Motorola Moto G8 Power Lite review: Come for the low price, stay for the clean and ad-free software

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Updated: Jun 16, 2020 2:18 PM

The Moto G8 Power Lite's main USP is its clean, adware and bloatware free, near-stock Android experience, according to Motorola. We put it to test.

Moto G8 Power LiteMoto G8 Power Lite is a jack of all trades and a master of one. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The Moto G series needs no introduction. It’s the line-up that made budget phones look cool and desirable long before Xiaomi’s foray into India. Xiaomi’s foray into India (has) turned the tables but the Moto G (now in its eighth generation) continues to remain the go-to phone for a big portion of India’s masses, to this day, even though Motorola has crowded (and confused) the market with multiple models that could most definitely do with some better naming. The latest Moto G phone to launch in India is the Moto G8 Power Lite — yes, that’s what it’s called, but then, whatever!

The Moto G8 Power Lite has a big battery that is claimed to offer up to 2-days of backup on a single charge. It has a capable 8-core processor with gobs of RAM and storage (for a budget phone). It is fairly modern too with a gradient back and water drop-style notch. Plus, it has three rear cameras. But its main USP is its clean, adware and bloatware free, near-stock Android experience, according to Motorola. This is in sharp contrast to Xiaomi (and its budget Redmi phones) and even Realme, who’ve become infamous for serving ads in their software. Clearly, that’s the Achilles heel that Motorola is trying to play to its advantage through the Moto G8 Power Lite. But is it advantage Motorola, really? Let’s find out.

Design and build quality

The Moto G8 Power Lite is an attractive budget phone. Not too flashy, not too boring. It is made of plastic (which I guess is fine considering the low price) with a dual-tone colour scheme. The phone comes in two varying shades of blue, arctic blue and royal blue, both of which stand out quite a bit from competition in this regard. The whole thing looks like it’s carved out of one solid piece of (matte) plastic, since Motorola has made the sides the same colour as the back.

Moto G8 Power Lite The Moto G8 Power Lite doesn’t feel cheap or anything, rather, it feels nice and well balanced. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

Speaking of which, you also get an inverted exclamation mark-style camera setup on the back which is totally a Motorola thing now. And Motorola’s iconic batwing logo sits nicely inside the cavity earmarked for the phone’s fingerprint scanner. The Moto G8 Power Lite is a Motorola phone through and through and that’s a good thing. It just goes to show the variety of options that buyers have at their disposal today. Budget phones have arrived and how.

The same is true about the build as well. The Moto G8 Power Lite doesn’t feel cheap or anything, rather, it feels nice and well balanced. It’s soft to the touch. Subtle curves on the back and a relatively flat front ensure it stays glued to your hand at all times. All the buttons are on the right. The power button has a texture to it, that aids in both form and function. It’s a nice touch. The buttons themselves are nice and clicky, and offer good tactile feedback. The Moto G8 Power Lite is also splash resistant.

All in all, I am impressed with the design choices that Motorola has made with the Moto G8 Power Lite. Still, if I were to nit-pick, I wish the phone had a better speaker placement. It’s on the back which means it gets muffled easily.

Regardless, it is important to understand that the Moto G8 Power Lite is not a small (or light) phone. But this once, I am fine with it. A large screen and large battery are always a welcome sight, even more so at this price point. Then again, the Moto G8 Power Lite isn’t bigger or heavier than phones like the Realme Narzo 10A.

Display

The Moto G8 Power Lite has a tall 6.5-inch IPS LCD display with a 720p+ resolution. A typical budget affair, as you can see. The panel’s quite good for the price with decent colours and minimal colour shift when viewing from different angles. Brightness levels are average at best, but that’s the case with most budget phones. Motorola has also built a handy ambient mode in the display but it’s bare bones (compared to what you get in the Pixel and OnePlus phones) letting you just lift to check and wake when you receive any notifications.

Moto G8 Power LiteThe Moto G8 Power Lite is also splash resistant. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The Moto G8 Power Lite is Widevine L1-certified which means it can playback HD (or higher quality) content from Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and other Widevine secured services.

Performance, Software and battery life

The Moto G8 Power Lite is powered by an octa-core MediaTek Helio P35 processor paired with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage. This is expandable by up to 256GB via a dedicated slot.

Core hardware (and resulting synthetic benchmark scores) is where the Moto G8 Power Lite stumbles. This is in comparison with phones like the Realme Narzo 10A and Realme C3 both of which pack the newer, more powerful MediaTek Helio G70 processor. The Redmi 8 meanwhile has a more tried and tested Qualcomm Snapdragon 439 processor.

