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Motorola Moto G4 and G4 Plus Review (Hands-on): Don’t call it the Moto G (4th Gen)

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Motorola’s Moto G has, for the last four years, been one of the best mid-range phones on the market. Every iteration has achieved that tricky balance of remaining affordable, yet also durable, powerful and well-equipped enough to satisfy your above-average phone user.

Now, with the launch of the Moto G4 – nope, this time it’s not called the Moto G (4th Gen) – Motorola is looking to appeal to an even bigger crowd than before. How? Well, in addition to the 5.5in Moto G4, Motorola has added the Moto G4 Plus to the family which, rather than a bigger screen, straps a turbo-charged camera to the standard Moto G4.

Motorola Moto G4 and G4 Plus: Design and display

For the fourth-generation Moto G, Motorola has made its best-selling smartphone thinner than ever – 9.8mm at its thickest point – while packing in a larger 5.5-inch Full HD screen. The Moto G4’s edges are now cast from a delicately curved metal rather than the plastic of the last generation, too. It could almost pass for a premium handset if it weren’t for the soft, removable plastic back cover.

These design changes do mean that the Moto G4 feels a touch slipperier in the hand than previous iterations. At 155g, the weight has remained the same, but smaller hands may find the Moto G4’s 5.5in frame more unwieldy than the Moto G (3rd Gen).

Besides the obvious fingerprint reader strapped to the front of the G4 Plus, there’s barely any difference between the G4 Plus and the standard G4. Personally, I prefer the G4’s design because it doesn’t have that rather ugly fingerprint reader glued to its front. It might have made more sense to place the reader on the rear, where it could have hidden neatly in the well where the Motorola “M” logo usually sits.

Also, unlike the Moto G (3rd Gen), the Moto G4 is no longer IPX7 water resistant. It retains the P2i nano-coating which repels water from splashes or the odd splash of rain, but Motorola are no longer claiming that you can dunk it in a metre of water for 30 minutes. While that’s somewhat disappointing, it probably won’t affect many Moto G users. Unless you’re the kind of person who regularly drops your phone in the bath. Or the toilet.

Motorola Moto G4 and G4 Plus: Specifications

The Moto G4 and G4 Plus are practically identical in terms of core hardware. Both use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 617 octa-core processor and run on Android Marshmallow, along with Motorola’s standard roster of UI tweaks and proprietary apps.

In an unusual twist, Motorola hasn’t provided fixed RAM options for either phone. Moto G4 Plus users can choose between 2, 3 or 4GB of RAM, with Moto G4 customers selecting either 2 or 4GB of RAM on purchase. Storage options are more conventional, however, with both versions coming in 16, 32 or 64GB flavours.

Those worried about battery life needn’t as Motorola has equipped its new G phones with a 3,000mAh power-pack, 20% more than on the 3rd-gen model. Both phones are also capable of quick-charge via the TurboPower feature, which allows you to inject 6 hours of power in just 15 minutes. Strangely, only the Moto G4 Plus comes with the TurboPower charger included in the box, leaving regular G4 users lumbered with a standard USB cable and plug. Whichever you buy, however, Motorola has stuck with standard micro-USB – USB Type-C hasn’t yet made it to the Moto G family.

Motorola Moto G4 and G4 Plus: Camera

The real difference between the Moto G4 and the G4 Plus is found in its camera.

The standard G4 comes equipped with a 13-megapixel camera with dual LED flash, while the G4 Plus has a beefier 16-megapixel camera with laser-assisted and phase-detect autofocus. For the non-camera literate among us, that translates to the G4 Plus taking larger, sharper pictures with a speedier autofocus than found on the standard Moto G4.

Having used both cameras at Motorola’s hands-on event, it’s clear to see that the Plus has the better, faster camera. However, both snappers are quick, sharp and seem to produce shots with an even colour balance. Even the flash is pretty usable.

We’ll have a better breakdown of both cameras when we get one for review in a couple of weeks time.

Motorola Moto G4 and G4 Plus: Price and release date

Both Motorola phones will launch in June 2016 but it looks like availability will be somewhat restricted at first. While both the Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus will be found in Moto Maker so you can customise them as you see fit, set models of the Moto G4 will only be available from Tesco Mobile, Argos and Amazon and the Moto G4 Plus will only be available through Amazon.

Depending on the specification of Moto G4 and G4 Plus you fancy snapping up, prices start at £169 for the Moto G4 and £199 for the Moto G4 Plus.

Motorola Moto G4 and G4 Plus: Verdict

From our short hands-on time with both phones, it’s clear that they’re faster, sleeker and prettier than what came before. In fact, besides the lack of waterproofing, the only foible I think may hinder the Moto G is its slightly woolly branding of the G4 Plus: while the “Plus” branding conjures up images of a king-size Moto G4, all it adds is an improved camera.

If the market can get over that, I’m sure Motorola is on to yet another winner.

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