Moto G4: Software, User Experience, and Camera
Unlike the Moto Z, which is currently locked down to Verizon, the Moto G4 and G4 Plus are carrier unlocked and do not suffer from any carrier bloat. True to form, Motorola also leaves the Android experience essentially untouched with a few small feature refinements.
However, Motorola provides all Google apps for core functionality rather than reinventing the wheel with their own replacements. The only extra is the excellent Moto app which enables the user to use gestures such as double-chop to turn on the flashlight and manage the Moto Display and the double-twist to activate the back-facing camera. Moto Display essentially served as the precursor to Android’s own ambient display feature which powers on select pixels to show the time, notifications, and other information on screen while the device sleeps.
Both the G4 and the G4 Plus absolutely nail daily user interaction. The user interface always runs silky smooth with no frame stutters or delay that we could perceive. As we will see in the benchmarks, yes that means a solid 60 frames per second throughout the UI. We honestly did not expect that from a “budget” Snapdragon 617 processor.
3D performance, on the other hand, is sacrificed in the Moto G4’s. The Adreno 405 GPU just does not have the oomph necessary to play demanding games at more than a dozen or so FPS. Build quality aside, though, that is about all these phones are giving up. These phones seem to be about smart compromises, rather than corner cutting. They still provide an exceptional experience for most use cases. Budget phones do not need to do it all, they need to do what they do right.
Speaking of doing it right, Moto's finger print reader implementation on the G4 Plus is top notch. The finger print reader here appears to be identical to the one found on the flagship Moto Z. Front facing fingerprint readers are simply more convenient that those on the back and this one is incredibly accurate to boot. We did not notice any misreads that were not due to our finger being wildly misplaced. Setup took only about 20 seconds during the initial process for the phone. We were each able to register multiple fingerprints to accommodate holding the phone in each hand and with different grips. Fingerprints can also be used to authenticate apps such as Android Pay and LastPass, if desired, which requires minimal extra setup.
The camera is also pretty easy to use on both phones. The user can select a point to auto-focus and then use a tab alongside the auto-focus circle to adjust the exposure of the image. Some features can be a little tricky to get used to. On the Moto G4, the auto-focus can be slow to respond. The cameras on both pick up colors well without over-saturating, but can have trouble picking up shadows. Overall, the picture quality is still Instagram-worthy with or without filters, even if you may not be ordering prints. Please check out the photos below to see quality and comparisons.