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REVIEW: Moto G9 Plus – Is Bigger Always Better?

After testing out Motorola’s $299 budget smartphone the Moto G9 Play, it was time to upgrade to its big brother, the Moto G9 Plus.

Following in Apple’s footsteps of offering a standard and plus model, Motorola now wants to give consumers a reason to dump their G9 Play for the slightly bigger G9 Plus only months after releasing the affordable smartphone.

At only $399, the G9 Plus has plenty of features that make it a great value investment – but is it enough of an upgrade from the G9 Play?

What’s the difference between the G9 Play and G9 Plus?

The most tangible difference is the screen size on the G9 Plus. While the standard G9 Plus is 6.5’’, the Plus ships with a screen at about 6.81’’.

The display resolution is also an improved 1080×2400 pixels, a significant step up from the G9 Play’s 720×1600 pixels. With the G9 Play and G9 Plus sitting side by side, this resolution upgrade is quite apparent. I’m talking much brighter whites and a fair bit less motion-blur.

Next is the rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, which I found a little awkward at first. This sensor also doubles as the lock button and is fast and seamless for everyday use.

But if the sensor isn’t your style, the G9 plus also has Face ID which is a nice premium addition for such a budget price point. The G9 Play has offers Face ID, so this is not an upgraded feature.

The Google Assistant wake button is also placed in a comfortable position on the left side of the phone away from the volume and lock button, whereas it is situated on the top right on the G9 Play which invites a lot of accidental presses.

The selfie camera on the G9 Plus is neatly tucked onto the left-hand corner which may just be a random design choice. It does give the phone a more edge-to-edge display but the black border still encroaches a little on the screen.

A nice little update on the Plus is the power button shortcut, where users can bring up a customer’s shortcut menu with two taps. This is particularly useful if you only have one hand free.

Camera

Motorola cameras aren’t pro-grade quality but they are always reasonable, particularly this model given the aggressive price point.

The G9 Plus has a quad pixel rear camera, with the main 64MP (the play is 48MP) an ultra-wide angle secondary lens, “Macro Vision” tertiary and depth sensor for portraits.

It’s a good camera for casual snappers. But don’t expect the world – the shots still feel a little pale and flat but its portrait mode is still a winner, especially for clear selfies.

The selfie camera is 16MP, which again is an upgrade for the G9 Play’s 8MP.

But, while zooming in, I found the camera can be a little blurry and fails to sharpen objects.

Photos taken with Moto G9 Plus

Design

Perhaps the biggest indicator of the G9 Plus’s low price is the cheap plastic back. While the screen is made of glass, the back has a plastic unibody design.

Despite this, it feels pleasantly sturdy while still ensuring the phone is lightweight enough to compete in the market. It’s a little heavier than a lot of premium phones out there but it isn’t uncomfortable to hold.

The rounded corners make it evocative of the iPhone and the top-left mounted selfie camera gives it a premium feel.

The quad camera setup in the rear top left corner is also neatly designed and again a very similar look to the iPhone 12.

The phone’s USB-C charging port is located at the bottom while the 3.5mm headphone jack stays at the top. Personally, I don’t love the top headphone jack-look but it has been standard across the G series.

Motorola also providers users with a clear case to protect the back – a good move as Apple fails to provide in this arena.

I had the indigo blue G9 Plus and while it isn’t fingerprint resistant, it was still a nice colour scheme which gave it another premium boost.

Performance

As with the G9 Play, the Plus model has a 5,000mAh battery and the battery life is impressive, like with many Motorola models.

A 30W TurboPower charger is included inside the box, and the G9 Plus goes from 0% to 100% in just 81 minutes (an hour and 21 minutes). The battery lasted days without a charge (limited use though) but hardcore gaming and streaming zaps the juice a little faster.

While the LCD screen certainly doesn’t give the most impressive picture, the phone was fine streaming Netflix and YouTube videos and there was little lag or blur in the images. The quality was slightly better than the G9 Play.

The G9 Plus is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G CPU, which Motorola claims makes it 57% more powerful and 20% more efficient than its predecessor, the G8 Plus.

I had no problems with scroll lag and it was reasonably fast for general usage.

It’s also equipped with only Android 10, but Motorola says it is working on rolling out Android 11 across its devices.

While it doesn’t have 5G support, the next model up – Motorola G Plus 5G – does.

It has 128GB and 4GB RAM, and a microSD slot if you feel inclined to upgrade the in-built storage.

Verdict

It’s cheap but it isn’t nasty and the Moto G9 Plus has basically everything you’d need for a basic smartphone – plus a few perks which make it fantastic value model. For a new release, it’s a little disappointing the G9 Plus won’t be able to support 5G but Motorola does make up for it with the next generation model.

The Motorola G9 Plus retails for $399 and will be available in Australia from November 10.

7/10

PROS

Affordable

Big screen

Fast charging

Good resolution

CONS

No 5G support

Poor camera quality

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