Moto X4 hands-on: upper mid-range beauty with Snapdragon 630
Lenovo-Motorola made a special surprise during its IFA 2017 press conference, officially announcing the phone. What's shocking, though, is the fact that it's no longer being touted as the company's flagship line, but rather, it's been demoted to the mid-range class of devices in its portfolio. While many diehard loyalists will scream bloody hell about the new direction, it's aiming to be king amongst mid-rangers in the hopes that its new design and software features make it a competitive offering.
It's clearly a cut above most other mid-range smartphones with its curved, sloped edges that make it comfortable to hold in the hand. While other design characteristics from Moto's other phones are employed here by the Moto 4, we can tell you that it's not trying to copy the Moto Z line. And that's because it doesn’t feature the same modular approach. Despite that, it ups its siblings by featuring an IP68 rating, allowing it to survive submersion under water – something lacking in the Moto Z line of phones.
All of this screams a totally surprising new direction for the X line, which took pride in its evolution in being one of the most customizable phones around. That's no longer the case, but at least this mid-ranger has a design that's flagship worthy.
Besides the high-quality design, the other initial thing that stands out when first gazing upon the phone is its 5.2-inch 1080p display. That's well within the caliber of its rivals in the mid-range space, so details are still plentiful enough to ensure whatever's on screen is sharp and vivid. There's some serious contrast to the phone, which helps it to garner attention from far away. Impressively, its saturated color tones and wide-angle clarity calls for attention. Over on the software side, it still leverages Moto Display to breathe useful information when it's on standby mode.
If there's one thing consistent about these Moto phone, it has to be that they are all lightly skinned – offering a mostly vanilla Android experience. Anyone that has used the other phones in Lenovo-Moto's portfolio will find the experience here to be a familiar one. Of course, Moto's usual arsenal of software features are present here yet again, like Moto Actions and Moto Voice.
We did check out one particular feature that's only available with the Moto X4 specifically related to the handset's audio capability. Partnering with Tempow, the "Dolby Labs of Bluetooth," the Moto X4 employs Tempow's new Audio Bluetooth technology profile to stream audio simultaneously to multiple Bluetooth speakers. In fact, you can pair the phone to multiple Bluetooth speakers and stream music to all of them in synchronization.
What's amazing is that we didn't notice any sort of latency with the connection, allowing for all the speakers to work cohesively. Even more, you can choose different profiles to achieve a stereo effect with all the speakers you're using. It's really neat because this new technology is enabled to work with all Bluetooth speakers regardless of the manufacturer!
We didn't spend a whole lot of time checking out the new camera, but this isn't too out of the norm, as many phones choose to go with this implementation with their cameras. Although, a lot of talk has been mentioned regarding its low-light performance, so we're eager to see how it handles the situation. And finally, there's an impressive 16-megapixel camera on the front with a f/2.0 aperture lens, which could potentially make it one of the best cameras for selfies.
With the new design and all, they were able to stuff the Moto X4 with a moderate 3,000 mAh battery cell. Now, we're confident that'll be enough to get most people through their daily routines, but if you're just the blood sucking type of power user, there's help in the form of its TurboCharging technology.
Is this really the Moto X4 we've been waiting for the last couple of years? Not really, especially when it's no longer at the top of the food chain. Instead, Lenovo-Moto is hoping for it to be a major player in the mid-range space, as the phone is expected to launch with a price tag of 399 euros in the European market. All of this screams cannibalization when you already have the Moto G5 Plus priced at around $300 at the highest.
Yes, there are some marked improvements here with the Moto X4, like its water-resistant construction and more premium design language. However, you're paying for that difference with its price. The step up to a Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 chip for the Moto X4 is very minimal one over the G5 Plus' Snapdragon 625, so that's something to think about when you factor in the price gap between these two.
Ultimately, this isn't the same phone that we've been used to in the past. It's nice that they've kept to a premium design, but it's just a shame that it's not following in the same footsteps as its predecessors.