Phones

Motorola's G4 Plus stands out among mid-range smartphones

For the G4 Plus, Motorola has stripped away the frills.
For the G4 Plus, Motorola has stripped away the frills.PHOTO: MOTOROLA

It handles everyday tasks nimbly and does well in a cut-throat market

The mid-range smartphone market is a cut-throat one, packed with attractively priced offerings from Chinese manufacturers.

Amid the fierce competition, Motorola's Moto G4 Plus ($499), which was announced in May and released in Singapore this month, stands out as one of the stars of this category.

What Motorola has done with the G4 Plus is strip away the frills, paring the device down to the core of the smartphone experience: a capable camera, clear media playback and a smooth browsing experience.

It lacks features like NFC, which means no Android Pay. But, for most users, this will probably not be a deal-breaker.

The G4 Plus is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 617, the same chip at the heart of phones such as the HTC One A9 ($798), most of which cost several hundred dollars more. This, paired with 3GB of RAM, means that the phone handles everyday tasks nimbly.

With no bloatware and clutter to slow it down, the phone can squeeze every last drop of performance out of the hardware. 

The phone sports a clean look, with no branding on the front, and no hard keys. There is only a square-shaped fingerprint sensor which is very, very fast - but also looks so much like a Home key that I ended up reflexively pressing it several times.

The 155g G4 Plus is a phone of contrasting textures, with a roughly ridged power button on the right edge. Its curved back panel is also textured instead of smooth, making it nicely grippy.

  • TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $499

    PROCESSOR: Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 (up to 1.5GHz octa-core)

    DISPLAY: 5.5-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels (~401 ppi)

    CAMERA: (Rear) 16-megapixel, f/2.0, 4x digital zoom; (front) 5-megapixel, f/2.2, FOV 84 degrees

    OPERATING SYSTEM: Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow

    MEMORY: 32GB, 3GB RAM

    BATTERY: 3,000mAh non-removable

    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 5/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 5/5

    BATTERY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

This panel is removable, although the battery inside is not, which means that the dual SIM cards and the microSD card can be changed easily.

The 5.5-inch Full HD Amoled screen (~401 ppi) is clear and bright, and it is near impossible to pick out individual pixels. Colours are punchy and viewing angles are decent, though overall the colour profile is a tad warm.

The phone's 16-megapixel rear camera is very fast at focusing, with both laser and phase detect auto-focus. Overall, colours were true to life and the camera performed great in broad daylight, although like most of its mid-range brethren it struggles with noise under low-light conditions.

My favourite part about the Moto G4 Plus is that it runs on close to stock Android - a legacy from the days when Motorola was owned by Google.

With no bloatware and clutter to slow it down, the phone can squeeze every last drop of performance out of the hardware.

Motorola has added just a few features, such as Moto Actions, a set of quick-gesture shortcuts. For example, holding the phone and rotating your wrist twice turns on the camera, and swinging it downwards in a chopping motion turns on the flashlight.

While I found myself using the camera shortcut quite a bit, the G4 Plus seemed less sensitive to the flashlight shortcut, and I had to "chop" down quite hard for the motion to register.

Also, the phone does suffer from heating issues, although it is not likely to affect daily use.

After using the phone to play Pokemon Go for about 10 minutes, the right side of the phone began to heat up to the point that it was uncomfortable to hold.

•Verdict: The Moto G4 Plus delivers a great core smartphone experience, and is one of the best mid-range phones on the market right now.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 31, 2016, with the headline 'Motorola's G4 Plus stands out among mid-range smartphones'. Print Edition | Subscribe