When the Moto G came out in 2013, it was way ahead of curve. In terms of value it just blew its contemporaries out of the water.
The follow up, the 2014 Moto G wasnít received quite as well. It was a decent package but Motorola forgot to toss in LTE, at a time when it was starting to become a must-have feature.
The 2015 Moto G received LTE but other than having water resistance, the rest of the package wasnít all that different from the 2014 and thus it was passed by the rest of the market.
With the Moto G4 Plus, Motorola looks to regain the magic that has seeped away from the G line.
What about the Huawei GR7?
For $50 less, you can pick up the Huawei GR7.
The Huaweiís greatest advantage is that it comes with a very solid metal body.
To be fair, the Moto has a removable back cover but the thing is, the battery isnít user removable. That said, the battery doesnít look that hard to remove so if you plan on keeping the G4 for a while, swapping the battery out will probably be easier than the Huawei.
However, other than the metal body and price, the Motorola has the Huawei completely outclassed in 3 key areas.
The Moto comes with 32GB of storage which should be more than enough for most users. It also comes with a fantastic camera.
Then thereís the version of Android each phone ships with. The GR7 comes with Huaweiís ugly EMUI overlay and runs on last yearís Android 5.1. The Moto G comes with an almost stock Android overlay and is running the latest 6.0.1.
Based on previous experience, I would be very surprised if the GR7 ever received a 6.0 update. Motorola, on the other hand, has been very good with their updates. I expect the G to receive at least one major update.
The Huaweiís camera isnít terrible but the G4 Plusí is phenomenal - Iím talking flagship level.
The Huawei is also running an older Snapdragon 615 vs a 617 in the Moto. There isnít a huge difference between the 2 chips but the newer 617 is incrementally faster (both in terms of graphics and processing power) plus it support Open GL 3.1 though its GPU isnít fast enough to run Open GL 3.1 benchmarks smoothly.
The camera, extra storage and Android updates make the Moto the smarter buy even when you take the metal body, and more affordable price tag into consideration.
LG Nexus 5x?
For $40 more, you can pick up an unlocked LG Nexus 5x from Google Play.
The 5x has 3 key advantages; it comes with a more powerful Snapdragon 808 SoC, is slightly more solid, has a slightly better camera and will receive Android updates sooner than the Moto and for probably longer.
That said, the Moto G comes with a very useful MicroSD slot, more storage (the 32GB 5X costs even more) and a bigger battery.
If you want to stay close to the Motoís price tag, I think itís the smarter buy. While the 5xís SoC will feel faster, the Moto with its larger battery and extra storage make it a more versatile choice.
Motorola Moto G3/Moto X Play?
Itís not really fair to compare the 2015 Moto G3 with the G4 Plus. I mean the Plus is really more of a continuation of the 2015 Moto X Play which has been rebranded as a Moto G. So itís targeting a different segment/price point.
I guess Iím a little disappointed Moto ditched the water resistance of the G3. Other wise, the G4 Plus is better in every measure.
As for the Moto X Play; it costs the same money as the G4 Plus. That said, the Plus is as good as or better in every area. Well, everything except the battery. The X Play comes with an epic 3600mAh battery while the G4 Plus packs a still respectable 3000mAh.
The G5 Plus comes with a newer 617 SoC while the X Play has a 615. I already mentioned the differences in the Huawei GR7 section but theyíre not that different.
Where the G4 Plus really kicks butt, is the camera. Itís much better than the X Play, thereís no comparison between them.
The G4 Plus also comes with 32GB of storage which makes it much easier to live with than the X Playís 16GB.
5.5Ē LCD display
1920 x 1080 resolution
Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 SoC
16 megapixel rear facing camera with phase detection
5 megapixel front camera
Dual band 802.11N
LTE bands: 2/3/4/5/7/12/17/28
153mm x 76.6 x 7.9-9.8
Water repellent nano-coating
You get a plastic body with a removable back cover.
The back cover has a light pattern on it that kind of looks like fabric. It actually kind of feels like velvet if you run your finger across it.
Unlike most recent Motoís, the G doesnít have a curved back which means it will be much more well behaved when you lay it on a flat surface like a table.
That said, it does make it feel slightly less interesting in your hand.
The Gís ergonomics take a bit of getting used to. Like other recent Motorolaís, the G has a divit on the back where you index finger would normally rest. The problem with this is that some phones now have a fingerprint reader in this spot.
More importantly, there actually is a reader on the front. Itís located right where the home button is on many other phones.
But wait, thereís more funniness - the G has on-screen menu keys so the fingerprint reader is just that, a reader, it doesnít double as a home button.
Bear with me, Iím not done yet. The reader is located really close to where the on-screen home button goes so I find myself hitting the reader and inadvertently hitting the home button anyways. So Iím not learning my lesson about using the on-screen home button. The reason why this is an issue is that I often end up pressing the reader when the G is in landscape mode when trying to go home.
The MicroSIM and MicroSD slots are located behind the back cover. You can also see the battery but itís screwed in place so removing it isnít quite as straightforward as it would be on a phone with a user replaceable battery. That said itís probably going to be a lot easier to swap than it is on some other phones which are glued shut.
