Motorola Moto G4 Review

Positives
  • Excellent Build Quality
  • Dual SIM
  • Separate MicroSD Card Slot
  • Great Battery Life
  • Moto Gestures
  • Moto Maker
  • Decent Price
Negatives
  • Average Camera with Poor Low Light
  • No NFC or IR Blaster
  • Below Average Audio/Sound Quality

Motorola has been pumping out some of the best budget phones money can buy for years. The Moto G series has always been the perfect mix of price, power and ability without sacrificing any important features to keep the price low.

The Moto G4 is the first in the line to be made by Motorola’s new parent, Lenovo. It’s also the most powerful Moto G ever to hit the streets while remaining affordable at $200.

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Design

The fourth-generation Moto G is a nice step forward, which tweaks the formula that worked so well last year. The screen is bigger and sharper, the CPU faster, the software newer and the feature set wider. It’s a tempting prospect even though it does lack the water-resistance of the Moto G3.

Both the Moto G and Moto G Plus are identical when it comes to size: both have a 5.5-inch display with a 1080p resolution and we think they both look great! However, I did expect that the G4 would have been smaller than the Plus, if you were looking to upgrade your G3 you might have some reservations about picking up a larger handsets, espcially since 5.5 inches is not one hand use friendly. It’s a full 0.5 inches bigger than last years Moto G and if you’re not into large phones this handset isn’t for you.

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I’d have preferred to see the size increase applied to only the Plus model, with the regular G staying at 5 inches.

When it comes to the long lines that define this smarpthone we have an all metal bumper which has the headphone jack and micro USB port places dead center on either end. Down the back we have a camera “strip” right above the familiar Moto dimple. We’re a big fan of this removable back since it allows you to customize your phone. The Moto Maker program helps your handset stand apart since this handset which has very few distinguishing features.

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Peeling back the soft touch plastic back you’ll find a dual SIM and dedicated MicroSD card slot along side a non removable 3000mAh battery with Quick Charge 2.0.

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Moto G4 has a 13-megapixel sensor, an f/2.2 aperture and an 84-degree wide-angle lens. On the front of the handset you’ll see a small microphone directly on the display which gives the handset quite good call quality. This is how you’ll be able to tell the G4 and G4 Plus apart, this handset does not have a finger print sensor. We do have to admit that in our brief time with each handset the G4’s vacant bottom which also lacks hardware navigation buttons isn’t an issue. On the G4 Plus we notice this space is unused because we’re using the fingerprint sensor so it seems natural that navigation buttons should flank the square sensor. It is interesting how leaving that space empty seems more acceptable than using it poorly.

Hardware

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  • 5.5-inch 1920×1080 IPS display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor (Quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 & quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A53; Adreno 405 GPU, 2 or 3GB RAM)
  • 16 or 32GB storage expandable with a microSD
  • 13 megapixel rear camera, f/2.0, dual tone LED flash, 1080p video recording
  • 5 megapixel front camera, f2.2 aperture, screen flash, 1080p video recording
  • Dual SIM, LTE Cat4 150/50 Mbps, dual band 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, microUSB
  • Water-repellent nano coating
  • 3000mAh battery, Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0
  • Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow

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In 2016 a Full HD IPS display and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 series processors have quickly become standard for mid range devices and we can’t be more happy about it! Pair that with an overall the build feels solid, the power button has a textured finish which is firm to the touch and is sturdy in construction.

The only hardware specifications we say are missing are features like NFC, so no Android Pay and an IR blaster, so no controlling your AC or TV.

Unboxing

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In the box we have the Moto G4 Plus placed on some instructions on how to remove the back plate and access the dual SIM & MicroSD card reader, instruction manuals in multiple languages, a wall adapter with attached Micro USB cable. If you were hoping for a free bumper of headphones you’ll have to keep looking.

Display

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This 5.5-inch display offers a Full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels with a pixel density of 400. The color of the display seems accuarte, the white do indeed seem white. Viewing angles look great and so far the device seems to have a bright enough display. Though we’ll want to take it outside to really test it out.

