ANYONE who lived through the late 1990s and early 2000s will remember the Motorola brand of mobile phones well – in particular the StarTac (introduced in 1996) clamshell phone and the iconic Razr V3, introduced in 2004.
While the brand always faced stiff competition from Nokia and rapidly lost market share in the smartphone era as firms like Apple, Samsung and HTC got involved, it’s made a resurgence lately.
Motorola have been in the news media a bit lately for their re-released Razr phone – but that’s not what I’m reviewing here. As it turns out, the company are making moves into the mid-range smartphone market again, so I took the Motorola Moto G8 for a spin.
At first glance, the G8 looks like most other Android smartphones on the market with a 6.4in 1560×720 resolution touchscreen; the phone’s engine is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 mobile processor, backed with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal memory (expandable to 512GB).
It’s running a version of the standard Android operating system with a few neat touches; one that impressed me was how you could press a notification on the screen when the screen lock was activated and it would bring up whatever it wanted to let you know; then as soon as you stopped pressing it the notification minimised again.
I particularly liked the fact the G8 had a 3.5mm headphone jack in it – a lot of higher-end phones have eschewed that option in favour of a Bluetooth connection. The phone also has an FM radio which is another one of those useful things to have, although a DAB+ receiver would be more helpful given the wider range of stations on that spectrum.
Battery wise, I easily got two days of general use (including some gaming) out of a single charge, which was very useful, and the phone’s weight and size were spot on for what I’d expect in that market segment as well.
From a gaming perspective, I tested the game with World of Warships: Blitz and Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds. The phone handled World of Warships with no problems at all, but its performance with PUBG was average, most notably in the graphics department where there was a lot of pop-in (even on wi-fi). Admittedly it’s not exactly Crysis to begin with graphically, but it wasn’t an optimal experience either.
While for the most part the G8 has been “good but not amazing” in the way most mid-range Android smartphones are, it’s let down badly by its camera.
The Moto G8 has three rear cameras – a 16MP main camera with f/1.7 aperture, a wide 8MP camera with f/2,2 aperture, a 2MP macro camera with f/2.2 aperture, and an 8MP selfie camera with a f/2 aperture.
On paper, this is all well and good – but none of the photos I took with the Moto G8 were better than “OK, I guess” image quality and I found the autofocus to be a particular disappointment, often struggling under standard lighting conditions and not always holding its focus either.
Given some of the excellent cameras in similar phones from competitors such as Nokia and Oppo/RealMe, the sub-par G8 camera array holds what is otherwise a solid but unremarkable phone back.
All in all, the Motorola G8 was a decent smartphone that did everything pretty the average user or gamer could want, but was let down by a disappointing camera – and that fact in particular makes it hard to recommend the phone, since it’s such an important aspect of modern smartphones.