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Moto G4 Plus long-term review: Still the best affordable phone of 2016?

Moto G4 Plus long-term review: The G4 Plus from Motorola and Lenovo first landed on my desk almost half a year ago. In the past few months I’ve grown to love it more and more, but how does it hold up against great-value Android phones like the OnePlus 3?

The 5.5-inch Moto G4 Plus is essentially a slightly souped-up version of the standard Moto G4, packing a new 16-megapixel camera and a bonus fingerprint sensor for a few extra quid. At £199 SIM-free it’s pleasingly cheap, while still packing some solid specs and features.

This affordable Android impressed us enough to win a healthy four and a half stars back in June, when we first reviewed it. Question is, would we change that score if we were to review the Moto G4 Plus now?

Here’s our full Moto G4 Plus long-term re-review.

Moto G4 Plus re-review: Design

Every time I return to the Moto G4 Plus from another handset, I’m reminded of how incredibly wide this mobile is. Seriously, this is one girthy phone, even compared to other 5.5-inch blowers like the OnePlus 3 and Galaxy S7 Edge.

That means it’s pretty woeful as a one-handed mobile. You’ll struggle to get your thumb anywhere near the top end of the screen, so dual-handed operation is a must.

That little detail aside, I still like the look and feel of the Moto G4 Plus. It’s a no-frills handset, offering a neat, tidy design complete with a rubbery rear for extra grip. Sadly the water resistance of the previous year’s Moto G3 has been slashed, but that hasn’t once been an issue in the past few months; mostly because I’ve managed not to drop it in the toilet when inebriated.

Some other budget phones such as the Xperia XA and ZTE Blade V7 Lite sport more attractive designs, with their edge-to-edge screens and metallic frames. But you can choose from a range of colours, so the G4 Plus can come packing a fun finish if you like. And we’ve got no complaints when it comes to ruggedness. This phone hasn’t been scratched up or scuffed even with plenty of handling.

Moto G4 Plus re-review: Screen and media

I definitely never tire of the Moto G4 Plus’ spacious Full HD screen, which pumps out crisp, detailed images that really can’t be beat at this price point. It’s an easy rival to the OnePlus 3’s AMOLED display, especially when you stick it on Vibrant mode. Colours pop from the panel and videos and photos look absolutely gorgeous.

The only screen feature I’ve really missed when using the G4 Plus is a blue light filter. Most other mobiles now have a feature that instantly produces warmer images, which are much easier on the eye at night.

I filled the 16GB of storage space pretty fast with apps and video, but you can slip a microSD memory card in to expand. There’s also a 32GB model available for £30 more if you fancy it.

Moto G4 Plus re-review: Features and OS

One of the main (and only) reasons to buy the Moto G4 Plus over the standard Moto G4 is the fingerprint sensor that’s sat beneath the screen. That scanner is tiny but surprisingly accurate and responsive. Best of all, just a quick tap of your digit to the surface unlocks the phone almost instantly; no hanging around at all.

The Moto G4 Plus may seem a little dull in comparison to many other handsets, as it hasn’t been crammed full of bonus features - the majority of which would probably go unused anyway. However, there are a few little extras which occasionally come in handy, like the ability to launch the camera with a double-twist of your wrist.

That said, it is a shame that Google’s Assistant AI won’t be coming to this phone, even when that Android Nougat update finally lands. And it’s annoying that you can’t change the desktop grid size, to fit more apps onto one screen. A 5x5 grid would be lovely, especially with that stupid Google search bar hogging space at the top of each screen. Bring on the Nougat, which removes that pervasive pest.

As you can see, my complaints are rather threadbare. More ‘nice to have’ stuff than actual, genuine issues. And at least you still get an apps tray, something that’s usually scrapped by most Chinese phones.

Moto G4 Plus re-review: Performance and battery life

The G4 Plus sports a humble Snapdragon 617 processor and just 2GB of RAM, which on any other phone would likely make for quite slow, stuttery performance by now. However, the Moto G4 Plus is still running well several months down the line.

How come there’s not much in the way of slowdown and stammers? Well, that’s mostly thanks to the clean, uncluttered version of Android Marshmallow that’s running on the G4 Plus. Unlike many other affordable phones, which have feature-heavy overlays sat on top of Android, this mobile sticks with Google’s vanilla OS (more or less). This approach is much more efficient, so performance doesn’t take a hit.

As for gaming, I can still happily play the latest games on the G4 Plus, with only the occasional chug. Even quite demanding titles seem to run well.

Battery life is another highlight, easily on par with the OnePlus 3. You can get a full day and a half of use per charge, and you don’t have to hold back either. That includes some media streaming, loads of messaging and plenty of playing around with apps. And the Moto G4 Plus recharges quickly when the battery is finally drained, coming close to full in just an hour.

Moto G4 Plus re-review: Cameras

The Moto G4 Plus’ 16-megapixel camera is still one of the best around at this price point. Every photo is packed with detail and low light shots are particularly impressive. And while you can’t shoot 4K video, my Full HD footage is always crisp and steady when viewed back on a big display.

Even the camera experience is brilliant. Motorola’s camera app is pleasingly easy to use, from the double-twist to open it up to the simple, streamlined interface. It’s impressively nippy too thanks to the laser and phase detection autofocus. You can snap loads of photos by holding down the shutter button, which is perfect for action shots.

Check out my full Moto G4 Plus camera review for samples and more.

Moto G4 Plus re-review: Verdict

Almost half a year after its launch, the Moto G4 Plus continues to be one of the best affordable phones of 2016. It’s an all-round superstar with pretty much no weaknesses, although it is rather huge and tricky to use one-handed.

Read next: Moto G4 Plus vs OnePlus 3 vs Sony Xperia X

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