Moto G4 Plus, analysis: Lenovo has decided that Moto G has to grow in size and camera
It is not a secret that the world market loves Moto G, it is a best-selling phone in many European and American territories, also a stronghold of the brand in the place with the greatest expansion on the planet, India. The formula was clear in the hands of Google, and Lenovo seems to want to keep it: very good specifications at an affordable price, without touching too much Android.
Once in the hands of Lenovo, it had to feel its touch, and in this fourth generation there are many decisions that seem to have been taken conscientiously, changing the course of the successful Moto G family. To begin with, we have a double renewal, a Moto G4, and a Plus variant that boasts a camera and fingerprint sensor. We are going to try the latter.
Lenovo has understood that the best-selling phone they like is somewhat bigger, and instead of creating a new phone in that category, they grow Moto Gs up to 5.5 inches. Right decision? Time will tell, but they keep their backs anyway, leaving a Moto G Play version very similar to the third generation of Moto G.
Lenovo has decided that the Moto G was a great name to enter to battle in the new “Super Mid-Range”, and grows the phone in specifications, camera, size, and price.
Obviously, growing in size implies having a different phone, rather than an update, so the hardware needed is more powerful, and it is used to improve points that can make a difference with the competition: mainly the camera on the Plus model. This also implies raising the starting prices, 269 euros. What we did not expect was to lose details as valued as water resistance.
Moto G4 grows in size, grows in everything
The Moto G is the most iconic phone Motorola has had in the last five years, and Lenovo's intention is to maintain its essence, while preserving certain design details. In general terms it seems well resolved, but it has somewhat less personality than the third-generation Moto G.
A very striking small change is the exit of the "M" from the camera area, with which we quickly identify it. The back cover has an attractive texture but does not grip too much, and we can pry it off to access the dual SIM and memory slot. We can play with it to personalize the phone, and that is that in some markets there is ‘Moto Maker’.
It is a phone that clearly does not want to appear premium, here plastic is the main offer in terms of materials - a OnePlus X looks much better in its price - although we have a metal frame surrounding the four sides of the Moto.
Yes we can say that it is much better in lightness and thinness - 7.9 mm and 155 grams - despite being larger, but it loses in resistance as it does not have the degree that the model of last year had, capable of withstanding submergence underwater - now only holds splashes.
There is no doubt that Lenovo did not want to jump into Premium terrain, it is a well-made phone but with less personality than previous generations. It is quite light for its size
Now we are facing a larger phone, and therefore somewhat more difficult to pick up. If we add to this a simpler back, in which the curves of the previous Moto G are lost, we can qualify it as less ergonomic. It is compensated with less weight and a very achieved thinness.
In short, the design maintains things that make it continue to be a Moto G, but it is not the most beautiful model on the market, nor the one that is best made. On average, which is not a small price, but with significant losses such as the level of resistance against water.
Our phone is the black model, but it is also available in white. An important detail about "brands": we do not see the Motorola name anywhere, not even on the box.
Large fingerprint sensor on the Plus
Another novelty in this version, which is also very well implemented from a functional point of view: it is very fast, it never fails. No complaints in this regard, especially if we remember that we are dealing with a mid-range phone for price.Regardless of whether you like the design of the fingerprint sensor on the phone, it works wonderfully, I constantly use it to unlock
We don't like the design as much as it's not well integrated into the phone lines. We like its position, under the screen, iPhone-style. And no, it's not a button, it's just a very small fingerprint sensor in size. There are no navigation buttons next to them, they are drawn on the screen.
An outstanding 5.5-inch screen
The most important change Lenovo has made in this new generation Moto G is to expand the screen size. It is not a trivial move, it gives the phone another market place, but it also makes us lose some of that comfort that previous models boasted: I think the five-inch compact is an ideal size for most.
Here we have a 5.5-inch panel, a size used by a large number of phones that make up this new "super mid-range", and in which you can do very well things such as consuming multimedia content, or viewing web pages.A success to grow the phone? They follow the growth trends in an ideal phone, even in the mid-range, but it also loses comfort of use for many
I am not going to give more weight to the discomfort, that is not what I want to convey as important, since it really is a compact and well designed phone, only it is a reality that we now have a much larger screen, which is not use with one hand in the same way. On the positive side, we have a much smaller thickness, and a weight that is maintained despite growth.
