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Get a look at the phone Samsung doesn’t want you to know about

You don't need to spend a lot to get a lot, as you'll find with the Moto G4 Plus.

Published onAugust 22, 2016

While many of us are caught up with chasing after high-end flagships, the reality is that you don’t need to spend a fortune on Samsung, LG, or HTCphone to get a high quality Android experience. Continuing the tradition that started with 2013’s original Moto G, the new Moto G4 Plus is very affordable, but at the same time offers many of the same high-quality features you’d expect from a much more expensive device. As you can imagine, it’s one device that Samsung and other competitors hopes stays under most consumers’ radar.

What exactly does the Moto G4 Plus bring to the table? Let’s take a closer look.


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Unlike the flagship Moto Z, which features a dramatic departure from the norm, the new Moto G4 Plus retains a lot of the design language of its predecessors. There are a few minor aesthetic changes, but for the most part, the line of Moto G4 devices features a design that is largely reminiscent of previous Motorola smartphones.

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The Moto G4 Plus comes with an all plastic build, and despite appearances, the frame is plastic, albeit with a metallic finish. Understandably, you don’t get the premium look and feel of a smartphone that features a metal or glass build, but for a phone made of plastic, the Moto G4 Plus is definitely one of the sturdiest ones out there. It doesn’t feel hollow, rattle, or creak in any way, and feels like a very solid phone overall. This is something that Motorola has always done a good job with, and its great to see this continue to be offered with the Moto G4 Plus.

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On the back is the signature Motorola dimple, and the back cover has a nice texture to it, that helps a lot with the grip. However, the smooth finish of the sides does result in the phone being a touch slippery, but not enough to be a cause for concern. The back is also removable, and gives you access to the SIM card slot and the dedicated microSD card slot, with some versions of the device, depending on the market, also coming with dual SIM card slots. While the back cover is removable, the battery is not.

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The power button and volume rocker are found on the right side. The power button comes with a textured pattern that makes it easy to differentiate from the volume rocker, but the button layout is unfortunately a little too high up on the chassis to be within comfortable reach. The power button should have also ideally been placed below the volume rocker, but that isn’t case, and requires a lot more effort to get to. The buttons don’t provide a lot of tactile feedback either, and you’re often left wondering whether you have actually pressed them, because of how they feel. The headphone jack and the microUSB port are at the top and bottom respectively. 


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Unlike previous generations of the Moto G, the IPS LCD displays of the Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus have been bumped up to 5.5-inches, with resolution getting a boost to Full HD as well, resulting in a pixel density of 401 ppi. That said, those who prefer a smaller size have the option of the Moto G4 Play, which comes with a 5-inch 720p display.

The larger display and higher resolution allows for a more enjoyable experience when reading text, watching videos, and playing games. It’s not the best Full HD display on a smartphone out there, but it certainly more than gets the job done. It looks sharp, with good viewing angles, and the display is vibrant enough for the colors to not appear washed out.


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Under the hood, the Moto G4 Plus comes with an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor, clocked at 1.5 GHz, and backed by the Adreno 405 GPU and 2 GB, 3 GB, or 4 GB of RAM, depending on which storage option you opt for. This particular review unit comes with 3 GB of RAM, and the performance has been pretty good.

You won’t see very impressive results when running benchmark tests, but as far as real world performance is concerned, everything has been fast and responsive. Apps launch quickly, multi-tasking is smooth, and the device can handle gaming without much of a hitch.


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The Moto G4 Plus is available with 16 GB, 32 GB, or 64 GB in built-in storage options, and as mentioned, this also dictates how much RAM you will be getting. There is also expandable storage via microSD card, up to an additional 256 GB. While there are versions of the device, depending on the market, that feature dual SIM capabilities, you will still get a dedicated microSD card slot, so the great news is that users won’t have to make the choice between dual SIM support and expandable storage, which is often the case with other affordable smartphones out there.

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The Moto G4 Plus comes with a single front-facing speaker above the display, and is a part of the earpiece. There is no stereo sound to be had, but the single speaker does sound pretty good, and is capable of getting decently sound without sounding tinny or distorted.

Also up front is a fingerprint scanner placed below the display, and this is one of the extra hardware features that is available only with the Moto G4 Plus. The fingerprint sensor is as fast and accurate as expected, and is comparable in quality to the scanners found with more high-end smartphones as well.

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It may sound a little nitpick-y, but it has to be mentioned that this scanner isn’t particularly attractive looking. The square shape clashes with the rounded and curved design of the Moto G4 Plus, and looks out of place. Another very minor issue is the fact that the sensor doesn’t double as a home button, and anyone who has used a device with a front-facing fingerprint scanner will find this something that takes some getting used to.

