Motorola Moto G4 Plus
On paper, photography is one area that might convince you to spend the extra cash on the Moto G4 Plus since it comes with a 16Mp camera
Motorola has updated its best budget smartphone line-up for 2016 with two different models: the G4 (£169) and the Plus, which we look at here. Despite its name, the Plus isn’t any bigger, but comes with a fingerprint scanner, extra RAM and storage, plus a higher resolution camera.
The G4 Plus is a stylish-looking handset that retains the look and feel of previous Moto G phones. It’s bigger than Motorola’s previous generation of Moto phones due to a larger screen, though so some users will find the device unwieldy. It’s not too thick and heavy either at 9.8mm and 155g.
Build quality is good, though the Moto G4 Plus is still very much a plastic phone and there’s better available at this price point elsewhere if this is important – the OnePlus X is a prime example. It’s a shame Motorola doesn’t offer other materials, such as wood and leather, like it does with the Moto X Style for an extra cost for those who want it.
One of our only complaints about the design is that the volume rocker is a little tricky to use as it is very flush with the case. We also envisage the groove for the earpiece above the screen will get clogged with dirt over time.
A bigger issue is that unlike last year’s model this phone isn’t waterproof. Instead, it offers basic splash protection which it thinks is enough for most consumers.
The G4 Plus is exactly the same size and shape as the regular Moto G4. This means it has the same 5.5in screen size, despite the likes of Apple and Samsung using, plus models for a bigger phone.
You might think that perhaps the screen resolution is higher but it’s still Full HD like the cheaper model. We’re not saying it’s a bad thing and the screen is very good quality offering good contrast, colours and viewing angles. As we’ve said, it’s mainly the size that might put some users off, so it’s a bit of a shame there isn’t a choice on that front.
The G4 Plus also uses the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor as the regular G4. The octa-core CPU (up to 1.5GHz A53 cores) is a nice jump from the Snapdragon 410 previously used, and features Cat 7 LTE and Adreno 405 graphics.
There’s potentially a big difference if you splash out on the higher-specification model of the Moto G4 Plus, which comes with 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM, which is double the standard model on both fronts. Storage becomes less of an issue due to the inclusion of a microSD card slot, which can take up to 128GB.
Sadly, we’ve only been able to benchmark the entry-level model and you can see the results opposite. We’re impressed with the performance from a user point of view; the Moto G4 Plus is smooth operator in general use.
You might be a little disappointed when it comes to connectivity as although the Moto G4 Plus is more expensive you still only get 11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1 and regular Micro-USB. There’s no NFC, modern Wi-Fi or other features such as USB-Type C.
The fingerprint scanner provides extra security, though the lack of NFC means you can’t use it with Android Pay, which is a shame. It’s fast and accurate most of the time, but it’s smaller than most and also has a small rim around it, which feels odd at first but also you locate it. What’s strange is that you can’t use it as a home button.
Like the regular G4, the Plus has a 3000mAh battery which is
non-removable, even though you can take the rear cover off. In our benchmark test, the Moto G4 lasted a very decent eight hours and 50 minutes with a score of 3537.
What you do get for your money is a TurboPower charger included in the box, which the regular Moto G4 doesn’t have. Motorola claims that via fast charging you can get six hours of battery life from a short 15-minute charge, or 25 percent charge going by Motorola’s 24-hour battery life claim. In our tests, however, we found it charged only 17 percent in the space of 15 minutes.
On paper, photography is one area that might convince you to spend the extra cash on the G4 Plus since it comes with a 16Mp camera compared to the G4’s 13Mp snapper. It still features an f/2.0 aperture, phase detection and laser autofocus plus a dual-LED (dual tone) flash.
You’ll need to shoot in a 4:3 aspect ratio to use all 16Mp as the phone shoots at 11.9Mp by default. Sadly, in our tests there’s really no visible difference in still photos, even when you crop into a small section, so for uploading to social media you’re definitely not going to notice any benefit.
It’s disappointing to find that the G4 Plus, like the regular model, is limited to 1080p video recording at 30fps, despite the extra resolution. It can also only shoot slow motion 120fps video in a paltry 540p.
There’s understandably no difference between the Moto G4 models when it comes to software and the Plus comes with Android Marshmallow 6.0.1. We’re happy to report that Motorola keeps things very much stock, so you get a pure user interface experience almost like buying a Nexus phone. Motorola’s thin layer does include some handy features though which are welcome additions. There are basic things like the clock widget, which has date and temperature info, but most are found in the Moto app. Head here to find some useful functions that were previously spread across various apps. It’s a hub for things like Moto Display and Moto Actions. The former allows you to get information on the lockscreen without turning on the screen. You can also set up a time period to keep the screen dark. Moto Actions is a set of optional gestures for quickly doing things like launching the torch or camera app. You can also pick up to answer a call or flip over to enable do not disturb. It’s a blank canvas as there are no duplicate apps for things such as messaging. You just get the standard Google selection and then can download the apps you want from the Google Play Store.
The Moto G4 Plus is a nice phone but it’s similar to the regular model. Since we’re disappointed in the camera (with no noticeable difference), it’s not worth paying the extra to get a fingerprint scanner that can’t even be used with Android Pay since there’s no NFC. The only real reason to opt for the Plus is to gain more storage and the extra RAM which comes with the 64GB model; however, the microSD card slot negates this.