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Notification Screen on the Moto G4 Plus

Always on display is the hot new feature all flagships seem to be including, Moto Display was one of the first to support notifications and time always being available on the lock screen. Since Moto has had years to refine it, we have a great experience. The display engages the phone’s accelerometer to determine when to pulse the latest three sets of notifications. As in years past, these bubbles can be previewed by merely tapping on them, though this year they are more information-dense, and show color or engaged by sliding up to unlock the phone.

Performance

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Packing a Qualcomm MSM8952 Snapdragon 617 (Quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 & quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A53; Adreno 405), the Moto G4 doesn’t fail to impress. Each tap is accompanied with a vibration, providing you with an actual sense of touch. Overall performance is smooth, including opening/closing & downloading applications. Other than the camera app which takes about 2-3 seconds to load, everything runs quite smoothly. Surprisingly enough, compared to its big brother G4 Plus it turned out to be more consistent with apps like Camera.

We decided to put G4 to the test by running a RAM heavy game, Asphalt 8. Results were above average, gameplay was smooth full on out. Occasionally, when performing multiple stunts or sharp turns it would experience about half a second of lag but considering the price range of the phone, Asphalt 8 being able to run on the phone smoothly is already an eye opener. With the incredible amount of battery, this powerhouse smartphone will please all the smartphone gamers out there.

However, in a long term aspect the G4 will overheat after (hours) prolonged use of the camera app or any heavy game. So be sure to dial the usage down when the phone gets really hot.

AnTuTu: 47500
Geekbench single: 722
Geekbench Multi: 3042
Ice Storm Extreme: 5377
GFX Bench Manhattan offscreen: 6.5fps
GFXBench TRex Offscreen: 16fps

Software

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Motorola’s history with Google has left it with a very vanilla version of Android, there aren’t too many changes compared to a Nexus device. We have the Google Now Launcher and Motorola’s own Gallery app in favor of Google Photos. For long those term fans, the only recognizably “Moto” piece of software are Moto Display and Moto Actions.

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Notifications haven’t changed much and since Moto has been doing a variation of always on display for longer than all of today’s flagship manufacturers it’s kept on getting better. The Moto G4 lacks the infrared sensors of its more expensive Moto X Style counterpart. Since this sensor usually figures out when to display the notifications the Moto G4 engages the phone’s accelerometer to determine when to pulse the latest three sets of notifications. If you’re familiar with the lock screen the bubbles can be previewed by tapping on them, this year they are more information-dense, and show color.

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Moto Actions are a bit more idiosyncratic, but no less useful: you’ll be double-chopping the phone to engage the flashlight, and double-twisting it to quickly enter the camera. Pick up the phone upon receiving a call to change the ringer to vibrate, or flip it onto its face to silence it altogether. I almost never use the flashlight on my Smartphone, but I’ve found because of the quick action to activate it I think to use it every other day.

We are missing a few pretty significant Moto features, like Moto Voice, which provides the ability to engage the phone by simply saying “OK Moto” and your handset can read emails, texts, or Google Now responses. Lenovo has clearly influenced the Moto G’s external design, it appears the company has left the software experience alone. From the notification shade and quick settings to the standard Marshmallow multitasking menu. It’s a clean experience that isn’t cluttered by bloatware.

The way that the Moto G4 handles expandable storage is also quite seamless. Adoptable Storage a MicroSD card up to 128GB in size can be formatted to seamlessly integrate with the 32GB of internal storage. Once you format your card Android will install apps and store files on the new partition, with no detriment to performance.

Camera

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With a 13 Megapixel camera, aperture f/2.0, autofocus & dual LED (dual tone) flash the Moto G4 packs quite a punch considering its price range. It has all the standard smartphone camera features built right in including geo tagging, touch focus, face detection, auto HDR and panorama. If enabled, Quick Capture can get you right to the Camera app with a simple gesture. All you have to do is twist your phone (quite dramatically) to open the camera app and start taking photos. It might be hard at first but the phone might mistake your twisting for shaking, which opens up the flashlight (if enabled) so try to not jolt the phone so much.

