Motorola Moto G4 Plus review

Motorola Moto G4 Plus review

Motorola has updated its best budget smartphone line-up for 2016 with two different models. The Plus model isn't bigger but comes with a fingerprint scanner, extra RAM and storage, plus a higher resolution camera so the price might be worth paying for some. Here's our in-depth Motorola Moto G4 Plus review. Also see: Best smartphones 2016.

The firm, now owned by Lenovo (formerly Google) has been making great budget phones since 2013 and we're informed the Moto G family is the company's most successful range ever. This time around there are two models to choose from which is a first but the range isn't exactly budget anymore.

Read our Moto G4 review.

Motorola Moto G4 Plus review: Price and rivals

Although the Moto G range has traditionally been budget phones, the price has crept up each year. The regular model starts at £169 now and to bag yourself the Moto G4 Plus, you'll need to spend at least £199. You do get a few upgrades though which we'll look at in the specs section below.

The specs are impressive for the price and even outpace the existing £259 Moto X Play in many areas. It's worth noting that the Moto G 3rd-generation from last year is now £149 if you're looking for something cheaper.

The £200 mark is an unusual one for a phone these days and if you want to order via the Moto Maker where you can customise elements such as the rear cover and accent colour, it will cost you £229. For the more tempting 64GB model, the Moto G4 Plus price jumps to £264.

We're certainly not in budget territory any longer and at over £250, rivals start to include the likes of the Vodafone Smart Platinum 7, Samsung Galaxy A5 2016 and OnePlus 3. Cheaper options such as the Samsung Galaxy A3 2016 and OnePlus X are worth a look.

Motorola Moto G4 Plus review: Design and build quality

Seemingly unhappy to conform to smartphone market traditions, the Moto G4 Plus isn't actually bigger than the regular Moto G4. In fact, you'd struggle to tell them apart since they are almost identical in design.

The only way to tell the Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus apart is the fingerprint scanner which sits below the screen.

So we're not left with much to say without repeating our Moto G4 review. The phone looks stylish and new while retaining the look and feel of previous Moto G phones. It is bigger due to an increase in screen size though so some users will find the device unwieldy. It's not too thick and heavy at 9.8mm and 155g.

Moto G4 Plus design

Build quality is good but 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 Motorola has decided to ditch the waterproofing which it used last year. Instead it has saved some money by just going for basic splash protection which it thinks is enough for most consumers.

See also: Moto G4 vs Moto G4 Plus comparison review.

Motorola Moto G4 Plus review: Specs and performance benchmarks

As we've already mentioned, the G4 Plus is exactly the same size and shape as the regular Moto G4. This means that 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 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-spec 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 Micro-SD card slot which can take up to 128GB.

Sadly, we've only been able to benchmark the lower spec and you can see the results below. We're impressed with the performance from a user point of view; the Moto G4 Plus is a smooth operator in general use.

You might be a little bit 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. This means there's no NFC, modern Wi-Fi or other features like USB-Type C.

The fingerprint scanner provides extra security but 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 usually as a small rim around it which feels odd but also helps you locate. What's strange is that you can't use it as a home button.

Moto G4 Plus fingerprint scanner

The Plus in the model name doesn't refer to battery life as the phone also has a 3000mAh battery which is non-removable even though you can take the rear cover off. In our benchmark test the Moto G4 lasts a very decent eight hours and 50 minutes with a score of 3537 which is a decent result.

What you do get for your money is the TurboPower charger included in the box which the regular Moto G4 doesn't come with. Via fast charging you can get '6 hours battery life from a short 15 minute charge'; or 25 percent charge going by Motorola's 24 hour battery life claim. We found it only charged 17 percent in the space of 15 minutes.

Motorola Moto G4 Plus review: Cameras

On paper, photography is one area which might convince you to spend the extra cash on the G4 Plus since it comes with a 16Mp camera compared to 13Mp. 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 will shoot 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.

Moto G4 Plus camera test

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.

Motorola Moto G4 Plus review: Software and apps

There's understandably no difference between the Moto G4 models when it comes to software and the Plus comes with Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow. 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.

Moto G4 Plus software

Head here to find some useful functions which were previously spread across various apps. Now this is a hub for things like Moto Display and Moto Actions. The former allows you to get information on the lockscreen without switching the screen on. 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 very much a blank canvas as there are no duplicate apps for things like gallery or messaging. You just get the standard Google selection and then can download the apps you want from the Google Play Store.

Motorola Moto G4 Plus (2016): Specs

  • 5.5-inch full HD display
    1.5GHz octa-core Snapdragon 617 processor Adreno 405 GPU
    3,000 mAh battery with TurboPower fast-charging
    5 megapixel front-facing camera
    16-megapixel rear facing camera
    16GB/32GB storage
    2GB/3GB RAM
    Fingerprint scanner
  • 5.5-inch full HD display
    1.5GHz octa-core Snapdragon 617 processor Adreno 405 GPU
    3,000 mAh battery with TurboPower fast-charging
    5 megapixel front-facing camera
    16-megapixel rear facing camera
    16GB/32GB storage
    2GB/3GB RAM
    Fingerprint scanner

OUR VERDICT

The Moto G4 Plus is a nice phone but it's very similar to the regular model. Since we're disappointed in the camera (with no noticeable difference), it's not worth paying the extra money to get a fingerprint scanner which 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 Micro-SD card slot negates this somewhat.

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