The Moto G9 Power is a handset likely to interest anyone shopping for the best Android phone on a budget: it continues Motorola's long tradition of producing Android devices that pack in plenty in the way of performance and features for not very much money.
This is the follow-up to the Moto G8 Power that launched in 2020, a phone that focused on big battery and affordability – and the G9 edition follows that same template, bringing with it a few tweaks to the appearance as well as some upgraded internal components.
In our comprehensive T3 review of the Moto G9 Power we'll take an in-depth look at the phone in all the key areas – from battery life to camera performance to the on-board software – and explain why the handset qualifies as one of the best cheap phones of 2021.
Moto G9 Power review: Price and release date
The Moto G9 Power was released in November 2020. At launch the handset was given a recommended retail price of £179.99 in the UK, €199.99 across the rest of Europe, and $249.99 in the US.
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Moto G9 Power review: Design & screen
The Moto G9 Power doesn't deviate too much from the normal Motorola template, though the rectangular rear camera array up in the top left-hand corner on the back of the casing is different from Moto G8 series of phones. It looks as though the current generation of Motorola handsets are all going to follow this new design, and to our eyes it looks rather stylish. The fingerprint sensor sits on the back too, sporting the Motorola logo (face unlock is also available, if you prefer).
Otherwise this is quite a standard, plain-looking smartphone. It's easy on the eye but it also has that slightly thicker, slightly cheaper feel that a lot of budget handsets have – while there's nothing majorly offensive about the aesthetics of the Moto G9 Power, you can tell you're not holding something premium like the Galaxy S21 when you pick it up. A green-ish Metallic Sage (as shown off by our review unit) and a purple-ish Electric Violet are your two choices as far as colours go.
Aside from the display, the body is all plastic, and we appreciate the slightly textured effect that Motorola has put on the back here – it makes the phone easier to grip when you're holding it, and adds a little bit of polish to the overall design. Motorola describes the G9 Power as "water-repellent", so while you don't get any official IP rating for protection against liquids and dust, the phone should be able to survive a few splashes.
There are no surprises here in terms of ports or buttons, or where they're placed. The volume and power buttons are on the right as you look at the display of the phone, and on the left you've got the SIM card slot and a dedicated button for Google Assistant (a feature we often find useful). There's a single loudspeaker down at the bottom, alongside a USB-C port for data transfer and charging, and the phone does include a 3.5 mm headphone jack that's sensibly positioned on the front.
The only standout feature of the IPS LCD display on the Moto G9 Power is its size: at 6.8 inches it's definitely bigger than most, so those with small hands (or pockets) might want to look elsewhere for their next smartphone. There's a chunky bottom chin, but the other bezels are nice and narrow, and the only interruption to the display is a punch hole notch up in the top left-hand corner of the screen.
While the display is certainly big, the 720x1640 pixel resolution means it's not as sharp as a lot of other handsets out there, and we also found the maximum brightness level to be rather underwhelming. It's also worth mentioning that you don't get any HDR processing on the Moto G9 Power display. Everything about the phone needs to be weighed up against it's very affordable price, but the screen is one of the areas where you can tell that Motorola has saved itself some money.
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Moto G9 Power review: Camera and battery
The Moto G9 Power has a single 16MP selfie camera on the front and a triple-lens 64MP wide, 2MP macro and 2MP depth rear camera on the back (the fourth circle in the rear camera rectangle is the flash). It's not an overly impressive camera setup – without any ultrawide mode, optical zoom capabilities, or optical image stabilisation – but at the sort of price the phone sells for, it's actually quite a decent offering.
The main 64MP camera does a solid job of taking photos for you in good lighting conditions, although the shutter speed is just a touch slower than it is on the very best handsets, and you need a steady hand to get the best shots. A lot of the photos we took with the Moto G9 Power in the daylight came out crisp, bright and vivid, with sharp details and colours that are well balanced. The results are certainly more than good enough for posting to social media.
As the light wanes, the shortcomings of the rear camera on the Moto G9 Power start to show up: details get lost and blurred, and there's a lot of noise and pixelation. The photos that you get at night are just about usable, most of the time, but they're a long way from the pictures that you can get in low light from more expensive mid-range phones. This isn't a phone camera that you'd want to rely on to get a great shot in the darkness.
There is a night mode available on the camera, but it doesn't do much more than try and boost the brightness of the image as it's captured: it's not really going to pick out any extra detail from the darker areas of your pictures. It's worth mentioning that you do get a few cool photo and video modes with the Motorola software, including a spot colour picture mode and a timelapse video mode, but they're not enough to make up for what is only an average set of cameras overall. The macro mode does have its uses to be fair, and can produce some good results, but you'll need a very steady hand to use it.
Battery life is impressive – it's one of the main reasons to buy the Moto G9 Power (as you might have guessed from its name), because there's a 6,000mAh-capacity battery packed in here. With the low-res screen and modest internal components, you can even stretch to multiple days of use with this phone, and the handset is also very good at holding its charge when you're not doing anything with it – it's not going to drain quickly while it's sat in a drawer or on a desk.
