Introduction


Earlier this week, Google launched its new Pixel phones, and while both make for some pretty impressive hardware, the $650 starting price has got to have many Android fans feeling nostalgic for the days of $350 Nexus phones.

But even as companies like Google move on to more flagship-priced pastures, other manufacturers are still carrying the banner of eminently affordable smartphone hardware, bringing their users phones that run the same apps as more expensive models, and connect to the same internet, but do so for a fraction of the price.

Earlier this year, we checked out some pretty budget-friendly Androids from Lenovo's Moto brand, with the release of the Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus. Those were two solid mid-rangers, priced at $200 and $250, respectively. But now they're joined by an even more affordable Moto G4, with the start of sales for the $150 Moto G4 Play.

What do you have to give up in terms of design, functionality, and performance in order to sell a phone that costs so little? Do those cuts justify the price, or is maybe smarter to pay a little more and spring for one of the better-equipped G4s? Let's find out.

In the box:


Design

While it lacks the refinement of pricier handsets, the Moto G4 Play comes together with a pleasing-enough body


The Moto G4 Play has a lot in common with its G4 brethren, but can't avoid looking a little less refined either. Part of that has to do with the chunky-looking bezels, both at the top and bottom, and flanking the sides of the screen. The phone's back panel is another textured piece of plastic with a nice, soft touch to it, and the by-now-familiar Motorola dimple in the middle.

Unfortunately, that dimple's just a little low for your index finger to live there while holding the phone, and instead your fingertip's likely to drift up to the rear camera (hopefully not smudging the lens in the process).

The back panel's of the peel-off variety, and while we appreciate the ease at which that affords access to the SIM card, microSD slot, and removable battery, these things always make us feel a little nervous, like we're ripping the phone apart. And it seems like we always miss at least one of the snap-on connectors when putting the phone back together.

An analog headphone jack lives up top, and below there's micro USB below for power and data connectivity – no USB Type-C here. On the right side, we've got our volume rocker and power button. Having the power on top of the volume feels a little unnatural to our hands, but that's due more to the influence of other phones than anything.


Motorola Moto G4 Play

Motorola Moto G4 Play

Dimensions

5.69 x 2.83 x 0.39 inches

144.4 x 72 x 9.9 mm

Weight

4.83 oz (137 g)

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)

Dimensions

5.7 x 2.8 x 0.29 inches

144.8 x 71 x 7.3 mm

Weight

5.47 oz (155 g)

Motorola Moto G4

Motorola Moto G4

Dimensions

6.02 x 3.02 x 0.39 inches

153 x 76.6 x 9.8 mm

Weight

5.47 oz (155 g)

Sony Xperia E5

Sony Xperia E5

Dimensions

5.65 x 2.73 x 0.31 inches

143.6 x 69.45 x 7.99 mm

Weight

5.19 oz (147 g)

Motorola Moto G4 Play

Motorola Moto G4 Play

Dimensions

5.69 x 2.83 x 0.39 inches

144.4 x 72 x 9.9 mm

Weight

4.83 oz (137 g)

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)

Dimensions

5.7 x 2.8 x 0.29 inches

144.8 x 71 x 7.3 mm

Weight

5.47 oz (155 g)

Motorola Moto G4

Motorola Moto G4

Dimensions

6.02 x 3.02 x 0.39 inches

153 x 76.6 x 9.8 mm

Weight

5.47 oz (155 g)

Sony Xperia E5

Sony Xperia E5

Dimensions

5.65 x 2.73 x 0.31 inches

143.6 x 69.45 x 7.99 mm

Weight

5.19 oz (147 g)

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page



Display

720p looks great in the four-inch space, but at this size we'd love a higher-res screen


Unlike the 5.5-inch 1080p panels the other Moto G4 phones get, the G4 Play picks up a more compact (and also lower-res) 5.0-inch 720 x 1280 screen. Unfortunately, screen area doesn't decrease at the same rate as resolution there, so there's definitely a loss in pixel density – and correspondingly, image detail.

The G4 Play's LCD screen is also quite a bit dimmer than the other G4s, impacting visibility in bright outdoor areas. Indoors, at least, we didn't hit any problems.

Image quality is decent, especially considering the price point we're working with, and while the standard color mode may look a little subdued to your eyes if you're used to more saturated screens, an available vibrant color mode helps kicks things up a notch – though the effect is still pretty subtle.



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13 Comments

1. mthaX

Posts: 42; Member since: Sep 22, 2016

Did Motorola , die! You are beyond irrelavant *shrugs*

7. zeeBomb

Posts: 2318; Member since: Aug 14, 2014

Does anyone have any IDEA what camera sensor it uses in the rear? I looked everywhere.

