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Motorola Moto G vs Sony Xperia M4 Aqua vs Microsoft Lumia 640

It’s battle of the mid-range blowers as the all-new Moto G (3rd gen) takes on Sony’s water-loving M4 Aqua and the mighty Lumia 640 from Microsoft. Which is the best cut-price phone for you? Here’s our full comparison review.

At a glance

Phone Moto G (2015) Xperia M4 Aqua Lumia 640
Size 142x72x11.6mm 146x73x7.3mm 141x72x8.8mm
Weight 155g 136g 145g
Screen size 5-inches 5-inches 5-inches
Screen resolution 720p 720p 720p
Processor Snapdragon 410 Snapdragon 610 Snapdragon 400
Storage 8/16GB + microSD 8/16GB + microSD 8GB + microSD
4G? Yes Yes Yes
Cameras 13MP + 5MP 13MP + 5MP 8MP + 0.9MP

Design

The Moto G is the only fully customisable phone in this budget fight, thanks to Motorola’s Moto Maker service. Moto Maker allows you to choose the colour of your Moto G’s back plate and camera bar and even engrave your own message, all for an extra fee of £20. And as the back plate comes right off, you can swap it for another cover at any time.

The new Motorola Moto G is fully customisable, unlike the M4 Aqua and Lumia 640.

However, the Lumia 640 can also be personalised to some degree thanks to the removable casing, which can be swapped for another vibrant colour (or a simple black or white effort, if you’re a bit boring like that).

Sony’s Xperia M4 Aqua can’t be customised like the others, but it does come in a choice of three colours: white, black and a reddy pink.

The Sony Xperia M4 Aqua can't be fully customised but is available in three colours.

All three phones are 5-inch handsets and comfortable to use one-handed, while also proving rugged enough to survive the odd knock and bump. However, the Lumia 640 isn’t water resistant, unlike the other two handsets here, so if you want something to play with in the bath, you know what to do.

Media

If you want a phone to watch movies or stream media, all three phones will do the job nicely. In each case you get a 5-inch panel which is comfortably spacious for extended viewing, while the Lumia, Xperia and Moto G all boast 720p HD visuals, for crisp video playback. In each case it’s an IPS LCD panel, producing vibrant colours that really stand out.

The Motorola Moto G, Xperia M4 Aqua and the Lumia 640 all have great media capabilities.

In more good news, all three phones also boast 4G support so you can stream music and video with buffer-free bliss; provided you’re in a supported area and have a 4G contract, of course.

Games and apps

All three phones are powered by Snapdragon processors, but while the Xperia M4 Aqua boasts the most powerful chipset of the three, all of the phones here provide a smooth everyday experience. The Moto G is helped out by its refreshing stock version of Android, which isn’t bogged down by heavy overlays and bolted-on features. Meanwhile, the Lumia 640 runs Windows Phone instead of Android, which can run efficiently even on old tech.

We had no trouble running games on any of these three mid-range handsets.

We had no trouble running the latest games on all three phones, although the Lumia 640 has a poor selection of games compared with the Xperia M4 Aqua and the Moto G. Microsoft’s online store is definitely getting better, and we even found enough decent titles to do a ‘best games for your Lumia’ round-up recently. But Android’s apps store is much better stocked in every area.

Battery life

The Moto G lasts around a full day on a single charge, with standard use – that’s plenty of messaging, the occasional quick call, some apps play and the odd use of the camera. The Xperia M4 Aqua can just about stretch to a day and a half of life with the same use, while the Lumia 640 can survive for two whole days if you don’t go crazy.

All three phones have robust battery life, with the Lumia 640 able to stream video for 6 hours.

And the Lumia 640 was the winner in our punishing media tests too, streaming video for just over six hours before dying. The Moto G and Xperia M4 Aqua can just about stretch to five and a half hours.

Cameras

The Moto G is hands-down the winner here. Boasting the same 13-megapixel optics as the premium-priced Nexus 6 smartphone, the Moto G can capture sharp, detail-packed photos with realistic colouring in almost any conditions. And if things get a little dark, there’s a powerful dual-LED flash to light your scene up. We almost never found ourselves taking a duff snap, and all with minimal effort. Just point and tap.

The new Moto G rocks a 13-megapixel premium camera.

That said, Sony’s 13-megapixel camera on the Xperia M4 Aqua is also a dependable snapper, with Sony’s Superior Auto mode at hand to help out. The interface is a little more cluttered than the Moto G’s and the lens takes a wee bit longer to latch onto your subject, while the HDR mode is also noticeably slower. However, the M4 Aqua’s camera will delight younger users with its cartoony AR modes, which add elves and dinosaurs to your snaps.

The Lumia 640's 8-megapixel camera is also very impressive.

We were also very impressed by the Lumia 640’s 8-megapixel camera, which captures sharp and natural shots just like the others. And the Lumia boasts a clever ‘Rich Capture’ mode, which allows you to tweak a photo’s exposure levels after it’s already been taken. However, the 0.9-megapixel selfie camera is noticeably less capable than the 5-meg front-facing cameras on the other phones here.

Verdict

All three phones here are solid budget offerings, but Sony’s Xperia M4 Aqua is the weakest, proving a little more pricey than its rivals despite not excelling in any area.

Microsoft’s Lumia 640 is a solid all-rounder that smartphone newbies will enjoy thanks to its simple, colourful interface, while the long battery life will suit anyone who’s always on the move. However, Microsoft’s online apps store isn’t as well stocked as Android’s, so anyone hoping to do a lot of gaming should look elsewhere.

Then there’s the Motorola Moto G. This 3rd generation is a solid all-rounder, and the obvious choice for anyone obsessed with taking photos. It’s beaten for battery life by the others but will still survive the day, while the Moto Maker customisation tool ensures you get the perfect combination of colours to suit your tastes.

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