Fortunately, this new size also comes from a new resolution, which is Full HD. Therefore we have a greater definition when it comes to displaying the elements, with a pixel density of 401 dpi. We see everything clearer, but we also see it better, since the main parameters of a screen are at a high level in the Moto G4.
The chosen IPS panel seems to be of a higher level, the colors are really vivid, we have a great contrast, and the level of brightness allows it to look great outdoors - we can well put it in half in normal use and save battery life - . There are a couple of display modes - normal and intense - in case we want different shades of colors.We can say that the screen is the section that weighs the most when evaluating a phone: here the quality borders on the outstanding
We finish with a detail no less important, which is the protection of the front. Motorola / Lenovo has decided that there is a Corning Gorilla Glass 3 here, and we value it positively. An ideal screen for this price, which meets few rivals at the level, among which we can mention the Xiaomi Note 3 or its cousin Lenovo Zuk Z1.
Qualcomm puts a mid-range Snapdragon
We tend to analyze the performance of a phone according to what we already know, establishing comparisons, or based on the hardware they have put inside. The full movie is not only given by the Snapdragon on duty, the optimization with the software is very important, and here we appreciate that Lenovo / Motorola have made everything so simple.
As for the Snapdragon 617 that is inside, well, very happy with its performance, since it is much more powerful than the 410 previously used, something logical considering that it now faces a Full HD screen. It has a 64bit configuration with eight ARM Cortex-A53 cores, half running at 1.5GHz, the other at 1.2GHz.
The phone exists in different variants, the one that we have the opportunity to test is a unit with 2GB of RAM and 16GB for storage. In general it is very good for its price, but we will always have the question of whether it would be better to opt for a higher tier with 3 / 4GB, which unfortunately is not sold here.
I do not like benchmarks at all, but by establishing a comparison with its peers we can say that it is very similar in performance to the HTC One A9, improving it in PCMark and AnTuTu. Some screenshots of my tests:
See complete gallery »Benchs (18 photos)
From the point of view of the normal user, day-to-day is perfect with this Moto G4, there is nothing wrong. If what we want is to put it in benchmarks, and that the latest generation games go as well as in a Galaxy S7, we will be asking too much. It is precisely in the graphic part - Adreno 405 - where the phone is weaker: in this budget, if you want to play, I would shoot for a Mi 4 or Lenovo Z1 that go with Snapdragon 801.
The animations and transitions are perfect, very little lag - sometimes it takes a while for the camera to come out -, and some warm-up when we demand more than normal: we use the camera a lot or play more than ten minutes. There is a strange behavior when installing applications, I do not know if it is my thing or generalized, but it takes a long time in that process. Nothing worrying on the other hand.
It is curious but in all the tests that we have passed to the phone it tells us that it does not have a digital compass. We will do a little research on this topic to understand what the phone loses
Being very demanding with Lenovo, I think they would have embroidered this phone by choosing the Snapdragon 652 - or a 650 as in the Redmi Note 3-, it is the chipset that Qualcomm offers to create a mid-range very close to top levels in performance and efficiency, without raise the price so much.
As for memory, because my unit has 16GB, but there is a higher version with 32GB. In any case we can expand with microSD cards - up to 128GB -, which is hidden behind the back cover of the equipment.
From the point of view of connectivity we must highlight that this is a Dual SIM (dual-standby) phone, as standard, and obviously connects with the most modern 4G networks on our market (it is LTE Cat 4). There are things we like like USB-OTG or FM radio, but we don't like the absence of NFC.
With such a good screen and this hardware, it is a relatively affordable phone that is great to play multimedia content on. Of course, it is easy to see the team warming up. I would have liked a Snapdragon 652
About the sound quality we can say that it is quite decent, despite the disappearance of the double front speaker that the previous Moto G had. Now it is only one, placed on top - we do not step on it in the front - that by the way has enough power and does not distort. Motorola joins the fashion of not putting headphones in the package, to me it is something that I do not care.
The fingerprint sensor is one of the main additions to the Plus model, and it's worth it. I do not like its design too much, but the reality is that it is well located and works perfectly, as well as the best on the market, for higher-priced phones. As a curiosity to comment that it recognizes the finger in 360 degrees, it does not matter from the perspective that we are touching.
