The Moto G line of Android smartphones has been the most recommended budget choice ever since the release of the original Motorola Moto G in 2013. Motorola has decided to make things even more interesting and released the Moto G4 Play, a more affordable version of the Moto G4. The smartphone costs around $150, and you get a lot of value for your money. But how does it do against its competitors from China and, more importantly, its bigger brother, the G4? Let’s find out.
Motorola Moto G4 Play
Build and Design
In terms of build and design, the Motorola Moto G4 Play is nearly identical to the Moto G4. When you carefully examine the device, you notice subtle design cues from much more expensive smartphones from the Moto line. For example, the power button sports the same recognizable texture as you can find on higher-end models like the Moto Z Force, the silver-trimmed speaker has made its way into the budget category as well, and so did the deep grey trim.
Motorola’s budget devices have always been praised for being easily operated with just one hand, and the G4 Play is no exception. The relatively small display size, rounded shape, and pleasant plastic exterior make you feel confident that the phone won’t slip from your hand and fall on the ground.
But even if it did, chances are high that nothing serious would happen to the G4 Play, apart from a few scratches and battle scars. Motorola has made the device highly resistant against all common causes of smartphone damage, including water splashes, rain, and even spills. Just don’t dive deep with the smartphone and you should be fine.
We were pleasantly suppressed by the 5” IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen. Even with its relatively low 1,280×720-pixel resolution, all images, websites, and text always looked sharp and vivid. After all, 294 PPI pixel density is nothing to be ashamed of.
Is there anything missing? A few things. For starters, there’s no fingerprint sensor, a feature we see increasingly more even in the budget category of Android smartphones. The display also lacks any serious protection, such as Gorilla Glass, so you will have to purchase an after-market solution. But most importantly, the smartphone lacks a gyroscope, which could be an issue in certain games and applications, and it also means that virtual reality is no go.
We appreciate the compatibility with all major U.S. networks, including Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Consumer Cellular. The Moto G4 Play supports GSM (850/900/1800/1900MHz), CDMA (850/1900MHz), HSDPA (850/900/1700/1900/2100MHz), and LTE (1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/13/17/25/26/41) bands, so even if you use a smaller carrier, chances are high that everything will work just fine.
The most noticeable difference between the Play and the G4 is their performance. While the Play sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor, which was designed with versatile power efficiency in mind, the G4 packs a lot more powerful Snapdragon 617.
In AnTuTu, a comprehensive Android Benchmarking application, the Play scores around 28,600, but the G4 has no problem almost doubling the number to around 46,000. The wide gap between the two devices becomes even more apparent in 3D.
In practice, we never ran into a situation where the slower chipset would prevent us from accomplishing our goals. However, there were multiple situations that caused things to dramatically slow down. Heavy multi-tasking and GPU-intensive gaming were the most common culprits.
Some models of the device come with just 1 GB of RAM, most are equipped with 2 GB, which we consider to be the absolute minimum even for casual users. Storage space is either 8 or 16 GB, but you can easily increase it by getting an additional 128 GB microSD card. As a nice bonus, Motorola has included two years of free storage on Google Photos.
The underwhelming performance is completely redeemed by the excellent battery life. The Moto G4 Play lasts around 13 and half hours of moderate to heavy usage. A 90-minute HD video drains around 12% of battery capacity. When you run out of juice, you can just remove the plastic back and insert a fresh 2,800mAh battery.
The main camera has an 8 MP, f/2.2 sensor with autofocus. For a budget device, it can take quite remarkable pictures, especially under good light conditions. In dark, the LED flash does its best to illuminate the scene, but it’s not enough to hide the limitations of the sensor. The Moto G4 Play also shoots serviceable 1080p video at 30 frames per second.
The 5 MP front camera delivers almost identical performance to most mid-range devices. You can expect natural skin tones, reliable focus, and adequate low-light capability. The default camera app has an optional beauty mode for selfie addicts.
- Splash-proof design
- Removable battery
- Extremely affordable
- MicroSD card slot
- Stock Android 6.0 Marshmallow
- Works with any major carrier
- Great battery life
- Significantly less powerful than the regular G4
- Not suitable for heavy gaming
It’s hard not to compare the G4 Play with the Motorola Moto G4. For just $50 extra, the G4 offers plenty compelling arguments why it makes sense to spend more money on it. That being said, most casual users will likely never encounter any moments when the Play’s performance would be an issue. If you feel like you are one of them, go ahead and grab the phone. You’ll get a polished, stock Android experience with quality guarantee and hassle-free returns provided by Motorola.
Motorola Moto G4 Play