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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Moto G9 first impressions: Is conservative good enough?

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Motorola has made quite a splash this year. The interesting Edge+ in the flagship territory was followed by the One Fusion+ in the midrange segment. Now, it is back with another phone. This time, it is from the Moto G series and India gets to be the debut market for the G9 series. The Moto G9 is aimed at the sub-Rs 15,000 category to take on the Redmi Note 9. It costs Rs 11,499 and comes in only a single variant with 64GB storage. Not to forget, it looks interesting. Also Read – Motorola Moto G9 with 48MP camera launched in India: Price, sale date, specifications

In fact, the Moto G9 in its entirety is interesting. It tries to ape the design ethos of the Redmi Note 9 from Xiaomi. However, with its feature set and the experience, it tries to create its own space in the budget smartphone space. If you think carefully, the Moto G9 is the only new phone in the sub-Rs 15,000 segment with a clean build of Android. The focus here seems to be on the user experience rather than outright numbers. Also Read – Motorola Razr 5G is certified with 2800mAh battery and 18W fast charging

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Is this approach good for the Moto G9? Has Motorola come up with a phone that’s dethroning the Redmis and Realmes of the market? You will have to wait for our full review but in the meantime, let’s take you on a little fly-by of the Moto G9. Also Read – Motorola Razr 2 launch expected on September 9: All you need to know

Looks same but has the Motorola vibes

If I hide the Motorola logo on the fingerprint sensor, you will easily mistake the Moto G9 for a Redmi Note 9. The phone looks almost identical to the Note 9, complete with its squarish camera hump and a similar color gradient. However, Motorola adds its “Moto” touches, i.e. every corner is a tad curvy and falls in symmetry. Since our eyes love to follow curves, the Moto G9 appeals highly, at least to my eyes.

Personally, I am quite a fan of the Sapphire Blue colorway I have. In any light, it makes the phone stand out. If you are worried about shattering the back, do know that it’s just polished plastic. You may either love it or hate it but plastic phones are resistant to shattering. The build quality is nice as well, better than the One Fusion+ in my opinion. The curved edges at the back make for a snug fit in the palms. This is good given the gigantic size of the phone.

The 6.5-inch display is welcome but it has notable bezels, especially the stubborn chin. You will also see a waterdrop notch holding the camera. You can get accustomed to the bezels but I was expecting Motorola to shrink them. After all, it is 2020. Another area that caught my attention are the buttons. The Moto G9 has a dedicated Google Assistant button along with the usual volume and power keys. More buttons are merrier but these aren’t satisfactorily clicky. I don’t know how long the buttons will last for someone with heavier thumbs.

“Interesting” specifications

In an age when other smartphone brands are playing the numbers game, Motorola stays conservative. For the Moto G9, Motorola has chosen to use components that won’t draw eyeballs of the nerds. This theme carries on for the entirety of the smartphone. Is this bad already?

Motorola Moto G9

Let us start with the large 6.5-inch display. It uses a 720p HD+ display, which isn’t class-leading here. Other phones such as the Redmi Note 9 and Redmi 9 Prime offer 1080p displays at similar or lower prices. Motorola, however, says it has tweaked the display to make the text look as sharp as a 1080p display. Is that true? I will have to use it more to arrive at a conclusion. In my limited time though, I did not find issues with sharpness. In fact, I like the color tuning of the panel. Brightness levels are decent too.

Next is the performance section. Instead of a brawny MediaTek chipset, the Moto G9 uses a conservative Snapdragon 662 chipset. It is theoretically a new chipset but is actually a mild improvement over the Snapdragon 660. Motorola has paired it with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage. This combination is certainly not the fastest in this price category.

Motorola Moto G9

Then again, Motorola balances that with a clean version of Android. You get a “polished” version of stock Android with minimal bloat and pre-loaded apps. Apart from Facebook, you don’t have any other third party app here. The software is pretty similar to the one from the One Fusion+. The polish I mentioned includes the Moto app that allows OnePlus-esque UI customization. You can change accent colors, icon shapes and fonts as minimalist themes. The Moto Peek Display interface has changed too with a desirable interface.

While I reserve my judgement on performance for the full review, all I can say for now is that the Moto G9 is fast enough for daily mundane smartphone tasks. The Snapdragon 662 is practically a low-end chip and it shows its limits often. However, I have an early build of the phone and Motorola may release software patches to fix the bugs before the first sale happens.

The 5000mAh battery on the Moto G9 looks promising but I have to use the phone to test it properly. The 20W fast charger fills the battery faster than the usual 15W charger on other Motorola phones.

Motorola Moto G9

Coming to the cameras, the Moto G9 again has conservative numbers here. The good news is from the main camera that now gets a 48-megapixel sensor. You also get Motorola’s impressive Night Mode on the G9 too. So far, I have clicked a few samples and they have kept me happy. The Night Mode is definitely one of the best I have seen in a phone of this segment. Stay tuned for the full review for an in-depth overview.

The other two cameras at the back are two 2-megapixel macro and depth sensor. The front camera has an 8-megapixel sensor and I haven’t taken selfies yet to give out my verdict.

Moto G9 Plus could pack 4,700mAh battery with 30W charging

Moto G9: Initial impressions

Motorola Moto G9

As I said at the beginning, there are phones with better specifications out there and at cheaper prices. Motorola comes with a different proposition in the form of Moto G9. Instead of the brag-worthy numbers, the focus here is completely on the user experience. The clean software is definitely a brownie point for the Moto G9 but will it be enough to make us recommend it over the Redmi Note 9? Hold on for our review to find out.

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