Moto G4 Plus (left) and Moto G4 (right) - Moto G4 and G4 Plus Review

Moto G4 Plus (left) and Moto G4 (right)

Introduction


Three years ago, Motorola gave smartphone shoppers an affordable new budget option in the form of the first-gen Moto G. In the years since, we've seen the Moto G really grow up, in more ways than one. Not only has the Moto G grown from a 4.5-incher to its current 5.5-inch screen size, but it's also become a more and more capable handset, and one delivering an ever-growing number of configuration options.

Moto G4 Plus - Moto G4 and G4 Plus Review

Moto G4 Plus

That's more true than ever in 2016 with the arrival of the Moto G4 family, offering three distinct base models, including the Moto G4 Plus, which pushes the limit with some flagship-caliber specs like 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, laser-assisted auto-focus, and a fingerprint scanner. While it's always nice to see a manufacturer making its phones more capable, has the Moto G lost some of its mid-range underdog charm along the way?

We've been spending some time with two of the three new Moto G4 models, the standard Moto G4 itself and the higher-end Moto G4 Plus, in the interest of finding out. Is this family still a smart choice for smartphone shoppers looking to keep costs low? Is it worth splurging on the Plus model's upgrades? Read on to find out.

In the box:

  • Moto G4 (Plus)
  • Micro USB cable
  • TurboPower charging adapter
  • Introductory guide
  • Safety notice

Design

Another year, another even bigger Moto G

The Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus are two phones cut from the same cloth, with nearly identical appearance. Both phones represent a significant departure from last year's Moto G design, dropping the speaker underneath the display and instead moving it up top to the earpiece, and revamping the rear dimple/camera layout: while the iconic Motorola dimple is back, this time it's a part of the removable back panel itself, and lives separate from the camera assembly above it.

Moto G4 and G4 Plus Review
Moto G4 and G4 Plus Review
Moto G4 and G4 Plus Review
Moto G4 and G4 Plus Review
Moto G4 and G4 Plus Review

That removable back panel may allow for some after-market Moto G4 customization, but the real action takes place before you even get the phone out of its box. Motorola's Moto Maker online tool allows shoppers to personalize their handsets with options for alternate front bezel colors, camera accents, and yes – even the back panel (which you can also get engraved with a short message). It would have been nice for those back panels to feature a range of material options in addition to the all colors currently available, but for a budget phone the variety available isn't bad at all.

While the Moto G4 is far from alone in the 5.5-inch space, there's something about Motorola's design that makes these handsets feel slightly larger than most – and if we were forced to try and pin that down, the big, round curves around the handsets' edge may have a lot to do with that. Despite their size, these phones feel seriously light, and we almost wish they came in a little more substantial than they do with their shared 155g mass.

Motorola's clear that neither G4 is waterproof nor intended to be submerged, but the phones still get a water-repellant nano-coating to help keep them functional through the occasional light splash – just don't go nuts.


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)

Motorola Moto G4 Plus

Motorola Moto G4 Plus

Dimensions

6.02 x 3.02 x 0.39 inches

153 x 76.6 x 9.8 mm

Weight

5.47 oz (155 g)

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)

Dimensions

5.96 x 2.92 x 0.29 inches

151.5 x 74.1 x 7.3 mm

Weight

5.96 oz (169 g)

Xiaomi Redmi Note 3

Xiaomi Redmi Note 3

Dimensions

5.91 x 2.99 x 0.34 inches

150 x 76 x 8.65 mm

Weight

5.78 oz (164 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)

Motorola Moto G4 Plus

Motorola Moto G4 Plus

Dimensions

6.02 x 3.02 x 0.39 inches

153 x 76.6 x 9.8 mm

Weight

5.47 oz (155 g)

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)

Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)

Dimensions

5.96 x 2.92 x 0.29 inches

151.5 x 74.1 x 7.3 mm

Weight

5.96 oz (169 g)

Xiaomi Redmi Note 3

Xiaomi Redmi Note 3

Dimensions

5.91 x 2.99 x 0.34 inches

150 x 76 x 8.65 mm

Weight

5.78 oz (164 g)

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



Display

Big, bright, and the highest-res for the series to date

Moto G4 Plus - Moto G4 and G4 Plus Review

Moto G4 Plus


As we mentioned earlier, the Moto G has soundly shaken its old reputation as a pint-sized phone, and it seems like each year it arrives just a little bit larger (indicative of market trends, perhaps?). While last year that brought us a phone with a 5.0-inch 720p display, this year we get an upgrade in terms of both size and resolution, with both the G4 and G4 Plus scoring a 5.5-inch 1080 x 1920 panel.

While such a screen is nothing fancy in this day and age, it's still nice to see those specs on a budget handset, and the display Motorola uses is a pretty high-quality one: brightness is among the highest we've seen from any smartphone in a while, and viewing angles are excellent. One oddity we did note is that the screens on each of these units appeared to have a slightly different color temperature to them; with the same hardware, and configured the same in software, that shouldn’t be. Perhaps it's just a small (in)consistency issue, but both panels did look quite nice.

With all this screen real estate to use, we only wish the phone came configured to take better advantage of it all. The default five-icon-wide launcher appeared a bit huge to our eyes, but that's largely a matter of taste; some users will absolutely dig a phablet whose screen feels like a blown-up version of a smaller phone.

Both handsets support the display of at-a-glance notifications when the phone's otherwise asleep, with a variety of options for setting both the hours during which this mode is engaged, and what specific content it includes.



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36 Comments

1. deftozzz

Posts: 14; Member since: Jul 16, 2015

Meanwhile dxomark scored them pretty high...

2. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

meanwhile iPhone6s beat S7 in other article.. we know how reliable their camera test

4. MingLiangChen

Posts: 329; Member since: Jul 06, 2012

Happy to see the blurring corners in photos from last year's models are gone.

5. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

-deleted- wrong post :D

12. siddharthayadav202

Posts: 286; Member since: Apr 23, 2016

I have used G4 plus and Galaxy J7 2016. J7 has better camera and G4 plus had me a bit disappointed mainly due to so high DXOMARK. I do not trust Dxomark now.

20. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Its not because you like one device picture more than another thats its has better camera. S7 a great example some ppl love its picture but reality is to make a camera the best its must truly take what you see as a picture and not over process it.

14. zeeBomb

Posts: 2318; Member since: Aug 14, 2014

A 7? Swear the G4 Plus should get at least an 8...

34. Acdc1a

Posts: 461; Member since: Jan 21, 2016

Pricing would keep it from an 8 in my book. I took advantage (disadvantage?) of the Amazon offer on the standard G4. It's a very average phone. For $125 I can't complain but at $199 I'd be furious.

19. SYSTEM_LORD

Posts: 1168; Member since: Oct 05, 2015

"Benchmark tests revealed some unquestionably sub-flagship performance" Why is this being held against a budget phone?

27. Veteater

Posts: 59; Member since: Aug 04, 2015

C'mon PA! This deserves about an 8-8.5. "Unquestionably sub-flagship performance"? The phone is not supposed to compete with the oneplus 3. This is $250, and it's got an SD617. Obviously it will stutter a little. Used one at best buy, and it performed well flipping through the UI, and did stutter a little bit in more intensive apps, though the experience wasn't bad, but it obviously wasn't up to snuff with my 6p and turbo 2. If you want a phone with NO stuttering and NO lag whatsoever, you don't get a $250 midrange phone. Get a Oneplus 3, Alcatel idol 4s, ZTE Axon 7, Nexus 6p, that kind of stuff. This Unquestionably sub-flagship performance is being held against the G⁴ and G⁴ plus because it's PA. The site that basically only gives good ratings to iPhones and Samsungs. A samsung would have to lag to the point of being damn near unusable to get anything less than an 8.

31. MingLiangChen

Posts: 329; Member since: Jul 06, 2012

John V has given previous Motos really good scores (above 8 for the G, 9 for X), given their great value.

3. libra89

Posts: 2152; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

Interesting.

6. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

"But with so many options out there, it's worth your while to consider all the alternatives before sinking the cash on this year's Moto G." many option? like what? did any of $200-$300 smartphone this year get score higher than 7/10?

26. uzimafioso

Posts: 467; Member since: Jul 15, 2014

A display better than the iPhone 6s Plus, adequate sound over the speaker as well as the audio jack, vanilla Android experience with support promised upto Android O (slower but it's there), a fast responsive fingerprint scanner, good cameras, excellent call quality and it's priced from $200-300. Yes definitely a 7 by PA.

7. Telemike

Posts: 41; Member since: Nov 30, 2012

Nexus 5X seems a better buy with 808 over the 617 and faster udpates direct from Google. Prices have dropped on 32GB model (I got mine from Fi for $249).

8. MingLiangChen

Posts: 329; Member since: Jul 06, 2012

If I had unlimited data (which I don't because I suck) to upload things onto cloud, then a Nexus is considerable.

9. libra89

Posts: 2152; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

And it's smaller, at least in screen size anyway. These Moto Gs seem to be okay, but why are both choices just big only? :/

21. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Nexus 5x has much more performance issue than this g4...

25. sebbellic01

Posts: 305; Member since: May 03, 2016

Not anymore, I heard most of them have been patched with monthly updates

10. waqas.mehmood2

Posts: 55; Member since: Nov 21, 2015

Average phone

11. theguy2345

Posts: 1216; Member since: Jun 24, 2014

It's either this or the zenfone 3, which outspecs this phone on nearly every front. So I'm really leaning toward Asus right now.

13. siddharthayadav202

Posts: 286; Member since: Apr 23, 2016

SD 617 for 1080p display sucks.

15. siddharthayadav202

Posts: 286; Member since: Apr 23, 2016

And I think the phone to compete for G4 plus is J7 2016 not A7. I wish G4 and Plus had 720p display. Gaming perf is poor.

22. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Sd617 is downgrade from 615? Had no issue playing games on my moto x play..

23. MingLiangChen

Posts: 329; Member since: Jul 06, 2012

Maybe you can try running adb commands to switch it (whatever it is) to 720p before playing games, then switch it back for normal use.

16. zeeBomb

Posts: 2318; Member since: Aug 14, 2014

Ehhhh. Dunno how the G4 plus got less battery usage then the G4 as they're both practically the same device. I feel like the scores were averaged out between the two: Separate reviews on both would have been better.

17. TrackPhoneUser

Posts: 256; Member since: Oct 21, 2015

Seesh now it's bad to be light weight. Btw they should do a new type of battery test: Pokémon Go battery test

18. MingLiangChen

Posts: 329; Member since: Jul 06, 2012

lol, Pokemon Go, the new battery benchmarking standard

24. KingSam

Posts: 1335; Member since: Mar 13, 2016

What about the overheating reported by other reviews? Please comment on that.

28. Veteater

Posts: 59; Member since: Aug 04, 2015

Updates were sent out quite a while ago to patch the overheating and performance problems, like the patches sent out to patch the nexus 5x's problems.

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