In a two-hour video streaming test, with the volume set low and the screen brightness ramped up to maximum, the battery level of the Moto G9 Power dipped just 13 percent, from 100 percent to 87 percent – a very decent result, suggesting some 15-16 hours of video streaming overall. No other Motorola phone has had a battery this big in it before (it's actually one of the biggest phone batteries you'll find from any manufacturer right now, and it really makes a difference. There's no wireless charging here however, and the wired charging speed tops out at 20W.
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Moto G9 Power review: Specs and features
You certainly aren't going to be buying the Moto G9 Power for its performance: this phone will run everything in the Google Play Store, but more demanding apps will be sluggish, and the most intense games will still have sub-par frame rates even when you've dialled down the graphics quality settings as much as you can. It's certainly possible to get by with the G9 Power, but it's not for serious gamers or power users.
The Geekbench 5 scores of 315 (single-core), 1411 (multi-core) and 374 (OpenCL) backs that up – those benchmarks are significantly lower than phones like the Moto G 5G Plus, and are blown away by top-end handsets such as the OnePlus 8 Pro. The slow speed doesn't make the phone unusable, but any slower and it would start to get frustrating as far as the user experience goes. That's worth bearing in mind if you think that the Moto G9 Power could be your next handset.
In terms of specifics, the phone is powered by a mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 662 processor, alongside 4GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage (which you can expand with a memory card if you need to). There's no 5G here, but then you wouldn't really expect it at this price, and the majority of us should be able to get by with 4G speeds for the next few years anyway. The latest Wi-Fi 6 tech is missing too, but again that's not really a dealbreaker at this stage.
As usual with Motorola, the Moto G9 Power comes with a clean and unfussy version of Android that's pretty close to the stock version that Google puts on its own phones. While the handset comes running Android 10 rather than the very latest Android 11, it is one of the better Android skins on the market at the moment, with very little in the way of bloat – maybe another reason to choose a Motorola phone (the Android phones pushed out by the Chinese manufacturers tend to be less impressive in this area, for example).
The phone does support customisable gestures, so you can trigger actions like taking a screenshot or turning on the flashlight through certain movements of your hands and fingers – perhaps not the most compelling of features on a phone, but it's something else to take note of. One of our favourites is being able to flip over the phone face down on a surface and have the Do Not Disturb mode turn on automatically.
It's all about the value for money as far as performance on the Moto G9 Power is concerned. By many metrics you're really getting the bare minimum needed in terms of specs to properly run an Android smartphone, but the handset has just about enough oomph that it's satisfactorily speedy for day-to-day use, and for the majority of games. Overall it's probably better than you might expect considering the price that you're paying for the phone, which is all you can really ask for.
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Moto G9 Power review: Competition and verdict
It's always difficult delivering a verdict on a budget phone such as the Moto G9 Power, because these handsets are obviously not as good as their more expensive competitors – but they are very affordable, and for a lot of people buying a new smartphone, that's a very important consideration. As you would expect from Motorola, the Moto G9 Power delivers a lot of value for money.
You'll struggle to find a phone cheaper than this today that isn't seriously compromised in terms of performance and features, and everything else about the phone needs to be weighed up with that in mind: the somewhat lacklustre screen, the so-so internal components, the average camera performance in low light, and so on. At the end of the day the Moto G9 Power will do everything you need a smartphone to do, so maybe the question is why you would pay any more?
Besides the low price of the Moto G9 Power, the other main reason to put this device top of your shopping list is that 6,000mAh battery, which means the phone just keeps going and going. It's one of the best phones on the market at the moment in terms of battery life, though with fast charging and wireless charging now so widespread, battery life is perhaps not the major consideration that it once was.
One of the issues with choosing the Moto G9 Power as your next smartphone is that there are so many good rival handsets around. Okay, phones like the iPhone SE 2020 and the OnePlus Nord might be double the price of the G9 Power, but they're still on the affordable side – and they're a lot better than the Motorola in terms of design, screen quality, performance, photo and video taking, and so on. Phones like the Nokia 5.4 and the Xiaomi Redmi 9 give Motorola plenty of competition at the budget level too.
Whether this is the phone for you is going to depend largely on what you're going to be using your smartphone for: if you need the very best in night photography and are going to be spending a lot of your time on the most demanding games that Android has to offer, then it might be worth saving up until you can afford a more expensive purchase. If you just need a phone that'll cover the basics and last and last on a single battery charge, then the Moto G9 Power might be the phone for you.
Overall, we came away mostly impressed with what the Moto G9 Power had to offer – it's certainly one of the best budget Android phones on the market at the moment, and when you consider the low, low price that it's going for, it's hard to complain too much about the various shortcomings of the phone. It certainly isn't going to do Motorola's reputation as a leading budget handset maker any damage at all.
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