There is still no NFC available, which is unfortunate, and means that you won’t be able to use this device to quickly connect to Bluetooth speakers, transfer content, or use apps like Android Pay. Another point of note is that the Moto G4 Plus, and other devices in the line, aren’t water resistant anymore. While you will get some form of splash protection, that should keep it safe from a simple splash of water or a sprinkle of rain, these phones aren’t IP-certified, and will not survive being submerged in the water.

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The Moto G4 Plus comes with a 3,000 mAh non-removable battery, which has become the standard size for a lot of current generation smartphones. The battery has been pretty good, and the device can provide a full day of use with average usage that involves sending and receiving messages, browsing the web, checking social media, watching a few videos and playing games for a little while.

With more intense usage, such as when playing a lot of games or taking a lot of pictures, the battery does run out pretty quickly though. However, the Moto G4 Plus does come with fast charging capabilities, so you will be able to get back to a full charge in a short amount of time.


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The camera is another hardware feature that is better on the Moto G4 Plus when compared to the other devices in the Moto G4 series. The Moto G4 Plus comes with a 16 MP rear camera with a f/2.0 aperture, phase detection auto focus, and a laser auto focus system, along with a 5 MP front-facing shooter. However, there is no optical image stabilization available, which is unfortunate.

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The Motorola camera app has also been improved significantly, with there being a shutter button now that makes taking pictures with one hand easier, and the app in general is simpler and easier to use. A swipe from the left side opens up a menu for basic camera settings, and a button on the upper right corner lets you quickly switch between photo and video, along with a few other modes like panorama and slow motion video. The most notable change with the camera app is the addition of a manual mode, which is something that was definitely long overdue.

As far as picture quality is concerned, it is actually surprisingly really good. Granted, it’s not going to stack up favorably against the high-end Samsung and LG flagships out there, but for a device that is so inexpensive, the camera is certainly capable of taking some nice looking shots. In good lighting conditions, you get shots with plenty of detail and vibrant colors, and the images are sharp, without looking over sharpened.

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Dynamic range isn’t the best, with the camera tending to crush shadows a little too much, but that is all taken care of with HDR. Using HDR mode tones down the shadows and highlights, and adds some more vibrancy to the image, without making it appear unnatural or fake.

In low-light conditions however, is where the camera falls apart extremely quickly. We expect some noise to be present in images taken in poorly-lit situations, but the grain is quite significant with the Moto G4 Plus. Highlights are also typically overexposed, there isn’t a lot of detail to be had, and the camera also has trouble finding a point of focus in low light.

If you’re looking for a really good low-light smartphone camera, the Moto G4 Plus is unfortunately not going to cut it, but in most other situations, this camera more than gets the job done. The 5 MP front-facing camera comes with a wide angle lens, and proves to be more than adequate to cover all your selfie taking needs.


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On the software side of things, the Moto G4 Plus is running Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, and this is as close to stock Android as you can get without it being a Nexus smartphone. There is virtually no bloatware to be found, and the software package isn’t as packed with features as what may be found with the high-end Motorola offerings.

There are some features available though, such as Moto Actions, which lets you do things like turning the flashlight on with a chopping motion, flipping the phone over to silence it when it rings, or launching the camera with a twist of your wrist. A simpler version of Motorola’s ambient display feature is also available, but with there being no sensors on the front, it is entirely contingent on motion.

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You can’t wave your hand over the display to wake up the phone, and it also doesn’t continuously pulsate to indicate notifications. The only time it lights up is when you take the phone out of your pocket or pick it up from a table, or when you initially receive a notification. Other than these Motorola features, the software package is entirely stock Android, and sometimes, a clean and simple experience is all you need to keep things smooth and snappy.


Display5.5-inch IPS LCD display with 1920 x 1080 resolution
1.5 GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 617
Adreno 405
2/3/4 GB
Yes, up to 256 GB
16MP rear camera with f/2.0 aperture
5MP front camera with f/2.2 aperture
Fingerprint sensor
Non-removable 3000mAh battery
Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
153 x 76.6 x 7.9-9.8mm


Wrap up

The Moto G4 Plus is available for a starting price of just $200. This a heck of a deal for such a reasonably spec’d device and it can even be customized using the Moto Maker, letting you choose between different back cover, accent colors, and you can even add an optional engraving.

While there’s certainly a place for higher end flagships like the Moto Z and the Galaxy line, the reality is that for many consumers a device like the Moto G4 Plus offers the perfect amount of punch while still being relatively easy on the wallet. Despite the attempts by many competitors to usurp Motorola in the sub-$250 price bracket, there are still few phones that offer the same level of durability, reliability, and reputation that you get with the Moto G4 Plus.

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