Big differences, small prices.

When Lenovo unveiled its latest Moto G products in mid-May, we were surprised to see the company release two variants of the fourth generation smartphone, the Moto G4 and G4 Plus (along with a smaller, lower-cost Moto G Play that we haven't seen yet). Aimed at different markets and price points, the two devices are identical in all but three ways, but those differences are significant.


Category Moto G4 Moto G4 Plus
Operating System Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
Display 5.5-inch Full HD display, 401 ppi
Gorilla Glass 3
5.5-inch Full HD display, 401 ppi
Gorilla Glass 3
Processor 1.5GHz Snapdragon 617 SoC (eight Cortex A53 cores)
Adreno 405 GPU
1.5GHz Snapdragon 617 SoC (eight Cortex A53 cores)
Adreno 405 GPU
Memory 2GB 2GB / 3GB
Storage 16GB
microSD slot
16GB / 32GB
microSD slot
Camera 13MP rear
PDAF, laser autofocus
5MP front
16MP rear
PDAF, laser autofocus
5MP front
Connectivity LTE with VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 Fingerprint sensor
LTE with VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0
Battery 3000 mAh
Turbo Charging
3000 mAh
Turbo Charging
Dimensions 153 x 76.6 x 7.9 mm 153 x 76.6 x 7.9 mm
Weight 155g 155g
Colors White/Black White/Black

The Similarities

Moto G4 Plus

Both the Moto G4 and the Moto G4 Plus are built from sturdy plastic with removable back covers that can be swapped out for various cases and shades. They're big phones, with 5.5-inch 1080p screens that, while not the best out there, are excellent for the tier. Inside, the same Snapdragon 617 processors and 2GB of RAM (in most markets) keep the phone chugging along nicely, and the 3,000mAh batteries are good enough for a full day of use.

The thing to know about both these devices is that you're getting a considerable amount of value for your money, regardless of which option you get. They're thin, light, and relatively well-built, and feature up-to-date specs like Turbo Charging, VoLTE and, on the camera side, combination Phase Detection autofocus and laser-assisted autofocus. Both phones also run the same version of Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow with Moto Display and Moto Assist.

The thing to know about both these devices is that you're getting a lot of value for your money.

Unfortunately, both models have one vexing omission: a lack of NFC. So if you were expecting to make mobile payments, or merely initiate data transfers between devices using Near Field Communication, you're out of luck.

The Differences

Moto G4 Plus

Fingerprint sensor

The addition of a fingerprint sensor in the G4 Plus makes a big difference in how the phone is used. Unlocking becomes easy and fast, especially after picking up the phone to initialize Moto Display, the well-loved feature that previews notifications without turning the screen on. It only takes a moment with a fingerprint sensor to realize how useful it is, and, for Lenovo, is the main driving force behind the bifurcation between the regular Moto G4 and its Plus counterpart. The sensor is fast and accurate, though not particularly attractive.

A better camera

There is a 16MP sensor inside the Moto G4 Plus, compared to a 13MP sensor inside the Moto G4. On paper, that difference doesn't seem enormous, and both devices take great shots, but the G4's 13MP sensor is the same one that's in the 2015 model, which proved capable but underwhelming. The G4 Plus's 16MP sensor, on the other hand, is comparable to devices twice or three times its cost, with gobs of detail, fantastic auto-exposure, and beautiful color saturation.

While the G4's camera performance has improved over its predecessor's by virtue of its improved image signal processor (ISP) and faster Snapdragon 617 chip (over the Snapdragon 410 from last year), it is still a 2015 sensor in a 2016 body. If you are an avid photographer and have any inclination to future-proof your smartphone against the ravages of technological advancements, it's worth it to invest in the Moto G4 Plus.

Both models have the same 5MP front-facing camera with a wide-angle lens, which does the job, but won't leave anyone in awe over the quality of their selfies.

Specs differences

While many variants of the Moto G4 Plus only come with 2GB of RAM, along with the standard 32GB of storage, some markets will get a version with an extra gigabyte, increasing the phone's potential longevity. The Moto G4, on the other hand, only ships in a single 2GB RAM / 16GB storage option, which keeps the cost down.

Whether that extra gigabyte of memory will have a long-term effect on performance remains to be seen, but it certainly can't hurt.

The lowdown

Lenovo told us that most markets will offer either the Moto G4 or Moto G4 Plus, but some markets will offer both. In those locations, the Moto G4 Plus is certainly the better product, if just for its fingerprint sensor, but the improved camera is a particularly notable bonus.

Both products, though, offer incredible value, and are two of the best smartphones in their respective price points.