Better autonomy, we charge with Turbo
Autonomy is a hallmark of the Moto G, they have always been good on drums despite their small size. Here we grow in size and therefore there is also room for a larger unit of 3,000 mAh (2,470 mAh in the 2015 Moto).
It is a fairly standard capacity among the phones with 5.5 inches, so we can expect conventional performance, somewhat improved thanks to the fact that we are facing a fairly optimized phone, and modern hardware such as the Snapdragon 617. The phone now has many less problems to endure a day, in that we came out winning with respect to a Moto G3.
One of the great news is the presence of TurboPower, or what is the same, fast charging for relatively affordable equipment. Based on Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 technology, the phone is able to fill up its battery to give us six hours of life in just 15 minutes. Fully charges in 90 minutes.
There is more space for battery than in Moto G3 - 3,000 mAh -, so we gained something in autonomy. The good thing is that we have fast charge with "TurboPower"
Comment that to carry out this type of charging you need the power supply that comes only with the Plus model, and that the connector is of the microUSB type. Motorola / Lenovo have not decided to move to reversible yet, at least in this price tier.
I must say that I do not have excessive experience with phones of this range, I do not usually test them, but I have been reviewing the network a bit and in its segment - in initial tests - it is one of the best behaving, only surpassed by the Redmi Note 3.This section is difficult to evaluate in a week, making a very powerful use of the phone, we hope within a month to give more accurate evaluations
The best camera in its class? Possibly
This Moto G is the generation with the most important changes, which we can summarize in two: growth and a better camera. For this segment of phones, brands do not tend to be too careful on cameras, and Motorola, knowing that it is an important factor at all price levels, has wanted to do something special in the Plus model of the Moto G4.
That is something that they had not even achieved with superior phones, such as the Moto X. To begin with, we have a 16 megapixel sensor, designed by the people of Omnivision (1 / 2.4 ”- OV16860). The pixel size is considerable, at 1.34 microns, the lens aperture is also striking: f / 2.0. It is also striking to see a dual tone flash at this level.
Among its virtues we highlight the presence of a laser to assist in focusing, which in turn has a contrast detection system (PDAF). The focus can be said that it is very fast in this Plus - if there is good light - it also captures the shot, not so much when it comes to opening the camera. The focus is a little crazy at times, but nothing we can't control by tapping the dot again.
The image quality is quite good, highlighting the sharpness it is capable of achieving, especially when viewed from a computer. But its operation reminds us of other Omnivision modules that we have tested - OnePlus 2 -, which are quite inconsistent, getting great shots, while other mediocre ones.
The photos of the cat and the beach are retouched so you can see that the originals can go a long way. Very good definition and color for a camera of this price level. Below you have the originals and a good portion of samples:
See complete gallery »16 megapixels 4: 3 (13 photos)
See complete gallery »16: 9 (2 photos)
See complete gallery »Less light (5 photos)
See complete gallery »Macro (3 photos)
Both low noise and high sharpness are values to highlight very positively in good light, we also really like the type of natural color it registers. It is not perfect, we note that it is difficult to obtain an adequate dynamic range for a complex scene to be well registered, and as soon as the light goes out, the shots lose enough quality. HDR will save us some shots.
Lacking an image stabilizer - remember that this is a mid-range, let's not go crazy - shots in low light can appear easily moved.
Although not everyone likes it, the guys from DXOMARK have stopped by their lab on the phone, and I recommend taking a look at their work.
The camera software is new and very basic in its presentation, and therefore very easy to start using it. We would have liked it to be easier to access the shots taken, I do not like that they use a gesture system for that.
The interesting thing comes when placing the Pro mode of the camera, a new menu opens with a series of manual controls deployed throughout the touch screen - it will sound like other phones -, and we can play with enough certainty with speed, focus distance or sensitivity. We can not save in RAW, a pity.
We have the typical: panorama, HDR, slow motion video, and the aforementioned pro mode. Among them we highlight the operation of HDR, which jumps automatically when the scene has highly contrasting areas. I do not like the panoramic mode, nothing remarkable in it, and little use when we open it on a computer.
See complete gallery »HDR (5 photos)
See complete gallery »Panoramic views (4 photos)
The front camera is also at a very good level for the segment, with a very effective wide angle and 5 megapixels on the sensor. It takes good photos even when the light goes out, with very good colors. For selfies there is a way the screen flashes. Also in videoconferences it gives a quite remarkable quality.