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Taking photos in the dark is not recommended but it can be handled, ISO goes all the way to 3200. Just get ready for some graininess if you’re doing night photography. In Professional Mode you can manually adjust focus, shutter speed, white balance, ISO, EV (exposure compensation) which helps with controlled photoshoots. Taking pictures with friends is simple and easy with face detection technology but only average, night-time selfies are below average. If you want a better “selfie” smartphone, take a look at the Moto G4 Plus which has phase detection and laser autofocus. This combined with face detection technology makes a pretty decent selfie smartphone but only with good lighting.

We were pleasantly surprised by the low light performance on the G4 considering we weren’t that impressed with the shots taken on the higher spec’ed G4 Plus.  You can see the photo’s aren’t grainy and handle the extreme exposure from the lights quite well.

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Goes up to HD 1080p (30fps) and has slow motion capability qHD 540p (120fps) all rear camera. HDR, flash and timer are placed on the top while camera switching and modes are down below. Swiping left gets you to the photo viewer, swiping right gets you to general photo and video settings. Swiping up allows you to digitally zoom in 4 times. To enable geo-tagging (save location), change shutter type or go through the quick tutorial just swipe left and it’s all there.

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When taking a photo in HDR, Moto G4 will tell you to hold steady because it’s exposing the sensor to more light. So be sure to not move when you tap the shutter button or else the image will be blurry. If you tap on a desired position it will automatically set focus and exposure according to your set position, however, to change the exposure you can let in less or more light (aperture) by dragging the sun icon left or right after you’ve tapped on a desired position. It’s a neat way to change the aperture quickly on a smartphone. Another cool feature is bar/QR code scanning, it’s built right into the camera app.

Sound

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Loudspeaker and 3.5mm jack both located at the top of the phone; quality is slightly below average with low tolerance for strong bass or loud music. It features active noise cancellation with a dedicated mic and alert types such as vibration, MP3, WAV ringtones. Calls (on our end) were no problem, however, we experienced poor mic quality when it came to sharing audio or voice calling. So if you’re looking to rely on the Moto G4 for a night full of bass drops, then I’m afraid you’re looking at the wrong smartphone my friend.

Battery Life

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Despite being non removable the Li-Ion 3000 mAh battery doesn’t disappoint at all. In fact it blew us away for lasting so long, even at 9% it still had 4 hours of battery remaining. You can definitely get through the day with this bad boy, without charging as long as you aren’t constantly gaming or using the camera. Wifi eats away on battery quite a bit, for a day out a whopping 21% was thanks to Wifi consumption.

Price

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The Moto G4 is strikingly well built and extremely power efficient and for these two reasons, with decent specs, it stays ahead of its pack. Phones like the Samsung A5 or Nexus 5X are around the same price, 249 Euros but the G4 has newer hardware. 

The price difference between the G4 and G4 Plus is around 50-70 USD depending on when and where you get it. Remember that they’re basically identical twins other than the fingerprint sensor and MP (one being 13 and the other being 16).

Co-Written by Nicole Scott

Rating
Design / 7
Camera / 7
Sound / 7
Performance / 8
Battery Life / 9
Software / 8.5
Price / 8
Editor's Choice / 8
Hardware / 7.5
Display / 8
Moto G4

Moto G4 is an affordable Dual SIM & Micro SD smartphone with above-average battery capacity and decent camera. Processor & display were just slightly above average. Sound quality was inconsistently average. Comes with useful apps like Moto Gestures which (if-enabled) activates on a twist, chop, etc. A sleek and durable back cover that feels and looks good (customizable with Moto Maker.) Disappointing with poor sound and lack of NFC/IR Blaster.

7.8
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