Motorola's popular G range of smartphones has been a strong success in India thanks to good pricing and the great quality on offer. The near-stock Android software on Motorola smartphones has made them popular with buyers looking for performance and ease of use, as well as timely software updates.
In a slight change of direction, Motorola launched two versions of the G4: the Rs. 13,499 Moto G4 Plus (Review) and the Rs. 12,499 Moto G4. While the G4 Plus has a little bit more in the way of features and is available in two storage and memory configurations, the Moto G4 is the more affordable and basic option. Find out if the price difference is justified in our review of the more affordable offering.
Look and feel
While there are definite changes between the Moto G4 and earlier products in the G range, there's very little difference between the Moto G4 and G4 Plus. The size, weight, and feel of the two phones are identical, with very little to distinguish between the two. There is one sure-fire way that you can tell them apart, though: the Moto G4 has a plain chin without a fingerprint sensor. Like the Moto G4 Plus, the G4 has a small opening for the microphone here.
While the G4 Plus had to sacrifice Motorola's trademark stereo speaker arrangement because of its fingerprint sensor, the G4 need not have done so, and Motorola could easily have designed this into the phone. However, there is only one loudspeaker at the top of the phone, around the earpiece, and this naturally means that sound is not as good as it could have been.
The rest of the phone's layout is exactly the same, with the power and volume keys on the right, Micro-USB port at the bottom, and 3.5mm socket at the top. The plastic back panel is removable, with the two SIM slots and microSD slot underneath. The battery is visible under the back cover, but is not user-replaceable. The power and volume keys feel a bit cheap and shaky, and are somewhat difficult to press.
The Moto G4 has the same 5.5-inch full-HD IPS LCD screen as the Moto G4 Plus, covering 71.2 percent of the front of the phone. It's fairly bright, with decent colours and sunlight legibility. Black levels are good for an IPS LCD screen, and Gorilla Glass 3 offers some amount of protection against scratches and accidental damage. The screen is fairly sharp, with a density of 401ppi, and that makes this phone a good option at its price.
The Moto G4 comes with a quick charge-capable charger in the box. The Turbo Power charger included isn't the same as the 25W unit included with the Moto G4 Plus; this one has a power output of up to 14.4W. However, it is a modular unit with a separate wall charger and USB cable, so you won't need a separate cable for data transfers as is the case with the G4 Plus. Earphones are also included in the box, but we weren't particularly impressed with them.
Specifications and software
The Moto G4 has a specifications list that is nearly identical to that of the G4 Plus, with the only differences being the presence of a fingerprint sensor on the latter, and different camera sensors. The phone is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 SoC, along with a 3000mAh battery, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage (expandable by up to 128GB using a microSD card). While the Moto G4 is available with only this configuration, the G4 Plus is also available in a Rs. 14,999 variant which has 3GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard storage. This means that compared to the Rs. 13,499 variant of the G4 Plus, you're forgoing only the fingerprint sensor and a bit of camera quality for a price benefit of Rs. 1,000.
The Moto G4 is 4G-capable on the primary SIM slot, and also supports Bluetooth 4.1 and Wi-Fi a/b/g/n. There is also USB-OTG and FM radio, but no NFC connectivity.
(Also see: Moto G4 Vs. Moto G4 Plus Specs Comparison)
The Moto G4 runs on Android 6.0.1, with a near-stock user interface that uses Google Now as its default launcher. While previous Motorola phones have had some pre-installed software, the Moto G4 is even closer to stock than previous phones. There's no gallery app; you're encouraged to use Google Photos, and the phone even comes with an offer than lets you back up photos taken with it at their original resolution without impacting your total cloud storage space for a period of two years. Other functions such as SMS, clock and calendar are also handled by Google-built apps. This keeps the system clean and bloat-free, allowing for better performance and memory handling by the system.
The signature Moto app is present though, allowing you to configure gestures to quickly launch the torch and camera, or to stop the phone ringing when you lift it or flip it over. Additionally, there's Moto Display, which triggers the screen in a low-power mode to show you notifications when you lift the phone.
