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Moto G4 2016 review: One of the best budget smartphones of 2017

Christopher Minasians Katharine Byrne
2 Jun 2017
Expert Reviews Best Buy Logo
Moto G4
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT (SIM-free, as of 8th June)

With its blinding speed, excellent camera and superb battery life, the Moto G4 makes most other budget smartphones utterly irrelevant


Moto G4 2016 review: Display

It's a shame the display isn't a bit smaller, but at least Motorola's provided a 1,920x1,080 resolution, giving it a lovely sharp pixel density of 401ppi. It makes you wonder where budget smartphones can go next, really, as even some flagships are still only using Full HD resolutions. 

Quality hasn't been sacrificed for quantity, either. Our colour calibration tests showed it was displaying an excellent 90% of the sRGB colour gamut, and its contrast ratio of 1,693:1 was also most impressive indeed. It's also considerably brighter than its predecessor, as it's able to reach a peak brightness of 539.51cd/m2, making it much easier to see outdoors in direct sunshine. These are brilliant results for a budget smartphone, and its punchy colours look great regardless of whether you're browsing the web or looking at photos in your gallery.

Moto G4 2016 review: Camera

Speaking of which, the G4's rear 13-megapixel camera is arguably the best budget smartphone camera I've tested. Despite sharing the same resolution as the 3rd Gen Moto G, the difference in quality was plain to see, as the Moto G4 captured far more detail and everything looked that much sharper. It also produced much better pictures than those I took with the Vodafone Smart Ultra 7 as well.


Outdoors, for instance, colours looked accurate and its exposure was expertly judged. It blurred the occasional bit of brickwork, but overall it produced truly excellent photos. It looks like Motorola's toned down its HDR mode this year as well, as rather than make images look overly artificial, it simply makes them look richer and more vibrant, so you'll probably want to leave it on to get the best exposures.

Moto G4 camera test

^ Outdoors, the Moto G4 produced stunning images with very high levels of detail

Moto G4 camera test HDR

^ Switch on HDR mode and colours become even richer to really help them pop out of the screen

Motorola's also simplified the camera app's UI this year, as it now has a dedicated onscreen shutter button and easy shortcuts to toggle the flash, HDR and timer on and off. Tap the screen to focus and you can easily adjust the lens aperture to using the onscreen slider as well, which works brilliantly and shows you your results in real-time.

^ The Moto G4 also has a Pro camera mode that lets you adjust the white balance, ISO, focus, exposure and shutter speed

The camera was an excellent performer indoors as well, as noise was kept to a minimum even in low-light conditions and detail levels were still pleasingly high. Some of the objects in our still life arrangement were a touch grainy in places, but switching on its excellent LED flash quickly sorts this out.

Moto G4 camera test indoors

^ Even in low light, the Moto G4's camera coped extremely well, capturing plenty of detail while keeping colours bright and vibrant

Moto G4 2016 review: Conclusion

Even if you're not sure about the size of the Moto G4, there's simply nothing else that even comes close to matching its value for money. Once again, Motorola's rewritten the rulebook for budget smartphones, and if you'd told me a year ago that Motorola's next Moto G would effectively replace its own Moto X Play, I'd have thought you were mad.

That a £159 smartphone can achieve so much for so little is absolutely astounding, and it firmly throws down the gauntlet to all other budget smartphone manufacturers. The Vodafone Smart Ultra 7 does, admittedly, come very close, but while it can match the Moto G4 on speed, it simply can't compare when it comes to the quality of the display, camera, or battery life. The Smart Ultra 7 might be a fraction cheaper on prepay, but when the Moto G4 only costs another £35 (which then gives you the freedom to pick your own contract or SIM-only deal rather than being tied in to Vodafone's rates), there's simply no competition. It's a Best Buy.

UK: Buy the Moto G4 now from Mobile Fun

US: Buy the Moto G4 now from Motorola

ProcessorOcta-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 617
Screen size5.5in
Screen resolution1,920x1,080
Screen typeIPS
Front camera5 megapixels
Rear camera13 megapixels
Storage (free)16GB (10.8GB) / 32GB
Memory card slot (supplied)microSD
BluetoothBluetooth 4.2 LTE
Wireless data3G, 4G
Operating systemAndroid 6.0.1
Battery size3,000mAh

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