Moto G4 Play Review: Budget Android, Full-Featured And Unlocked

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Moto G4 Play Hardware, Software, Camera

The Moto G4 Play’s design features rounded edges and a micro-texture back that makes it easy to grip the phone. The back cover is also good at avoiding fingerprints, which is a plus. When holding the phone, you’ll notice your finger will easily find and rest in the slight circular indentation where Motorola’s logo resides on the back of the phone. We have the black model in for testing; the Moto G4 Play is also available in white. Both models feature a silver band around the side of the phone.

MotoG4Play top  MotoG4Play bottom

Physically, the Moto G4 Play is the smallest model in its family, measuring approximately 5.69 x 2.83 x 0.35 to 0.39 inches. The Moto G4 Play weighs approximately 4.83 ounces and it is outfitted with a 5.0-inch 720p HD display with a resolution of 1280x720 (294 ppi). The display has god saturation and vibrant colors with excellent viewing angles, but with that said, it is not in the same class as today's flagship phones with WXGA, AMOLED displays.

The Moto G4 Play has a front-ported loud speaker above the display that sounds average for a smartphone -- it is adequate, but won't blow anyone away with its volume or quality. The front-facing 5-megapixel camera is located in the upper-right corner of the phone above the display. It too is adequate, and perfectly acceptable for selfies and video chats.

MotoG4Play leftside

MotoG4Play rightside

The top edge of the Moto G4 Play houses the 3.5mm headset jack, while the bottom edge contains the micro-USB port. A Power button and volume rocker are located on the right edge of the phone. When you remove the back cover, you’ll find a microSD card slot and SIM slot along with a removable battery.

MotoG4Play battery

For added protection, the Moto G4 Play features a water-repellent nano-coating to protect from spills, splashes, and rain. Even with the nano-coating, however, the phone is not designed to be submerged in water. It will, however, with stand surface splashes, rain, sweat, and the like.

Moto G4 Software

The Moto G4 Play runs on Android 6.0.1 "Marshmallow" with a few small changes and additions. For example, a feature called Moto Display is designed to give users a preview of notifications and updates so they can see what’s going on without unlocking the phone. This feature lets you go right to the appropriate app to handle a notification. You can also play and pause music from the lock screen without unlocking the phone. With headphones plugged in to the Moto G4 Play’s jack, you can tune in to FM radio stations in the area as well.

Moto G4 Play home1  Moto G4 Play homeapps

Out of the box, the Moto G4 Play has one primary Home screen. By swiping to the right, you’ll access a page dedicated to Google Now. The standard Android control buttons (Back, Home, Recent Apps) are located within the lower portion of the display. Above these controls, you’ll find the Phone, Messenger, Apps, Chrome, and Camera shortcuts. Of course, you can customize all of the shortcuts except the Apps shortcut in the middle.

Moto G4 Play apps1  Moto G4 Play apps2

Because this is an unlocked phone that’s not tied to any particular carrier, you won’t find any of the typical carrier-related apps or bloatware pre-installed on this phone. Overall, the Moto G4 Play's OS is clean, with only the standard Android apps and features pre-installed including Calculator, Calendar, Camera, Chrome, Clock, Contacts, Drive, FM Radio, Gmail, Hangouts, Maps, Messenger, Phone, Photos, Play Store, YouTube, and a few others. In terms of extra (and often unnecessary) software, this is one of the cleanest phones we’ve seen in a while.

Moto G4 Play settings  Moto G4 Play home2b

Like other Android phones, Google Voice Search is included with the Moto G4 Play so you can say “OK Google” to search, send text messages, and more. The main home screen includes the Google search bar as well as access to Google Voice Search.


The Moto G4 Play has an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera with an aperture of f/2.2 and an LED flash. This camera is capable of capturing video at 30fps at 1080p. For selfies, the Moto G4 Play features a 5-megapixel front-facing camera. The camera controls are very basic with options for HDR, Flash, Panoramic, and a timer using the rear-facing camera. When using the front-facing camera, you will also get the option to adjust the Beautification mode to smooth the skin and reduce blemishes or wrinkles. When you take pictures with the front-facing camera, the Best Shot option is also available. Moto G4 Play users will get up to two years of free photo storage with Google Photos.

Moto G4 Play rear cam1  Moto G4 Play rear cam2  Moto G4 Play rear cam

Moto G4 Play rear camera controls

Moto G4 Play front cam

Moto G4 Play front camera controls

Let's take a look at some sample images captured using the Moto G4 Play's rear camera:

MotoG4Play cam1  MotoG4Play cam2  MotoG4Play cam3

MotoG4Play cam4  MotoG4Play cam5  MotoG4Play cam6

MotoG4Play cam7  MotoG4Play cam8  MotoG4Play cam9

There are not a lot of options to adjust or control images taken with the Moto G4 Play, but the phone did do a good job on its own at capturing acceptable images in auto mode. Overall, we were satisfied with the images we captured using the Moto G4 Play’s rear camera in both indoor and outdoor lighting conditions.

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