Mo­torola G4 (2016)

Tech Advisor - - Contents - Chris Martin

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.

Hard­ware

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.

Soft­ware

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.

Verdict

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).

GFXBench T-Rex

GFXBench Man­hat­tan

Geek­bench 3

JetStream

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