When it comes to smartphones, Motorola has always been right up there in terms of the memories I have with them. Sure, they’re a shell of the former company they used to be thanks in part to the Lenovo acquisition some years ago. But before all that, Motorola strived for originality and blurring the lines in every device category they could get their hands on.
- Gorgeous Display
- Class Leading Battery Life
- Wonderful Camera
- Exceptional Hardware
- Performance Can be Hit or Miss
- UI is Slightly Jittery
When the original Moto X was launched, the idea of it was astonishing: Customise your phone to your liking and we’ll make it how you like it. Sure, this project didn’t last very long due to constraints in the manufacturing plant it was made it, but it was American-made for the most part. The problem with that is, having a factory in Texas costs almost triple the likes of one in China. Either way, the Moto X was an amazing powerhouse of a device, and you could customise the colouring of it without having to compromise on a simple choice of ‘black’ or ‘white’.
Then came the Moto G range of phones. It’s the younger sibling of the now-diminished X brand, but more of a mid-range, budget-friendly device aimed at not sacrificing too many aspects of what makes a smartphone, and specifically Motorola great.
Now Lenovo has taken over, the device name for the Moto brand of phones has become confusing, to say the least. There’s the Moto (g)8 Power Lite, Moto (g)8 Pro, and many more in that range. None of the naming conventions really explains what differentiates one phone from another. I was kindly sent the G8 Power (I really can’t be bothered using the bracket for each time I mention this device, so I’m going with the old fashioned method) to review, and I’m looking forward to digging into this device to see if Lenovo is still holding true to the Moto Brand or if this device is more ‘Lenoverrated’.
Hardware: Plastic, But Premium (Pt. 2)
When I reviewed the Realme 6i, I mentioned the mantra of “Plastic, but premium” multiple times which is an oxymoron in and of itself.
When you make a phone that is sub £300, you have to make some sacrifices along the way to keep material costs down, to ensure enough profit is made from the device to sound from a business perspective. Usually, the hardware is the first thing to be sacrificed in terms of quality, removing the premium glass backs or metal backs and bringing plastic into the fold.
As soon as you unbox the G8 Power, you become instantly aware of just how massive this device is. With a 6.4″ display, this device wants to be seen from the outset which I am a big fan of for a mid-range device. Let’s face it, you’re initially put off by the price of the device in the opposite way a flagship device would. At least with a flagship device, you know it’s going to have to be fantastic and fit for purpose to be worthy of the price. For mid-range devices, the price can be misleading and it can be hit or miss as to which features perform.
In terms of the hardware itself, the back of the device has a nice, unique linear effect running through the rear with the Motorola logo glistening in all its glory, which also holds the fingerprint scanner. In terms of placement, I’d say Lenovo did a pretty bang on job with the placement of the fingerprint scanner, as your index finger naturally finds the scanner by itself which is a nice touch. A lot of companies get rear fingerprint scanners wrong in more budget devices that can’t afford under-the-glass sensors, but Lenovo got it pretty much perfect.
What I love about the design of this device the most is that Lenovo has put their personal touch on it, making it unique rather than just a standard black slab with nothing much to write home about. At least when you have some form of pattern running along with the device, it catches the eye, taking away the ‘boring’ stigma it could have had.
Another neat feature of this linear effect is that it glistens in the light to make it more noticeable. Sure, you rarely look at the back of your phone anyway, but it’s a nice little touch to bring a more positive opinion about the device in general. A sign that mid-range doesn’t have to mean dour.
Unfortunately, it’s a glossy plastic ‘Lenovorola’ went with, so it is a bit of a fingerprint magnet. You find yourself wiping the device consistently because it becomes very greasy in an instant. Luckily, there’s a case that comes with the device in the box, which is clear so you can still see the lovely lines, and will save you from the grease.
Coming to the front of the device, the display is effectively the story here for the most part. It has a slight O-Notch on the top-left that is barely noticeable when using it. That’s one thing I preferred for an edge-to-edge experience; the hole punch. This is purely down to the fact it gives you more screen real estate and the parts that are overtaken by that notch are parts you don’t often need in the first place.
The bottom of the device holds the standard USB Type-C port, which supports fast-charging up to 20W (a 20W charger is included in the box, too). Next to the USB port is one of the speakers, with the other speaker being at the top of the front, making it a stereo experience. The right-hand side has both the volume rocker and the power button. Much like the Motorola devices that preceded it, the power button has a ridged effect to differentiate between the two options on the side.
