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Moto G4 Plus review: Two steps forward, one step back

first_imgThis is probably the most-awaited phone of the season. The Moto G4 Plus is here and the expectations from it are many. The G series from Motorola has always been about the optimum performance, clean experience and competitive prices. Since the original Moto G came out in 2013, it has been the phone to beat in this segment. And while many have tried to outdo the big G, none have succeeded. The Moto G4 Plus, however, seems different compared to previous Moto Gs. It takes a lot of cues from the Moto G3, but also adds into the mix some new bits. Do they make it a better phone? Yes, in some areas. But they also take away from the charm that the Moto G phones have.Design and build qualityThis is one area where the Moto G3 and the Moto G4 Plus differ starkly. Over the last three years, Motorola has come up with a unique design for its phones. The Moto phones have slim and thin corners, a bulge on the back and thick top and bottom parts. With the Moto G4 Plus, the company is tweaking this design. The Moto G4 Plus has marginally thicker bottom and top parts but the bulge under the back cover is gone. Also, it is slimmer compared to the G3 with almost uniform thickness. With no curve on the back and a body bigger than that of the Moto G3, the G4 Plus doesn’t slip into hands or pockets all that effortlessly. It also loses its pebble-like Moto design. That said, it is a well-built phone with a design that is utilitarian. One of the best bits about the phone is its weight. Or the lack of it. The G4 Plus weighs just 155 grams, which is similar to the weight of the Moto G3. It feels very light, particularly for a big phone. advertisement The Moto G4 Plus, however, seems different compared to previous Moto Gs. It takes a lot of cues from the Moto G3, but also adds into the mix some new bits But overall, the G4 Plus is a step back in terms of design. The G3 was not flashy or striking, but it had a kind of personality that the G4 Plus lacks. The same is true for the Moto X Play, a phone that too has a price of around Rs 15,000. The G3 is unmistakably a Moto. The G4 Plus can be any other phone from any other company out there. And that is a problem for it because some of the other phones — Micromax Canvas 6 or Lenovo’s own Vibe S1 — in this price bracket are beautiful phones. The plastic used to make the Moto G4 Plus also could have been better. It has a plastic frame similar to that of the Moto G3 but the plastic used to make back cover looks cheap. It resembles the plasticky Galaxy devices that Samsung used to make two years ago and that is not nice. The phone also lacks the basic protection that Moto G3 offers against water splashes. Of course, for those who want a waterproof phone, Motorola offers the Moto G Turbo and Moto X Play but the G4 Plus is an outlier because the waterproof coating on the Moto phones is kind of standard feature.The build quality is good. The back cover, which can be removed to access SIM card and microSD card slots, fits snugly. The buttons are crafted with precision and the Gorilla Glass 3 layer on top of the screen feels rigid.Although, I do want to highlight the fingerprint scanner. Since Google with the Nexus 5X and the Nexus 6P showed that the back cover is the right position to put a fingerprint scanner, the front fingerprint scanner just doesn’t feel right. Thankfully, Motorola’s implementation of the scanner is one of the best. It is fast fast fast. But it is also a user interface snafu. It is like a home button that you can’t press. Similarly, on the left and right side of the sensor, there are no back or menu buttons. That is bound to confuse a user.Instead of tapping on the on-screen buttons you will look for physical buttons because the scanner fools your brain into thinking it is the home button. This will happen for a week or so, until the Moto G4 Plus users retrain their muscle memory. Also read: Moto G4 Plus: Full specifications, top features, India price and everything you need to know advertisementScreen If the design was where the Moto G4 Plus takes a step back, the screen is the part where it takes a step forward. Compared to the screen in the G3, it is sharper despite being bigger at 5.5 inches. This is due to the higher resolution of 1080p. The text looks crisp on this phone. But where it truly excels is in showing colours. The contrast and the colour depth on it is brilliant. The brightness is more than adequate, although it is also a very reflective screen and that poses some difficulty during outdoor use. The viewing angles are average — the screen darkens when viewed at an angle — and that too affects the outdoor visibility. But I have seen worse. And seen better. The G4 Plus is closer to the best. SoftwareThe Moto phones are known for offering clean, pure Android. That is NOT changing with the Moto G4 Plus. Even the Flipkart app, which used to come on Moto phones is gone now. The Moto G4 Plus runs on Android Marshmallow and the user interface it sports is the same that you get on a Nexus phone. Aesthetically, it is slick with polished animations. In usability, it is simple and yet comprehensive. Software is the high-point of the Moto G4 Plus, something that makes it stand apart from others in the crowded market.  