In isolation, the Moto G8 is still a very competitive phone, even with its dated processor and it’s nice to see Motorola not skimping on RAM and storage despite the low price. But you can’t judge a phone in isolation especially when you’re reviewing it. As such, there are a few things you need to know about the Moto G8 Power Lite phone before you invest in one:

  • The Moto G8 Power Lite is strictly a basic phone, and by basic I mean, a phone that will easily take you through the day be it making calls, browsing the web and social media, texting, WhatsApp-ing, even playing a few games (basic games) like Candy Crush and Subway Surfers.
  • The Moto G8 Power Lite has quite an efficient RAM management system but don’t expect the moon from it. This is not a phone designed for stress-testing, you know having multiple apps (and tabs in Chrome) opened and switching quickly between them, no that’s not happening. The phone will try but it will slow down frequently.
  • The Moto G8 Power Lite is not a high-end gaming phone on a budget like the Realme Narzo 10A. It defaults to smooth and medium settings in PUBG Mobile, but I don’t think you should buy this phone at all if you’re into it.
Moto G8 Power LiteThe Moto G8 Power Lite runs a pure and unadulterated version of Android. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

So if it’s not powerful (enough), why even bother, you ask? Well, you buy this phone for its clean (and mostly well optimized) software. Like any other new-age Motorola phone, the Moto G8 Power Lite also runs a pure and unadulterated version of Android, the kind you see only in a limited number of devices from Google itself and the likes of Nokia (and Android One devices from Xiaoimi and others). Apart from a few Moto actions (which are very useful shortcuts to things like quickly turning on flashlight or camera) it’s all stock Android, which means:

  • Lean, responsive user interface
  • No bloat or unwanted apps
  • No ads
  • No crappy (even embarrassing) push notifications

With all that’s there to love about Motorola’s take on Android, it’s a shame that the Moto G8 Power Lite runs Android 9 Pie and not the latest Android 10 (which isn’t even going to be latest for long now that Android 11 is available in public beta). Motorola probably believes its target audience wouldn’t really care about Android versions but the all-round experience. While the experience is alright for the most part, Motorola could have hit it out of the ball park had it gone with newer software — especially with that dated hardware onboard. The Moto G8 Power Lite is a missed opportunity in this regard.

Coming to battery life, that’s another reason to buy the Moto G8 Power Lite. The 5,000mAh battery inside the Moto G8 Power Lite will easily last one and a half days for even the most demanding users. Sadly, there’s no fast charging.

Cameras

The Moto G8 Power Lite has three cameras on the rear, a 16MP main camera with PDAF and two 2MP cameras, one for depth and another for macro or close ups. On the front, the Moto G8 Power Lite has an 8MP camera. Those are certainly not bad camera credentials for a budget phone and it’s safe to say that the Moto G8 Power Lite isn’t bad at taking photos with those cameras too. Something that you couldn’t say about budget phones say a year or two ago.

Moto G8 Power LiteThe Moto G8 Power Lite has three cameras on the rear. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The main camera is the highlight though I also like the dedicated macro. The 16MP main camera can capture some good looking photos in ideal lighting (which means lots of light) with good amount of detail and mostly spot-on colours. Dynamic range could have been better but again, it’s fine considering the price. Indoor shots are a hit and miss and low-light photos are average at best (and not best in class). All in all, you won’t be disappointed by the Moto G8 Power Lite’s cameras but Xiaomi and Realme do offer better colour science and algorithms especially for low light scenarios (even in this price range).

The 8MP front camera captures good selfies but the level of detail could be better. Also, the quality goes for a toss as the intensity of light goes down.

Should you buy the Moto G8 Power Lite?

Moto G8 Power LiteThe Moto G8 Power Lite is priced at Rs 8,999. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The Moto G8 Power Lite, priced at Rs 8,999, is not the best phone that you can buy under Rs 10,000. But at the same time, it’s no slouch either. In fact, it’s a jack of all trades and a master of one, which is software. Even though it isn’t running the latest Android (which is a deal breaker for me), the whole adware and bloatware free smartphone experience is a sight for sore eyes in the budget segment. If that’s what you’re looking for, you can’t go wrong with the Moto G8 Power Lite. For everybody else, there are surely better options.

Pros:

  • Unique design
  • Dependable performance
  • Stock Android
  • Good battery life

Cons:

  • Dated hardware
  • Older Android version

 

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