, hands on: A worthy update, but is it enough to stand out?

Written by Sandra Vogel, Contributor on
motorola-moto-g8-plus-hands-on-a-worthy-5e29960740e6150001e205ab-1-jan-24-2020-16-28-05-poster.jpg

Motorola's G series smartphones have been around for a while -- we are now on the 8th generation. Motorola tends to release different versions of the same handset, but so far we've only seen the G8 Plus. Last year's G7 Plus was joined by Play and Power versions, for example, so we can expect more in the G8 series.

In the early days Motorola pretty much owned the budget smartphone space, but the £240 (inc. VAT, or $259) Moto G8 Plus enters a very crowded market. Many players have a phone around the £250 price point -- Oppo and Honor being two examples.

motorola-moto-g8-plus-in-hand.jpg

The 6.3-inch Moto G8 Plus runs on Qualcomm's 8-core Snapdragon 665 chipset with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage, expandable via MicroSD card.

Image: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

The 6.3-inch handset feels lightweight (it weighs 188g) thanks to the significant amount of plastic used in the chassis, and the back has a reflective blue-to-purple graded finish that's reminiscent of Honor's approach. However, the Moto G8 lacks Honor panache, and is a real fingerprint magnet. The rear cameras sit proud of the chassis.

Motorola uses a hardware-based fingerprint scanner, which is on the back of the phone with the Moto logo embedded within it. I'm easy about in-screen versus rear-mounted scanners, and this one was efficient enough not to cause problems. 

It's nice to see a 3.5mm headset jack, and also nice to see it on the top edge of the phone.

The 6.3-inch screen has a resolution of 2,280 by 1,080 pixels (19:9, 400dpi). It's an IPS LCD rather than the more poppy and vibrant AMOLED, but I was quite happy reading text, watching video and doing the odd bit of gaming. There's a small notch for the front camera, and while the bezels are hardly minimal the only one of any real significance is at the bottom. Of course, the screen is flat -- Motorola couldn't afford to go curved at this price.

It's nice to see stereo speakers here. One sits on the bottom edge, the other in a tiny grille above the screen. There's plenty of volume, and while it could do with more punch, audio output is perfectly acceptable.

Top ZDNET Reviews

Raspberry Pi 4
raspberry-pi-4-model-b-header.jpg

Top ZDNET Reviews

Raspberry Pi 4

9
Raspberry Pi 400
raspberry-pi-400-header.jpg

Top ZDNET Reviews

Raspberry Pi 400

8.5
OnePlus Watch
oneplus-watch-3.jpg

Top ZDNET Reviews

OnePlus Watch

5.7
Samsung Galaxy Xcover Pro
samsung-xcover-pro-7.jpg

Top ZDNET Reviews

Samsung Galaxy Xcover Pro

8.4

For many people these days the camera setup is vital to their handset, and that's the case whether they are going 'flagship' or 'budget'. The 25-megapixel selfie camera (double the resolution of the front-facing camera in the G7 Plus) shoots perfectly acceptable photos, but there's a surprise on the main array at the rear.

motorola-moto-g8-plus-wide-angle-video.jpg

The 16MP ultra-wide-angle camera only shoots video, which it captures in landscape orientation while you hold the camera in portrait mode.

Image: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

There are three cameras at the back: a 48MP main sensor with an f/1.7 wide-angle lens; a 5MP depth sensor with an f/2.2 lens; and a 16MP sensor with an f/2.2 ultra-wide-angle lens. Test photos looked sharp and captured plenty of light during the daytime, but the low-light performance was less impressive, despite the fact that there is a dedicated night mode. The bottom line is that high-quality smartphone night shooting is rare, and not really within a budget handset's remit.

The surprise is the ultra-wide-angle camera. It's only used for shooting video -- and even then, you can only use it in portrait mode, framing your video in a narrow letterbox. Try to tip into landscape mode and the camera software tells you to use portrait mode. I found it fiddly to frame video of moving subjects, and rather frustrating to work with. I also missed ultra-wide-angle stills shooting.

The 4,000mAh battery easily kept the G8 Plus going for a day under my normal pattern of usage. This includes a fair bit of social media and quite a lot of web browsing, some ebook reading, and a few voice calls. Fast charging (15W) is supported.

SEE: IT pro's guide to the evolution and impact of 5G technology (free PDF)
 
The octa-core Snapdragon 665 chipset performs well enough, even though there's only 4GB of RAM. More restrictive is the 64GB of internal storage, of which 14GB is used out of the box, leaving you with 50GB free. The last budget handset I looked at, the £219 Oppo A9, had 128GB, with 105GB free. There is a MicroSD card slot for additional external storage, but if you use this you'll have to sacrifice the second SIM slot. NFC is present, along with an FM radio.

If you like your Android (9) without frills you'll be pleased, as there's a very basic setup here, lacking third-party extras.

motorola-moto-g8-plus-verdict.jpg
Image: Motorola

The G8 Plus is a worthy 2020 update to the Moto G line. Apart from the odd ultra-wide-angle video shooting setup, it doesn't do much wrong. However, it's not a giant leap forwards for Motorola's budget smartphone range, and it lacks sparkle. There are now plenty of options to consider if you're looking for a new phone at this price point.

RECENT AND RELATED CONTENT

Motorola Moto G7 Plus review: A top-quality budget smartphone

Oppo A9 2020, hands on: A good-value large-screen handset with great battery life

Honor 9X, hands on: Budget big-screen smartphone with pop-up front camera

The best cheap phones you can buy right now: Flagship features for any budget

Best phones of 2020 (CNET)  

Read more reviews