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Moto G4 Review: In Depth

The Good

  • Customisable design
  • Crisp, attractive screen
  • Smooth performance
  • Easy-to-use cameras

The Bad

  • Bigger build

Moto G4 Review: Motorola and Lenovo’s Moto G4 is one of two new Moto G phones for 2016 (the other being the Moto G4 Plus), and at just £169 the Moto G is the cheaper of the pair. Offering Full HD visuals, a 13-megapixel camera, personalised design and some strong specs for the price, is the Moto G4 the best budget phone of 2016? Here’s our full G4 review.

For years now the Moto G family has offered impressive value, packing great specs and features for nowhere near the cost of full-priced flagship phones. Last year’s Moto G3 is still a great mobile, wringing reliable performance from the rather aged Snapdragon 410 processor and packing a fantastic 13-megapixel camera that can’t be bested by other budget blowers. Check out our Moto G3 2016 re-review to see our full thoughts.

Of course, the Moto G mobiles now have stiff competition from the likes of Xiaomi, Obi Worldphone, Honor and even Vodafone’s own-brand devices; in fact, Voda snatched the Best Value Phone prize at Recombu’s 2015 awards. So the Moto G4, Motorola’s first Moto G phone in the Lenovo fold, has plenty to prove.

Read next: Moto G4 vs Moto G4 Plus, which is best for me?

Moto G4 Review: Design

So far in 2016, we’ve seen very few phones that are under 5-inches in size. Aside from the iPhone SE, pretty much every major mobile has been a proper palm-filler and the Moto G4 is no different.

While last year’s relatively dinky Moto G3 came in at a svelte 5-inches, the new Moto G4 is a beastly 5.5-inch mobile. With its new, wider build, this is definitely a phone that needs two hands to properly operate, especially as the soft-touch rear doesn’t offer much grip. That said, the G4 is still comfortable to clutch and we prefer the new look to last year’s rather plasticky Moto G.

As usual, you can dive into the Moto Maker service on Motorola’s website and fully customise your Moto G4’s design, something no other manufacturers offer. There’s a good selection of colours and accents to choose from and you can even have it engraved, if that’s your bag.

The back of the Moto G4 pulls right off, exposing the SIM and memory card slots. This is the first phone we’ve used in a while that takes the larger micro SIMs rather than a nano SIM, but Motorola has at least stuffed an adaptor into the slot so nano owners aren’t stuck. Sadly the battery isn’t removable, unlike the Moto G3’s (which you can still pick up from the likes of O2), and this year’s Moto G also loses the water resistance (so don’t go dropping it in the bath or anything).

Moto G4 Review: Screen and media

Motorola has never disappointed when it comes to visuals on the Moto G range and the Moto G4 keeps in check with its mighty 5.5-inch IPS screen. Along with the bigger dimensions, Motorola has also boosted the display’s resolution from 1280×720 to Full HD 1920×1080, to make sure that clarity doesn’t take a hit. Good call, we say, as high-def movies look bloody lovely.

Viewing angles are nice and wide and contrast is strong, and while the Moto G4’s panel isn’t as vibrant as rival AMOLEDS (like the OnePlus X’s super-rich screen), it’s nowhere near as washed out as the likes of the LG X Screen’s display. In fact, the Moto G4 strikes a nice balance between realistic colours and eye-pleasing hues. You can even fiddle around with the colour settings in the display menu, to suit your personal tastes.

Media audio is pumped out via the single speaker above the screen and it’s certainly powerful enough to enjoy a YouTube video in a noisy environment. Quality isn’t too strong, as with most mobile speakers, so you get some distortion on maximum volume and very little bass. If you want to enjoy some music, definitely plug in some headphones.

And if you don’t like to stream your tunes and movies, then the Moto G4’s microSD memory card slot will come in handy. This allows you to quickly expand the 16 or 32GB of built-in storage (a large chunk of which is taken up by Android).

Moto G4 Review: Features

One of the many reasons we love a Motorola phone is the pleasingly vanilla version of Android that comes pre-installed. No boggy, pointless overlays that slow everything down and clutter up your menus here. The Moto G4 runs a more-or-less tinker-free version of Android Marshmallow, complete with just a handful of actually useful Motorola features on top.

Check out our Moto G4 tips and tricks guide if you want to learn more about some of these bonus features.

The one drawback to this unadulterated Android OS is the omnipresent Google search bar on your desktops. Unlike Android phones from Sony, Samsung et al, the Moto G4 doesn’t let you remove this, even by workaround means such as disabling Google services. Your only option is to install a fresh launcher like Nova, or else grin and bear its constant presence.

The Moto G4 sadly doesn’t come packing a fingerprint sensor either, unlike the more advance Moto G4 Plus. However, you still get Google’s Smart Unlock feature for bypassing PIN entry if you’re connected to your smartwatch or other trusted device, or currently located in one of your trusted places. We’d prefer the more secure fingerprint scan feature, but at this price it’s hard to argue with its absence.

Moto G4 Review: Performance and battery life

The Moto G4 packs in Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 617 processor, backed by 2GB of RAM. I spent a week using the G4 as my full-time handset and didn’t see any dodgy performance issues the entire time, even during those tricky first days when the phone was constantly updating apps and so on.

You can play the latest games without any drop in frame rates, while demanding apps pose no threat either. A large part of that dependable performance is likely down to the vanilla version of Android that the Moto G4 runs. No heavy, clunky overlay packed with pointless features means a more streamlined and happy system. I also didn’t notice the G4 getting toasty at any point, even during lengthy gaming sessions.

Battery life is another strong point for the Moto G4. On a full charge, you can expect around a day and a half of life with very regular use before the phone finally bites the dust. If you decide to stream video non-stop, you’ll still get over nine hours of life, which is one of the better results we’ve seen lately.

The Moto G4 also supports fast charging, so roughly 35 minutes at the mains will give you a half charge, while 10 minutes gives you 15 percent battery life, enough to survive a lengthy commute. Like most fast charge phones, the charging speed seriously slows as the battery fills up. So while you’ll get a 90 percent charge in just over an hour, a full charge still takes just over an hour and a half.

Moto G4 Review: Cameras

The Moto G4 boasts a strong 13-megapixel camera on the rear, as well as a solid 5-megapixel secondary camera housed above the screen. Check out our full Moto G4 camera review to see our photo and video samples and see what we thought.

Moto G4 Review: Verdict

If you’re after a flagship-style experience – awesome cameras, smooth performance, strong visuals – but for a third of the price, Motorola has once again delivered with the Moto G4. Factor in the Moto Maker customisation and vanilla Android OS and you’ve got a solid all-round package, although some Moto G fans may not appreciate the big boost in size for this 2016 model.

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


Screen size5.5-inches
Screen resolution1920x1080
OSAndroid 6.0 Marshmallow
Rear Camera13-megapixels
Front camera5-megapixels
ProcessorSnapdragon 617
Storage16GB + microSD