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Home / Tech / Moto G4 Plus review: Efficient but not exciting

Moto G4 Plus review: Efficient but not exciting

I spent quite some time with the G4 Plus to realise that it plays well on its strengths like stock Android, but leaves you wanting more. 

tech Updated: May 25, 2016 14:36 IST
Sanshey Biswas
Sanshey Biswas
Hindustan Times
The G4 Plus has a better camera than the base variant of the new Moto G and sports a fingerprint scanner at Rs 14,999.
The G4 Plus has a better camera than the base variant of the new Moto G and sports a fingerprint scanner at Rs 14,999.( )

Motorola launched the successors of its G series smartphones in India on Tuesday. The new smartphones pack better screens, processors, cameras and more. I spent quite some time with Moto G4 Plus only to realise that it plays well on its strengths like stock Android, but leaves you wanting for more. 

The G series from Moto has been one of the most popular phones for the longest time. I have recommended it to friends and family looking for a budget smartphone with acceptable performance. However, it has never been a smartphone great at taking pictures or lasting all day, allowing players like Xiaomi to creep into their market share. The E series from Moto ended as a result of stiff competition in the under Rs 10,000 smartphone segment. The G series however, has managed to survive with newer generations sporting better hardware and sleeker design. The Moto G4 and G4 Plus are no exception. 

The camera has become really quick with the help of laser auto focus and PDAF

The Moto G4 Plus starts feeling like an improvement as soon as it leaves the box. The screen is bigger than ever at 5.5-inch, and sharp enough at 403 dpi to render full HD 1080p videos. The Moto G4 Plus is also available in two variants and we got our hands on the one worth Rs 14,999 on Amazon. On the inside, it has a 1.7 GHz, 64-bit octa-core processor, paired with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB internal storage -- expandable by a memory card. That means apps load really quickly, and multiple apps can be left running in the background without the phone turning sluggish. However, a bulky game like Asphalt 8: Airborne is unlikely to run as smoothly as it would on a Samsung, Apple or Google flagship. There will be times in the game where you don’t feel in complete control because of the not-so-easily-spotted, but hindering lags. 

One area where the Moto G4 Plus shows drastic improvements, is photography. The 16 megapixel camera app can now capture slow motion videos, besides the regular 1080p ones. You can also switch to a manual mode where white balance, saturation and exposure can be tweaked. More features besides these have been added to the G4 Plus' camera app that also comes pre-installed on Moto phones.

The camera hardware has also become really quick with the help of the additional laser auto focus and PDAF technology. That means the Moto G4 Plus focuses much faster with the help of the laser positioned above the camera. And PDAF is a technology that DSLRs and Galaxy S7 smartphones use for the same means. The front camera, despite being of just 5 megapixels, is capable of taking really bright pictures because of the software tweak. While clicking selfies, a dial shows up for adjusting the brightness of the photographs depending on your lighting conditions. Making the process of taking pictures even faster, Moto Actions has always let you launch the camera by just twisting the phone like a door know in mid air.

But that’s not the only legacy feature we like, the Moto display is always craving your attention with a white clock or notification bubbles. The company has added more features that makes it easy to silence and dismiss notifications by picking the phone up or laying it screen-side-down. Whenever you pickup the phone, just tap on the notification bubble will give you a preview the messages and controls for music. These features and stock-like Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow OS makes it feel familiar and comfortable until you pay attention to the design. 

Lenovo has managed to maintain the great build quality for on the Moto G Plus. It make the phone feel dependable and elegant since it only measures 7.8 mm thick. However, the square button under the screen really feels out of place. And it’s not even an actual button. It’s just a tiny square that’s a fingerprint sensor and you can’t even press it. The home, back and multi-tasking buttons are all on the screen. I didn’t like the double grill design on the previous phones form Moto, but this tiny out-of-place square that you keep mistaking for the home button has been the biggest complain I’ve had with the device. 

This time around, Lenovo should manage to silence the critics of Moto G on the subject of poor battery life. With a battery of over 3,000 mAh capacity, the smartphone stays juiced through the day. It even support their Turbo Charging technology like the Moto G Turbo retailing at Rs 12,499. That means, the phone will give you six hours of usage with just 15 minutes of charging. And the charging port is still a micro-USB type. 

Overall, Moto G4 Plus is a safe upgrade from its predecessors. The smartphone doesn’t offer anything ground-breaking or mesmerising. Instead, it banks on the brand name established over the years and upgraded hardware to lure customers.