Moto G4 Review


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The one that started it all. The trend of providing a value proposition at an extremely enticing price point is back. The Moto G, now in its 4th avataar, is here to shake things up again but is it still as big a deal as it used to be? More so, now that the company has split the handset into multiple tiers, what makes more sense for the consumers? We find out in our review.
Motorola Moto G4 specifications

  • 5.5-inch (1920 x 1080 pixels) Full HD display with Corning Gorilla glass 3 protection
  • Octa-Core Snapdragon 617 (4 x 1.5GHz + 4 x 1.2GHz) processor with Adreno 405 GPU
  • 2GB RAM, 16GB internal memory, expandable memory up to 128GB with microSD
  • Dual SIM
  • Android 6.0.1 (Marshmallow)
  • 13MP rear camera with dual-tone LED flash, f/2.0 aperture, 1080p video recording
  • 5MP front-facing camera with OmniVision OV5693 sensor, f/2.2 aperture, 84-degree wide-angle lens
  • Dimensions: 153×76.6×7.9 mm to 9.8 mm; Weight: 157g
  • Water repellent nano-coating
  • 3.5mm audio jack, FM Radio
  • 4G LTE with VoLTE, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS
  • 3000mAh battery with Turbo Charging

Design

Design differences between the Moto G4 and G4 Plus are precious few but pit it against the previous generation hardware and there’s a very stark difference. The front of the phone is generic looking slab with large bezels on the top and bottom. Where the Moto G4 Plus had a fingerprint reader under the screen, the Moto G makes do without one and instead has a microphone hole on the front fascia. A very curious design choice in our opinion. Up top is the front facing camera as well as the earpiece.

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The right side of the phone is where you’ll find the power button and the volume rocker. The buttons feel a tad mushy and don’t exude confidence at all. The left side is completely bereft of buttons. A 3.5mm audio jack is placed centered at the top while the microUSB port is at the bottom.

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Flip the phone over to the back and  you observe a slightly rubberized finish that offers additional grip. The back cover has a small dimple representing the Moto logo and is removable. Under the plastic cover are the dual SIM slots as well as the MicroSD card slot. Towards the upper half lies the camera module that protrudes out and has an LED flash below it. The battery of course is not removable. The dimensions of the phone are 153×76.6×7.9 mm and extend to a maximum of 9.8mm near the camera slot. The 157 grams weight is also fairly light. All in all, the phone slips in pretty easily into any pocket and won’t weigh you down either.

Software

The Moto G4 runs on Android 6.0.1 with a near stock build of Android that has been a hallmark of the Motorola series for a while now. Going further minimal, the phone drops most built in apps and encourages the user to adopt Google’s own apps. This has kept the entire interface very lean and fast.

The lockscreen interface is simple with a clock in the center. Google Now and Camera shortcuts are placed at the left and right corners while you can swipe up from the bottom to unlock the device. Of course, notifications are displayed here as and when they appear. The homescreen again is typical of stock Android with three on-screen buttons appearing at the bottom. These correspond to back, home and multitasking. A menu tray for shortcuts is also located near the bottom of the screen with a central shortcut that drops you into the secondary level app drawer.

Motorola’s very own Moto app is of course present here and it enables a whole host of gestures. Flip to silent, move twice to launch flashlight and more, they are all accessible via the Moto app. Additionally, the app also allows you to enable a low power mode on the display which shows notifications whenever you lift it up. Beyond that though, the software is absolutely clean and plays a critical role in keeping the handset running fast and smooth. This also allows Motorola to push out fast updates for their phones, on the flip side though you do miss out on a lot of the useful customizations done by some Android OEMs.

Performance

The Moto G4 is powered by an Octa-Core Snapdragon 617 (4 x 1.5GHz + 4 x 1.2GHz) processor with Adreno 405 GPU. Given how the most of the competition has graduated to the Snapdragon 650/652 with employs a hexa core configuration with 2 Cortex A72 cores and 4 Cortex A53 cores resulting in higher overall performance. The 2GB RAM onboard is also lesser than what the competition offers. While the lean software build means that you don’t really face many issues in day-to-day use, extended multitasking is certainly impeded by the limited RAM. On an average, about 900MB of free RAM is available. General performance is satisfactory but nothing extraordinary. The phone has a tendency to get warm when pushed hard but then again, not to an uncomfortable degree. Overall, the Snapdragon 617 and 2GB RAM combo works well enough but we really wish that Moto had opted for some beefier specs even at the low-end. We’ve included some benchmark scores below to give you an indication of comparative performance.

In AnTuTu, the phone scored 45885 points.

The phone manages 3123 points in the Geekbench 3 benchmark.

In the 3D Mark Ice Storm, the Moto G4 has a score of 9833 points. Keep in mind that synthetic benchmarks are just one indicator of performance.

Display

Both the Moto G4 and the G4 Plus are equipped with a 5.5 inch Full HD IPS LCD display, the pixel density on the devices is about 400ppi. From a sharpness perspective then there’s nothing to complain about.

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Brightness and contrast levels on the display however are a bit lacking. Under direct sunlight, the screen visibility isn’t ideal and if you like multimedia content, you’ll probably find the display disappointing. Viewing angles on the other hand are quite satisfactory and there isn’t much of a color shift even from extreme angles. The phone has a Gorilla Glass 3 layer on top to protect against scratches.

Camera

One of the key differences between the Moto G4 and the G4 Plus is the camera module. Not only do you get a lower resolution sensor, you also miss out on the laser and phase detection autofocus capabilities. The 13MP rear camera on the Moto G4 is accompanied by a 5MP front facing unit. The phone allows you to shoot slow motion video at a paltry 540p resolution at which you lose most details in the shots.

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Shots taken are above average as long as the lighting conditions are good but are nigh unusable in low light scenarios. Images do tend to be a bit over saturated and sensor has difficulties dealing with highlights indicating limited dynamic range.

Connectivity & Battery Life

From a connectivity perspective, the Moto G4  supports 4G LTE with VoLTE on the first SIM slots. There’s WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.1 as well as GPS support. Additionally, the phone has built-in FM Radio. Of the 16GB of storage, a little under 10GB is available but you can expand that by up to 128GB using the microSD card slot.

In terms of battery life, the 3000mAh battery on the Moto G4 lasts a whole day of use with a couple of phone calls and an hour or so of internet usage thrown in. Play resource intensive games though and you’ll be left looking for the charger by the end of the day. A Turbo Charger comes bundled in with the phone that enables you to charge up to 50% of the battery within half an hour though this really heats up the device.

Conclusion

The Moto G4 is a good phone. What we’re not too sure of is the price to performance ratio. The device has been launched in a market with no dearth of competition and frankly, the competitors offer a lot more for the price.

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With a price benefit of just Rs. 1000 over the Moto G4 Plus, the loss of the fingerprint scanner and the lower megapixel camera become hard to justify. The Moto G4 is priced at Rs. 12,499.

Pros

  • Clean software build
  • Above average performance

Cons

  • No fingerprint reader
  • Dated hardware
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Author: Dhruv Bhutani

Dhruv loves technology & is passionate about travel, science in equal measure. Currently using a ZF2. Catch him on Twitter (@DhruvBhutani) / Facebook . The metal head down the block ;)