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Moto G4 camera review

We review the Moto G4’s 13-megapixel camera and 5-megapixel front-facing camera. Can the 2016 Moto G’s camera tech beat last year’s brilliant Moto G3 snapper? Here’s our full G4 camera test complete with photo and video samples.

Motorola’s Moto G phones have always offered a strong camera experience for a pleasingly affordable price, and 2016’s Moto G4 is no different. Our in-depth Moto G4 camera review takes a closer look at the 13-megapixel rear camera and 5-megapixel selfie snapper.

Check out our Moto G4 unboxing and Moto G4 review for our thoughts after a full week of testing.

Moto G4 camera review: Ease of use

One of the best things about Moto cameras is how easy they are to use. The Moto G4’s camera interface is more streamlined than ever, allowing you to just point and tap to shoot, although there are more complex controls hidden away if needed.

First off, you can still open the G4’s camera app with a quick double-twist of your wrist, which works remarkably well. This works when the handset is hibernating, as well as during general use. You also have the choice of double-pressing the G4’s power button, an option that can be enabled and disabled in the phone’s settings. Either way, it’s a quick and fumble-free feature for jumping straight in and taking a spontaneous shot.

The main camera interface gives you fast access to the flash, timer and HDR modes, all housed on the left edge of the screen. On the opposite side there’s the shutter button (which is a decent size, making it difficult to miss) as well as the camera modes button and a button for flipping between the two cameras.

The Moto G4’s autofocus does a solid job of keeping everything crisp and clear, but you can also tap anywhere on the screen to override with a manual focus. This comes in handy if there’s strong contrast, or when taking up-close macro photos. In manual focus mode you also get a handy brightness slider, to make your shot lighter when needed.

If you want a bit more control over your camera shots, then good news. Tap the camera modes button and you can jump into the Moto G4’s manual mode, which offers up sliders for the ISO level, white balance, brightness and so on.

In the camera modes menu you’ll also find the video mode, panorama mode and a slow motion video mode. More on these later.

Moto G4 camera review: Camera performance

Like last year’s Moto G3, the Moto G4 boasts a dependable 13-megapixel camera that can take good-looking photos in most conditions. That’s just on the auto mode too, with HDR also set to automatic.

As you’d expect, snaps are packed with detail. On a TV, our Moto G4 photos were reassuringly sharp and you can zoom in to read license plates and other tiny details in the background. Moto’s HDR mode does a respectable job when lighting conditions are a little more challenging, although we did occasionally make use of the brightness correction to make some snaps lighter.

Our macro photos were particularly impressive, with the G4’s lens capturing every tiny vein and blemish on a leaf when we got up close. And you get a nice boche effect too, with blurred backgrounds to create a proper focal point.

Shooting in very low light is where the G4 camera starts to stumble a bit. It’s certainly not as strong as more premium phones like the Galaxy S7 and Xperia X, although the Moto G4 is also a fraction of their cost to be fair. And while pub and club shots are rather grainy, you can switch on the powerful LED flash to light up the room.

Moto G4 camera review: Video tests

You can also shoot Full HD video on the Moto G4, and the results are again solid. You can touch to focus and the lens deals well with changes in lighting, while the built-in image stabilisation cuts out any irritating juddering when you’re moving around. However, shooting video does kill the G4’s battery, although thankfully there aren’t any heating issues.

Here’s some example video footage shot using the G4’s 13-megapixel camera.

You can also shoot slow motion video on the G4, which is much lower resolution than the standard video mode. After the video is shot, you can then choose which section plays in slow-mo while the rest of the video plays with a speedy frame rate.

Moto G4 camera review: Selfie camera

Around the front of the Moto G4 you’ll find a secondary 5-megapixel camera which can be used to Skype your buddies or shoot selfies. And like the rear snapper, that selfie camera is one of the best you’ll find at this price point.

With a reasonably wide-angle lens, you shouldn’t struggle to fit in plenty of friends for a group shot (we refuse to use the word ‘groufie’, apart from just then obviously). Be warned however, the camera does capture quite a terrifying amount of detail, and there’s no beauty mode to speak of.

The Moto G4 selfie cam also has a ‘flash’ function, which is very similar to the Galaxy S7’s front-facing flash. Rather than using a built-in LED to light you up, the Moto G4 simply displays a bright white screen to illuminate your mug. It does the job in a pinch, although also lightens your skin tone.

Video: Moto G4 camera review

Here’s our full Moto G4 camera review in video form, if you want to listen to Chris’ dulcet tones instead.

Read next: Moto G4 vs Moto G3, should I upgrade?

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