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Motorola Moto G04 review: Wholly unnecessary

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £90
inc VAT

It gets a few things right, but the Moto G04 ultimately falls victim to Motorola’s overcrowded smartphone lineup


  • Impressive battery life
  • Plentiful features
  • Sleek design for the price


  • Sluggish performance
  • Middling display
  • Mediocre cameras

The Motorola Moto G04 really stretches the limits of how cheap smartphones can go before they tip the balance between price and features in the wrong direction. There are a few worthwhile qualities here, including a 90Hz display, expandable storage and decent battery life, but expectations in other areas need to be seriously reined in.

If you absolutely cannot spend a penny over £90, the Motorola Moto G04 is the best that you’ll find. Anyone whose budget is just a little more flexible, however, will find few reasons to settle for the G04 when there are several superior budget phones circling closer to the £100 mark.

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Motorola Moto G04 review: What you need to know

Despite launching for a fair bit less, the Moto G04 shares a lot of DNA with last year’s Moto G13. The display is an IPS LCD panel with a 720p resolution and 90Hz refresh rate, but it’s marginally larger here, at 6.56in compared to 6.5in. A 5MP selfie camera sits beneath the glass towards the top of the display, while the rear holds a single 16MP lens.

The processor is a Unisoc T606 chipset, paired with the same 4GB of RAM as the G13 – though you only get 64GB of onboard storage. The microSD card slot returns, at least, allowing you to expand that storage by a further 1TB. You’ve also got a big 5,000mAh battery and support for charging speeds up to 15W.

Motorola Moto G04 review: Price and competition

Retailing for just £90, the Motorola Moto G04 slots in as the cheapest entry in the budget Moto G-series. There’s not a lot in the way of serious competition here, with the biggest threats instead coming from last year’s now-discounted Moto phones.

Chief among these is the Moto G13, which is only a few pounds more, at £97, and has a higher-resolution camera, smoother performance and more base storage, but fell a couple of hours behind in the battery test. If you want to throw 5G into the mix, the Moto G53 5G is an even better performer, and is currently down from its £190 RRP to just £124.

The only other brand with a strong presence in this price range is Nokia, with both the C21 Plus (£109) and G22 (£95) on the table. The G22 in particular has an advantage over the Moto G04, with its repairable design making simple repairs like battery or charging port replacements more accessible (and cheaper) for users.

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Motorola Moto G04 review: Design and key features

Considering how much it undercuts its Moto brethren in price, the G04 is a surprisingly sleek ultra-budget smartphone. My review unit came in the Concord Black colour – there’s also Sea Green and Satin Blue colourways – and it’s a stylish enough look, with the frosted plastic rear glimmering navy blue in the right light.

The camera bump is part of the same unibody rear plate, too, folding sleekly into the rest of the back. The chunky plastic edges and thick bezels show the phone’s budget nature a little more, but for the most part, the Moto G04 looks more premium than its price would suggest.

Design-wise, the Moto G04 is very much in keeping with the rest of the line, with both the 75 x 8 x 164mm dimensions and 179g weight being roughly in line with other recent entries. Features are plentiful here, too: you’ve got a 3.5mm headphone jack on the top edge, the SIM-tray on the left can take two nano-SIMs or one alongside a microSD card, the speakers support Dolby Atmos, the power button on the right edge doubles as a fingerprint sensor and the selfie camera also offers face unlocking.

The G04 launches with Android 14 and that’s also where it stops – there seem to be no plans for future OS updates, though you do get two years of security patches. The software is as straightforward and user-friendly as ever, but the bloatware here rubs me the wrong way. Along with several simple phone games, we’ve got the likes of the Opera browser and lurking in the app drawer. Uncluttered software has long been a boon of the Moto experience, and it’s a real shame to see that slowly eroding away.