2. MaMaboy unregistered

when you could expect fast charging, bigger screen to body ratio and more camera for 150$ price tag phone, did u think about all these things for a 800$ iphone 7 atleast once when you ppl writing a review and giving 9.3 rating??!! Pls stop reviewing mobile phone PA... Pls STOP it for gods sake!!

3. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

meanwhile $1000+ phone that didnt have fast charging and have bad screen-to-body ratio get 9+ magic?

4. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

they should stop reviewing non-apple and non-samsung phone... low-mid ranger will never get nice score here... (back then they still consider about pricetag in their review, and give score according to it's competitor at the same price range :-/ nexus5 get 9.5/10http://www.phonearena.com/reviews/Google-Nexus-5-Review_id3479 MotoG get 9/10http://www.phonearena.com/reviews/Motorola-Moto-G-2015-Review_id4051 )

8. GreenMan

Posts: 2698; Member since: Nov 09, 2015

ibend, stop whining and listen to this old man for you might learn something... With age come wisdom, innit...? Okay so... Allow The GreenMan to dissect the phone with his sheer 'mental power'...!!! Camera: Can't comment...!!! But could've been 13 MPs... SoC: Snapdragon 410 = 1.2Ghz x 4 Cortex-A53 with a rating of 2.3 DMIPS / Mhz... To put things into perspective, The pathetic Cortex-A7 has a 1.9 DMIPS / Mhz rating... Pretty average in such price range... BTW, there are Octa Core A53 phones with a Mediatek MT6753 (or even Helio P10 or X10) available in this price range, with 13MP cameras... So... Meh! GPU: Adreno 306... One word: PATHETIC... I've no problem with a weak GPU, honestly! But many do... Sensors: Accelerometer, proximity... No compass, no gyroscope, No FP Scanner... Yes, I've seen phone in this price range with an FP Scanner... Screen: 5" IPS with HD Resolution @ less than 300PPI... Slightly BELOW average cause there're phone which run on Full HD and cost just a tad more... Memory: 2GB... Average. ROM (< Forgive me if it annoys the hell out of you!): 8GB... Pitiful... Battery: 2,800mAh. Nice...! Green Score: 6/10... So ibend, just... Stop, seriously... P.S If you're wondering what phone I'm talking about in this price range with Octa Core & fHD Display... Just take a look at Infinix Note 3 Pro:http://www.infinixauthority.com/infinix-note-3-pro-infinix-x537/ Metal Body, Octa Core Helio X10 SoC, more sensors including FP Scanner and a 6" FHD Display with a 4,500mAh Battery... I don't suppose you'll DARE to answer it; so... G'Night...!

10. skips

Posts: 489; Member since: Oct 04, 2015

infinix note- what questionable quality, s**t customer support, barely any chance of finding replacement parts in case something breaks, good luck finding accessories for that phone aswell, also, updates? just because someone elses phone has better s**t on paper, doesnt mean you are going to get a better experience. havent we still learnt that? g'day

5. ebilcake

Posts: 1231; Member since: Jul 16, 2016

Fair review, the previous Moto G devices are better than this.

6. zeeBomb

Posts: 2318; Member since: Aug 14, 2014

Finally a review! I'll take it! Fair score and review, what saddens me is that this phone isn't sub-5inches like it is before. However there is a Moto G4 play that I would like to see reviewed as well.

9. ArenaOfIdiocy

Posts: 1; Member since: Oct 07, 2016

This review unfortunately lost all credibility when it raved about the great battery. How? Unlike the reviewer I have used the Moto G4 daily since buying it mid June and I can assure you this phone only had great battery for two weeks and I haven't added apps or widgets to my desktop. The battery cannot hold five hours and I believe it's a standard malpractice of many android phone manufacturers to use poor quality batteries. It's not just about the milliampere-hour of it.

11. krakmh

Posts: 33; Member since: Feb 21, 2015

look like a handsome phone.

13. Gadhet

Posts: 1; Member since: Dec 02, 2016

Infinix mobility is one of the upcoming phone makers and they are doing very well.

14. CKHARIDAS

Posts: 1; Member since: Jan 26, 2018

I have a MOTOG4, It often works as "drunkard" screen jumping of screen. Sometimes it works properly after closing and reopening. The strange behavior of Screen is still continuing after the replacement of touch screen. Observed that Motorola is only having this problem.One year has not elapsed after purchase. Unless this problem in Motrola G4 is settled no one will purchase.
Moto G4 Play
  • Display 5.0" 720 x 1280 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 5 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 410, Quad-core, 1200 MHz
  • Storage 16 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 2800 mAh

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