Updated: November 22, 2021
I pride myself on the thoroughness of my work. A part of that self-delusion is a series of long-term hardware reviews. Namely, I get a piece of kit, I start using it, and then, occasionally, I write about the ongoing experience, two, three or seven years later. It makes for a rather interesting experiment, although you do need a bit of patience. Also, you can't have any foregone conclusions.
Typically, this type of writing is focused on laptops, but more recently, I've also started doing that with smartphones. I'm not too keen on the mobile world, but hey. Chimps gotta chimp. As it happens, in early 2019, I got myself a Moto G6 device. It's a budget phone, and its purpose was secondary usage and exploration of the Android ecosystem, so I can tell the world how a dinosaur perceives perceived progress, and feels all smug and superior about it. Now, we've covered this phone before, but now we must do an almost three-year anniversary scoop. After me.
Going well? Not so.
We've talked about the value/cost formula in my iPhone 11 review. The same applies to laptops and desktops, low-end vs high-end. If you pay say double for a device, you should rightfully expect for it to remain relevant and last at least twice as long as a half-the-price device. Quite often, this is proven true, empirically. Indeed, low-end hardware is probably the least ROI-friendly of all, which is a sad paradox of wealth in this world. Because those who can afford high-end stuff don't really need it, whereas those who cannot will often be forced into a quick loop of refreshes, costing them more in the long run than if they could put their hands on a somewhat more expensive unit. There's a sweet spot in this equation, of course, but that's a separate topic.
When I got the G6, I didn't have any great expectations. But the phone did well. I used it outside in all sorts of weather, it traveled the world a fair deal, with and without 'rona, and it handled the tasks thrown at it without fussing. Decent responsiveness, system upgrades, all the bits and pieces.
But then, things started going a-wonk ...
Roughly six months ago, the sound system started flaking. Specifically, the speakers wouldn't output clear, loud sound, even at the highest settings. I'd get tinny and yet muffled output, and it became impossible to actually use the phone to, y'know, make actual phone calls. I don't know if this is because of simple wear, moisture, or any other liquids getting into the speakers - I did clean the phone a few times with the electronics-friendly wipes, but still.
At the same time, the battery also began flagging. Most noticeably, I'd have to recharge it once 2-3 days instead of roughly 3-4 days, which was the norm earlier on in its life. Not great, not terrible. On the plus side, I never noticed any deterioration when using the phone outside, in cold weather. The battery pack would not suddenly deplete half its charge for no good reason. No overheating. No slowdown.
About four months back, on reboot, the phone wouldn't display the Home Screen. It would only display the wallpaper, but no icons, and consequently, no pad to unlock the screen and use the device. I did find a workaround for this. I'd press the volume button, which would show the volume control overlay, and then I'd tap the volume settings cogwheel. This would "wake" the phone into showing me the lock pad, and after that, I'd be able to get in, and the Home Screen would display normally. Still, weird.
Finally, only about a week ago, the phone rebooted mid-use. And since, it's been stuck in an endless reboot loop. Every three to four seconds, boom, power cycle. I wasn't even able to get into the Recovery Mode or restore the bootloader. So effectively, I had to let the phone drain its battery through a long sequence of reboots and short splash screen animations, and then, juiceless, it eventually just shut itself off. Whatever happened, the device is unusable, and the data stored locally on it, inaccessible.
Was this all part of one big electric problem - mobo slowly giving up, piece by piece, with the sound system being the first indication of a terminal ailment? Or something else? We shall never know, it seemeth. The G6 will take its secrets to the grave. And on that bombshell ...
Budget device? Yes. But only three years? C'mon. Until this point, I was very happy with the phone. It was relatively small, relatively light, and it delivered a decent experience from its modest spec. I had access to the software I needed, and even the camera was okay for an odd washed-color shot here and there. The sudden death is dismaying.
True, this can happen to any device anytime. There is no particular timeframe when a phone ought to die, or that it does that with a lot of graceful warning signals. Perhaps I did have those signals, and I ignored them, but I'm used to more. In fact, this is the first phone that's ever truly died on me like this. All right, it's done well, and I'm happy with the investment, the experiment and the adventure. Now, though, I need to look for a replacement phone. And I think I've found one, so stay tuned for updates.