One of Motorola’s biggest strengths is its ability to sell smartphones with solid hardware at lower costs to consumers. And that strategy has been extended to the recently launched Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus under the ownership of Lenovo.
The Moto G4 is slightly thinner than its predecessor at 9.8mm. The G3 measures at 11.6mm. And there is a front-facing speaker at the top-front of the devices. The Moto G3 has two speakers: one at the top and one at the bottom.
The back of the devices have plastic covers, which can be peeled from the bottom. And the rounded edges of the phone makes it easier to hold the devices in the palm of your hand.
Motorola did something different by placing the 3.5mm headphone jack at the top of the devices. At the bottom of the device is its micro USB charger.
Pro: Easy to hold in the palm of your hand. The thinner design also makes the G4 easier to grip.
The 5.5-inch full HD display (1920 x 1080 pixels) is one of the best features on the Moto G4 and the G4 Plus. This is about half an inch larger than the third generation Moto G. And it is an inch larger than the first-generation Moto G, which was released in 2013.
The display on the Moto G4 is much better than the its predecessor. The Moto G3 has 294 pixels per inch whereas the Moto G4 ships at 401 pixels per inch. You can also see clearly view the screen in direct sunlight.
Pro: The displays and the screens are very sharp. I like the fact that it is still clear even when the sun is out.
Con: The increase in display size led to the increase in the height and width of the G4 compared to its predecessor. Unfortunately, some Moto G series fans might have preferred the smaller size as seen in the G3.
User Interface –
Moto fans will likely appreciate the lack of nagware and the fluidity of the navigation in the G4 and G4 Plus. The G4 and G4 Plus ships with the Google Android 6.1 Marshmallow operating system. And it seems like it is a stock version of the operating system.
The stock Android operating system has Material Design elements sprinkled throughout the user interface, thus providing a consistent experience with all of Google’s stock apps. The preinstalled applications that come with the phone are what you would expect from an Android phone like Google, Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube, Google Drive, Google Hangouts, Google Calendar and Google Photos. Aside from the essential apps, there is only one Motorola personalization app (called Moto) for controlling gesture and display features. For example, a karate chop motion can be set up to turn on the flashlight.
Pro: The lack of unnecessary apps makes the phone more pleasant to use. The user interface is also very rapid and responsive. I did not notice much of a lag while using the G4 and G4 Plus.
Con: Since the device is very basic, it does not have many bells and whistles. For example, the G4 and G4 Plus do not have NFC technology built in so you will not be able to make contactless payments with the devices.
Fingerprint Sensor –
There is a fingerprint sensor in the G4 Plus model, but not the G4. The fingerprint sensor makes it easier to unlock the G4 Plus.
Pro: The pro about this feature is that it makes your device more secure. So if your phone gets lost or stolen, your data is kept secured.
Con: The con is that the fingerprint button seems like it should work as a home button.
The 1.5GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 paired with an Adreno 405 GPU built into the devices are more than enough to handle productivity applications, but games that are heavy on graphics will not struggle on these devices.
Pro: The Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 is a recently launched processor that provides high performance and power efficiency.
Con: The Moto G4 is slightly slower when it comes to gaming against its rival, the iPhone 6S. For example, when I opened Temple Run 2 the Moto G4 and my iPhone 6S Plus at the same time, the iPhone 6S Plus won by a few seconds.
The amount of RAM in the G4 varies based on the device you have. The G4 has 2GB of RAM against the 4GB of RAM in the G4 Plus. However, the 4GB of RAM is specifically in the G4 Plus’ 64GB variant. The 16GB variant of the G4 Plus has 2GB RAM and the 32GB variant of the G4 Plus has 3GB RAM.
Pro: This is a substantial amount of RAM for a low cost device.
Con: By adding substantially more RAM to the G4 Plus, it seems unfair to the G4 buyers.
The G4 Plus has a better camera than the G4. It’s worth pointing out that the G4 has a 13-megapixel camera and the G4 Plus has a 16-megapixel camera. However, the difference in the megapixels does not make much of a difference unless you zoom into an object. And the 5-megapixel camera on the front has a wide-angle lens with an f/2.2 aperture so your selfies will look very sharp.
The G4 and G4 Plus rear cameras support high dynamic range (HDR) so it handles exposure and color balancing very well. And the G4 Plus camera has a laser focus so that camera lens selects the subject of the photo very quickly. I would highly recommend taking most of your photos in landscape mode. In terms of video, the cameras record in 1080p. Unfortunately, there isn’t any image stabilization technology in the Moto G4 so your videos may be a bit shaky.
The cameras have a 4x zoom and you can adjust image quality by swiping across the camera. You can also adjust the focus and exposure by tapping on a desired position. Pressing and holding the position locks that focus and exposure too, thus giving you better control of the snapped photo. Adjusting the slider on the target lets you manually lighten or darken the photos. And the Moto G4 and G4 Plus conveniently lets you scan QR codes and bar codes simply by pointing the camera at them without having to download third party apps.
Pro: Despite the low cost, Motorola definitely avoided sacrificing camera quality. The camera takes excellent photos.
Con: The only con I could think of for the camera is 1080p video recording. 4K video recording seems to be the standard for smartphone cameras nowadays.
Water Repellent –
One of the cons in regards to Moto G4 and G4 Plus devices is the lack of water resistance. The third generation Moto G was IPX7 certified, making it water resistant up to 1 meter and 30 minutes. Removing this feature from the newer devices is a step down. Fortunately, the Moto G4 and G4 Plus has a water repellent nano-coating so spilling a drink on it may not cause any damage.
Pro: The ability to repel water makes the devices much more durable.
Con: The water repelling feature seems to be a downgrade from the predecessor because the Moto G3 was at least IP X7
The starter variant of the Moto G3 is 8GB so the Moto G4’s 16GB starter model is a welcoming option. You can buy the Moto G4 and G4 Plus in 16GB/32GB/64GB storage options. And the Moto G4 and G4 Plus can be expanded up to 128GB using a microSD card. The microSD slot can be accessed by removing the back panel.
Pro: I appreciate the ability to expand up to 128GB. This makes it easier to save a lot of music, photo and video files on the device.
Con: The storage options seem to be on the lower end of the scale for smartphones from what you would expect in 2016.
Overall Impression –
It seems that the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to the Moto G4 and G4 Plus. If you are looking to own an Android device, then I would strongly consider getting either the Moto G4 or G4 Plus — especially if you are on a budget. Personally, I would take the G4 Plus over the G4 because of its superior camera and memory hardware along with the fingerprint sensor.