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Motorola Moto G vs Nexus 4

Andrew Williams

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Nexus 4 vs Moto G
Nexus 4 vs Moto G

One of our favourite phones of the last 18 months is the Nexus 4. However, now that it is over a year old, is it still one of the best Androids around?

There’s a new budget contender on the scene, which seems to offer similar specs for around £100. It’s the Motorola Moto G. Let’s find out whether that new phone is really as good as the Nexus 4.

What’s better about the Moto G?

It’s cheaper, and easier to get hold of

Google has officially discontinued the Nexus 4. You can’t buy it from the Google Play devices store anymore, now that the Nexus 5 is available. Most retailers don’t have new Nexus 4s, and the prices are still riding pretty high on eBay. You’re looking at around £200 for a used one.

The Moto G is cheaper and much more commonly-available in stores. It sells for as little as £100 for the 8GB edition, although the best deals still sell out pretty quickly. We thought the Nexus 4 was a bit of a bargain at launch, but the way it has managed to hold its price over the last year means the Moto G is simply in another league value-wise.

You can customise it with cases

The Moto G uses a removable rear cover. Motorola offers a bunch of its own covers – and there are three main types. There’s the basic plastic cover, which comes in an array of finishes, one with an inbuilt flip cover and a third that has rubbery edges for a bit of extra protection. You get no such customisation with a Nexus 4. The back and front are covered with glass, and you have no access to the phone’s insides.

The Moto G has a slightly more advanced screen covering

As a newer phone, the Motorola Moto G benefits from having a slightly more a up-to-date top screen layer. It uses Gorilla Glass 3 while the Nexus 4’s front is Gorilla Glass 2. The third edition is a stronger and more scratch-resistant.

Colour reproduction is better on the Moto G

The Nexus 4 has a great screen in most respects. However, its colour calibration is not great. To our eyes, the Moto G looks marginally better colour-wise, although the Nexus offers better contrast.

However, there are some slight variations between Nexus 4s – Google seems to have altered the screen a little in later batches, leading to a slightly different colour temperature.

The Moto G has an FM radio

We’re occasionally ridiculed for mentioning whether a phone has an FM radio or not. But for the sake of completeness – the Moto G has one, the Nexus 4 does not. If you have a contract with a healthy data plan, it doesn’t matter really, but there are at least a handful of people who still like to listen to radio the old fashioned way. Like almost every mobile FM radio, the Moto G’s uses the headphones cable as an antenna.

SEE ALSO: 10 best phones you can buy

Moto G

What’s better about the Nexus 4?

The Nexus has a slightly larger screen

The Nexus 4 has an extra 0.2 inches of diagonal screen space, with a 4.7-inch display instead of a 4.5-inch one like the Moto G. It’s not a great difference, but is a bonus if you want to use your phone as a mini video player.

They both use the same screen resolution, 720p, which means that the Moto G is a tiny bit sharper. However, the two phones are easily sharp enough to make this a non-issue.

The Nexus 4 is more powerful

These are quad-core phones, but the Nexus 4 is more powerful. It has a Snapdragon S4 Pro chip while the Moto G uses a Snaprdagon 400 CPU. The Moto G chip is newer, but is a budget model while the Nexus 4’s is actually a fairly high-end chip, just not a particularly new one.

In the Geekbench benchmark, the Moto G scores 1,155 points, while the Nexus 4 manages about 2200. It’s much more powerful.

The Nexus 4 will get updates slightly quicker

The Nexus 4 is a ‘pure’ Android device. Nexus devices are the first to get Android updates, and the Nexus 4 already has Android 4.4 KitKat. Motorola is working on bringing the update to the Moto G, but it’s not due to arrive until early 2014.

The Moto G uses a near-vanilla version of Android, but there are a couple of optimisations that’ll mean you need to wait a little while before you’ll get the latest and greatest versions of the OS. These include a different camera app, and a few extra features such as Motorola Assist.