The barebones interface does have some shortcomings. You can't gesture or tap to wake the screen, so you will need to either press the power key to wake the phone or depend on Moto Display to sense when you lift it and unlock it. The quick settings shade cannot be tweaked, and battery percentage cannot be displayed except through the System UI Tuner setting which has to be deliberately enabled. However, these shortcomings are acceptable considering the promise of timely Android updates, which is one of the key reasons that Motorola's mid-range smartphones have been so successful.
The camera is one of two ways in which the Moto G4 is different from the Moto G4 Plus. While the latter has a 16-megapixel primary camera with laser and phase detection autofocus, the vanilla G4 uses a 13-megapixel camera with ordinary contrast detection autofocus. There's also a 5-megapixel front camera, dual-LED flash at the back, and video recording at up to 1080p at 30fps. Slow motion 120fps video can be recorded at 540p.
The camera app is the company's standard Moto Camera, and is fairly well designed. Flash, self-timer, HDR, and camera switching all have quick toggles on the viewfinder, while another option lets you select from the various shooting modes, such as photo, video, panorama, slow-motion video and professional. Swiping from left to right brings up the settings menu, which lets you change resolution, shutter sound and other settings. It's a well-designed app that's easy to use for the most part.(Tap to see full size Moto G4 camera samples)
Pictures are decent enough when it comes to colour accuracy. However, detail suffers just a little bit, particularly in bright parts of images which tend to get oversaturated. Up close and zoomed in, the lack of detail is even more evident. While there isn't much grain to complain of, pixelation tends to drown out the finer details and suppress any precision or finesse in the pictures taken.
Videos are fairly decent when shot at 1080p, but slow-motion video lacks detail thanks to the camera being limited to only 540p when in slow-motion mode. Selfies taken in good light are decent, but low-light shots with the front camera aren't very good. On the whole, camera performance is just about satisfactory, and you will get better shots from the Moto G4 Plus.(Tap to see full size Moto G4 camera samples)
The Moto G4 runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 SoC, which we first saw on the HTC One A9 (Review). This processor is geared for better mid-range performance and battery life than Qualcomm's previous offerings. However, it isn't anywhere near as powerful as the Snapdragon 650 that powers the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (Review) which not only costs a bit less than the Moto G4 but also packs in more RAM and storage.
This aside, the phone is a capable and reliable mid-range performer. It does get a bit warm at times, but on the whole it works well without any serious issues. Benchmark scores are decent as well, with the G4 scoring 45,865 in AnTuTu, 24,779 in Quadrant and 18fps in GFXBench.
The Moto G4 ran for nearly 12 hours in our video loop test, showing battery life that is practically identical to that of the Moto G4 Plus. This was expected, considering the phones use the same SoC and screen. In ordinary use, we were able to get through well over a day before we had to charge it, even with continuous 4G connectivity. The bundled Turbo charger isn't quite as quick as the one that comes with the Moto G4 Plus, but still manages to charge the device fairly quickly.
The Moto G4 is a decent phone in all ways. It's well built, looks decent, and comes with excellent, up-to-date software. However, on its own, it doesn't quite have what it takes to compete against other players in the sub-Rs. 15,000 price bracket, and indeed faces its toughest competition from the Moto G4 Plus itself.
While the G4 is cheaper than the Moto G4 Plus (Review) by Rs. 1,000, the sacrifices you have to make simply do not justify the price difference. We'd recommend you spend the extra Rs. 1,000 and get the G4 Plus, which will get you a fingerprint sensor, better camera and more powerful charger. If you can afford to spend even a bit more, we'd suggest you go for the 3GB/ 32GB variant and get more RAM and storage as well, paying just Rs. 2,500 more than the asking price of the Moto G4. And if you don't have the means to exceed that budget, then the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (Review) is a better option at a lower price.
The only reason to go for the Moto G4 is if you have a very specific budget that you simply cannot exceed, and if the stock Android experience is important to you. In the absence of either of these conditions, we can't recommend the Moto G4 over one of the better options available at similar prices.