Motorola has debuted the Moto G9 in India. The Lenovo-owned company claims the phone has been bespoke designed for the country. It also wants the readers to know that the G9 has been 100% Made in India. The phone comes with Qualcomm Snapdragon 662 processor, 48MP triple rear cameras, 8MP front shooter, 5000mAh battery with 20W turbo-charging, and a 6.5-inch HD+ LCD display.

From the specs, this is more or less the stripped-down Moto G experience we all know and love. If you are an Android enthusiast, you’d remember it was 2013, when the first-gen Moto G kicked off the whole value for budget phone bandwagon. Ever since then, it has been a contender for anyone who desired a clean and simple Android phone in the budget. For the same reason, a Moto was my first phone and also what I gifted my dad as his phone of entry into the Android world.

But of course, over the years, the Moto G lineup has gotten crowded with the Lites, Ss, Plays, and Pluses. And while these were little improvements gen-over-gen, the competition started getting stiffer. This is ever more true today, as the market is facing not just hostile players but also the pandemic. Because of the latter, the general purchasing power is ever so low.

So, the question is whether the newly launched G9, at its starting price of Rs. 11,499 capable of capitalizing on the affordability quotient? Also, with that spec sheet, will it be able to punch above its weight? We will be gauging all these and more in the full review.

First, let’s see how is it different from the predecessor-

Moto G9 vs Moto G8 Specs

Model Moto G9 Moto G8
Dimension and Weight 165.21 x 75.73 x 9.18; 200g 161.27 x 75.80 x 8.95; 188.30g
Display 6.50″ 720×1600 resolution, IPS LCD, 20:9 aspect ratio, 269 PPI pixel density 6.40″ 720×1560 resolution, IPS LCD, 19:9 aspect ratio, 269 PPI pixel density
Software Android 10 Android 10
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 662 Qualcomm Snapdragon 665
Memory 4GB of LPDDR4X RAM + 64GB of storage, expandable up to 512GB, hybrid slot 4GB of LPDDR4X RAM + 64GB of storage, expandable up to 512GB, hybrid slot
Rear Cameras 48MP (f/1.7) + 2MP (f/2.4) + 2MP (f/2.4) 16MP (f/1.7) + 8MP (f/2.2) + 2MP (f/2.2)
Front Cameras 8MP (f/2.2) 8MP (f/2.0)
Connectivity WiFi, Bluetooth 5, NFC, USB-C, Dual SIM, 4G VoLTE WiFi, Bluetooth 5, USB-C, Dual SIM, 4G VoLTE
Battery 5000mAh with 20W Turbo Charger 4000mAh with 10W Charger
Price Rs. 11,499 Not launched in India

Now that you’ve seen the comparative spec sheet, it’s time to unbox and see the device itself.

Moto G9 Box Contents

Hello Moto!
  • Phone
  • TPU Case
  • Turbo Charger
  • USB-C cable
  • Sim ejector tool
  • Documentation (you probably won’t read)

Moto G9 Design and Display

Moto G9 sports a 6.5-inch HD+ LCD display with the same 269-pixel density as the precursor. The colors and viewing angles seem fine. But the screen pales when it comes to brightness, especially outdoors. The adaptive brightness is aggressive and let’s just say, it isn’t very bright when it needs to be. So, I had it turned off. HD+ displays are becoming more prominent in the under 12K segment these days, but you can still get a few sharper full HD+ options in the under 15K price segment.

I like the inconspicuous waterdrop notch with its gentle curve. The surrounding bezels, save for the bottom one, are decently narrow. Well, some amount of bezel is good for maneuvering the device while it’s in landscape mode. So, no issues there.

Rest, the G9 is a boxy phone with the right amount of heft. Unless you have long fingers, you will have to stretch to reach the dedicated Google Assistant trigger which sits remotely at the top (same side). Au contraire, the left-hand side has plenty of empty space as there is just the SIM slot sitting there.

Besides that, I think you would be satisfied with the peripherals. There is a 3.5mm headphone jack up top and a USB-C port at the bottom.

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As you can see, the back is a fingerprint magnet.

The device comes in two hues viz. Forest Green and Sapphire Blue. The glossy blue back is quick to collect dirt and prints. But other than that, it is pretty clear. You’ve got just a square camera island and a round fingerprint reader (w/ the Moto branding) by the back.

