Mobility

Motorola's Moto G4/G4 Plus: The smart person's guide

The fourth generation of Motorola's Moto G line comes in two models, and they both offer basic smartphone features at a starting price point of $199 for unlocked versions.

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The Moto G4 Plus (left) and the Moto G4 are the fourth generation of Motorola's G4 line of affordable smartphones.

Image: Teena Maddox/TechRepublic

Motorola's Moto G4 and G4 Plus smartphones are easy, basic devices that come without all the added features of many others on the market, but they also come without the high price tags.

Motorola has been quietly making a leading name for itself in the mobile industry by designing good, inexpensive smartphones and redefining what a budget phone can do. These newest devices, representing the fourth generation of the Moto G line, are keeping Motorola in the game with hardware upgrades, including a larger 5.5-inch full HD display and a faster octa-core processor. They still include the water-resistant construction and expandable storage that were added in last year's model.

However, the main selling feature of the Moto G4 line is the price. The smartphones, which debuted earlier this summer, are priced at just $199 unlocked for the G4 model, and $50 more for the G4 Plus, which has a few extra features that, frankly, aren't worth the extra cost. The phones work with all major US carriers and there's an Amazon Prime version for $150 if you are willing to receive ads on your phone.

The Moto G4 line is less expensive than the $399 unlocked OnePlus 3 that also came out earlier this year. Yet, it still offers many of the same standard features.

Read on for more details about the pros and cons about each device.

SEE: Check out all of TechRepublic's smart person's guides

Executive summary

  • What it is: Motorola's Moto G4 and G4 Plus smartphones are the newest phones in the Moto G lineup. The phones are known for their low cost and basic smartphone features, with a few extras such as water-resistant construction and expandable storage, allowing you to add up to 128GB with inexpensive microSD cards.
  • Why it matters: In a world filled with smartphones like the Samsung's new Note7, which rings in at $864.99 for the least pricey model, it's necessary to have options that don't break the bank for people who want high tech without a high price tag.
  • Who it is for: It's for anyone who wants a basic smartphone without getting tied to a long-term contract or high initial purchase price.
  • Why you should get it: It's a solid smartphone option with a large, bright 5.5-inch display, which is half an inch larger than the previous Moto G4. The Moto G4 Plus offers a few extras such as a fingerprint scanner.
  • Why you shouldn't get it: You need extra features such as NFC for mobile payments.
  • How to get it: It's available online from Motorola.
  • What it looks like: See TechRepublic's gallery of the Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus.
  • The style quotient: The Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus come in at a 6 on the style scale. The phones have a basic look, but they fill a definite need in the market.

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What it is

Motorola introduced the Moto G line in 2013 and the G4 and G4 Plus are the company's latest entries into the budget phone category. There's also a G4 Play, but that's not being reviewed here. The second generation Moto G had a bigger display than the original, and the third generation added water resistance as well as a better battery life and better performance.

It's getting harder for Motorola to come up with new features and stay under the $200 price tag, hence the creation of the G4 Plus. The Moto G4 has fewer bells and whistles than its sibling, the G4 Plus, but it comes equipped with enough features that many might find the upgraded version unnecessary for $50. The main differences between the G4 and the G4 Plus is that there's a slightly better camera on the G4 Plus, and you get more built-in storage and double the RAM.

Tech specifications:

  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 1.5 GHz octa-core
  • Display: 5.5 inch 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution LCD screen with 401 ppi
  • Operating system: Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
  • Storage: 16/32GB (G4) and 32/64GB (G4 Plus) internal with microSD expansion card slot
  • RAM: 2GB and 4GB (Moto G4 Plus option only)
  • Cameras: 13 megapixel rear (G4) and 16 megapixel rear (G4 Plus) with 5 megapixel front-facing camera
  • Water resistance: IP67 certified splash resistant nano coating
  • Connectivity: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2, ANT+, NFC, GPS, MST and NFC payment system support
  • Battery: 3000 mAh non-removable with turbo charge
  • Dimensions: 153 x 76.6 x 9.8 mm and 155 grams

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Why it matters

There's a definite need for budget phones in the market, because not everyone wants to pay $800 for an unlocked smartphone. With the Moto G line, Motorola showed the world that it could make a solid Android phone that worked well, and cost less than $200.

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Who it is for

This is the phone for anyone who is tired of paying as much for their smartphone as their parents probably paid for their first car. The Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus are solid performers, with decent cameras and processing speeds.

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Why you should get it

Of course, the price is the main selling point, at $199 for the Moto G4 with 16GB of storage and 2GB of RAM and $249 for the Moto G4 Plus with 16GB of storage and 2GB of RAM. For an extra $100 you can opt for a 64GB G4 Plus with 4GB of RAM.

The G4 Plus also has a 16-megapixel camera, compared to 13-megapixels on the G4.

The software is solid, using Google's Android 6.1 Marshmallow, so it's easy to use even if you're new to Android. The home screen is easy to navigate and features are simple to find. As a bonus, it's water-resistant, so if you are prone to dropping your phone in places where it shouldn't be, you will save yourself the need to buy a replacement.

The 5.5-inch display is appealing, with full HD resolution, so you'll have a better experience browsing the internet and looking at posts on social media.

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Why you shouldn't get it

Gamers will definitely need to look elsewhere. The processor can perform everyday tasks, but won't hold up to intense gaming.

There's a fingerprint scanner on the G4 Plus, but it's easy to confuse that with a home button.

Additionally, there's no NFC on either smartphone, so there's no option for mobile payments.

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How to get it

Head to Motorola's online store to buy it, or visit Amazon.com, Best Buy, BrandsMart, B&H, Car Toys, Fry's, MicroCenter, Sam's Club, and Walmart.com.

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What it looks like

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The Moto G4 (left) and the Moto G4 Plus smartphones.

Image: Teena Maddox/TechRepublic

See TechRepublic's online gallery of the Moto G4 and G4 Plus.

The 3 takeaways for TechRepublic readers:

  1. The Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus are the fourth generation of Motorola's G4 line of affordable smartphones.
  2. The main difference between the two devices are more storage and memory options and a fingerprint scanner with the G4 Plus, which costs $50 more than the Moto G4 for the basic version.
  3. Both phones are solid performers worth taking a look at if you're in the market for a lower-cost smartphone.

Also see

About Teena Maddox

Teena Maddox is a Senior Writer at TechRepublic, covering hardware devices, IoT, smart cities and wearables. She ties together the style and substance of tech. Teena has spent 20-plus years writing business and features for publications including Peo...

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