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Motorola Moto G4 review – CNET

The Moto G has always been among the top dogs when it comes to “cheap but good” phones and the new G4 — and slightly fancier G4 Plus — have kept up that tradition.

Competition in the budget arena has never been more fierce, but the newest fourth-generation Moto G continues to hold its own thanks to a host of hardware upgrades, including a larger and brighter 5.5-inch, full HD display and faster octa-core processor, without shedding last year’s water-resistant construction and expandable storage (you can add up to 128GB by adding ultra cheap microSD cards).

And then there’s that price. In the US, you’ll pay $199 for the unlocked phone, which will work with all major US carriers when it hits on July 12. (You’ll find more details here. You can also buy the phone at a deep discount from Amazon, if you accept ads.) In the UK, the standard 16GB Moto G4 starts at a similarly affordable £169.

Motorola — which is now owned by Lenovo, by the way — hasn’t said how much the phones will go for in Australia, but the Moto G4’s UK price converts to about AU$300.

So what’s the catch? Not much, really. Spending a bit more for the aforementioned Moto G4 Plus gets you a fingerprint sensor (for easy unlocking), a slightly better camera and — at the top end — double the RAM and even more built-in storage. But neither phone has NFC or contactless payment options, so the Plus upgrades don’t feel worth the extra money in our book.

Editors’ note, 4 p.m. PT: This review has been corrected to reflect that the G4 Plus does not offer NFC or Android Pay, and that we recommend the cheaper Moto G4 reviewed here as the better overall buy and Editors’ Choice.

The G4 Plus gets its name from its 16-megapixel camera (up from 13 on the regular G4) and a fingerprint scanner on the front. It also offers more RAM (4GB vs. 2GB) on its top-end 64GB configuration. Otherwise the phones are the same, from processor to screen.

Obviously, the Plus costs a bit more — and configurations vary by region. Americans will pay $50 more for the 16GB Plus ($250), while those in the UK will pay an additional £30 (£199). An extra $100 or £95 gets you a 64GB G4 Plus, which — as noted above — also doubles the RAM. (The UK also gets a 32GB Plus that doesn’t appear to be available in the US.)

That said, none of those upgrades are particularly compelling in my book. I kept confusing the Plus’s fingerprint sensor for a home button (it’s not), and its lack of NFC means there’s no contactless payment option. The extra megapixels in the camera, meanwhile, didn’t offer a big difference in everyday shots, unless you were zooming in. For those reasons, the cheaper G4 is the better option for nearly everyone.


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Slender and water-resistant

The Moto G4 and the G4 Plus are almost identical. They both have 5.5-inch screens, which is half an inch larger than the previous model and a full inch larger than the original Moto G from 2013. Both displays have full HD (1,920×1,080-pixel) resolutions, which are bright, bold and well suited to your tweeting and snapchatting.

Even better, the handsets are water-resistant, so they won’t shut down the first time you spill your drink on them. The back panel is removable, providing access to the microSD slot to expand the storage. You can’t swap the battery out, but its 3,000 mAh capacity is sufficient for a full day of use, so you may not need to carry spares around.

On our looping video battery rundown test, it took 13 hours 20 minutes to drain the battery entirely, which is a respectable performance. By comparison, the LG G5 took 12 hours 30 minutes, while the OnePlus 3 took 14 hours 17 minutes.

As with the rest of the Moto family, you can select from a wide range of back panels and metallic accents using the online Moto Maker tool. This is also where you can choose the amount of storage (16 or 32GB for the G4; 16 (US), 32 (UK) or 64GB for the G4 Plus, with 4GB of RAM for that most capacious option).

Nippy software, free of junk

The G4s run a near stock version of Google’s Android 6.1 Marshmallow software, making them easy for even Android novices to use right out of the box. (Motorola will eventually offer a Moto G4 Play version too, which will have totally stock Android.) Many budget phone makers — I’m looking at you, Huawei — load their phones up with so much junk from the start that they’re tough to navigate and find the essential features. Not so here. The interface is uncluttered, and aside from a single Motorola personalisation app, there’s no messy bloatware.

That lack of bloatware helps the phone feel nippy and responsive. There’s no annoying lag when you swipe around the home screens, the camera opens quickly and loading apps is very swift.

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