The fingerprint scanner works reliably, but I couldn’t get the face recognition to work. It always showed the error dialog, “only partial face detected”. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Lastly, on the design front, you may note that the G9 claims to be water repellent whilst the fine print underlines the device is not exactly water-resistant. Instead, the water-repellent design creates a barrier to help protect against moderate exposure to water such as accidental spills, splashes, or light rain. It is not designed to be submersed in water, or exposed to pressurized water, or other liquids. Good to know, I guess.

Anyhoo, let’s unlock the device and see how it runs.

Moto G9 Software and Performance

Moto G9 rocks a stock-ish Android 10 software with small features here and there. You’ll be getting android security updates for 2 years and Android 11. You have the Moto actions such as twist to turn on the camera, shake to start the flashlight, the helpful peek display, and more. I am sure every minimalist would appreciate such meaningful additions. Motorola’s android rendition maintains the vanilla aesthetics and is less intrusive as compared to most heavy skins out there.

 

On the hardware front, the G9 is powered by the 11nm-based Snapdragon 662 chipset, which Motorola claims is a rung above Snapdragon 665. Qualcomm announced this silicon at the outset of 2020 targeting emerging markets like India. It was one of the first to be equipped with Navigation with Indian Constellation (NavIC). Rest, it is significantly similar to Snapdragon 665 on the G8. And it also ships with the same 4GB+ 64GB SKU. Yeah, if that onboard storage is insufficient, you can expand it by up to 512gigs using the hybrid memory card slot.

Coming to day-to-day usage, the phone manages most tasks fine, but with minor hiccups here and there. One area where the lag is painfully evident is while switching between apps in the recent apps menu. As for gaming, you can get by most titles.

Here’s how it fared in benchmark tests:

  • Geekbench 5 Single-core: 312
  • Geekbench 5 Multi-core: 1061
  • PCMark Work 2.0 Performance Score: 6185
  • 3DMark Slingshot Extreme OpenGL: 1172
  • 3DMark Slingshot Extreme Vulkan: 1110
  • Androbench Sequential R/W: 253.25/146.28 MB/s
  • Androbench Random R/W: 59.86/24.23 MB/s

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These numbers fall closer to Snapdragon 665 scores but are behind what the Helio G80 or other Mediatek chips in this range boast. You could expect the same difference in real-world performance.


O, it’s always good to see USB Type-C.

An important highlight of the Moto G9 is its 5000mAh battery. Given that size, it should last long. In our testing, the phone ran for 8 Hr 39 minutes. At which point the low battery warning pops up and you can use the bundled 20W turbocharger to fill it up.

Moving on to…

Moto G9 Camera

Moto G9 flaunts an 8MP selfie snapper and by the back lies a triple camera setup. The incumbents are a primary 48MP shooter followed by a 2MP depth sensor and a 2MP macro module. The main rear camera utilizes pixel binning to out 12MP shots. There is no ultrawide camera, though.

Here are some daylight snaps out of it —

The photos come out with natural colors. But they don’t always do justice in metering the exposure and retention of details. Also, post pressing the shutter, the app takes a moment or two to save the processed result.

 

The portrait mode, for the most part, does a decent job.

The camera interface is pretty straight forward, and with swipes and taps, you will land on goodies like Cutout mode, Spot color, Cinemagraph, Live Filter, Panorama, and surprisingly vigorous Night Vision.

Video-side, you have the option to record 1080p at 30fps from both front and back. Here too Moto has wedged in party tricks like slo-mo capture and timelapse.

Moto G9 Unboxing & First Impressions Video [in Hindi]

So, finally here’s my —

Moto G9 Review Verdict

The Moto G9 starts at Rs. 11,499 in India. At that price, you get a stock-ish Android software, a minimal design, a weirdly familiar chipset, decent memory configuration, and ample battery life. It could handle most everyday tasks and even entertain some casual gaming. So, if you are someone who has an itch for a clean and simple smartphone experience, you’ll be satisfied with what Moto has to offer.

However, if you are an avid gamer, someone who likes feature-stocked software, or a spec-nerd, you clearly have better-equipped phones in the market.

And to conclude, I rely on a quote from Einstein which will help you in deciding whether to go for this phone or not:

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” Basically, this means while making things simple, one should not lose something of vital importance, say an FHD panel in this case. Then again, post the GST Hike, Full HD+ screens are becoming increasingly rare in the under 12K segment and this now feels like an excusable con for people who are restricted by a 12K budget.

On that note, here are the phone’s pros and cons you should take note of —

Pros

  • Clean and simple software
  • Minimal design
  • Natural photos and bright night vision
  • Long-lasting battery life

Cons

  • Low-resolution display
  • Unreliable exposure handling by the camera
  • Middling performance

 

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