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Moto G and Moto G Plus (4th Generation)

Editor's rating (1-5): rating starrating starrating starrating star
Carrier: Unlocked (GSM & CDMA)
Manufacturer: Motorola

What's Hot: Very affordable, works with all major carriers, quality and customer service despite low price. Good cameras.

What's Not: These are large phones, old Moto G owners who like small phones will be disappointed. Occasional lag.


Reviewed July 15, 2016 by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)

Moto G4

One could argue that the Moto line of unlocked Android smartphones were the first to crack the unlocked, 'buy it at any retailer' market in the US. Moto brought awareness at a time when most folks were locked into carrier-offered phones and contracts--it certainly helps that the phones were at big box stores like Best Buy and that Motorola was a trusted brand. Previously, unlocked phones came from overseas importers and the brands were often obscure. Later, the OnePlus appeared, but it was more of an enthusiast phone that required an elusive invite to buy (forget picking it up at a store near you). Moto phones have also done well in India, where phones like the Moto G have offered a great deal of quality and brand confidence at a nice price. Despite this, Moto's changed hands a few times: first Motorola sold their phone division to Google, and then Google sold it to Lenovo. Moto phones still carry the Motorola brand name, and they're still largely doing their own thing. That means through three owners, the phones still have a distinctive look and Moto Maker customizations for colors and trim levels.

The Moto G and Moto G Plus 4th generation models aren't the small and easy to pocket phones we saw with earlier generations. Big screens are in, so the Moto G and G Plus 4th gen have 5.5" displays. Since these are budget phones, you won't get tiny bezels and miraculous feats of engineering to make their bodies small despite the big screen. These phones are a handful. Priced starting at just $199 for the Moto G4 and $249 for the Moto G4 Plus, you do get solid specs and good cameras for your money. Both phones have 4G LTE and they support the big 4 US carriers (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless) along with smaller and regional carriers. Few phones this cheap are unlocked and support both GSM and CDMA networks since that requires more radio engineering.


Specs at a Glance

The phones run on the midrange 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 octa-core CPU with Adreno 405 graphics. They have 2 gigs of RAM (4 gigs is also available on the G Plus higher end configuration) and 16, 32 or 64 gigs of storage, varying by price. They have a microSD card slot compatible with cards up to 128 gigs, a nano SIM card slot, dual band WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS but no NFC. The phones aren't IPX7 rated for water immersion, but Motorola says they're dust and water resistant (a little splash or a dash in the rain shouldn't kill them, but don't dunk them in the pool). Both phones have a bright and colorful full HD 1920 x 1080 IPS display, which is more than adequate to render sharp text and images. The display is biased toward warmth (yellows), which makes skin tones and movies look good, but I know some of you prefer cool displays that run toward the blue.


What's the Difference Between the G and G Plus?

So what's the difference between the Moto G4 and G4 Plus? The G4 has a 13MP rear camera that uses the usual baseline contrast based focus system. The G4 Plus has a 16MP rear camera that adds PDAF (phase detection autofocus) and laser autofocus for noticeably quicker focus in low light and moving subject situations. Both phones have sharp 5MP front cameras.

Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus

The Moto G Plus has a fingerprint scanner on the front, which the Moto G lacks. The scanner works very well, and our only complaint is that we kept pressing it as if it were the home button. It is not: the home, back and multitasking are on-screen, there are no hardware navigation buttons.

In the US, both models seem to come with the Moto Turbo Charger, a quick charger that's akin to Qualcomm's Quick Charge technology. In other countries, the Moto G may come with a standard (err, slow) charger.

The two phone models look identical, and our matte black backed review units with black front bezels look somewhat bland and anonymous, but not cheap. The faux metal trim on the sides with the usual complex Moto curves and a pleasing design make the smartphones look pricier than they are. You can use the Moto Maker website to custom order yours with a variety of mostly bold back colors, a white or black front bezel and even a colored accent line around the rear camera. The colors don't cost extra, but beefing up RAM and storage do come at a price. It's $30 to move from 16 to 32 gigs of storage on the Moto G (a fair price) and $100 to move from the base Moto G4 Plus with 2 gigs of RAM and 16 gigs of storage to 4 gigs of RAM and 64 gigs of storage (a reasonably fair price).


Horsepower and Performance

These are budget priced phones, and performance largely matches the price tag. The phones run a relatively clean Android 6.0 Marshmallow build, with just a few thoughtful Motorola customizations, but they're not quite as impressively spritely as some older Moto generations that truly impressed us with their speed. That's not to say these are slow, but we did notice occasional lag when moving about the OS and when launching apps. This could be sorted out with a firmware update and we're optimistic since Moto has a good track record and the Snapdragon 617, though midrange, is still a very capable CPU that's much faster than midrange CPUs from a few years back.