The Nexus 4 has a higher-resolution camera

Neither of these phones has a particularly great camera. The Motorola Moto G uses a basic 5-megapixel sensor and the Nexus 4 a generally uninspiring 8-megapixel sensor.

The Motorola Moto G can produce some reasonable images using its inbuilt HDR mode, but it’s pretty slow to use and is useless for taking shots of fast action. This is a fight the Nexus 4 wins, but not by a huge margin.

No NFC for the Moto G

In order to cut costs, there are a few core features of the Nexus 4 that are completely absent from the Moto G. This means no wireless payments using your mobile, and no easy sync’ing with NFC-capable headphones and docks. It’s not a great loss, especially given NFC hasn’t really taken off in the way some hoped it would a few years ago.

SEE ALSO: 10 best Android phones you can buy

Nexus 4

Verdict

As fantastic as it is, the Motorola Moto G is not a magic phone. Some compromises have been made to get it down to its £100-ish price. The Nexus has a slightly better camera, technically-speaking, it has a few more features and a good deal more raw power. However, the Moto G is better value for most people.

Next, read our round-up of the best cheap phones

Pg

December 16, 2013, 2:05 pm

The only people who ridicule you when you mention whether a phone has an FM radio in it are idiots.

FM radio works on trains - my mobile data does not.
FM radio works when my data network is down or congested.
FM raidio doesn't use data, making it easier to listen to the radio and browse (especially in congested areas)

I have a nexus 4, the only reason it's not a perfect phone to me (cost matters) is due to it not having a radio. Having an unlimited data plan helps, but I find myself listening to the radio less due to issues with my data network.

John

December 16, 2013, 2:29 pm

I'm surprised you didn't mention that the Moto G doesn't have LTE capability. That's the biggest concern and it's greatest weakness against any mobile phone comparison.

Prem Desai

December 16, 2013, 5:05 pm

Is there any point to this comparison?

The Nexus 4 is discontinued and cannot be bought from respectable sources. The Moto G is out now and available.

Might as well compare to the iPhone 3GS .....

mark choletti

December 16, 2013, 5:48 pm

I've used both smartphones on a daily basis, and there really isn't that much of a performance gap when it comes to everyday use. The screen on the Moto G is much better, as is the battery performance. If I had to choose now, it would definitely be the Moto G.

Sgo

December 16, 2013, 6:05 pm

You forgot to mention that the moto g has a water resistant nano coating, slow motion video capture, USB otg, and gorilla glass 3. All of which add to the moto g's appeal.

Knowles2

December 16, 2013, 9:50 pm

You could argue that not having NFC is a great loss, NFC will never catch on unless it in these type of budget device, in that sense it is a great loss.

Knowles2

December 16, 2013, 9:50 pm

They mention Gorilla Glass 3.

David

December 17, 2013, 2:05 am

And you didn't mention wireless charging. Which is petty much the only way I charge my nexus 4

Richard Wright

December 17, 2013, 9:16 am

The reason for comparison is for people that are in the market for a cheap smartphone to help them decide if last years more premium model or this years budget performs better. That's exactly what i'm doing here... i Googled Nexus 4 vs Moto G as these are my two options!

Guest

December 20, 2013, 1:03 pm

thanks .. that is exactly what I wanted to know...for me, the screen and battery life are the most important features.

Nathan

December 20, 2013, 3:28 pm

My family uses telus for their phones, so I'm going to try to get us on a shareplus plan so I can get the nexus 5 (starting at 0$. great value!)

Jeff Martinez

January 5, 2014, 5:40 am

Still using my Nexus 4 since the month it was launch. I'm planning on keeping it til the Nexus 6 or the new Moto X2 launches.

ianw

February 4, 2014, 12:47 pm

Neither phone has LTE, given most people I know don't say how they struggle with the speed of their data, but do complain about battery life, I know what I'd rather have improved - more battery!

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