Motorola G4 (2016)
As expected, Motorola has launched a new Moto G budget phone for 2016. Now owned by Lenovo (previously Google), the smartphone maker has kept the familiar design of its predecessor. It has the same overall look and feel, but tweaking it enough to give it some freshness and individuality. For example, the dimpled ‘M’ for Motorola has been removed from the camera surround. The build is still plastic, but the G4 feels good in the hand.
The good news is that you can customise the phone via Moto Maker (tinyurl.com/z6q6xtu). Here you can choose different front and back colours and five accent colours. You’ll also be able select how much storage you want and optionally add an engraving to the rear cover. The latter is the only cosmetic item, which adds £5 to the price.
While the 2015 Moto G is fully waterproof, the G4 has been downgraded in this respect. Now it’s simply splash proof, so you can’t go dunking it completely in water. Motorola told us that most consumers only need protection from splashes, so avoided the extra cost of making it fully waterproof.
One of our only complaints about the design is that the volume rocker is a little tricky to use as it sits a little too flush with the case. We also imagine the groove for the earpiece above the screen will get clogged with dirt over time.
The G4’s screen has increased in size from 5- to 5.5in, which is a reasonable amount to add, and the resolution has also gone from 720p to Full HD 1080p.
We really like the display with its natural but punchy colour reproduction, decent contrast and excellent viewing angles from the IPS panel. You’ll struggle to find better for under £200.
There are a few key hardware upgrades to address beyond the screen. First, the new processor, which is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 chip. It offers octa-core CPUs (up to 1.5GHz A53 cores), Cat 7 LTE and Adreno 405 graphics.
During testing we found performance to be very good in general use and the benchmark results are good, too. As you can see opposite, the numbers in Geekbench 3, GFXBench and JetStream are healthily up from the previous generation, and keep up with more expensive phones such as the new Samsung Galaxy A5.
That’s a good start and the Moto G4 now has 16GB of storage and 2GB of RAM as standard, which is double the entry-level Moto G from last year. A 32GB model is also available for an extra £30.
There are no frills when it comes to connectivity. There’s still no NFC, which is a shame, but the Moto G4 does have that all-important 4G LTE support (still Cat 4). Bluetooth is now version 4.1 and a Micro-USB port rather than the newer Type-C.
The G4 has a 3000mAh battery, which is sadly non-removable, despite the rear cover snapping off. Motorola offers 24-hour battery life and ‘Turbo Charging’, which gives you six hours battery life from a short 15-minute charge. In our benchmark test, the G4 lasted a decent nine hours 22 minutes, with a score of 3750. Time-wise that’s up there with the Samsung Galaxy S7.
The screen has increased from 5- to 5.5in, which is a reasonable amount to add, and the resolution has also gone from 720p to Full HD 1080p
The G4’s cameras remain the same as last year’s model – 13Mp for the rear with a dual-tone LED flash and 5Mp for the front. As you can see below, the phone takes decent photos. The app is easy to use and use if you want to take control of individual elements such as the ISO or white balance.
On the video front, the G4 shoots average quality footage at 1080p and 30fps, but is cropped so much that it can be hard to fit much in. There’s also a 120fps slow-motion mode, though this shoots at just 540p and we struggled to focus properly when using it.
Motorola has stuck to its formula of offering a stock Android experience. The G4 comes with Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow preinstalled with a very thin layer on top to add some features. Alongside the usual Android elements, such as the two-stage notification bar/quick settings and the cards style recent apps, Motorola has added some elements, such as the camera app.
This is where various things (namely Moto Display and Moto Actions) are bundled together, such as the ability to use gestures to do things such as launch the camera, torch or silence notifications. You can also opt to have ‘battery-friendly’ notifications, which fade in and out while the screen is off.
Motorola also adds the ability to automatically keep the screen dark between user-defined times and you can also tweak how the screen looks with two different modes. All of this is found in the Moto app. It’s great to see such a stock version of Android, with the additions warranted. We like the simple but effective clock widget, which gives you the date and temperature inside smaller circles a bit like a watch face. They also provide handy shortcuts to the clock and calendar apps.
Although the new Moto G4 is more expensive than the third-generation, Motorola is offering a Full HD screen, better processor, more storage and memory. Not everyone will enjoy the jump to 5.5in or the lack of full waterproofing, but this is still a brilliant phone for under £200. Just bear in mind that the third generation Moto G is now a great buy at £149 and the Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 offers similar specifications for just £125 (albeit SIM-locked).