Let's not ask for more, I have seen criticism about the absence of 4K. In a mid-range phone, with hardware like this, we can't expect decent management of so much information flow, and I don't know if it would really make sense.
Here we are left with a decent Full HD mode, quite mediocre, which records at 30 images per second. There is a high-speed mode - 120fps - that records the image in a lower-than-usual format, 540p.
There is no optical image stabilization, but the truth is that it behaves quite well in this - it is done digitally -, as well as when registering colors, very natural. As in photo mode, it focuses quite fast, in almost all conditions. The sound is recorded in good quality.
In short, this is a fantastic camera for the price of the phone, for now we can think that we are at a higher level, and I am sure there will be things to fine-tune from a software point of view during the life cycle of the phone. Great work from Motorola, I think that in its segment it has the best camera.
Android no frills, optimized
If you expected changes in the software from Motorola, due to the fact that you have changed the size of the phone, or because Lenovo is more involved in the control, you will not find them. The Moto G4 Plus is quite continuous with what we already had, and it is something that we like.
Motorola ensures a good history of updates for the phone, which starts from Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow in a very simple customization, we are almost facing the most basic Android. We are sure that Android N will not be missing when you touch, and that is a point in its favor. There is nothing outside of the Nexus as Android as these Motorola.
The interface is pure Android, from the home screen to the menus, through notifications. Thanks Lenovo for not touching
The Moto Display is very good, just by lifting the phone, even if it is with the screen off, it draws the time, date and main notifications.There are a few more actions - they are detachable - that we can do without touching the screen and we like that and it's really useful:
- You twist your wrist twice with the phone in your hand and the camera jumps.
- If the phone rings, we pick it up and it goes from sound to vibration.
- If we do not want to take that call, we put the phone with the screen down.
- A double cut in the air turns the flashlight on and off.
There are other things we would like to highlight about this new Moto G, such as the presence of an FM radio - it even works without headphones -, or a good file manager that recognizes USB On-The-Go. Finally say something that we do not like, and that has to do with the absence of NFC: no twinning devices easily, no Android Pay.
My feeling is that Lenovo is very clear about what type of Android phone is succeeding globally, and it is the one made by Chinese companies such as Xiaomi, itself with its brand, or Huawei. It's a powerful mid-range that has special features that make it very palatable, but also tends to offer a bigger phone.
The Moto G4 gets in this way, providing a good camera as a special feature, but it loses some Moto essence: if what we liked its original design, or if what we wanted was something more affordable. They could also have thought that the one who had a Moto G, when renovating, would want something better, greater, that's why this change.
In design it does not seem to me that it is going to win the game to direct competitors, although it is simple and most will like it. In software it does have a lot to say now, as it is perfectly optimized and updated, but it will also say in the future as it will become one of the first phones to receive Android N. We do not believe that others will compromise in its price range. So much with this.
Moto G adapts to the Android market of 2016, where the average phone that is demanded is somewhat more capable and larger, without neglecting the camera. Highly recommended if you want to spend around 250 euros
If you are the average user who does not need much beyond WhatsApp and a good screen, you can choose the basic model for 229 euros. If you have a better camera, fast charging in the mid-range, and you appreciate how useful a quick fingerprint sensor is to unlock, I would give the Plus glove, which is 269 euros.
The main problem is in the competition, for less we have a very competent Redmi Note 3, for something else Xiaomi has the Mi4, and one step ahead there are OnePlus phones with the same size and better specifications. With this proposal of Moto G vitaminized, it seems very interesting to know how far they will take the Moto X, which must also level up so as not to overlap in the market.
8,3Design8 screen Performance7.75 Camera8.5 Software8.75 Autonomy8
- Excellent display
- Very fast and effective fingerprint sensor
- Basic Android optimized for hardware, Android N will arrive
- Camera of a higher level in photo
- Fast charge
- Dual SIM and MicroSD Slot
- Screen off notifications
- Simple design, fair materials
- The battery is not replaced, nor is it a portent in autonomy
- Loses water resistance
- No NFC, no Android Pay support
- Warm-ups with games and camera
At Xataka Mexico | Moto G4 Plus review
The terminal has been loaned for testing by Motorola. Can inquire our policy of relationships with enterprises.
In the making of the video we have Pedro Santamaría.
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