- Smooth performance
- Fingerprint sensor
- Dependable camera
- Solid battery life
- No improvement in camera shots
- Hand-filling design
Moto G4 Plus review: This upgraded version of the brilliant Moto G4 smartphone boasts a smart 16-megapixel camera and a fingerprint sensor, but is it worth the extra cash? Here’s our full Moto G4 Plus mobile phone review.
One of the best-value phones of 2016 so far is the Moto G4, a £169 Android mobile that packs impressively premium features. However, not satisfied with that fine piece of work, Motorola and Lenovo have also produced a ‘Plus’ version of the Moto G4 which boasts a better camera (on paper at least) and a fingerprint sensor for boosted security.
So, how does the Moto G4 Plus compare to the original Moto G4 and is it another essential purchase for those on a budget?
Moto G4 Plus Review: Design
Although you might expect a ‘Plus’ version of the Moto G4 to be even bigger than the original 5.5-inch phone, in this case that moniker refers only to the updated features. That means the Moto G4 Plus is another 5.5-incher, which is certainly plenty big already.
If you’re not sold on hand-filling handsets then the Moto G4 Plus is unlikely to change your mind. We like the look and feel of this phone, which is basically identical to the Moto G4; it’s more grown-up than last year’s Moto G3 while the design can once again be fully customised online, using the Moto Maker service. However, the Moto G4 Plus is still a bit of a bugger to use one-handed, especially when compared with another recent 5.5-inch blower, the OnePlus 3.
The Moto G4 Plus sports a plastic backing that can be prised off to access the innards, including the microSD memory card slot and micro SIM card slot. Don’t worry if you already have a smaller nano SIM though, as Motorola/Lenovo has conveniently bundled an adapter. Sadly the Moto G4 Plus’ battery can’t be removed and the phone isn’t water resistant, unlike last year’s Moto G3. Not great news if you love Tweeting from the bathtub.
Moto G4 Plus Review: Screen and media
Another area that remains untouched from the original Moto G4 is that 5.5-inch Full HD screen. Once again you get sharp, eye-pleasing visuals that veer towards realistic colours rather than rich, vibrant hues. High-def movies certainly look fantastic, with plenty of viewing space thanks to that sizeable screen. And while it’s not the most powerfully bright panel we’ve seen, outdoor visibility is still fine.
As for audio, the Moto G4 Plus pumps out sound from the long, thin speaker grille above the screen. It’s reasonably powerful, although once again sound quality is less than stellar when listening to music. You’ll definitely want to plug in some decent earphones instead.
At least the on-board storage can be quickly expanded using a microSD memory card. That’s good news if you don’t stream all of your music and movies, or you take a lot of photos and videos using your phone’s built-in camera.
Moto G4 Plus Review: Features
Moto phones are a good choice for fans of pure Android, because Motorola tends not to tinker with Google’s OS. As usual, the Moto G4 Plus sports a vanilla version of Android Marshmallow, packing all of the standard features including in-depth control over app permissions, a solid selection of widgets and the love-it-or-never-bother-using-it Google Now.
Check out our Moto G4 Plus tips and tricks guide for a closer look at some of the phone’s software features.
One feature that the Moto G4 Plus boasts that wasn’t found on the original Moto G is the dinky fingerprint sensor, tucked away beneath the screen. It’s a tiny square-shaped scanner identified by its raised bezel, which makes it easy enough to find with your thumb in the dark. And despite its compact size, the scanner is still pleasingly accurate and responsive, successfully unlocking your handset with a single prod nearly every single attempt.
It’s not quite as swift as the OnePlus 3’s sensor, but if you’re big into security and fancy a more convenient means of unlocking your phone than a standard PIN, it’s bound to satisfy.
Moto G4 Plus Review: Performance and battery life
Residing in the core of the Moto G4 Plus is a Snapdragon 617 processor, a mid-range octa-core chipset that packs a decent punch for the price. Backed by 2GB of RAM, the Snapdragon provides smooth everyday performance as well as a solid frame rate when gaming.
That’s not too surprising, especially as our Moto G3 is still ticking over nicely after twelve full months of regular use. A lack of clutter and unnecessary features bolted on top of Android means these Moto phones are pleasingly efficient, which also helps to keep battery life strong (more on this in a moment).
Of course, the Moto G4 Plus still falls well behind that other big mid-range mobile of 2016, the OnePlus 3. While the Snapdragon 820-packing OnePlus 3 managed a whopping 139 thousand in our AnTuTu benchmark tests, the Moto G4 Plus spat out a much lower 45 thousand score. In real life terms, you’ll see no real difference between the two phones right now. But in a couple of years, the Moto G4 Plus is much more likely to be showing its age.
The Moto G4 impressed us with a day and a half of battery life between charges and the Moto G4 Plus manages around the same, even with regular use. That’s a solid result for a modern mobile, meaning you can simply charge up every night and be set for the day ahead. And if you want to stream video non-stop the Moto G4 Plus will still give you an excellent ten hours of playback before biting the dust (as good a result as we got from the Galaxy S7).
Moto G4 Plus Review: Cameras
The Moto G4 already impressed us with a 13-megapixel camera that beats rival snappers at this price point. However, for the Moto G4 Plus, this camera was ditched to make way for a new 16-megapixel shooter with improved auto-focus tech.
So, is the Moto G4 Plus’ camera another dependable snapper and how does it compare with the Moto G4? Check out our full Moto G4 Plus camera review, which offers a side-by-side comparison.
Moto G4 Plus Review: Verdict
The obvious question is, which is best for you: the Moto G4 or Moto G4 Plus? Well, we’d honestly say that unless you’re constantly snapping hyper kids, there’s no need to splash out extra money on the Plus’ 16-meg camera. That super-smart auto-focus definitely helps with fast-moving subjects, but otherwise the difference in photo quality is negligible.
Which means that the G4 Plus’ major advantage is that front-mounted fingerprint sensor. Like all modern scanners it’s quick and reliable and a satisfying alternative to PIN security; but besides that, there’s no difference between this phone and the cheaper G4.
Compared with other mid-range mobiles, the Moto G4 Plus is definitely an impressive beast. The camera tech, battery life and everyday experience is easily a match for the OnePlus 3, for instance, although anyone not sold on larger handsets should probably look elsewhere.
Check out our Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus hub for more info on these two affordable Androids.
- Android 6.0 Marshmallow
- Snapdragon 617
- 16GB + microSD
- Fingerprint sensor