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Review: The Motorola Moto G9 Play Is A Budget Smartphone With Premium Features

Motorola’s latest mid-range smartphone the Moto G9 Play is a worthy device with a performance and user experience that doesn’t always reflect its sub-$300 price point.

At only $299, I was blown away by its sophisticated features which would normally accompany a $1000+ smartphone, including fingerprint technology, in-built Google Assistant, surprisingly good screen resolution, Google Pay and a pair of true wireless earbuds included in the box to boot.

However, while the 720 x 1600 pixels screen resolution in bright, artificial light is fine, using it in direct sunlight left a lot to be desired and it highlights the lesser quality of the LCD screen.

The style and shape of the Moto G9 is reminiscent of the iPhone in several ways. I found it to have a pleasant weight – albeit on the heavier side – at 200g and the screen size at 6.5 inches is just what I needed as a former Apple user. I had the Sapphire Blue colour and it also comes in Spring Pink.

The fingerprint sensor at the back of the G9 is placed neatly underneath the 48MP sensor main camera and is a comfortable ID technology for such a cheap device.

The G9’s interface layout and operating system are both super easy to navigate. With Google-powered Android and Google apps already downloaded (most people would describe this as bloatware but I was happy enough to use them all) it didn’t take much time to get used to the G9 Play as an everyday smartphone that is a perfect budget replacement for a more expensive model.

I enjoyed the iPhone-esque swipe up to exit apps and to get back to the main screen. Again, the interface is very user friendly and while the resolution is no match for its $1000+ Samsung and Apple counterparts, the G9 does an exceptional job for its $299 price point.

The only “you get what you pay for” trope I encountered with the G9 is the camera quality. Sure, the G9 lacks more expensive features such as IP-rated waterproofing, 4K video recording and 5G connectivity, but a pro-grade camera is the only feature I truly missed.

On the back, there are three cameras – the main 48MP lens that is joined by a 2MP macro and 2MP depth sensor. It has no wide-angle lens and after using the camera I found there were some varied quality with the results. The portrait mode is a little blurry and you need to keep a very steady hand to avoid haze, but shots done in low-light made it easy to forget this phone was under $300.

Photos taken with the Moto G9 Play Camera

While using a phone on the cheaper end of the scale, I initially thought a lot of features I took for granted in Apple and Android phones would not be available on the G9 Play. But one major drawcard for the G9 Play is it has NFC for tap-and-go payments and the Google Pay app was already downloaded on the smartphone, ready to go. This is a great step up from the G8 and more reason to upgrade your Motorola device.

Another pleasant surprise is the battery life. I left it on my desk for a few days without charging it and the phone just didn’t run out of juice. It can keep chugging along for two days without charge, which is more than I can say for a lot of iPhone models.

If you’re just using the stock standard Android apps and not data-heavy gaming applications, I found the screen to have far less lags than I originally expected, and its processing speed is fairly snappy.

Lastly, I was quite impressed with the fact Motorola offered a pair of true wireless earbuds with the box, as well as offering a separate headphone jack to the charging point. For $299, that’s a lot of stuff packed in!

Specs

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 662 with 2.0GHz octa-core Kryo 260 CPU

Memory: 4GB

Storage: 64GB

Display: 6.5″ Max Vision HD+ IPS TFT LCD

Battery: 5,000mAh (two days)

Main Camera: 48MP sensor | 12MP output | 2MP | 2MP

Selfie Camera: 8MP

Conclusion

For only $299, the Moto G9 Play is an incredible value for money and a great budget device for people unwilling to pay premium prices at Apple or Samsung but still crave the superior features. Don’t buy it for camera quality, buy it for the fantastic value for money, sleek design and user-friendly interface.

The Motorola Moto G9 Play will arrive at Australian retail stores from October 7, available at retailers JB Hi-Fi, The Good Guys, Officeworks, Big W, Mobileciti and Motorola’s online store.

8/10

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