Finally, the left-hand side is bare, apart from the SIM/SD slot. Also, this sub-£300 device also has a 3.5mm headphone jack. So you could say that Lenovo isn’t being courageous enough here…right?
Display: A Decent IPS Panel
I feel like when it comes to smartphone displays in their respective markets, they have hit a plateau. Not in a bad way; far from it. It’s just that an obvious a ceiling has been hit and there’s nowhere further to go for most panels unless Samsung or LG innovate it further (which is probably on the cards but not for the next 2-3 years).
The Motorola Moto G8 Power has a 6.4″ 1080p IPS panel, and to summarise, it’s gorgeous in every aspect. Colours are vibrant, blacks are surprisingly good for a panel at this price, and the whites can be customised to your liking. By default, the temperature is of a warmer tint, but I prefer to change the setting to cooler just because I’m a fairly cool person!
What I do adore about this device is the fact that it’s a 1080p panel. Most devices at the same price can only afford to go up to 720p, dampening the experience and smoothness. The text flows off the screen so beautifully and is so sharp. With the gorgeous (and configurable) whites in tow, the effect is almost paper-like without having to pay a fortune for it.
To bring down the tone of this section, I must highlight the ability of this phone in sunlight. The brightness of this display cannot deal with being outdoors. The good news is that most, if not all devices in this category have the same issue. In manual mode, GSM Arena reported the display only reaches up to 500 nits. In auto mode, however, it can reach a significant 741 nits. The problem is, the auto mode is implemented so badly you almost have to use manual mode to get the right setting for you. It is too aggressive with its tweaks and too slow to make them!
All in all, though the display is a decent IPS panel for the most part and as long as you use the manual mode you’re golden for most use cases. Colour reproduction is fantastic, the whites flow off the sceen with an amazing about of gusto, and the blacks are superb for a panel of this price.
Software: Pixel Perfect
When it comes to the software of any device, I like to get into the nitty-gritty to see what makes it tick. The good thing about Motorola devices is the fact that they haven’t changed ethos much since their inception back when the original Moto X came out. One thing I do appreciate about Lenovo is the fact that they stuck very close to what people loved about the Motorola software, and that’s the simplicity of it.
In short, the software is very much what Google intended it to be on their Nexus first, then Pixel devices, but with a little extra that doesn’t take away from the overall experience.
When you first power on the device, without knowing beforehand, you might be fooled into thinking this was a Pixel device, it’s that close to stock Android. The voluptuous design language Google has been working towards for years now shows wonderfully on this vibrant IPS panel, with the stock Google Launcher out of the box, and the design of the software identical to what Google has proposed to most OEMs. Obviously, for most of them, they go their way in terms of design to make it different. Motorola has always been very public in the fact that they prefer to stick to what Google intended but adding a twist to it.
Speaking of the twists Moto added, they are wonderful to use and not gimmicky in the slightest. You will see most of these features in the Moto Actions application, which gives you a wide range of tutorials on how to use the features in question, and how it works. Moto has always been great simply presenting features for any consumer who may want to take a chance on their devices. Moto Actions comes packed with a lot of features, including flip to Do Not Disturb, Chop to turn on the torch and flick to open the Camera application. One of my favourite features of Moto Actions has to be the media controls. When this option is on, and your screen is off, you can use the volume rocker to change the track you’re currently listening to.
Another thing that’s been in Motorola devices since the X is the Active Display, which Moto has pretty much been the innovator of for as long as I can remember. Moto Display is just a perfect implementation from the ground up and doesn’t have the gimmicky features that the likes of Samsung put in there. It’s as simple as you receiving a notification, the Moto Display turning on, and you holding on the notification to action it without turning the actual screen on, preserving a hell of a lot of battery life in the process. Of course, you can customise the clock if you must, but I kept it stock due to it being simplistic and bold enough for me to see.
I love Motorola’s software efforts, and the G8 Power hasn’t changed that opinion for me. It’s Pixel, but with a little sprinkle of Motorola. In perfect harmony once more.
Camera: Putting the MEGA in Megapixel
What I’ve found when using a low to the mid-range device is the fact that the cameras aren’t a detriment to the overall experience when you’d expect that to be the first thing to be sacrificed when reviewing a device of this category. The Moto G8 Power certainly doesn’t detract from that opinion.
The G8 Power comes with a total of 4 cameras on the back, thematically the same as the Realme 6i I reviewed very recently too: It comes with a 16MP main sensor, an 8MP telephoto sensor, an 8MP ultra-wide lens, and a 2MP Macro lens. All these lenses work together and produce some good results.
