The Moto G4 Plus is the supercharged version of the value-oriented Lenovo Moto G4. This model houses similar internal specs but with some important differences: namely, a fingerprint scanner and improved camera. After taking over the reigns on the line Motorola started, has Lenovo managed to apply the same winning formula with this 'premium' version of the low-cost phone? Find out in our Moto G4 Plus review.
- The best screen on a Moto G device to date
- Camera quality exceeds expectations
- Two years of updates guaranteed by manufacturer
- Battery life which doesn't disappoint
- Unimpressive, plastic design
- Poorly implemented fingerprint scanner
Moto G4 Plus release date and price
The Moto G4 Plus is scheduled for release on July 25, 2016. You can reserve it exclusively through Amazon India for 13,499 INR, or around $200, for the 32 GB version in both white and black. The 64 GB version costs 14,999 INR, or roughly $225.
Official US price and availability details haven't been confirmed, but AndroidPIT received a press release which revealed that the Moto 4G Plus would launch in the UK for £199 (around $290). In this review, we will discuss the value based on its conversion from GBP.
You can register for updates for the Moto G4 Plus from Motorola.com.
Moto G4 Plus design and build quality
If you remove the rear cover of the Moto G4 Plus, you’ll see the manufacturing label on the device: 'Designed by Motorola'. Although Lenovo now owns the US company, and is phasing out the Motorola name, you can still feel its presence.
Some staples of the series, like its typical curved rear or diagonally 5-inch screen, may have disappeared, but the Moto seal is perfectly recognizable there on the rear of the phone. And an unwelcome series tradition remains with it.
Lenovo has already guaranteed that the next two major software updates (Android N and O) will come to this smartphone. Phones generally receive two major Android updates anyway, but it's still a reassuring statement (which I discuss further in the Software section).
But you might have to ask yourself the question: "Will I still want a plastic phone in 2018?"
In recent months, several manufacturers have shown that it’s possible to produce great metal smartphones for less than $300, like the OnePlus X or Honor 5X. For many users, the G4 Plus’s plastic materials won’t pose a problem, but in 2016, you don't have to pay $300 for something which looks cheap.
By retaining this plastic design that Motorola started, Lenovo's Moto G4 Plus hasn't been brought up to the same design standard as other modern low-cost handsets. And it's overall appeal suffers for it.
The second problem I have with the design of the Plus version is precisely one of the reasons why the price has increased in comparison to Moto 4G standard version: the fingerprint sensor.
This wouldn’t be out of place on every smartphone – it could have been a perfect fit for the Nextbit Robin, for example – but this little square doesn’t really gel with the rest of the smartphone’s body. What’s more, the dimensions of the phone make it hard to reach with your thumb when you have the phone in one hand.
You might have to ask yourself the question: "Will I still want a plastic phone in 2018?"
Some will appreciate the fingerprint scanner but others will no doubt be disappointed, and may have preferred that Lenovo kept series features like stereo speakers or IPX7 water resistance (I would have).
That said, the fingerprint scanner and metallic body would conflict with an inherent aspect of the design of the G line: a removable back cover (which is used to access the microSD and dual-SIM card slots). This would have made including a rear finger scanner difficult and an aluminum unibody, impossible.
The design of Moto G4 Plus is pretty standard: a single speaker placed at the top of the screen for calls and media playback, a microphone placed at the left of the fingerprint sensor, and power and volume buttons on the right side.
Ultimately, this isn't a beautiful phone, but in reducing the size of the rear curve (to 9.8 mm) Lenovo has made the device thinner than ever, which is one positive.
Moto G4 Plus display
The screen is one of the most impressive features of the new Moto G line. In a year in which many major manufacturers have decided to shrink their 5.5-inch flagships, both the Lenovo Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus house displays of that size. For users who want a large screen with good results on a budget, they can find it here.
The Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) resolution LCD display, secured by a sheet of Gorilla Glass 3 protection, is the best that a Moto G device has ever delivered.
The G4 Plus display is faithful to the entire color palette, with whites coming out pure white. In games with high color contrast, like Alto's Adventure or Crossy Road, you’ll notice the attention that Lenovo has paid to the quality of the screen this year.
Multimedia viewing on the Moto G4 Plus is also strong, not only due to the effort put into the panel but because of the fortunate speaker placement, which means the sound is rarely, if ever, interrupted.
Moto G4 Plus special features
The Moto G4 Plus is the premium model of the current Moto G line, but it does not have all the features present in the other two versions. Although this version has the dual-chip 2G / 4G with intelligent management software, the Moto G4 Plus sat out the HDTV feature. But the display has a unique feature which is not present in any other Moto: the biometric sensor.
The icing on the cake for the Moto G4 Plus is that it's more secure, as the fingerprint sensor can be used to unlock the device. Moreover – because it comes with Android 6.0 Marshmallow right out of the box – third-party applications can be integrated into the sensor, such as Telegram.
The Play Store is also integrated with the biometric sensor, allowing the user to authorize payments through biometric confirmation. Unlike some Android devices, and following the footsteps of the Lenovo Vibe A7010, there is no need to slide your finger to unlock the Moto G4 Plus: just touch the sensor.
