The display type used in the third-gen Moto G has reappeared in the Moto G4 Play: it’s a 5.0-inch IPS LCD with a resolution of 1280 x 720, equating to a pixel density of 294 PPI. While we’re seeing 1080p displays appear in sub-$200 smartphones, the $150 price tag of the G4 Play is simply too low for this sort of panel, which is why we’re still getting 720p.
720p isn’t a bad resolution for a budget smartphone, and in general you’ll be getting a good viewing experience from this LCD. 1080p does provide a noticeable bump in sharpness and clarity, however you can’t expect the best in an entry-level product. Come next year, 1080p displays might have come down in price enough to justify their inclusion in a phone like the Moto G4 Play.
Motorola has opted for an improved display compared to the third-gen Moto G. Peak brightness is marginally higher, but there’s a handy reduction in black levels that leads to improved contrast. Outdoor visibility is still excellent thanks to low reflectivity, and viewing angles are average-to-good for an IPS LCD.
The main downside here is that the color performance of the Moto G4 Play’s display is marginally worse compared to the Moto G 2015. Both displays cover the sRGB spectrum, however the G4 Play features reduced accuracy mostly due to a shift in color temperature further to the cool side of the spectrum. The blue tinge to the display is pretty typical of most smartphone displays these days, at least with default color settings.
The G4 Play comes with two display modes: vibrant, enabled by default; and standard. Neither mode is particularly accurate, as neither corrects the display’s color temperature. The vibrant mode oversaturates mid tones, whereas the standard mode undersaturates mid tones, so despite Motorola advertising the standard mode as providing “realistic color,” this isn’t actually the case.
My preference would be to keep the G4 Play on the vibrant mode as it makes the display ‘pop’ to a greater extent, and there is no mode that introduces perfect sRGB color accuracy. In general, the G4 Play’s display looks pretty good for an entry-level handset.