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Review: Motorola’s Moto G4 Plus Is A Solid Budget Phone

Motorola’s presence in the smartphone arena has slipped since their acquisition by Lenovo in 2014. They’ve gone from third place in 2012 to fifth three years later – losing a lot of ground to Chinese players like Huawei and Oppo. Even Lenovo’s own recent financial reports describe them as an unhappy element of the conglomerate that’s failing to meet expectations.

However, when it comes to the products themselves, it’s hard to not the company aren’t itching for a comeback. They’re letting their tech do the talking and the company’s latest budget release said more than enough to win us over in our week with it.

Arriving in a blue-and-white box, both versions of the Moto G4 Plus make for compelling propositions as budget smartphones. Their exterior design feels coherent and focused, combining a 5.5-inch grey plastic-trimmed LCD display with a tactile and grooved back cover. This reverse-side of the phone can be clipped on and off with relative ease to reveal the SIM and MicroSD slots concealed beneath it.

The Moto G4 Plus feels as lightweight as modern smartphones get. Despite that, it never feels fragile. There’s a low-key rugged quality to the design that allocates it a quiet sort of confidence. It gives an initial impression that it’s a dark polished machine that’ll keep chugging in all but the most extreme of circumstances.

Speaking of the battery life, the Moto G4 boasts a 3000 mAh battery that keeps it cruising for most of the day. Allowing for natural variances, it should last you between 10 and 14 hours of regular use on a single charge. While I did just come off reviewing the uber-fast recharge times of both the Idol 4S and the Oppo R9, I did find it a little slow to recharge but, realistically, it’s just more average in this regard.

Setting up the device, which runs on Android 6.0, is as easy as ever. All the usual software suspects are here from Now on Tap and Doze. The former letting you jump into a web search for images, video or info about something based on screenshot taken of the display in a single button press. As always, they’re neat features that take some forethought to get the most out of.

It helps that the processor is as good as it is. A good processor can make the difference between a good budget phone and a bad one – and the Moto G4 Plus manages to pull it together on this front. Powered by a Qualcomm MSM8952 Snapdragon 617, the performance here is just fast enough to recommend. Whatever points the phone loses for its average display, it makes up for in responsiveness. Sure, there are definitely plenty of faster phones out there but for what you’re paying this one feels like a steal.

Meanwhile, the device’s camera provided some reasonable results – all things considered. Like most smartphones, the G4 is hardly going to replace your DSLR any time soon but in terms of everyday use, it delivers reasonably sharp images.

The G4 Plus brings a 16MP one to bear. This rear camera features laser-autofocus and support for panoramic photo and video footage. Both devices also incorporate a 5MP front-camera, which doesn’t deliver at quite the quality you’d hope but it’s easy enough to just forgive in light of the main camera’s strengths. With HDR-enabled, images look vividly colorful and do a good job of holding detail, however distant.

See evidence of this in action below.

Exterior image taken on Moto G4 without HDR-enableed

Exterior image taken on Moto G4 without HDR-enabled

Exterior image taken on Moto G4 with HDR-enableed

Exterior image taken on Moto G4 with HDR-enabled

In terms of its shortcomings, there are a few small issues and inconsistencies I encountered with the Moto G4. Oddly, it doesn’t come with any sort of native media or image gallery application installed – at least that I could find. It’s far from a major issue by any means but it was certainly an odd occlusion that threw me off the first time I encountered it.

The Moto G4’s fingerprint sensor also raised some problems. It was easy enough to set up but it frequently failed to read my thumbprint correctly, forcing me to just unlock the device with a passcode when I failed the scan enough times. It’s technically solid but inconsistent enough that it’s difficult to wholeheartedly recommend.

It’s cheaper and less polished than Alcatel’s recent Idol 4 pairing. However, the key difference here lies in their angle. The Moto G4 Plus isn’t trying to deliver a flagship experience at half the price. It’s aiming its sights a bit more modestly – and it hits that mark. It delivers a smartphone experience that’s much more about function over form and, a few caveats aside, it’s a pretty good one.

The 2/16GB variant of the Moto G4 Plus retails in Australia for an RRP of $399 while the 3/32GB model sits at a little higher price-point of $449.