Three years ago there were two options when buying a smartphone, a fast, expensive flagship, or an affordable, terrible smartphone. There really was no middle ground, until the release of the Moto G. With one announcement Motorola changed the entire industry, and today we look out at a very different market.
With flagships that cost just $400, insanely good budget phones that don’t cost much at all, things have changed in a big way since the Moto G was first announced. Now 4 generations later, Motorola is under new management and the series has undergone some big changes. Is it still the best budget option on the market? Let’s talk….
- 5.5” 1080p IPS Display
- Snapdragon 617 processor
- 2GB/4GB RAM
- 16/32/64GB Storage (w/ microSD)
- 13MP/16MP Rear Camera
- 5MP Front Camera
- Android 6.0.1
- 3000 mAh Battery
About This Review
For this review, we were sent both the Moto G4 and the Moto G4 Plus. The majority of this review was written based on experience with the Moto G4 Plus, however, we have added a separate section regarding differences between the two.
As hardware goes, the Moto G4 is more or less what we’ve come to expect, an all-plastic smartphone that gets the job done without trying to do too much. This is a no-frills smartphone, it’s as standard as a phone comes, but I actually really like it. Sure Lenovo could have done a better job making it feel a bit higher end, but there’s really not much that you can complain about, at least at first glance.
Going back a generation, things have definitely changed in terms of hardware. Not only is the Moto G4 bigger, but it also exchanges the ergonomic curves of the Moto G3 for a flat, textured back panel which, while just as grippy, just isn’t the same. Not to mention, Lenovo has stripped the water resistance from last year’s model.
Looking at the big picture, the Moto G4’s hardware is by no means bad, but it could have been much better and it really felt like Motorola had hit a sweet spot with the previous generation, but alas, we have what we have.
Software & Performance
Out of the box, the Moto G4 runs a near-stock build of Android 6.0.1, and it’s more or less what we’ve come to expect from Motorola. Despite their merger with a Chinese company, Motorola has kept its software roots and that’s a great, great thing. The software is clean, fast, and adds just the right features to make the experience its own.
Just like on previous Moto phones we’ve got features like Moto Display and Moto Actions, but that’s about it. These both work well on the G4 as well.
As for performance, I’ll speak mainly to the G4 Plus for now. The unit I used came with the Snapdragon 617 chipset and 4GB of RAM, and performance was pretty great. I rarely found the phone encountering lag, even when multitasking. Gaming was also solid both in casual and more graphically intense applications.
Both the Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus pack 5.5”, 1080p displays and they are pretty solid. Brightness is good, the resolution is far better than any other Moto G, colors are solid, and I’m pretty pleased with the end of the day.
Battery Life & Charging
As for battery life, the Moto G4 does pretty well. I can easily get a full day of moderate to heavy use and still have a solid charge before going to bed. It probably won’t last most users two days, but battery life is solid overall.
For those who do manage to kill this phone in a day, or just don’t want to charge every night, fast charging is available. Motorola doesn’t quite adhere to the standard Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0/3.0 standard on this phone, but it will work with both. The included TurboPower Charger (included with Moto G4 Plus only), will charge up the phone faster, but I used a QuickCharge 2.0 charger most days with no issues. One last note is that the Moto G4 does still use a microUSB port, but that’s more good than bad on a mid-range device, at least at this point in time.
One notable area where these phones differ is the camera. The standard Moto G4 has a 13MP sensor which is, fine. On the other hand, the Moto G4 Plus has a 16MP sensor which is, fine. Really there’s not much to say here. These both take OK shots, but nothing great. If you’re deciding between the two, there’s no place where it’s truer that numbers aren’t everything.
What’s The Difference?
The Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus share a lot in common, hence the lack of two reviews, however, we wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t speak to the difference between the two. Here are the basics.
- 13MP Camera
- No Fingerprint Sensor
- Limited to 16GB storage
- 2GB of RAM
- Starting at $199
Moto G4 Plus
- 16MP Camera
- Fingerprint Sensor
- Up to 64GB storage
- Up to 4GB of RAM
- Starting at $249, up to $299
The Moto G4 is your absolute bare bones device. It gets all the basics right, but without upping the cost. With a starting price of $199 it’s a fantastic device, however, you get a bit more with the Moto G4 Plus.
One of, if not the best feature about the Moto G4 and G4 Plus is that they are truly unlocked. Rather than locking users to a single carrier, or even just one portion of the cellular market, the Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus will work on just about any network. AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, you name it, they almost definitely work. The same applies anywhere this phone is sold.
After using phones like the Nexus 6, Nexus 6P, and Moto X Pure Edition, I saw the power a feature like this had, and I was insanely excited that phones this cheap work everywhere. Good job Motorola/Lenovo.
Pricing & Final Thoughts
With bigger, better screens, more capable specifications, and more, everything, the Moto G4 and G4 Plus get a price hike over previous generations. Where those started at just $180, the G4 starts at $199 and goes up to $299 for the top of the line G4 Plus. While these phones are not a bad deal by any means, they do get washed away just a bit in the intense competition. There are a lot of other budget options out there, and Motorola needed to come out swinging. They certainly didn’t miss, but these aren’t a home run either.
Where To Buy
If you’re looking to pick up these devices, they’re available in a lot of places online. Below you’ll find links to several outlets that offer the device(s).
- Amazon – Moto G4
- Amazon – Moto G4 Prime Exclusive – $50 Off
- Amazon – Moto G4 Plus
- Best Buy – Moto G4
- B&H Photo – Moto G4
- B&H Photo – Moto G4 Plus
Cases, screen protectors, chargers, and more are also a huge part of any device, so if you’re not sure where to look, this video houses several of our favorite accessories for the Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus.