Interface and Functionality

Minimal and clean, just the way we like it

The days of Motoblur are but a distant memory, and Motorola's long been steering its Android-UI ship to follow in the wake of pure-Android Nexus devices. That's once again true with the Moto G4 series, and the interface on these phones is within an arm's length of a plain-vanilla Android interface.

Of course, even with most of the interface as close to stock as it can be, Motorola still finds room to work in its own custom improvements, and some big ones there come in the form of its gesture support.

Users can automatically silence calls by picking up their handsets, leave the phone face-down to engage do-not-disturb mode, or quickly launch the camera app with a double-twist – and when you're missing a hardware shutter button to act as its own shortcut, that's a great help. We also see the return of the chop-twice-for-flashlight gesture, making it a breeze to illuminate a dark room – even if it's so dark that you're fumbling to find the buttons on your phone.

Motorola may not be doing a ton to make the interface on the Moto G4 series stand out, but as far as we're concerned that's good thing: the software doesn't try and over-think things, and instead gives us a familiar, streamlined UI with a handful of well-executed flourishes.

Processor and Memory

A variety of options is good, but we're still missing the ones that matter most

Both the Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus run the same silicon, with each phone powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 octa-core processor. That's on the higher side of the manufacturer's mid-range chips, and the choice to use it here seems like an obvious match for a phone positioned like the Moto G4 is in Motorola's larger lineup.

And though performance is brisk enough when navigating around the phone's UI (testament more to the unfettered Android platform than the choice of SoC?), it doesn't take long to run into problems. We hit plenty of stuttering when browsing the web with Chrome, as pages seemed to fight against the browser while viewing. Benchmark tests revealed some unquestionably sub-flagship performance, though the phones did seem to do a hair better than some of last year's 617-based models, like the HTC A9.

No matter which Moto G4 you buy, the phone comes equipped with 2GB of RAM – storage options are 16GB or 32GB for the G4. And while the 16GB Moto G4 Plus is also a 2GB model, the 64GB G4 Plus bumps that up to a robust 4GB.

In day-to-day operation, though, that extra 2GB didn't appear to make a big difference. Plenty of the same performance issues remained, but benchmark evaluation did suggest the G4 Plus had a minor advantage in many tests. We wouldn't necessarily recommending the 64GB G4 Plus just for its extra RAM, but the $100 premium it fetches is arguably worth it for the extra storage, higher-res camera, and fingerprint scanner alone – consider the RAM a bonus.

AnTuTu Higher is better
Motorola Moto G4 46614
Motorola Moto G4 Plus 47205
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016) 34395.33
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 75698
Vellamo Metal Higher is better
Motorola Moto G4 1379
Motorola Moto G4 Plus 1460
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016) 1094.66
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 2574
Vellamo Browser Higher is better
Motorola Moto G4 2808
Motorola Moto G4 Plus 2856
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016) 1982
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 4217
JetStream Higher is better
Motorola Moto G4 22.703
Motorola Moto G4 Plus 21.993
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 49.425
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen Higher is better
Motorola Moto G4 18
Motorola Moto G4 Plus 18
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016) 14
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 32
GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screen Higher is better
Motorola Moto G4 4.5
Motorola Moto G4 Plus 4.5
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016) 5.76
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 9.4
Basemark OS II Higher is better
Motorola Moto G4 894
Motorola Moto G4 Plus 1001
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016) 827.66
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 1407
Geekbench 3 single-core Higher is better
Motorola Moto G4 723
Motorola Moto G4 Plus 719
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016) 676.3
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 1413
Geekbench 3 multi-core Higher is better
Motorola Moto G4 3116
Motorola Moto G4 Plus 3142
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016) 3013
Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 3552


Can't we all just get along – oh, we can!

Why can't more phones be as compatible as the Moto G4 series? There's just one radio version of each model being sold in the US, and you can buy the phone unlocked to work on Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint – even U.S. Cellular. It's a little odd that Motorola went with a micro-SIM slot considering the rise of nano-SIM elsewhere, but an adapter is included if you've got one of the smaller cards. And if you're carrying multiple SIMs, switching carriers is as easy as popping off the phone's back and sliding in a new card.

Other manufacturers, take note: THIS is the way you do broad network support.

As far as other radios go, we've got support for Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.2 LE. Sadly, there's no NFC support, and while we can understand why a budget phone might skip it, it's unfortunate it didn't arrive alongside the fingerprint scanner in the Moto G4 Plus.

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