Moto G6 vs. Moto G5 Plus: Should you upgrade?

There are two constants in the world of technology: that phones will get faster and cheaper year over year, and that Motorola will find a way to confuse and vex its customer base.

Such is the reality of this year's crop of Moto G phones that debuted in mid-April and will be available, depending on the market, in the coming days or weeks. (Some of the models are already available in Brazil and will be sold in Mexico and India shortly.)

So here we are, with many Moto G customers figuring whether they should upgrade to the top-of-the-line Moto G6 in the coming days and weeks. For some parts of the world, that phone will be the Moto G6 Plus — we already have an overview for you if that's the case — but for those in the U.S., the upgrade path is a bit murkier. That's because the Moto G6, not the G6 Plus, is the upgrade path, and while it's definitely an upgrade, there are some compromises to the proposition. Let's take a look.

Moto G6 vs. Moto G5 Plus What's new?

Pictured: Moto G6 and Moto G5.

Pictured: Moto G6 and Moto G5.

When you compare the Moto G5 Plus to the Moto G6, the newer model looks like a considerable upgrade. While the 2017 G flagship isn't bad-looking, it's rather staid compared to the shiny glass finish, replete with curved back, of the taller, more mature-looking Moto G6.

While both phones have front-facing fingerprint sensors, the newer phone's is smaller and wider, a symptom of the diminutive bezels above and below the new 2:1 LCD panel.

The G6 also sports a second camera to augment the primary sensor — one Motorola promises performs better than that of the Moto G5S Plus. Ugh, that phone.

On the inside, the Snapdragon 450 isn't an improvement over the Moto G5 Plus's Snapdragon 625, but it's not an out-and-out regression, either. They're basically the same chip, with Qualcomm bringing its expertise down to a lower price point with the 400 series. The Snapdragon 450's clock speeds are a little lower on a per-core basis, but that shouldn't affect overall performance. That you can only get the Moto G6 with an ample 3GB or 4GB of RAM should put it in good stead compared to the Moto G5 Plus's 2GB entry SKU.

Moto G6 vs. Moto G5 Plus Specs

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CategoryMoto G6Moto G5 Plus
Operating SystemAndroid 8.0 OreoAndroid 7.0 Nougat
Display5.7-inch IPS LCD2160x108018:9 aspect ratio5.2-inch LCD 1920x1080 (424 ppi)Gorilla Glass 3
ProcessorSnapdragon 450 1.8GHz octa-coreAdreno 506 GPUSnapdragon 625 2GHz octa-coreAdreno 506 GPU
Storage32/64GB32/64GB (U.S.)16/32GB (APAC)32GB (LATAM/EMEA)
ExpandablemicroSD card up to 128GBmicroSD card up to 128GB
Rear Camera13MP, ƒ/2.012MP, ƒ/1.8 | 12MP, f/1.7, 1.4-micron pixels, dual AF pixels
Rear Camera - Secondary5MP RGB (for depth)N/A
Video1080p @ 60fps4K @ 30 fps
Front Camera8MPfront-facing flash5MP, f/2.2, 1.4-micron pixels
Connectivity802.11 a/b/g/n 2.4 GHz + 5 GHzBluetooth 4.2Wi-Fi 802.11n dual-bandBluetooth 4.2NFC (except U.S.)
ChargingUSB-C15W TurboPower chargerMicro-USB15W TurboPower charger
Water resistanceWater-repellant nano-coatingWater-repellant nano-coating
SecurityFingerprint sensor (front)Face unlockFingerprint sensor
Dimensions153.8 x 72.3 x 8.3 mm150.2 x 74 x 9.7 mm
Weight167 g155 g
ColorsDeep indigo, Black, BlushLunar gray, fine gold

Finally, while the software is still very much a simple affair, the Moto G6 runs Android 8.0, while the Moto G5 Plus is stuck on Android 7.0 Nougat for the foreseeable future.

That means, in addition to the plentiful improvements Google brought to the table with Oreo, Motorola's newest Moto features, like contextual Moto Voice that performs local functions in addition to calling out to Google Assistant, make the G6 feel considerably more modern than its 2017 counterpart.

Moto G6 vs. Moto G5 Plus Should you upgrade?

Pictured: Moto G6 and Moto G5.

Pictured: Moto G6 and Moto G5.

The reality is, given that the Moto G6 Plus isn't available in the U.S. most Americans wanting to replace their 2017 model with the 2018 budget flagship will have to choose to go from a Plus to a non-Plus. That is more of a branding issue for Motorola than a practical one for users, though, given the similarities in specs, and shouldn't pose any day-to-day concerns.

Indeed, the Moto G6 is wholly improved over the G5 Plus in almost every way.

The more important question is whether you should replace your Moto G5 Plus with a Moto G6 or jump straight to the now-heavily discounted Moto X4. That's a better phone than the G6 in a number of ways, though it retains the wider-and-shorter traditional 16:9 aspect ratio that's largely disappeared in the industry.

At $249, the Moto G6 offers tremendous value for money and should be an obvious update path for anyone looking to buy one of Motorola's excellent 2018 budget phones.

See at Motorola

Daniel Bader

Daniel Bader was a former Android Central Editor-in-Chief and Executive Editor for iMore and Windows Central.