|+ Great value||- Lacks extras|
|+ Lots of power||- Chunky design|
|+ Strong screen||- Similar camera to last year|
"Motorola’s done it again. The Moto G4 is great value and doesn’t sacrifice any specs to get there. It’s a bit big and lacks extras, but for the money it’s amazing".
These days the low end of the smartphone market is jam packed full of impressive yet affordably priced handsets, but that wasn’t always the case and one of the first to truly impress was the Motorola Moto G.
Since then the company has launched several newer and improved versions of the phone, bringing us up to the Moto G4. It’s still a highly affordable handset at around £159 and it’s still packed full of impressive specs, but it’s got more competition now, so is Motorola’s cut-price champion still the king?
The Moto G4 gets off to a fairly strong start, with a solid construction which feels well made. It also looks reasonably good, with slim bezels around the screen and curved edges. Plus, it’s splash resistant, so if it gets wet it should still work – though it’s not on the same level of water resistance as found in the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S7, so you should still try and avoid liquid.
The Moto G4 is also somewhat customisable, as rather than sticking with the basic black or white colours you can add all manner of brightly coloured backs and accents or even an engraving if you use Moto Maker when buying it.
Those are the good bits, but the design isn’t a complete success. It’s fairly chunky at 153 x 76.6 x 9.8mm and 155g. It’s also not especially premium, with a removable plastic back.
None of this is surprising at this price and the chunkiness has been used to good effect, allowing the Moto G4 to have a big screen and large battery, but it’s still worth being aware of. This isn’t a handset which you can comfortably use with one hand.
Many cheap phones are also small, but not the Moto G4, which has a 5.5-inch screen. Thankfully, it’s sharp too, at 1080 x 1920 for a pixel density of 401 pixels per inch. That’s not pin sharp, but it’s fairly crisp and large enough to make the most of movies and other visual content.
The display is also bright and provides a similar experience to 2015’s Moto X Play – a phone which is older but positioned higher in Motorola’s range.
Unless you have particularly big hands you’ll be using two hands to operate it much of the time, so if you want a compact phone this isn’t it, but there are plenty of other compact choices at this sort of price and having a larger screen should help the Moto G4 stand out.
The presence of quad-core processors and solid performance on phones that cost around £150 still seems impressive, but the Moto G4 doesn’t settle for that, instead packing an octa-core Snapdragon 617 chip.
That’s just about a mid-range one, with four cores clocked at 1.5GHz and four running at 1.2GHz. It won’t trouble the likes of the HTC 10 or Motorola’s own Moto Z, both of which use a Snapdragon 820, but it’s still a speedy chip, especially as it’s paired with 2GB of RAM.
Though Motorola isn’t completely alone in packing this much power into an affordable phone, with the Honor 5C offering similar performance, but Motorola is a bigger name in the west, so it’s more surprising from them.
The camera on the Moto G4 is impressive, but less so than it was when Motorola first wheeled it out on the Moto G 3rd gen. Yes, you get essentially the same camera here as last year, but when that’s a 13MP sensor on the back and a 5MP one on the front that’s not such a bad thing.
It’s designed with point-and-shooting in mind, so you don’t get many manual controls, but shots are typically detailed and in focus, so if you’re not too fussy the Moto G4 will do the job just fine, though of course it can’t compete with higher end snappers like those found on the LG G5 or Huawei P9.
Like other recent Motorola handsets, the Moto G4 runs more or less stock Android and it’s the latest version – Marshmallow. That means you get a clean, intuitive interface with minimal bloat. It’s lacking the sometimes-useful extra features other manufacturers add, but most of them can be bolted on with an app or widget from Google Play anyway.
The Moto G4 lacks much in the way of standout features, which is unsurprisingly a trend among budget handsets, as they wisely opt to focus on the basics. It’s a slight shame, but when the complete package is this good the lack of extras is a minor issue.
There’s a large 3000 mAh battery in the Moto G4. That’s the same size as the juice pack in the substantially more expensive Samsung Galaxy S7.
It translates into decent, but not amazing life. You should get a day out of it with mixed or moderate use, but most buyers will still find themselves having to charge it every night – or dash for a charger by lunchtime of day 2. One nice addition is fast charging, which isn’t often seen on budget handsets, but to keep the cost down Motorola hasn’t put a fast charger in the box, so you’ll have to shell out for one separately if you want to juice it up quickly.
Memory comes in at a choice of 16 or 32GB and you can bulk that up with a microSD card of up to 256GB. Buying a card that big will add a lot to the cost of course, but it’s nice that it’s an option.
Connectivity options include Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G and Bluetooth 4.1, but there’s no NFC and unsurprisingly there’s no fingerprint scanner either.
The Moto G4 is a top flight budget phone which impresses every bit as much as previous generations of the handset.
The competition has increased and the likes of the Honor 5C are strong alternatives, but the Moto G4 is still one of the very best smartphones you can get for around £150, with a good screen, lots of power, decent battery life and a respectable camera.
Dimensions (mm): 153 x 76.6 x 9.8
Weight (g): 155
Battery capacity (mAh): 3000
Colours: Black, White
Screen size (inches): 5.5
Resolution: 1080 x 1920 pixels
Pixels per inch (PPI): 401
Processor: 1.5GHz octa-core
Processor make: Snapdragon 617
Internal storage: 16/32GB
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