A Great Entry-level Smartphone

The Moto G4 Play may come packing largely the same collection of hardware as its year old predecessor, however the phone’s new $150 price tag blows away the competition in the same fashion as previous Moto G devices

One of the few areas where Motorola seemed to have adjusted downwards in the G4 Play is the camera, downgrading the megapixel count from 13 to 8. However in spite of this change, the G4 Play’s camera is still excellent thanks to outstanding image processing from Motorola. OEMs too often use the stock image processing in entry-level handsets, but Motorola has tweaked the software to give the G4 Play a camera that’s just as good as its predecessor. At the price, there is simply no competition.

The use of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 410 SoC is familiar, and performance is decent for a budget smartphone. The real story here is the increase in base specifications from 1 to 2 GB of RAM, and from 8 to 16 GB of storage. Both of these changes make a real difference to the usability of the Moto G4 Play, and change the value proposition entirely. Buyers no longer have to fork out an extra $40 just to get an acceptable amount of storage.

The G4 Play also includes a decent range of other hardware, including a wide range of LTE bands, dual-SIM functionality plus a microSD card slot, a removable battery, and a respectable 720p display. You won’t be blown away with the G4 Play’s display, and the resolution hasn’t changed since the early days of the Moto G line, but improvements to brightness and contrast are always welcome.

Motorola has crammed a larger battery into the G4 Play’s smaller, lighter body, which results in improved battery life. The Moto G 2015 had respectable battery life, though the improvements transform this budget device into a phone that can be used all day.

I haven’t talked much about the software side of the G4 Play, and that’s because it essentially runs stock Android 6.0 with only a few customizations. I like the addition of glance notifications, and I always appreciate the visual style and bloatware free experience provided by unmodified Android.

Sure, not everything about the G4 Play is great. The uninspired plastic design goes in stark contrast to some of the attractive metal bodies I’ve seen in entry-level devices from Chinese OEMs. The handset still lacks 5.0 GHz Wi-Fi, which is a disappointment, and Motorola’s camera app is simply horrible. Also, don’t count on fast security updates for this device, although Motorola has promised an update to Android 7.0 in the near future.

But it’s definitely worth overlooking these minor issues when the Moto G4 Play is available for just $150, or as low as $100 if you’re willing to put up with ads from Amazon (ugh). Last year, the same selection of hardware would have cost you $220, which highlights Motorola’s insane ability to cut costs and produce another extremely compelling handset on a tight budget.

All in all, the Motorola Moto G4 Play is a great entry-level smartphone.

85
TechSpot
score

Pros: Excellent value. Fantastic entry-level camera. Improved battery life. Runs near-stock Android free of unnecessary bloatware. 16 GB of storage is now standard.

Cons: Bland plastic design looks and feels cheap. Terrible camera app.