Moto G9 Power full review
Motorola launched the budget G9 Power in the tail-end of 2020, as the last of three phones in the G9 series, which includes the G9 Plus and the G9 Play.
The G9 Play impressed me last year: it neatly packed all the essentials you could want in a handset and tied it with a pretty £159 bow. The G9 Power takes it a step further, offering even more value for money. Here's our full review.
Design and build
It’s hard to believe the G9 Power packs a massive 6000 mAh battery when it’s so light, relatively speaking. At 221 g, it's just a touch heavier than the 200g Moto G9 Play.
On the back, you'll find a matte surface textured with concentric ridges which help add grip. It looks hardy yet handsome, with a frosty sheen that doubly kept fingerprints and smudges at bay in my experience.
It’s a certain departure from the G9 Play’s hyper-glossy plastic back, which definitely was not smudge-proof. And oh yeah, the handset's also water repellent (not waterproof, mind you, so don't go dunking it in the bath).
While the G9 Power is tall at 6.8in (vs the Play’s 6.5in display), it’s not unwieldy to use, partly because it's so light. Yes, single-handed use might be slightly difficult if you have smaller hands – in which case you might prefer one of these compact phones – but it wasn't an issue for me. In fact, I have more difficulty wrangling my weighty Vivo Iqoo 3 day-to-day.
You’ll find a reliable fingerprint scanner on the G9 Power's back. It might take some getting used to if you’ve already been spoilt with in-screen fingerprint readers, but the central placement makes it easy to reach. Besides, you can always use the face unlock option if you prefer, which surprisingly, worked well even in low light. As for me, I preferred using the plain old code unlock. Call me old-fashioned.
If you lean heavily on smart assistants, the G9 Power has a dedicated smart assistant button that launches Google Assistant. I didn’t have much use for it – what I found more useful was the trusty 3.5mm headphone jack (no really, call me old-fashioned). There’s also Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity if you prefer wireless listening.
As for Bluetooth, it took me a few attempts to connect the G9 Power to my Bluetooth speakers and earphones. While the G9 Power recognised the audio devices, it couldn’t connect until I reset the Bluetooth connection on both devices a few times – which could mean the issue was on the device side. Still, be warned you might face this small hiccup if most of your Bluetooth speakers are a few years old.
The G9 Power charges via USB-C, and comes with a 20W fast charger – I'll delve into the battery life a bit later.
A surprisingly stunning display...
Okay, here’s where you get a noticeable difference between the G9 Power and the G9 Play. While the difference is marginal, the G9 Power offers a much sharper contrast and more vivid, punchier colours.
It’s clear Motorola intended the G9 Power to be an entertainment hub – you can literally spend hours watching content on this phone or endlessly scrolling social media.
While the G9 Power is a step up from the G9 Play, make note it’s still not the best display available on a budget phone. Once again, the Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC, which remains the best budget phone on the market, outdoes the G9 Power - as it did the G9 Play - with a 120Hz FHD+ (1080 x 2400) display with HDR10 support.
Keep in mind, you'll pay an additional £20 for the Poco X3, and it has a smaller battery. And whether that upgrade is worth it hinges entirely on how you use your phone (do you stream a lot of films or mostly scroll through news or text?). For day-to-day use, the G9 Power will suit you just fine.
Cameras – the Achilles heel
The Moto G9 Power boasts a 64Mp main sensor as a major selling point, but it's far from its forte. There isn't a very strong dynamic range or detail - unless you're in a brightly lit environment – an issue also common to the G9 Play.
While the G9 Power boasts a larger 64Mp camera, you'll have to activate the Ultra-Res option via the settings first to take shots at native resolution (otherwise it captures pixel-binned 16Mp stills). This gives the image a boost in detail, so it's perhaps the most useful setting on the camera menu, but still, it can get a tad annoying to remember this setting each time you use the camera.
Night photography isn't great either. Images lose depth and detail, and colours flatten out even more. The G9 Power is better at low-light close-ups indoors than outdoors, but you do get a fair amount of grain.
