Of all the smartphone segments, the most cut-throat has to be the budget to midrange market. Each brand has its own specialties but with little room for error (unless they want to hear a mouthful from consumers).
While Xiaomi continues to cram as much power as it can into its smartphones and ASUS confidently creates budget-friendly battery kings, Moto is pushing something a little different: premium design with an affordable price.
That’s what the Moto G6 is all about. Although the specifications sheet doesn’t scream high-end (or barely even midrange), gripping it feels like you have something more.
As soon as the G6 lands in your hands, you know it’s a rock-solid device. The all-glass construction curves smoothly from back to front, delivering a fluid feel like it’s meant for human hands and not tables. The 5.7-inch 1080p display is also fun to view thanks to the slimmer 18:9 ratio.
And yet, it’s admittedly on the almost-too-thick side. I first thought that there’d be a massive battery inside, but the capacity is only 3000mAh. For comparison, phones this thick have batteries as large as 4000mAh, offering 33 percent more without the added bulk.
Strangely enough, there’s even a significant camera bulge on the back, meaning the phone can’t lie flat on a surface. It’s a head-scratching design, although I appreciate the fingerprint scanner’s front-facing placement — where it should belong.
Unfortunately, the fingerprint reading isn’t that fast; there’s a slight pause between the vibration feedback and screen turning on. On the flip side, the scanner serves an additional purpose of being an all-in-one navigation key.
By entering the Moto Actions menu and turning on “One button nav,” you can tap the capacitive button to go home, swipe right to bring up recent apps, swipe left to go back, or hold to turn the screen off. Enabling this frees up some screen space since the on-display navigation bar isn’t needed anymore.
Another useful feature is Moto Display, which works a lot like the Always On tricks of Samsung and Huawei’s own implementation on the P20 Pro. It gives you a glimpse at the time, date, and battery percentage while the phone is on standby; it’ll also light up when a notification arrives or you wave a hand over the phone.
Aside from those, this is simply a solidly built, pure Android smartphone. It comes with Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box with no bloatware whatsoever. Sadly, it isn’t part of the Android One platform, meaning the G6 isn’t guaranteed to get timely updates from Google, and Moto isn’t known to push newer versions of the OS on time.
Running the show is a Snapdragon 450 processor, which slots into the lower-midrange speed realm, but is certainly efficient. Despite the smallish battery, the G6 can last through a day of moderate usage on a single charge with mobile data or Wi-Fi constantly on.
I tried playing a few games, but wasn’t too impressed by the performance. A couple of rounds of Dragon Ball Legends and Asphalt Xtreme didn’t show off the smoothest gameplay or fastest loading times. While the chipset isn’t too bad, the 3GB of memory is lacking, and there’s not much room for all my games and videos on the 32GB of internal storage — though you can expand that using the hybrid SIM and microSD tray.
Our creative director Chay also experienced some hiccups while using the G6’s cameras. Although they look good on paper — a 12- and 5-megapixel rear setup (one with a better f/1.8 lens) — the quality isn’t great and moving from one mode to another can get slow at times.
Here are some of the best photos she took:
The 8-megapixel front camera isn’t too impressive, either. You’d think it’s good when taking selfies in broad daylight, but it gets grainy even with indoor lighting. Overall, I wouldn’t recommend buying the G6 for its cameras or speed. Neither stand out as much as the build quality.
And that sort of sums up my experience with the Moto G6. As pretty as it looks, there’s not much going on inside. For this phone’s price of US$ 250 (INR 13,999 in India), you can find more powerful devices in the market.
We have two great lists for that, but one advantage the G6 has is its design. I can confidently say it’s the most well-built in its price range.
Nokia 3.2 Hands-On: Basic but classy
Nothing fancy but really speedy
Nokia has been stepping up its lineup of budget smartphones. Early in 2019, the brand launched a plethora of budget smartphones that are under the Android One program. One of the budget-friendly smartphones introduced was Nokia 3.2. Eager to have that Nokia experience, I took the phone out for a spin.
It’s cheap… but classy
I had high hopes when I first got the Nokia 3.2 in its box. Seeing it earlier in MWC 2019 made me appreciate its look and vibe. Compared to other budget smartphones, it’s classier and sexier. However, the phone feels a little bit downgraded when compared to its predecessor.
Nokia the 3.1 with an aluminum frame, a plastic back, and corning gorilla glass while the 3.2 used only a polycarbonate unibody design. Its plastic back is smudgy and slippery, but the phone has a tighter grip, thanks to its subtle curved edges towards the front.
Even its buttons are subtly protruding on its sides. On the left is a dedicated Google Assistant button, and on the right are its power buttons and volume keys.
Found on its back are the 13-megapixel main camera, LED Flash, and fingerprint scanner. On the other hand, its top side features a headphone jack, while the micro USB port and speaker grilles are found on the bottom.
It also features a 6.2 inches LCD panel on its front display, with a tall 19:9 ratio. It might be disrupting, but the Nokia 3.2 still sports a small notch, housing its 5-megapixel selfie camera capable of AI face unlock. Even though it might be bigger and taller this time, the Nokia 3.2 is definitely a joy to hold.
Stock Android on a budget
The saving grace for Nokia’s disappointing build (at least for me) is its clean version of Android One. That means there’s no bloatware to take up your limited memory and storage.
Additionally, the Nokia 3.2 comes with Android 9 Pie out of the box. This makes it feel faster than its competitors in the budget segment despite having a 3GB RAM and 32GB of internal storage. Fortunately, it provides a microSD card slot up to up to 400GB of storage.
An entry-level performance
Powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 429 processor, the Nokia 3.2 performs better compared to its predecessor which carried a MediaTek chipset. In addition, its GPU runs on Adreno 504.
This made the Nokia 3.2 handle graphic-intensive games like Mobile Legends even if it was set on the highest graphics setting possible. There were no delay and lag spikes, ensuring smooth gameplay all throughout.
Decent cameras for your everyday needs
Featuring a 13-megapixel main camera with an f/2.2 aperture, and a 5-megapixel selfie camera with an f/2.0 aperture, the Nokia 3.2 takes decent photos. Depending on the lighting, both of its cameras can either take a vibrant, lively reproduced color during daylight or a slightly desaturated photo on indoor and low-light conditions.
Of course, we can’t really expect budget smartphones to have flagship-like cameras. It won’t have quick auto-focus or any fancy features like blurring your background, but it’s the compromise we’re getting when we follow our tight budget. At the very least, make use of natural light and other camera tricks to improve your photos.
Lasts longer than your partner
If there’s one thing I enjoyed with this smartphone, it’s the humongous battery. Packing a 4000mAh battery, the Nokia 3.2 can definitely last a day on a single charge. It can handle your multimedia use and everyday tasks throughout the day, yet it will still have enough juice left to carry you through the night.
However, for a phone carrying a huge battery, it charges slowly at 10W. This phone might just be good for those who love to charge their phones overnight.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
The Nokia 3.2 is a contender in the budget segment. It might have a disappointing build and design, but the phone packs with power, performance, and speed, thanks to Google’s Android One program.
With a starting price of PhP 7,990 (US$ 154) for the 3GB/32GB model, Nokia loyalists will find this a real treat. For people looking for a secondary phone, or a primary phone with no frills and just functions to handle your everyday needs, the Nokia 3.2 could be your GadgetMatch.
However, there are still far better options in the budget category, like the Redmi Note 7 and Realme 3. If Nokia wants to come back in its former glory and capture people looking for an affordable powerhouse, they need to join the battle and beat Realme and Redmi in their game, just like Samsung bending over to compete in the tough budget battlefield.
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