I could not test the biometric recognition on the Moto G4 Plus for enough time to really get a good idea of its capabilities, but it seemed very functional when I had the device in hand.
Moto G4 Plus software
Like the plastic body, another feature of the G4 Plus left intact from the Motorola era is the software. This is almost the stock Android experience found on Nexus devices, with barely a preinstalled application in sight.
With few customizations, performance on the device is strong and it will also likely receive future updates quicker than many of its rivals.
Google seems to be making genuine efforts to end update fragmentation and the Moto G4 Plus will undoubtedly benefit from this. Lenovo has already guaranteed that both Android N and Android O will land on the G4 Plus, meaning the phone is likely to receive updates into 2018.
Few manufacturers make such promises, but this is especially bold because the G4 Plus is a mid-range phone which hasn't even landed in stores yet. This could be a big, ahem, plus for potential purchasers.
There only two preinstalled applications added by Lenovo: the familiar Moto Assistant, which lets you manage Active Display settings and quick gestures, and an FM radio that allows audio recording.
Few manufacturers make such update promises but this is especially bold because the G4 Plus is a mid-range phone which hasn't even landed in stores yet
But what is perhaps my favorite feature of the software is the work of Active Display, whereby the screen shows additional information when you pick up the phone or receive a notification.
Moto G4 Plus performance
One of the biggest leaps in this phone compared to previous versions of the Moto G is in processing power. The use of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 with 2 GB of RAM means the G4 Plus delivers consistent performance.
The graphics processing unit is an Adreno 405, 550 MHz, allowing you to play graphically-intensive games without trouble. During my testing period with the device, I noticed no serious delays, freezing, or any other warning signs that the performance would be problematic in the future.
The results of performance benchmarks corroborate notions that the G4 Plus will be able to handle messaging, web surfing, navigation, multimedia playback and the vast majority of games available on the Play Store without a hitch.
In various AnTuTu tests, we ended with an average of 46,030 points which, although now may not seem too impressive, is not far from the results of 2015 flagships.
The base Moto G4 Plus model holds 32 GB of internal storage, expandable via microSD card. A 64 GB version is also available.
Moto G4 Plus camera
The arrival of decent cameras on affordable phones isn't new: many models below the $300 price bracket are now capable of capturing quality images. What is rare, however, is finding a flagship-level camera on a phone at this price.
When DxOMark, one of the foremost authorities on smartphone camera quality, placed the Moto G4 Plus camera on the same level as iPhone 6s Plus, we were naturally skeptical. But the fact is that this phone's images are seriously impressive.
Forget the fingerprint scanner or the supplied high-power charger; it's the Moto G4 Plus's superb camera which justifies the extra $50 cost for this model compared to the standard version.
The maximum resolution of the camera is 16 MP, with an aperture of f/2.0 and hybrid laser-focus and phase-detection. On the front is a 5 MP sensor with f/2.2 aperture.
The Moto G4 Plus's superb camera justifies the extra $50 cost for this model compared to the standard version
The resulting photographs have good textures, excellent color rendering and balanced exposure. Even zoomed objects generate little noise and maintain their detail.
HDR is active by default and works well in environments with high contrast. The images take a little longer to process but the results are usually pleasing.
The camera struggles a little in unfavorable lighting conditions. However, at night the results can be less than desirable. Still, this is common among 2016 flagships.
The camera app itself is reminiscent of the Moto G 2015. By placing your finger on the screen you can adjust exposure – particularly useful in darker settings – and holding it down will focus on the selected area.
An interesting addition to the camera software is a manual mode. Here it's possible to adjust the white balance, ISO, shutter speed and contrast, but it's best left to expert photographers. When I used it, I rarely achieved better results than when shooting in automatic mode. Still, it's appreciated in a mid-range phone.
Overall, the results of the cameras are surprising and this might be the best camera tech you can find on a phone which costs less than $300. View our test photos in high resolution in the album at the link.
Moto G4 Plus battery
Given the Moto 4G Plus's price and features, battery performance is satisfactory. With a 3,000 mAh capacity, the Moto G4 Plus can survive for more than 24 hours in standby, even if playing games and watching videos during that time.
It features a micro-USB port and includes a 12 Volt, 1.2 Amp charger meaning you can turbo-charge the device to full capacity in about an hour. Not bad at all.
Moto G4 Plus technical specifications
The Moto G formula has served to satisfy users looking for phones which do everything a smartphone should, but without a huge cost. If you have these needs, the Plus version of the fourth installment in the Moto G series will probably exceed your expectations.
The Moto G4 Plus squeezes everything possible out of its $300 price tag; few complaints can be directed to this phone for the price.
But perhaps the most surprising aspect of the G4 Plus, especially to those familiar with the G series, is the camera quality. Few phones below $300 are able to deliver image quality as good as what the G4 Plus can. Moreover, Lenovo's pledge to deliver the next two big Android updates adds an immediate purchasing incentive.
With the addition of the Plus model, Lenovo has taken the Moto G line to a new level without dishonoring its name. And, in fact, this might be one of the best value devices we've ever come across.
Please note: our final star rating will follow once US pricing and availability details are made official.