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Moto G4 Play Unlocked Budget Android Smartphone Review

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

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Motorola Motorola Moto G4 Play (2016 4th Generation) 139.99


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.

Save $50 On Moto 4G Play For Amazon Prime Members

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.

Compatible Carriers

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.

Performance

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.

Camera

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.

Pros

  • Splash-proof design
  • Removable battery
  • Extremely affordable
  • MicroSD card slot
  • Stock Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • Works with any major carrier
  • Great battery life

Cons

  • Significantly less powerful than the regular G4
  • Not suitable for heavy gaming

Verdict

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

ImgBrandProduct$
Motorola Motorola Moto G4 Play (2016 4th Generation) 139.99


247 Comments

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  1. Thanks for doing this Moto G4 giveaway. Really nice of you; really hope you get your money’s worth of promotion!

  2. Looks like they took the thriftiest options from the BestOf options for all smart phones. Sometimes more is just more, but Moto didn’t fall into that trap!

  3. Looks like a great value for the price. I have a Moto E 2nd Gen so I’ve had good experiences with the brand.

  4. I have a old Moto G and would love to get a new Moto G4. I can’t afford to buy one as I am retired and living on a fixed budget. I am really excited about the giveaway.

  5. Love that the battery is removable. I know it’s less powerful but I’m trying to validate the extra cost of the regular G4/ the Plus. I’m getting this close to just pulling the trigger on the Play, it’s such a good deal!

  6. I am very interested in Moto G4 Play – because of its size (5″). The current phone yhat I have now is 5.5″ and is little too big for me. Its spec doesn’t bother me – becasue I am not a power user, I just need something basic.

  7. This is a great first smartphone for my daughters. I can’t believe it when I see a 10 year old with a brand new iPhone.

  8. This looks like an amazing phone for its price point, and would be wonderful for tweens and teens, as well as anyone on a budget

  9. I think the phone would or will be a very good smart phone without spending to much smart money and getting the same specs and coverage as a more expensive smartphone. I would love to test one out before buying and become impressed. Smartphone, apart price, smart idea!!!

  10. The title of this review indicates this is a “Unlocked Budget” phone. I look at it as a “value phone”. It will not compare to many of the flagship phones, but sometime I just want something that gets the job done without breaking the bank. Especially, when I am traveling and just want a phone that if lost or stolen will not be end of my mobile life.

  11. The camera looks high quality on this phone. This could potentially be good for taking pictures of my new family. I have a 1 year old and would like to capture the sweet moments!

  12. It seems like this could incentivise switching from iOS since the investment is pretty small. I know I’d pick one up just to try out Android at a much cheaper price before I spend $700 or $800 on a flagship phone.

  13. Sounds like a good, affordable option, especially for those who don’t care much about using their phone for gaming.

  14. Looks good and practical. I’m not into game but doing other common things on the phone, e-mail, text… and some times using the phone to talk to someone.

  15. This is an awesome, thorough review of the phone. I am not a heavy gamer so it would be perfect for what I want to do. I really hope I win, I have been wanting a smart device and a 90 minute video only uses less than 20% of the power? That’s amazing to me!

  16. It definitely seems like the Moto G4 Play is a very good budget smartphone. I really like that the battery is fairly large and lasts as long as it does. I also like that the Moto G4 Play works with all major U.S. networks. It sounds more than fine for my needs and I would absolutely love to win it, especially since I don’t even have a smartphone right now! Thanks for the fantastic opportunity to win!

  17. The picture quality is really the only thing I would like to know more about, as that is an important feature for me… However, the price alone almost has me sold!!

  18. Looks like a great phone. I have never had a moto phone in a long time. Was iphone now samsung. I’d try it out.

  19. The Moto G4 is gonna put my Samsung J7 to shame once I win it. It does so much than my J7 can even imagine. Just let me know when to expect . Thank you in advance.

  20. Would make a great phone for our children; everything they need and want at a price that won’t hurt.

  21. After paying over 700$ for a phone that only lasted me 4 months, this looks very attractive to me.

  22. Very nice ‘budget’ or entry-level smartphone. Not the greatest specs, but for $150 bucks you’d be hard-pressed to pass it by!!

  23. I haven’t upgraded my phone since the droid RAZR Maxx came out hahaha so this would be really awesome. Some super dope features.

  24. This looks nice and would be great to have – need a 2nd one as my daughter worries if I am not picking her up at the exact moment I should be!

  25. The Moto 4G Play looks like the perfect phone for my husband because of it’s affordability. Thanks for the review.

  26. This phone may have less thrills than others, but the value for what it does is great. I love that it is affordable at $150. It comes with a great battery life, it has stock Android Marshmallow, and works with any major carrier. If you do not need a high performance phone, but one suitable enough to make calls, check e-mail, and take a few photos this seems perfect.

  27. My husband dragged me kicking and screaming into the digital age, so the Moto G4 is perfect for a technically challenged person like me. Patricia Hodkinson

  28. I have a good phone, but often when I am traveling to locations when I know I may have to leave my phone in the hotel room I like to leave my primary phone at home. So I always looking for a low priced phone that has decent specs and supports Band 12 because I am freqently in areas that use that band. At $150, this could be the phone I need.

  29. As a Consumer Cellular customer I’m always on the look out for a compatible phone that has only the features I need.

  30. While not “powerful”, it does offer features & functions that are somewhat above those of your typical “budget” handset. For anyone looking at a budget phone, if you feel you can’t “trust” the Samsung J-series, this would probably be your next best bet.

  31. If I were to collaborate with someone to make me a phone that would be perfect for my use, this would probably be as close as I could get. I’ve never understood why you can’t personalize smartphones for what you need. If you try to delete something that comes stock on the phone it makes you wonder if the phone will ever work again if you delete it. I would sure love to win this perfect phone but if not, maybe Santa will bring me one.

  32. i am all for a cheaper phone. but why do they have to make them so big

    i want something that fits in my pocket.

  33. Wow great smartphone could use another since my galaxy s5 is not working well now my question can I transfer my old microsd card into the Moto G4?

  34. Wonderful basic phone 🙂 The price is awesome for a phone with greater battery life! I have a phone with more bells and whistles…but I don’t even use them! Basic is just fine for me!!

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