Hands-on with what may be the affordable phone of the year
For years now the Moto G has been the best budget phone you can buy. It's always been the perfect mix of price, power and ability without ditching many important features to meet the price-point.
Enter the Moto G4, the first in the line-up to be made by Lenovo as opposed to Motorola. It's the most powerful Moto G yet, but it's still affordable at £169.99.
I’ve just had an opportunity to play with the latest Moto G – well, the pair of them – and if my opening impressions are anything to go by, they may once again be the best "non-flagship" phones out there. But, not all is perfect.
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Following Lenovo’s takeover of Motorola Mobility last year, there were initial rumblings that the G line might be for the chop. Those rumours were quickly quashed, and with good reason.
The fourth-generation Moto G is a nice step forward, which tweaks the formula that worked so well last year. The screen is bigger and sharper, the CPU faster, the software newer and the feature set wider. It’s a tempting prospect. It does lack the water-resistance of the Moto G3, though.
Both the Moto G and Moto G Plus are identical when it comes to size: both have a 5.5-inch display with a 1080p resolution – and it looks great. However, my one slight reservation is that the more generous dimensions may put off some people.
It’s a sizeable phone now; still manageable, but sizeable nonetheless. It’s 0.5-inches bigger than last year’s Moto G, and if you’re staunchly against large phones then this handset probably isn’t for you.
I’d have preferred to see the size increase applied to only the Plus model, with the regular G staying at 5 inches.
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Still, colours on the screen look fantastic and it’s super-bright. I’ve spent only a short time with it, but it’s a huge upgrade over the 720p display from last year.
There have been some improvements in the camera department, too – although it's the Plus that really sets itself apart here. The Plus has 16-megapixel sensor with both laser and hybrid auto-focus, while the regular Moto G4 has a 13-megapixel sensor, an f/2.2 aperture and an 84-degree wide-angle lens. It isn't as good as the one on the £199 Plus, but it remains a pretty potent package for a phone that costs £169.99.
Again, I've had only a short time to play around with the camera, but in that time it impressed. Moto’s once not-so-great camera app has been spruced up to make it fast to load, fast to focus and, importantly, fast to shoot.
Selfies, too, look decent, thanks to the 5-megapixel sensor on the front camera.
Hoping to keep the phone chugging along all day is a pretty standard 3,000mAh battery. That’s the same size cell that sits inside the Samsung Galaxy S7 and HTC 10 – both of which have a more pixel-dense display to power, so I have high hopes. Moto phones have impressed me with their stamina in the past, notably the Moto X Force and Moto X Play, so I expect this one to do the same.
Another fantastic addition to such an affordable phone is Turbo Charging. I raved about this feature on the Moto X Style, and it should provide six hours of use from a mere 15-minute charge. You’ll need to provide your own Turbo Charger, though; one isn't supplied in the box.
In true Moto fashion, the G4 comes running a near-stock build of Android Marshmallow 6.0.1, with only a few small tweaks and different apps littered about. This, along with the mid-range Qualcomm 617 CPU and 2GB of RAM, make for a speedy, smooth experience. I’ll be interested to see how it runs on a day-to-day basis, but I’d make an early prediction that will perform pretty well. There’s 16GB of storage as standard – typical for a phone of this price – plus a microSD card slot.
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Lenovo’s first stab at a Moto G device could very well be the best yet. But, by being a much larger device, I fear it could alienate a number of potential customers.
Still, if the size isn’t an issue then it’s a fast phone with what appears to be a strong camera and plenty of power. It comfortably outshines its modest £169 price once again.