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Motorola Moto E4 Review

Motorola Moto E4
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Interface and functionality

Keeping Android tweaks to a bare minimum proves that a little goes a long way

Motorola Moto E4 Review

Since canning their “Motoblur” skin years ago, Motorola has resolved to keep things lightweight and unobtrusive – a task which Android make easier every year. This year is no different for the Moto, shipping with near-stock Android 7.1.1. Save for a few preinstalled Verizon apps, an app called “Moto,” and the design of a handful of icons, the E4 offers an essentially stock Android experience – something we’ve come to count on Motorola for. This no doubt helps keep resource consumption light and the user experience nimble.

The Moto app exists only to offer two small features: Moto Display and Moto Actions. The former gives you the option to enable the screens warmer-toned sleep mode, as well as the ability to view notifications on the lockscreen without totally waking from the screensaver (if enabled.) The latter lets you enable swiping gestures on the fingerprint scanner – replacing the back button with a swipe left and the multi-tasking button with a swipe right, while a tap on the sensor functions as the home key. Such gestures were initially welcomed by us, since removing the software buttons adds some screen real estate, however, the accuracy of gesture detection eventually steered us away. Too often did a swipe register as a home button tap, which can get frustrating. Some minor tweaking of this software would go a long way.

Speaking of the fingerprint sensor, we must say we’re very pleased with its speed and accuracy in unlocking the phone. A quick tap on the sensor triggers the unlock sequence immediately, taking less time to scan than the phone does to unlock – an impressive indicator of its biometric hardware. It seems Motorola didn’t compromise on this component, at all.

Processor and Memory

Smooth and responds well; rarely runs into a hitch

Motorola Moto E4 Review

This year, Motorola made the wise choice of reverting to Qualcomm chipsets, after briefly using Chinese manufacturer MediaTek’s silicon for the Moto E3. While both sport quad-core configurations composed of the same exact cores, the E4’s Snapdragon 425 processor is clocked at 1.4 GHz, a noticeable bump from the 1.0 GHz MediaTek chip driving the E3. What this translates to is smooth, even, and prompt performance in the newer Moto. Apps open quickly, the haptic buttons are responsive, and split-screen functions quite well. The 2 GB of on-board RAM aid such multi-tasking, allowing split-screen apps to open and operate smoothly side by side – even under heavy loads.

More than once during testing did we have large apps downloading in the background while split-screening two separate apps, only to find minimal lag and, after some furious app swapping, still no apps forced close. We split-screened many resource-intensive apps, such as YouTube running a 720p video alongside an active Google Maps navigation. Setting aside the navigation to run in the background, with YouTube still on the left-side panel, we proceeded to the Play store to start downloading some large games, throwing that in the background as well. Then, with YouTube still streaming smoothly on the left, we swapped any and every app we could on the right – just to be sure. All throughout, we enjoyed the same reliable performance. While there was a slight yet persistent stutter swapping between the larger apps, none of which ever froze or lagged for more than a second if it did. This exceeded our expectations for its multitasking prowess, leaving us with little doubt that the E4’s power is sufficient for most usage cases. By no means is this the fastest phone we’ve ever tested – the benchmarks are clear about that – but in everyday usage, light or heavy, you’ll be hard-pressed to find similar performance at this price-point.

As for gaming, you won’t be finding the smoothest performance there. The device does stutter a bit, dropping some frames along the way. However, looking past the mediocre performance, one can certainly still enjoy playing games on the E4.

Connectivity


Motorola Moto E4 Review

As mentioned, the Moto E4 comes in unlocked and Verizon-specific configurations. While the Verizon variant does seem to share AT&T bands, for example, the device is locked to Verizon and would require jumping through some patently Verizon hoops to get up and running on another carrier. Snagging one at the $70 price – almost half the price of an unlocked version – and unlocking on your own does sound tempting, but unfortunately Verizon requires at least $75 worth of prepaid usage before granting the unlock – thereby offsetting your savings completely. Best to stick with the unlocked version for all other carriers. Who wants Verizon’s apps on there anyway, right?

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PhoneArena rating:
8.5Excellent
Display5.0 inches, 720 x 1280 pixels (294 ppi) IPS LCD
Camera8 megapixels
Hardware
Qualcomm Snapdragon 427, Quad-core, 1400 MHz, ARM Cortex-A53 processor
2 GB RAM
Size5.69 x 2.83 x 0.37 inches
(144.5 x 72 x 9.3 mm)
5.29 oz  (150 g)

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