The MicroSIM slot comes with a NanoSIM adapter - Iíve never seen a phone which actually comes with this. Still, itís a simple and handy extra.
The buttons donít stick out enough and donít have much feel when you press them. I also noticed the power button isnít always lineup with the phone which makes them feel kind of cheap. The Moto X Play has this problem too.
In front is a large 5.5Ē 1920x1080 LCD display.
Itís very bright with excellent viewing angles. You get nice colour with some of the deepest blacks Iíve ever seen on a LCD.
It works well outdoors in direct sunlight.
Honestly, other than being a tiny bit sharper, the difference between the Moto Gís display and a quad-HD flagship display is almost NIL.
On the back is a 16 megapixel camera with phase detection autofocus plus laser autofocus and a dual-LED flash.
Despite not having optical image stabilization, the G actually takes really good photos. Itís so good, Iíd compare it with other flagships like my iPhone 6s Plus.
Color is very accurate, comparable to the iPhone. There is a lot of detail, slightly more than my iPhone and white balance is actually a tiny bit better. The only catch is that the G can get a little noisy because it has to make up for the lack of optical image stabilization by boosting the gain on the sensor quite a bit.
While it takes really good still photos, there are some catches. First off, the Gís camera doesnít start up as quickly as a flagship. Itís not a huge difference but itís enough that I noticed every time I tried to fire it up. To be fair, the G Plus has a Snapdragon 617 so itís not going to feel as fast as a 810 but the camera is so good I kind of wish it was.
Focusing is also a tad slower than Iím used to.
I also found that itís not quite as good as some flagships when it comes to chasing my kids around. I noticed that it missed critical focus a bit more than Iím used to.
On the other hand, the Nexus 5x which costs slightly more and also lacks optical image stabilization takes slightly better pictures. Thereís a little bit more dynamic range (more details in shadows) and slightly less noise.
Donít get me wrong, the G4ís camera is outstanding to the point that Iím comparing it with phones that cost 2 or 3x as much rather than other phones which cost similar money.
Video maxes out at 1080P. While still pretty decent, it doesnít look quite as good as the still photos do. Iím not talking about the lack of optical image stabilization. Even when you hold the camera very still, color is a little too over saturated.
The microphone picks up good audio.
You get Android 6.0.1 which is very close to stock. Even the overlay looks stock.
There are a few tweaks here and there. Like previous Motorola's, you can launch the camera quickly by twisting it twice but then again, double tapping the power button to start the camera is much faster. Other gestures include making a chopping motion twice to launch the flashlight, turning the phone face down to silence notifications and picking the phone up stops it from ringing.
It also periodically turns the screen on to display notifications which is mildly useful if youíre at work and itís lying on your desk.
Historically, Motorola has been pretty good about keeping their phones updated. Itís safe to expect about 2 years of updates from when the G is released. Youíll probably get 1 or 2 major Android .1 or 1.0 updates.
Under the hood is a Snapdragon 617. Qualcomm does a really good job of making sure that thereís a nice gap between its 800 and non 800 series chips and the 617 is no different.
Youíll notice a difference in load times between the G4 and something with a 810 or 820. Some games run more smoothly on the 8xx series, that sort of thing.
As for last yearís 615, the 617 brings about 10% more general performance which is reflected in its slightly faster clock speed. A bit more graphics power. It also adds support OpenGL ES 3.1.
As a Phone:
The earpiece maximum volume is average. The speakerphone maximum volume is below average.
RF performance is good.
The speaker at the bottom is powerful with good sound quality. It doesnít quite have the range of a Nexus 6P but it acquits itself well.
Thereís a very useful 32GB of built in storage. If you need more thereís a MicroSD slot under the back cover.
You get a 3000mAh battery. While you can see it when the back cover is off, itís secured with a screw so while itís not user replaceable, itíll probably be easier to change than some phones which are glued shut.
Iím a little disappointed that the G plus doesnít have the epic 3600mAh battery found on last yearís Moto X Play. Still 3000mAh is well sized - the 617 or maybe Android 6.0.1 seems to do just fine with it.
At $400, the Moto G 4 Plus strays pretty far from the original Moto Gís price point. That said, while itís a Moto G in name, itís really more of a successor to the Moto X Play.
While itís a bit expensive for a G, you get an awful lot for your money. For what it costs, it really doesnít have any real weaknesses. Other than a wobbly power button and maybe the almost-removable battery, I donít really have anything bad to say about it.
I mean aside from slightly more modest SoC and missing GB of RAM, whatís the difference between the G Plus and a flagship? It just punches way above its weight class - you get so much for your money.
My problem with it, is that it still doesn't have Wireless Charging. A "must" for me (had wireless charging on my Droid 3, Droid 4, and Droid Mini), after having several phones die an early death due to the charging port (USB port) prematurely failing.
With the removable back cover, there is some hope that an optional wireless charging cover might become available (again, like MOT offered for my Droid 3 and Droid 4).