For the main sensor, it provides clear, concise colour reproduction with a level of sharpness. Sure, you can use the manual modes Motorola kindly provides in the options, but I mostly found the auto and HDR modes to pretty much do exactly what I need it to. The one thing I love about this device is the fact that you don’t have to take a multitude of pictures to get the ‘perfect’ shot. This is mainly the reason why I use the iPhone as my daily driver because you don’t have to worry about taking more than 1 shot to get what you need out of it. The Motorola is the first phone in a long time where the post-processing does just what it needs to to get the perfect shot for your use cases; nothing more or less.
HDR does tend to overcompensate on the colour department, making even the most grey of days look like a red hot summer’s afternoon. Overall, the main sensor takes some exceptional shots given the budget Lenovo had. One caveat, which I found quite disappointing since the Realme 6i has this for a fraction of the price, is the lack of any night mode. So if you want to take pictures in the dark, you’re gonna have to use the flash.
The macro lens isn’t anything to write home about. The photos I did manage to take with the macro lens ended up coming out very pixelated and muted a lot of the coloursthrown at it. Not only that, but the focusing was non-existent for the most part. It did focus at one point, but not on the right subject. I rarely use a macro lens, in all honesty so I’m not going to drag it through the mud too much, but if you put a macro lens on your phone, make sure it does the job.
The telephoto and ultra-wide lens provide the same results as the main sensor: wonderous colours and plenty of sharpness to shake a stick at.
Battery: The New King?
I have had the Motorola G8 Power for closing in on 2 weeks now, and I can count on one hand how many times I’ve charged this device from 1% battery to 100%: 4 times. 4 times in 2 weeks. This thing refuses to die on any given day I threw at it.
For my first test, I unplugged it at 100% and went the whole hog on the first day with a constant usage day without putting the phone down. Streaming Netflix shows, watching YouTube videos, playing CoD Mobile for a few hours and social media browsing, to name a few things I did on that day. The phone was unplugged from 100% at roughly 10 am. By the time I went to bed at 11 PM, the phone was still at 60% after 3 and a half hours screen on time.
I didn’t charge the phone overnight, and when I woke up at 8:30 am the following morning it had only lost 1% overnight, and I went back to it. At the end of the second day of the same usage, it was at 20% with close to 7 hours screen on time. The phone didn’t notify me it was about to die until halfway into the third day.
My next test was just for average usage, and it lasted 5 days without having to charge it, again with 7 hours SOT. If you don’t use your phone as much as I usually do on a given day, you could easily get a week’s worth of battery out of this without having to charge it.
Performance: Okay at Best
The Moto G8 Power comes packed with a very acceptable Snapdragon 665, which seems to be an ongoing theme for most mid-range handsets at this price range. In terms of GPU, it has an Adreno 610. I mostly play a lot of graphic intensive games on my mobile phone, being an elite gamer and all. Forza Street, Call of Duty Mobile and PUB:G Mobile to name a few.
All of these game run…okay on the G8 Power, but ultimately it’s not built for the most graphically intensive games and more to do with a power user aspect of things. Don’t get me wrong, it plays the games fine if you tune the graphics down to low, taking you back in a time capsule to the PS1 days, but it still plays them all the same. If you are a fan of Candy Crush, then it plays that exceptionally well. In saying that, I’m fairly sure a calculator can play Candy Crush at this point.
In terms of heat, the device doesn’t even come close to being lukewarm in most of my graphics tests. Even when benchmarking, it was still cool after all the stress-testing I did in the first few days. Whatever Motorola did, they got the cooling aspect of this device correct.
Verdict: Perfect for a Poweruser
While I was writing this review, I had an overall feeling of sadness for Motorola. They were a company that had everything, including the smartphone world, in their hands. They had a wonderful partnership with Google, they made exceptional devices that battled even the best out there in terms of price point, and they were a company that had been well respected for years before the Lenovo takeover.
Now they have had a slight fall from grace, and Lenovo taking over just left a sour taste in my mouth, even now.
This device blew me away in mostly every aspect, and I got a feeling that Motorola was back. Maybe not back in the original Moto X sense, but a step in the right direction at least. Sure, Motorola rarely makes flagship devices now, with the Motorola Edge being the latest flagship, but when they can pump out mid-range belters like this, do people really care?
For a mid-range device, this phone wipes the floor with a lot of the devices it is surrounded by. Dual stereo speakers, a very good IPS display with a powerful camera in most circumstances, and unbeatable battery life. If you’re a power-user looking for something different than a Samsung, give the G8 Power a try. It’s well worth a shot and it won’t break the bank.