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Motorola Moto G04 review: Display

The display is another area in which I was prepared for concessions with the price being so low, but there are a few positives to be found here. For starters, the black and contrast levels are both surprisingly strong, recording 0.19cd/m2  and 2,411:1, respectively. Brightness isn’t bad either – I recorded a peak luminance of 456cd/m2  on manual mode, while switching to adaptive and shining a torch on the light sensor inched it up to an even better 528cd/m2 .

The 720p resolution is understandable for this price, and you even get a solid 90Hz refresh rate – though lagging performance means that this often isn’t used to its full potential. Colour accuracy is fairly weak, too: on the Natural colour profile, I recorded an sRGB gamut coverage of 85.2% and a total volume of 87%, with a meagre average Delta E colour variance score of 2.95 (we’re looking for results closer to one, in this test). 

Motorola Moto G04 review: Performance and battery life

The octa-core Unisoc T606 processor is a low-power platform, clocked up to 1.6GHz, but it put in a decent enough showing in our CPU benchmark tests. The Nokia G22 uses the same chipset, so it makes sense that the two’s scores are roughly equal, and the C21 Plus doesn’t hold a candle, but the Moto G13 pulls around 13% ahead of the G04 in the single-core benchmarks, and 10% in the multicore. That’s a pretty big lead for a price difference of less than £10.

Geekbench 5 chart comparing the CPU performance of the Motorola Moto G04 and similar rivals

Those preinstalled mobile games I was griping about before are all very low-maintenance, so they just about run okay on the Moto G04. There’s the occasional stutter between levels of Candy Crush and general lag when opening a new app, but for these simple games, the G04 does well enough.

GFXBench chart comparing the GPU performance of the Motorola Moto G04 and similar rivals

Battery life is the only area in which the G04’s performance impresses, with a solid result of 23hrs 9mins. That’s roughly three hours longer than the Moto G13 and Nokia G22, and a world away from the Nokia C21 Plus’ measly 13-hour stamina.

Battery life chart comparing the stamina of the Motorola Moto G04 and similar rivals

Charging brings things crashing back down to earth, however, with the provided 15W charger taking a good couple of hours to fill the battery from empty.

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Motorola Moto G04 review: Cameras

Motorola has wisely not wasted precious resources on a superfluous secondary lens, so all we’ve got on the rear is the 16MP (f/2.2) unit. In good lighting conditions, this lens does okay, with reasonable colour reproduction and exposure balance, but the detail is very weak – just look at the smoothed-out brickwork on the left-hand side or the blurry tree trunk on the right.

Photo of street with terraced houses on the left and a tree on the right

Phones two or three times this price still struggle in low light, so it’s no surprise to see that the G04 is near-enough useless when the sun goes down. The scene is dark and grainy, and there’s a faint, but obnoxious, octagonal bloom where the light has caught the lens.

Very dark photo of boats in a harbour at night

The 5MP (f/2.2) selfie camera isn’t much to get excited about, either – skin tones are a fair way from natural and the level of detail in the image leaves a lot to be desired. It did manage to pick out each and every one of my grey hairs, however, so I’ve got to give kudos for that.

Selfie of author Ben Johnston

Video is as basic as they come, shooting in 1080p at 30fps. There’s no stabilisation, so filming on the move is going to look bumpy, but the quality is at least on par with the still images. For a phone this cheap, it would be unreasonable to expect anything more.

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Motorola Moto G04 review: Verdict

For what it is, the Moto G04 doesn’t actively do too much wrong; most aspects fall into the realm of “acceptable” and there’s even the odd bright spot such as a wealth of user-friendly features and decent battery life. Even the things I didn’t love about it – performance, cameras and display quality – are all understandable sacrifices at this price.

If the Moto G04 was getting even a single OS update, I might have been tempted to recommend it above the G13, purely to hop up to Android 15. As it is, however, there’s simply not enough here to justify this phone existing. If you want a bargain cheap phone, I’d spend the extra few pounds and pick up the Moto G13 – battery life may be a little weaker, but it surpasses the G04 in every other way, offering much better value for your money.

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