Hands-on Moto G4 review: We play with the 2016 Moto G, officially known as the Moto G4, to see if this mighty 5.5-inch mobile is still a tempting low-cost alternative to pricey flagship phones.
It’s been a crazy few months for Motorola, after Chinese firm Lenovo bought the company from Google, but it’s reassuring to see that the ever-popular Moto G hasn’t been a victim of that transitionary period. The 2016 version of Moto G is alive and well and officially launched as the Moto G4 – and it even has a sibling, the Moto G4 Plus, boasting even better specs.
We went hands-on with the Moto G4 and here’s what we think so far. And check out our Moto G4 vs Moto G4 Plus comparison review, to see the differences between these two new Moto G handsets.
Hands-on Moto G4 review: Design
The Moto G4 is a seriously beefed-up mobile compared with last year’s Moto G3, growing from a typical 5-inch phone to a mighty 5.5-incher. As a result, the new Moto G is much trickier to use with one hand, despite the reasonably slender bezels surrounding the screen.
Read next: Moto G4 vs Moto G3, should I upgrade?
Still, I personally like the new Moto G4 design. It’s a slimmer handset than last year’s Moto G3, with a more premium look and feel. In fact, it’s more in keeping with Motorola’s premium Moto X handsets, especially with those wider dimensions.
Sadly the Moto G is no longer water-resistant, but you can still prise off the back cover to change up the colour finish. Our hands-on model was a boring black, but we’ve been promised plenty of vibrant colours to choose from. And the new Moto G4 will be available through Motorola’s Moto Maker service, so you can customise your handset before ordering.
Hands-on Moto G4 review: Screen and media
The Moto G4 has a signifacntly bigger screen than last year’s model, and movie fans as well as gamers and web addicts will love that Full HD panel. As usual, the display is one of the best you’ll find at this price point. Images are sharp, with punchy colours that aren’t excessively vibrant. Viewing angles are wide, whites are nice and crisp and on top brightness it’ll cut through irritating glare.
Audio quality seems strong too. The front-facing speaker cut through the clamour in the demo room nicely, pumping out quite clear, rich audio for a budget device.
You get 16GB of storage to carry around your media collection, but that can be quickly and easily expanded with a microSD memory card.
Hands-on Moto G4 review: Features and OS
As with previous Moto G handsets, the Moto G4 boasts a very vanilla version of the latest Android OS. Android Marshmallow is almost entirely untouched, with only a few Motorola touches in place including the Moto assistant (which can be completely ignored if desired).
For us, that’s definitely a plus. While some Android overlays add to the overall experience, such as the HTC 10‘s utterly bonker Freestyle desktops, most simply bolt on loads of extra apps that you most likely don’t want or need, which of course can’t be uninstalled. You’ll find no such thing on the Moto G4.
Sadly there’s no fingerprint sensor here, unlike the one found on the Moto G4 Plus. So if quick and convenient security is a big feature for you, maybe check out that handset instead.
Hands-on Moto G4 review: Performance and battery life
One of the other advantages of the Motorola Moto phones’ clean, clutter-free interfaces is the fact that it keeps the handsets running smoothly over longer periods. Just check out our Moto G3 one-year review where we’re still impressed by the phone’s performance after 12 months.
The Moto G4’s Snapdragon 617 processor, backed by 2GB of RAM, should offer the same level of long-term dependability. Certainly in our hands-on Moto G4 session, we didn’t see any kind of stutter or other issues. As for battery life, we’ll be testing this in full for our in-depth Moto G4 review, but the 3,000mAh battery should give at least 24 hours of use and its TurboPower quick-charge feature promises six hours of play after just 10-15 minutes at the plug.
Hands-on Moto G4 review: Cameras
The Moto G4’s 13-megapixel camera seems to be another solid and dependable snapper, just like last year’s effort. We had some minor issues with the lens snapping out of focus during our brief test session, but hopefully this will be a simple pre-release bug and not blight the finished Moto G4.
You can shoot non-stop photos by rapidly pounding the shutter button, with no irritating lag. And Motorola’s camera interface is as slick as usual, with very few options cluttering the screen.
Check back soon for our in-depth Moto G4 camera review.
At just £169 here in the UK, the Moto G4 is a tempting prospect for anyone who wants a big-screen experience for a relatively small outlay. Of course, there’s also the matter of the Moto G4 Plus, which boasts a fingerprint sensor and an improved camera.
Here’s our hands-on Moto G4 (2016) review in video form, if you don’t like reading all those pesky words.