The rear cameras also include a 2Mp macro and a 2Mp depth sensor. Like the G9 Play, macro shots didn't really pick up much detail and it was difficult to get the camera to focus where I wanted it to.
I wouldn't recommend the G9 Power if you want a solid camera, instead, we'd suggest one of these handsets.
Software and UX
The Power operates on Android 10, but Motorola promises it will upgrade to Android 11 soon.
The user experience is simple and clean and almost completely pure to Android, without any bloatware or pre-installed apps. In fact, the OS is so streamlined, you won’t even find a separate album for your Photos, it all goes straight to Google Photos.
Like the G9 Play, it offers nifty features like turning on the flashlight with a karate chop motion and a three-finger screenshot capture – a detail I loved on the G9 Play. You also get the G9 Play's 'Gametime' mode, which allows distraction-free gameplay. Not much is different on the G9 Power compared to the Play when it comes to user experience – except with a bigger battery you can do even more of it!
Specs & performance
The G9 Power offers 4GB of RAM and 128GB storage, which can be expanded to 512GB with a microSD card.
In our benchmark scores, the G9 Power performed on par with the G9 Play for the most part, though it did marginally outdo the Play with regards to overall CPU performance in the Geekbench 5 CPU test. Their similar scores aren't entirely surprising given the G9 Power shares most specs with the G9 Play, including the Snapdragon 662 chip.
Like the Play, the Power also drastically outdid the Xiaomi Redmi 9 in all gaming tests. The Redmi 9 is cheaper though at £139 and bagged the eighth spot in our round-up of the best budget phones. But if you want to compare like for like in terms of pricing, the real competition to the G9 Power is the Realme 7 (the non-5G variant) – which is also priced at a competitive £179.99.
The Realme 7 outdid the G9 Power in nearly all tests, as well as in the overall CPU score. It's fast and offers a 90Hz Full HD (2400x1080) display, which makes it great for gaming. So if it's gaming you're after, the Realme 7 may be a better option for you – you'll just need to contend with its Realme UI.
Battery life - Oh my days!
The biggest benefit of the G9 Power is its 6000mAh battery. Motorola isn’t lying when it says you’ll get 60 hours of phone use per charge. In fact, conservative phone users can easily stretch the battery to four or five days.
In our battery test, which runs the phone through a series of battery-draining activities without stopping, the G9 Power lasted 16 hours and 18 minutes – which is just slightly longer than the G9 Play’s 16 hours and 4 minutes. Yes, it’s not 60 hours, but you’re very unlikely to use the phone continuously, at full power, without putting it down.
Even though the battery drained to 15% after the 16-hour test, it took an additional day for it drop to 6% with mild use, and without help from a battery saving mode.
The phone comes with a 20W fast charger too. In 30 minutes, you can revive 27% of the battery life from zero, which may not seem like much, but it's also 27% of a 6000mAh battery, which translates to at least four hours of screen-on time.
Like the G9 Play - which offers 5000mAh of juice - the G9 Power is equally suited to battery-sinking tasks, like watching videos, scrolling through social media and casual gaming, but you have the privilege of a larger, more vivacious display.
Price and Availability
In the US, it costs US$299.99 and is available from Amazon.
If you’re choosing between the G9 Play and the Power, the Power undoubtedly wins.
In many cases, reviewing the Power gave a sense of déjà vu relative to the £159.99 G9 Play, because it is essentially the same phone but with a bigger battery and nicer screen for £20 more. This makes the G9 Power easy to recommend for streaming shows, casual gaming and browsing social media.
While the cameras could be better, you do gain a 64Mp sensor - up from Play’s 48Mp. Just be warned: you're better off taking pictures during the day and with plenty of light. Pass on this phone if you want to wow your friends on Instagram.
It's hard to deny the G9 Power offers incredible value for money. Your challenge as the phone buyer will be choosing between the G9 Power and similarly priced Chinese phones that match in performance – in which case, it's worth thinking about what you prioritise most in a handset: is it the design, user experience, battery, display? You can't go wrong whichever way you go.
I’d recommend the Power to anyone looking for a budget handset that delivers all the essentials, but with flair.