Motorola was the go-to brand for someone who didn’t ever want a fuss about what is included in the device internally but only wanted a smooth software experience for a long time. The Moto G 3rd gen. too came in with the same concept, but it was worth an appreciation that Motorola worked on the camera to give the users a decently performing unit in every way, not just with the software.
This year, we see a new Motorola. From Lenovo. Is anything changed? Of course, now you see even Motorola talking a lot about specifications. And to take it even further, there are two variants to the successor of Moto G3 – the Moto G4 and the Moto G4 Plus. And guess what, the Moto G4 seems ignored at the moment, and only the G4 Plus is being put on sale. Why not? After all, the majority of users these days seems to choose phones first based on the specifications, and then based on the experience.
With the specifications, safe to say that Moto from Lenovo has ticked all the boxes with decent specs on board for the price it is being sold at. No, we don’t decide the price, but it compares well against the competition. But does it do well when these are put up with the almost-stock Android having Moto’s inclusions? Let’s find out in the review below.
Check out the Moto G4 Plus Specifications.
Design & Build Quality
Maybe the market has done so much in the recent past that the bar of expectations has raised with the build quality, but the inclusion of plastic does disappoint when it comes to the build quality of Moto G4 Plus. In a way, hold the phone and you feel that it is good enough with the build and the design as well, but then, Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, the LeEco Le 1s, and Honor 5x are all coming with a full metal body, and they surely give you a premium feel and also an assurance that the device is not brittle.
The Moto G4 Plus does have a hint of metal, with the frame on the side of the device. One good thing about the body is that there are no sharp edges or corners, everything seems smooth, and that can be held for long hours without an issue. But at the same time, the extra curve on the back makes it a little slippery.
The back plate of the Moto G4 Plus has to be pulled out to access the slots for two SIM cards and a MicroSD card. Quite traditional that, but thankfully, you don’t have to deal with the hybrid slots that allow you to use either a second SIM or a MicroSD card. The back plate is made of polycarbonate, but the dull cross pattern on it makes the phone free of scratches and fingerprints.
The 16MP camera on the back of the device comes with Laser autofocus as well as the Dual LED flash, and this entire set is within a metallic oval rim, just above the Moto dimple.
On the front, the speaker is a part of the earpiece grill itself and below the screen, the square fingerprint scanner and a microphone are seen. It’d have been better to see a wider area for the scanner as this seems to be odd, but at least, you don’t have to lift the phone always to unlock it with the fingerprint when it is on the back of the device.
The phone is quite comfortable to hold but it seems a bit wide, and it won’t be easy for every hand to reach to the other corner of the display.
The display is sharp, expectedly, and Motorola phones seem to get better displays with every new generation. Under the sunlight, though, the brightness isn’t so good to help you read out the content with ease. Under the display settings, there are options to toggle Adaptive brightness, change the color mode between Normal and Vibrant, and also change the font size in the interface. It is an IPS panel, but it does look like a vibrant AMOLED panel.
You aren’t going to get the entire screen area for the interface as the navigation buttons are a part of the display itself. Overall, it might have helped if Motorola had done something to include a Bluelight Filter option that is getting common now, but otherwise, the display does a good job of keeping the content bright and colorful.
Interface, Apps, and Features
Do you expect Motorola to change the software even a bit, after jumping the hurdles with the hardware? No, not a bit. Thankfully, Moto is sticking to the same flavors and giving you that extra Moto experience over the stock Android. And with Motorola, you are assured of a good software support for coming months, or even years. Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow is the current version, and there is no doubt that Android N will be available for it when released.
On the stock OS, there is the Moto app that gives you the gesture features as well as some shortcuts to make the usage experience better. For example, when you lift the phone when the screen is turned off, it shows the Moto Display with the time and date and any important notifications. Furthermore, you can choose when to have the screen turned off completely, and whether to show any notifications or not. If you feel like seeing notifications from only certain apps, you can block the other ones.
You don’t always have to unlock your phone and check those things. In the Moto X series, from the second gen., there was the set of sensors that would activate the Moto Display when even the hand is waved over the phone. Here, you don’t see those gestures working but then, motion sensing is great.
Actions / Gesture features on the Moto G4 Plus
This is nothing new for Motorola devices but always, a set of features worth talking about so someone new to Motorola might know what can be done without touching the screen.
- Chop twice for flashlight – Make a chopping motion to turn flashlight on / off
- Flip for Do Not Disturb – Place the phone face down to silence any notification or an incoming call
- Pick up to stop ringing – Lift the phone while it is ringing and the ringtone will stop, and phone will continue vibrating
- Twist for quick capture – Twist your wrist twice quickly to open the camera anytime
One of the noticeable things that I felt could have been corrected – When there is a password lock, you have to tap the tick after entering the password or number, while in most of the other phones, it gets automatically unlocked when the number is entered. Of course, I have always used my fingerprint to unlock the screen but still, things like these matter.
