After a significant hiatus, the Moto X range is back, but the new Moto X4 looks a lot like the Moto G5S Plus on paper.
Whenever we discuss compact smartphones in the Digit office, I pull out my three-year-old Moto X to demonstrate what compact really means. It’s a form factor that’s lost on the modern consumer and smartphone maker alike. People want big screens and companies give it to them. In the process, little old me is left without a phone that truly suits my fancy. Enter the Moto X4.
Personally, I love the compact form factor the Moto X4 sports. However, it’s tough to escape the fact that the phone is very similar to the Moto G5S Plus (review) in terms of what it offers. So, what do you get for the extra money spent?
Build and Design
On paper, the form factor of the Moto X4 should be similar to the Moto G5S Plus. However, the phone is a full 5 mm shorter than that phone, and Motorola also cut its width by about 3 mm. As a result, you get a much more compact smartphone that’s easy to use with one hand. Of course, that’s also because of the Galaxy Note 8 (review) like curved back.
But apart from its glass casing and smaller form factor, the Moto X4 follows the same design language as the Moto G5S Plus. The glass does feel more premium, but it is also easier to break than the Moto G5S Plus’ metal back panel. The company has used Gorilla Glass 3 on the front and back of the Moto X4.
While both displays sports FHD resolution, the 5.2 inch panel on the Moto X4 makes the phone more pixel dense. I doubt the 20-odd ppi difference will make any difference on regular use though. For all practical purposes, the Moto X4 has the same display as the Moto G5S Plus.
That though could be a problem here, considering that the Moto X4 costs almost Rs. 9000 more. The display lacks the “pop” in colours that many people like, though it’s not as undersaturated as the Pixel 2 XL’s natural mode.
This is our first tryst with the Snapdragon 630 chipset, an upgrade over the uber successful 625. The Snapdragon 630 is clocked at 2.2 GHz and sports eight Cortex A53 cores inside. So, while the clock speed is bumped up by a little bit, the core clusters remain the same. Qualcomm has added its high-end X12 LTE modem to the chipset though, so the Moto X4 should support higher data speeds.
So, you shouldn’t expect a big difference in benchmark numbers with this device. The Moto X4 feels fast and snappy. Motorola sets animation scales to 1x by default, but I changed it to 0.5x making the phone feel slightly faster. Of course, I’ve only used the Moto X4 for an hour or two right now, so this is far from a properly weighed opinion.
There’s a big change in the camera department. The Moto X4 takes the same route here as LG did with the LG G5 (review). The phone has a 12MP dual-pixel primary camera on the back, alongside another 8MP wide angle camera. The camera app has a button on the viewfinder that switches the cameras as required.
Motorola has also added a “Depth Mode” on this phone, though it’s pretty much all software supported. Sadly, it doesn’t take in-depth tests to conclude that Motorola’s software bokeh is nowhere close to Google’s efforts with the Pixel. That’s probably acceptable given the considerably cheaper price tag.
While I can’t yet comment on the camera’s quality, the difference between the two sensors is quite easily discernible. The secondary camera also produces some barrel distortion, which many will like, but some may not.
My only real problem with the Moto X4’s camera so far is that it’s slow. It takes considerably long to focus and processing times are quite high as well, which increases if you try to use the Depth Mode.
Does it all work in the market?
I must admit that I’m somewhat biased here, thanks to my penchant for compact smartphone. While I do like the Moto X4, I doubt that would matter to regular users today. The Moto X4 is not an expensive phone per se, but it doesn’t seem to offer a whole lot more than the Moto G5S Plus. Would you pay the premium for a better design alone?
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