2 gigs of RAM is standard, but if you opt for the high end Moto G Plus configuration for $349, you can get it with a flagship-like 4 gigs of RAM and 64 gigs of storage. The base model for each has 2 gigs of RAM (perfectly adequate unless you're a very heavy multitasker) and 16 gigs of storage. Both have a microSD card slot so you can add more storage.



Quadrant: 27,319

AnTuTu: 45,953

Geekbench 3: 730/ 3179

3DMark Sling Shot: 384

3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited: 9792

Deals and Shopping:


Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus Video Review


Moto G4


Motorola is touting the 13MP and 16MP cameras in these phones as rivals to flagship smartphone cameras. The G Plus' 16MP shooter is indeed fairly good competition thanks to its fast focus (courtesy of PDAF and laser autofocus, which are becoming common on flagships) and ample resolution. Both cameras render images similarly and the 3MP difference isn't significant enough to warrant moving up to the G Plus, but the much improved focus is. If this will be your main camera, it's worth the $50 because you'll catch more of those fleeting moments, be it sports or quickly moving kids or low light shots where the better focus is readily noticeable. The Moto G4 focus hunts in these situations, while the G4 Plus gets the shot.

The cameras can shoot decent 1080p video at 30 fps, and there's panorama mode too. The camera app is clean and simple to use, but there's an expert mode for those who want more manual control. Max camera resolution is achieved at 4:3 aspect ratio, and 19:6 widescreen resolution is a bit lower. Both have a reasonably fast 2.20 lens, a two-tone LED flash and an auto-HDR mode.

Moto G4 Plus


Battery Life

There's nothing like a big 3,000 mAh battery, a midrange power-sipping CPU and a clean Android build that's not littered with greedy bloatware to net great battery life. With moderate to heavy use, both phones had no trouble hitting 1.5 days on a charge, while most flagships squeak by with just a day. With light moderate use, the G4 and Plus models lasted us 2 to 2.5 days on a charge (brightness set to 50% except when outdoors, the auto-brightness too dim for my tastes).

The battery is sealed inside, despite the removable back cover. The Turbo Charger topped up our phones quickly--50% in 20 minutes.

Moto G4



Not everyone wants to spend as much on their phone as on their laptop. That doesn't mean you have to get a crappy phone or a no-name import if you want to spend just $199 to $250. Heck, the Moto G4 is half the price of a OnePlus Three! The Moto G and G Plus 4th generation Android smartphones are well made, have pleasing full HD displays that are bright and they have great cameras. You can order them in a variety of colors at no additional charge--nice. We appreciate the clean Android build, though we still noted occasional lag despite the decently powerful midrange CPU and lack of junkware. Not enough to concern us, especially at this price. The Moto G 4th gen duo are among the few very low cost smartphones that are unlocked and work with all major US carriers, both CDMA (Sprint, Verizon) and GSM (AT&T, T-Mobile) along with a host of smaller carriers.

Price: starting at $199 for Moto G and $249 for Moto G Plus


Related Reviews:

Moto Z and Moto Z Force Review

Moto X Pure Edition Review

Moto E Review

Nexus 5X Review

Nexus 6P Review

Alcatel Idol 4S Review

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Display: 5.5" IPS display. Resolution: 1920 x 1080, 401PPI. Gorillla Glass 3. Has ambient light sensor, accelerometer and proximity sensor.

Battery: 3,000 mAh Lithium Ion Polymer rechargeable. Battery is not user replaceable.

Performance: 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 octa-core CPU with Adreno 405 graphics. 2 gigs RAM (Moto G4). 2 or 4 gigs RAM (Moto G Plus). Various storage capacities available.

Size: 6.02 x 3.01 x 0.38 inches. Weight: 5.47 ounces.

Phone: CDMA + GSM quad band world phone with EDGE 2G. 3G, EV-DO Rev. A and 4G LTE.

Camera: 5MP front camera. 13MP rear camera with contrast detection autofocus on Moto G4. Moto G4 Plus: 16MP with contrast, PDAF and laser autofocus on Moto G4 Plus. Both can shoot 1080p video at 30 fps. Both have a 2-tone LED flash and f/2.0 lens.

Audio: Built in speaker, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack.

Networking: Integrated dual band WiFi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.2 LE.

Software: Android OS 6.0 Marshmallow.

Expansion: 1 microSD card slot compatible with cards up to 128 gigs.


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