Moto G6 vs. Moto G6 Play: Which should you buy?

The better phone isn't always the better deal.

If you're shopping in the sub-$300 space, there are few better companies to turn to than Motorola. The Moto G series consistently impresses us with the level of performance and overall value of each of its phones, and the new Moto G6 trio is no exception — though if you live in North America, you'll only be able to pick up two of the three phones: the Moto G6 and Moto G6 Play.

The $50 price difference between models doesn't sound like much at first, but that's 25% of the Moto G6 Play's total cost. If you can live without the Moto G6's additional features, that extra money could be put towards a protective case or even a month of service on a prepaid network. So what are those additional features, and how does the Moto G6 Play still stand strong?

Where the Moto G6 pulls ahead

At first glance, the Moto G6 and Moto G6 Play are hard to tell apart. They're roughly the same physical dimensions and even share the same 5.7-inch screen size — though the Moto G6 has a denser 1080p panel compared to the G6 Play's 720p. The G6 also pulls ahead in storage and RAM, starting off with 32GB and 3GB respectively, while the baseline Moto G6 Play features 16GB and 2GB.

Physically, the biggest difference between devices is the placement of the fingerprint sensors. The Moto G6 displays it front and center below the display, which makes it ideal for gesture navigation, allowing you to replace the software-based navigation bar and take back the bottom of your display. I actually prefer the G6 Play's fingerprint sensor placement around back, integrated into the Motorola logo, but it's hard to argue against the added functionality on the G6's sensor.

Around the back, you'll notice that only the Moto G6 features a second rear camera — a 5MP RGB sensor that measures depth and aids in portrait mode shots. It's also the only phone of the two to feature a USB-C port for charging, along with Motorola's 15W TurboPower charging for quick top-ups.

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Where the Moto G6 Play stands its ground

If you've been following Motorola's lineup for a while now, you're probably already aware that the Play moniker denotes long battery life over all else. As such, the Moto G6 Play features a massive 4000mAh battery — a 33% increase over the Moto G6. Combined with a more power-efficient 720p display, it's hard to imagine the Moto G6 Play will have anything less than stellar battery life. Without TurboPower, the Moto G6 Play will take a bit longer to charge than the G6, but it still features 10W rapid charging over Micro-USB.

SoC differences aside, the Moto G6 Play benefits from nearly all of the same features as the Moto G6. It runs the same clean build of Android 8.0 Oreo, its internal storage is still expandable via microSD, it features the same 8MP front-facing camera (though only the Moto G6 can use this camera for face unlock), and it's protected with the same water-repellant nano-coating. As mentioned before, you might even prefer the rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, and the Moto G6 Play's cleaner look beneath the display as a result.

Likewise, you'll still benefit on the software side from Motorola's excellent suite of Moto Actions and the Moto Display. Launching the camera with a double-twist in your hand works as well as ever on the Moto G6 Play, as does the double-chop to launch the flashlight. Moto Display is still one of the best takes on an ambient display, with actionable notifications. Rest assured, the Moto G6 Play is every bit a Motorola phone as the Moto G6.

As it stands, both phones are available through Amazon's Prime Exclusive program, too, which discounts each one by $10 to $15.

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Which would you buy?

While the Moto G6 is clearly the better phone of the two, its advantages are largely unimportant to the Moto G series' core audience. Those shopping on a budget likely won't be bothered by missing out on a secondary camera or a slightly faster processor — they just want a reliable phone that lasts them through the day. To that extent, the Moto G6 Play with its larger battery is arguably a better purchase.

If you happen to run across a good deal on the Moto G6, you should buy all means buy it, but the Moto G6 Play is still plenty phone for most people, and the $50 price difference could be better spent elsewhere. If you're thinking about picking up one of these phones, let us know in the comments below!

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