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While the Moto G4 Plus beats the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, LeEco Le 1s, Lenovo Zuk Z1 and others in the camera department, it doesn't do as well otherwise. The Redmi Note 3 remains the best performer, and it is 40% more powerful than the G4 Plus. So, if you want a good camera, go for the G4 Plus, if not, the Redmi Note 3 remains our pick below 15k.
Motorola is meeting the market midway. With the Moto G4 Plus, the company, which has largely ignored market trends, has tried to check the right boxes this time. Compared to competition, the 16MP camera, fingerprint sensor and the 1080p 5.5-inch display are all in tune with current market trends in India. In comparison, the last year’s Moto G (3rd Gen) had a 720p display, a poor camera and no fingerprint sensor.
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It seems, unlike Google, Lenovo doesn’t want Motorola for its technology alone. The company’s influence over Motorola is becoming more apparent now, and the new Moto G4 Plus has a lot going for it, but is in some ways still behind its competitors.
Build and Design: Old isn't gold anymore...
A plastic body doesn’t necessarily mean cheap or badly built, and Motorola has proved that time and again. Having said that, it’s getting a tad old now. The plastic back on the Moto G4 Plus feels nice, but it is a utilitarian design in a world of premium-looking budget devices. I’d pick the LeEco Le 1s, Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 and even the Lenovo K4 Note over this: Not because of their metallic designs, but because they simply feel better.
What’s more disappointing is the lack of the trademark curves. Motorola phones have usually had a pebble-like curved back, which made them really ergonomic. The Moto G4 Plus has a flatter profile, with curves on the edges. To be clear, it’s still quite ergonomic, just not what it used to be. This, when combined with the plasticky frame around the sides, gives the Moto G4 Plus a really utilitarian feel, which just does not belong in today’s market.
It’s not a particularly bad design, just uninspiring and utilitarian. I'm not a big fan of the square fingerprint sensor on the front either. It looks out of place, and the noise cancellation mic next to it hinders the design.
Display and UI: Upgraded but...
Full HD, 1080p resolution displays have usually been reserved for higher-priced Moto devices, but this is one way that the company is meeting the demands of the market this time. However, upgraded resolution doesn’t always mean a better display. Details on the Moto G4 Plus’ display aren’t as good as the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, and it doesn’t do as well with black levels. The Lenovo Zuk Z1 is the best phone under 15k, as far as the display is concerned.
To be clear, you’ll perhaps notice this only if you’re comparing the phones side-by-side, which is what I did. If I had to choose, I’d go for the Redmi Note 3, again. The Moto G4 Plus has a nice, bright display, but depending on personal preference, you may or may not like it.
As happens to be Motorola’s way, the UI remains stock, with slight changes in the camera. It shouldn’t affect the company’s ability to deliver timely updates, though.
Fingerprint Sensor and Waterproofing: There is one, and there is none..
The fingerprint sensor on the Moto G4 Plus is extremely fast. While the square-ish button-like sensor on the front is weird, Motorola has made the right choice by choosing to not making it a 'real' button. This allows you to turn on the screen without actually pressing the power on/off button. You can simply place your finger on the sensor and you bypass the lock screen. Alternatively, I sometimes found myself mistaking the fingerprint sensor as the home button, but that's easily solved as you use the phone more.
While issues with the fingerprint sensor can be forgiven, it's sad that Motorola couldn't make this waterproof. The company says that this is because the sensor makes it more difficult to add waterproofing, but still, Moto is credited for bringing this feature to the budget range, and we would have appreciated had it continued.
Performance: Smooth, but not the best...
When HTC launched the One A9, the Snapdragon 617 surprised us all. It’s not Qualcomm’s most powerful SoC, but it worked well for the A9, and it works for the Moto G4 Plus as well. Imagine a 64-bit variant of the Snapdragon 801 and you’ll arrive at the 617. The SD617 is stable, and with Motorola’s stock interface, it does just about everything right.
That said, if you’re looking for a powerful smartphone, you’ll still have to choose the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3. The Snapdragon 650 on it makes it about 40% faster than the Moto G4 Plus. If you’re playing heavy games like Injustice: Gods Among Us, the difference in load times is quite evident. If you’re playing Injustice, there’ll be frame rate drops when the various power meters show up, making it more difficult to play.
All of this makes for a less-than-ideal experience than the Redmi Note 3, but even so, most regular users would get by easily. What’s interesting is that the frame drops I saw on the Moto G4 Plus weren’t there on the HTC One A9, and one can only attribute it to better-tuned software. Gaming performance is reminiscent of the Snapdragon 615, even on the Moto G4 Plus.
For light users, regular apps load fast enough, and while the performance isn’t as snappy as the Redmi Note 3 and Le 1s, it’s satisfactory. This is a slightly more expensive phone, though, and such factors can be crucial.
Camera: A job well done...
The primary weakness of the Moto G series has always been in the camera. The G4 Plus corrects this. In fact, it has a better camera than both the Redmi Note 3 and Le 1s. Images are better detailed and colours look crisp and reasonably true-to-source. I wouldn’t call this a breakthrough camera, but against it competition, it comes out on top.
That said, if you’re expecting a camera like the Xiaomi Mi 4i, this isn’t it. The Moto G4 Plus is better than the Honor 5X, Lenovo K4 Note, Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 and LeEco Le 1s, though. It takes brighter images in low light, and in indoor conditions, it doesn’t lose details as easily.
Battery: Not the greatest, but works...
The Moto G4 Plus has a 3000 mAh battery, which would last most light users for the whole day. That said, on heavier usage, you’d be charging it at least twice. I usually charged the phone once at night, and once around 5pm. This, with almost an hour of gaming, a minimum of 50 emails, 20 phone calls, and many messages on WhatsApp. Add a lot of social media, browsing and posting to this, too.
While the Redmi Note 3 did, indeed, do better for me, the LeEco Le 1s and Honor 5X are much worse. For regular usage, the battery life is enough.
While meeting the market halfway has put the Moto G4 Plus in a good position, it's still not enough. Currently, the phone's camera seems to be the only real reason to buy it. Comparing it with our current favourite, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, the phone can't really outperform that device anywhere, except the camera. So, if you're fine with compromising 40% performance for a better camera, then the Moto G4 Plus is the phone for you. If you're asking me for the best smartphone under 15k, it remains the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3.