Motorola has also added some useful features without tinkering with user interface. Some of the Moto gestures — twist the wrist to open camera app etc — are present on the phone. Similarly, the notification glance that the phone offers as soon as you take it out of the pocket is super useful. The camera app too, which is very basic in stock Android, has been beefed up with additional options that give manual control to the user over settings like the ISO and shutter speed.PerformanceThere are two variants of the Moto G4 Plus — one with 2GB RAM and 16GB internal storage and the other with 3GB RAM and 32GB storage. This review features the 3GB version. Although the performance differences between these two phones are going to be minor. The hardware inside phone is speedy — Snapdragon 617 processor — and offers a good bump in raw performance compared to the Moto G3. Although, compared to the Moto G Turbo the differences are minor. The Snapdragon 617 is an 8-core processor with the top speed of 1.5GHz. Once again, Motorola has optimised the software well. The performance of the phone is smooth, lag-free irrespective of what you are doing. Even in games like Implosion, the phone can churn out frames at a rate that makes the gameplay smooth. No complains here. Although the faster hardware does make the Moto G4 Plus run hotter compared to the Moto G3. But that is only in particular cases, such as when you are playing games for over half an hour. And in such cases, almost all phones with similar hardware show similar behaviour. Like the earlier Moto G phones, the G4 Plus is an all-rounder. But there is also something different about it. It doesn’t seem as charming as the Moto G3. The design is flat and its personality seems more commonplace advertisementThe Moto G4 Plus has a speaker on the top. The sound quality is average. It’s not very loud although even at full volume there is no distortion. The sound quality with an earphone is full and nice. But the bundled earphones are disappointing and if you like your music we would suggest you get another pair of earphones to go with the Moto G4 Plus. The sound quality during calls made with the G4 was crisp. We didn’t notice any anomaly with the network performance of the phone. In fact, the way the Moto G4 Plus allows consumers to manage the two SIM cards is quite clever and useful. CameraAccording to Motorola, the camera in the G4 Plus is the highlight of the device. The first two Moto G devices were weak on the photography part. Motorola fixed this problem up to an extent with the Moto G3. But with the Moto G4 Plus camera, the company is promising the moon. And it delivers. Mostly. The Moto G4 Plus has a 16-megapixel rear camera, with support for laser and dual-phase autofocus. It also has a dual-tone flash. On the front there is a 5-megapixel camera. The performance of both cameras is fantastic. The front camera has a wide-angle lens, which covers a lot of area. This is great for shooting group selfies. The image quality from this camera is very good. Even in somewhat low light — but not very low light — it can click selfies that have minimal grain or noise and have largely pleasant colours. The rear camera, meanwhile, impresses with the amount of detail it captures. By default, it tends to slightly underexpose the images but the colours it shoots come out rich. It particularly excels at macros or somewhat closer shots that allow it to capture details very well. In low-light too, the G4 Plus can manage impressive results. When the light is low, for example in a dimply-lit restaurant, it shoots images that have very little noise or colour artefacts. The performance while recording videos is equally good. Overall, this is the best camera in its class and it is very fast. It particularly excels in low light and for macros or close up shots.  XPreviousNext Battery lifeThis is one area where the Moto G4 Plus is a champ. The phone has a 3000 mAh battery and in our tests, when we used the phone with a 4G SIM, it consistently managed around 14-15 hours of battery life with heavy use.The Moto G4 Plus also supports turbo charging and comes with a compatible charger that can recharge the battery by 20 to 30 per cent within minutes. Although, one important bit here: the cable in the charger can’t be detached. So you will have to buy a separate cable for data transfer.Also read: Moto G3 review: Android on budget doesn’t get any betterShould you buy itYes, this is the phone to buy if you are spending Rs 13,499. Although it does face tough competitors. There is a change in the market in the past one year and now Motorola is not only competing with others but also with itself.Like the earlier Moto G phones, the G4 Plus is an all-rounder. It surely has the best camera and the best screen we have seen in a Moto G so far. Its fingerprint scanner works very well and it offers fantastic performance. The software, the pure Android software, is as classy and fuss-free as it has always been.Although the new Moto G4 Plus also marks a slight change compared to previous Moto phones. It doesn’t seem as charming or evoke the kind of emotions that the Moto G3 evoked. The design is flat and its personality more commonplace. But then at a price of Rs 13,499 you can’t go wrong with it, although if you are looking for a smaller phone, the Moto G Turbo is cheaper and equally good minus the camera. But all said and done, the Moto G4 Plus, at its price point, marks the perfect blend of hardware and software and that makes it a fairly cool option for buyers, the flat design notwithstanding. ####Moto G4 Plus####8/10########Good stuffFantastic cameraGood FullHD screenPure Android with smooth performance####Bad stuffBland designToo much plastic that feels cheapPlacement of fingerprint scannerlast_img read more