Apart from the mentioned features, what comes included in the software is an FM Radio app, a good File Manager that swiftly recognizes any USB OTG drive connected and also gives a proper option to eject the drive, and also the entire list of Play apps that come as a package in the Android smartphones.
The fingerprint scanner on the device works quite well, and as stated above, being on the front is advantageous. Usually, the ones that work as home button need to be pressed for the sensor to work, but here, since it is a dedicated one that has got only one function – it works even when the screen is off.
Performance – Buttery!
Notice the word in the subtitle above? It defines what the performance is. Buttery smooth and solid in performance. Even though usually not even a couple of weeks are enough to judge the performance of the device, but the Moto G4 Plus didn’t even break a sweat for once to let me raise my eyebrows.
It might be a different case for the other variant with 2GB RAM, but this unit with three gigs of RAM had about 1.9GB free without any app in the background, and even with a dozen of them running in the background and me playing Asphalt 8, it showed no lag or frame drops.
The only issue is the heating issue that Motorola had to do something about. Only little can be done when you talk of a mid-range smartphone but still, the heating of the device whenever I play games for some time is annoying enough.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor is relatively new to the market, but it does stick around as a good one. Having heard about some RAM management issues, I was very much prepared to check the way apps are handled, but there was nothing weird noticed on the unit I’m using. But it is this same chipset that stands a culprit for the severe heating on gaming or while using the camera for a considerable amount of time.
Talking about the technical aspect, the rear camera is a 16-megapixel one with 4.7mm focal length; Dual LED flash, laser autofocus as well as phase-detection autofocus, and 1080p video recording. The front of the device has a 5-megapixel fixed focus camera.
Now, with the Moto G 3rd gen. doing quite well with the camera, I did expect the bigger sensor to do well. It did, sort of, but not always. To be fair, the rear camera of Moto G4 Plus has one of the best bokeh results for any cameras in this price range, but then, you don’t judge a smartphone camera by taking pictures of objects very close to it.
There are some underexposed and some overexposed shots as well unless you are too steady and quick to take the shot, otherwise, the camera adjusts itself with the exposure even without you needing that.
Selfies with the front camera come out to be good, and it is good to see the screen flash, HDR option for the front facing camera. Along with that, you get the exposure wheel for both the cameras, and the face recognition is super quick when using the selfie camera, except for the fact that it might miss some faces when a group selfie is being taken.
Check: Moto G4 Camera Samples: Link
Video recording needs a stable hand, or every small shake is evident in the video. The presence of two autofocus systems does help in quickly focusing on the object even if a fast moving one. To continue about the heating issue, the video couldn’t be taken for more than about 11 minutes as the camera app saves the video and then turns off the camera to cool the device down.
Connectivity and Battery
The smartphone has 4G LTE connectivity, and it works with ease. The latching to 4G network was quite fast and with Motorola phones, there is rarely any problem with connectivity. The other options included are the usual ones – Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and while using the phone for a few days, it was all good with the call quality as well.
The battery capacity has been upgraded quite a lot from Moto G 3rd gen. and with the new battery saving features and optimization, the 3000 mAh battery in Moto G4 Plus stays good for the day with general usage, and the screen-on time was well over four hours. When on standby, there is negligible battery usage as the Doze feature might be kicking in, but even if not, it is quite well managed.
Motorola has been one brand working well to provide the speakers on the front of the phone, just like how HTC does. But this time, you can call it a compromise or whatever, only one speaker is staying within the same earpiece grill on top. The speaker output is not great, and only if you are playing music in a room not full of people around, the output level can be called appreciable.
Video playing was all good with several formats supported, and the display as said above has a good color output to keep the device likable for those who spend time watching movies and videos.
Honestly, a firm upgrade from Moto G 3rd gen., the Moto G4 Plus reaches up to the expectations for the price at which it is sold. Thankfully, Lenovo hasn’t so far done much to bring any of their elements into it, so the UI stays the same, easy and having enough for the user to enjoy playing on.
But, not all is good on the device. The heating issues take away the good experience at times, and if you are someone who doesn’t use phones for a lot of gaming, this is a non-issue for you. The other couple of things are with the unoptimized pictures at times, and the speaker not being up to the market.
For regular smartphone users, upgrading from a lower-spec’d device or even having used a similarly priced one in the past, the market has changed quite a bit and you are getting better devices at the same price from what it was earlier. The Moto G4 Plus would still be a fine upgrade, except for the fact that it won’t be a good one for heavy users around who rely on games and cameras to spend a good time every day.
The Moto G4 Plus isn’t perfect, but which smartphone is? It still is a better choice than many others out there. There is no metal body surrounding the core, but then, will you be compromising the other important factors only for that one? Depends on what you expect in your perfect phone, but the G4 Plus is good to hold as well.
Pros and Cons of Moto G4 Plus
- Excellent performance
- Good bokeh effect with camera
- Good display
- Fast fingerprint scanner
- Decent battery life
- Storage expansion with dedicated MicroSD slot
- Heats up quickly on gaming
- Cannot use camera for long due to heating
- Speaker output levels are not good
- Doesn’t have a metal body (only if u consider build)