21 November 2020

Bluetooth and Wifi issues with your Motorola Moto G8 Power? This is what you need to know

I recently purchased a Motorola G8 Power, following some of the reviews found on the web: finally a decent affordable phone with a battery that could last several days.

After some time of use, I started realizing several things:

  • My Polar watch would pair with the "Polar flow" app via bluetooth, but gave constant errors when syncing, so I was not able to sync my runs. For the first time in my life, I had to download the computer app and sync from there.
  • I often experienced Wifi disconnecting and reconnecting again. Most of the time my Wifi speed was 25 Mbps at best. In some very few occasions it was 34 Mbps (my Wifi limit is 37 Mbps).
  • Youtube and Netflix played fine, but not a TV streaming app that I used on a daily basis it was not fluid and was stuttering from time to time.
I had never had any problems with any other device at home: they were all syncing perfectly with my Polar watch and all other devices were showing a consistent 37 Mbps speed and no disconnects.We are talking about devices that were 4 years old or more. The TV also worked fine on and iPad and an iPhone SE from 2015 and 2016.

As a curious computer engineer, I started investigating and found that many other people complained about problems with wifi and bluetooth in this particular Motorola Moto G8 power.

These were my findings:

  1. This phone only has the old 2.4GHz Wifi but not the today's standard 5GHz one. Yes, this is mentioned in the specs on the phone, but does it make sense in 2020?
  2. When bluetooth is on, the 2.4GHz Wifi and the bluetooth interphere with each other, even when no bluetooth devices are connected.
Below is a comparison of an Internet speed test with bluetooth off and on, respectively.

Internet speed test with Bluetooth OFF

Internet speed test with Bluetooth ON (no devices connected)

Note that how the Wifi was much more unstable and there was a 5.7% packet loss during the test when bluetooth was on!

I then decided to test this fact in particular, with the "Flood Ping packet loss" Android app by Sebastian Schleitzer (thanks Sebastian for providing this app for free!) and these were the results.

Packet loss when pinging - Bluetooth is ON (no devices connected)

It cannot be seen on a static image, but the connection was briefly interrupted each time a packet was lost (marked with "x"), which explained the stuttering on my TV app. This didn't happen when bluetooth was turned off, so it also explained why sometimes Wifi was working fine and getting maximum speed (the exact moments I had bluetooth off).

When sharing these issues with others, a smart-ass colleague told me "this was my fault", as 2.4GHz and bluetooth are known to interfere (he had to look it up on the Internet, though).

It turns out that this is simply not always true, and as a customer I should not even care.

Below is a comparison of the "Flood Ping packet loss" app between and old Motorola Moto G4 from 2016 (left) with the Moto G8 Power from 2020 (right), both connected to the 2.4GHz Wifi network and with bluetooth turned on.

Moto G4 (left) versus Moto G8 (right) - 2.4GHz network, bluetooth is ON (no devices connected)

After purchasing this phone I have learned several lessons:
  • The Moto G8 Power is a phone with obsolete hardware (no 5GHz Wifi, when the Moto G4 from 2016 already had it!) and Wifi and bluetooth interfere. Motorola must be aware of this, because there are complaints all over the Internet, including their own forums. The fact that this has not been solved via a software updates after 9 months and no solutions are provided in the forums suggests the hardware is faulty. However, it is still sold as if it was a modern phone that works perfectly.
  • Do not trust reviewers. They most probably spend a few hours playing around with the phone or performing automated tests. They also often get models for free or are sponsored by manufacturers. None of the many reviews I found detected or even mentioned this flaw, or strongly recommended against buying a phone with no 5GHz wifi in 2020. All reviews saying "great phone" are still up.
  • Always buy from trusted retailers that are will give you your money back in cases like these. It took me around 2-3 months to figure out this issue but after explaining it to Amazon, they offered a full refund even though my return window had expired. I cannot thank Amazon enough, as I had actually bought THREE (!) of these phones (one for me, two others for family members) based on the reviews (and they all showed the same problems, in different Wifi networks and households). Imagine trying to return this at your average shop after 2-3 months...
So, if you are experiencing Wifi/bluetooth issues with this phone, now you know why. It's not your fault, it's not your problem: you were sold a malfunctioning phone that simply does not work properly. Use the "Flood Ping packet loss" or a similar app to prove your point and just go complain and ask for your money back. Package loss because bluetooth is on (particularly on a wifi with no activity and no bluetooth devices connected!) or any other bizarre explanations are not acceptable. As I mentioned, I have reproduced these problems on 3 of these phones in 2 different Wifi networks, all of them bought in August and with the latest software updates applied until November 2020.

After this, I bought a Samsung M31, a bit more expensive, but with slightly better specs. Great 5GHz Wifi, longer battery time, and a joy to use. Compared to it, the Motorola Moto G8 Power seemed like a nightmare to be forgotten. Once and no more, Motorola.

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