Moto X4: Smooth operator with nice touches

The Moto X4 has a fat bezel around its top and bottom, where the front-facing speaker and fingerprint sensor are sited.
The Moto X4 has a fat bezel around its top and bottom, where the front-facing speaker and fingerprint sensor are sited.PHOTO: MOTOROLA

The latest to join Moto's ever-growing family is the Moto X4, a mid-range phone that ticks all the right boxes in its category.

The $599 smartphone sits at a premium price for mid-range phones, but consumers get what they pay for.

The glass-and-metal body of the X4 is eye-catching, and the phone feels polished - like a stockier, budget version of the Samsung S8.

Unfortunately, the X4's design still looks quite generic. It has a noticeably fat bezel around its top and bottom, where the front-facing speaker and fingerprint sensor are sited, respectively.

Its 5.2-inch screen looks small compared with the larger screen sizes consumers are used to these days. But the full HD display is crisp, colourful and punchy, even though it uses an LCD display rather than an Amoled one found on higher-end Moto phones.

The X4 follows the latest dual-camera trend, with a rear camera unit comprising a 12-megapixel standard-angle lens camera and an 8-megapixel wide-angle one. Camera performance is a bit on the slow side, but it produces relatively sharp and detailed photos, if a bit oversaturated. The camera does tend to overexpose photos both outdoors and indoors, which users will have to take into consideration when shooting in auto mode.

The wide-angle option almost forces a fisheye-like distortion along the sides of the photo. And even though the X4 does not have a secondary optical zoom camera, there is a software-simulated portrait mode that lets you blur the background in photos.

  • TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $599

    PROCESSOR: Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 (Octa-core 2.2GHz)

    DISPLAY: 5.2-inch, Full HD, 1920 x 1080 pixels, 424 PPI pixel density

    OPERATING SYSTEM: Android 7.1 Nougat

    CAMERA: 12MP, f/2.0 standard angle, 8MP, f/2.2 ultra-wide angle (Rear); 16MP, f/2.0 (Front)

    MEMORY: 64GB (microSD expandable up to 2TB), 4GB RAM

    BATTERY: Non-removable 3,000mAh

    RATING

    FEATURES: 5/5

    DESIGN: 5/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 4/5

    OVERALL: 5/5

Like most smartphones in its price range, the X4's camera performance suffers in low-light conditions. There might be motion blur and fuzzy backgrounds in pictures taken in challenging conditions, such as in a dim restaurant.

The one gripe I have is the lag time the camera takes to process HDR shots.

But the rest of the phone's performance is smooth and responsive. The Moto X4 sports near-stock Android 7.1 Nougat, with an update to Android 8 Oreo expected soon.

Motorola's main contribution to the X4's software lies in several convenient gestures, such as rotating your wrist twice to fire up the camera or flipping the phone on its screen to automatically silence calls and notifications.

Another feature, the Moto Key function, lets you access websites which require a password login with your fingerprint, giving users a quick and convenient way to log in to frequently accessed sites.

•Verdict: Moto's X4 packs smooth software in a premium body, making it a compelling mid-range phone for users who want a clean Android experience.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 27, 2017, with the headline 'Smooth operator with nice touches'. Print Edition | Subscribe