You'd be forgiven for not fully understanding Motorola's release strategy in the U.S., since it not only differs to many other parts of the world, but the carriers play a role here that they often don't in other markets.
That brings us to the Moto E4 Plus, which recently launched at carriers like Verizon, Sprint and Ting, and unlocked through various retailers like Amazon, Best Buy and others.
At first glance, the Moto E4 Plus wouldn't seem to give the more-expensive Moto G5 Plus a run for its money, but that's what's so interesting about this phone: it does. They look alike and even share the same metal-and-plastic materials (though the G5 uses more metal overall), but where the 'G' stands for "grown up" the 'E' stands for "everlasting" (OK, that's not a great equivocation, but you get the idea).
So which should you buy? And why? Let's take a look.
First, the specs
|Category||Moto E4 Plus||Moto G5 Plus|
|Operating System||Android 7.1 Nougat||Android 7.0 Nougat|
|Display||5.5-inch LCD 1280x720 (267 ppi)||5.2-inch LCD 1920x1080 (424 ppi)|
Gorilla Glass 3
|Processor||Snapdragon 427 1.4GHz quad-core, Adreno 308 GPU||Snapdragon 625 2GHz octa-core|
Adreno 506 GPU
|Expandable||microSD card up to 128GB||microSD card up to 128GB|
1.4-micron pixels, dual AF pixels
|5MP, f/2.2, 1.4-micron pixels|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11n dual-band|
|Wi-Fi 802.11n dual-band|
10W rapid charger
15W TurboPower charger
|Water resistance||Water-repellant nano-coating||Water-repellant nano-coating|
|Security||Fingerprint sensor||Fingerprint sensor|
|Dimensions||155 x 77.5 x 9.55 mm||150.2 x 74 x 9.7 mm|
|Weight||181 g||155 g|
|Colors||Iron Gray, Fine Gold||Lunar Gray, Fine Gold|
|Price||$179.99 (2GB/16GB) / $199.99 (2GB/32GB)||$229.99 (2GB/32GB) / $299.99 (4GB/64GB)|
Hardware and design
OK, so the main takeaway from the spec sheet is that the Moto E4 Plus is taller and heavier, with a larger, lower-resolution screen and a much larger battery. There's something to be said for the compromise: Motorola already has a Moto E4, which at 5 inches is much more pocketable and, starting at little as $129.99, much more affordable. Instead, the Moto E4 Plus goes all-in on longevity, outfitting its meager specs with a massive 5000mAh cell that should last two days or longer. We've seen other companies attempt this strategy, but the "budget-specs-big-battery" maneuver hasn't yet taken off in the States like it has in parts of Asia.
Internally, the Moto E4 Plus doesn't quite compete with the G5 Plus: its Snapdragon 427 chip is a quad-core part built on an aging, relatively inefficient 28nm process; the G5 Plus's Snapdragon 625 is a proven performer, both in terms of speed, reliability and battery life. Of course, the G5 Plus's 3000mAh battery is some 40% smaller than the E4 Plus's, but our battery results prove that average use isn't a world apart between them.
Two other important differences need to be highlighted: the Moto G5 Plus's 1080p IPS panel is heads and tails better than the E4 Plus's, which is both larger in size, lower in resolution and of demonstrably poorer quality. The IPS panel is much brighter, making it easier to use in direct sunlight, and its touch responsiveness just makes everything a little nicer.
From a design perspective, these phones could not look more similar. They're both solid, made from a combination of metal and plastic, and while the Moto E4 Plus's rear casing comes off, it's just for show — there's no removable battery here. With nondescript fronts, a speaker/earpiece combination above the screen and a very capable rounded fingerprint sensor below, the Moto G5 Plus looks like Mini Me next to the E4 Plus. Around back, they share rounded sides and a circular camera module, but the Moto E4's smaller sensor is flush with the body whereas the G5's sticks out a little.
You'd be forgiven for thinking, judging from its extra weight, that the Moto E4 Plus was thicker than its G5 counterpart, but it's not: there's 1.5mm between them, with the E4 using its extra vertical space to accommodate the much larger battery. Neither are thin phones, at between 9.55 and 9.7mm, but the E4 Plus's 181 grams is hefty; I feel it weighing me down when left idle in my pocket.
Here's one potential hardware issue for headphone sticklers: the 3.5mm jack is on the top of the Moto E4 Plus, which I dislike very much. I prefer to be able to put a phone in my pocket face down so that when I remove it, cord and all, I don't have to fumble with the phone to get it into the right orientation. But hey, at least both phones have headphone jacks. Et tu, Moto Z2 Force?
Finally, both phones charge via Micro-USB, which sucks. Motorola continues to justify this by saying that legacy customers want to continue being able to use their existing cables, but come on, Motorola. Every company from Huawei to ZTE to TCL has moved its budget line over the new USB-C charging solution, and the short-term pain is worth the long-term gain.
Identical. Well, almost.
To the untrained eye, all Motorola software looks the same, from the $70 Moto E4 to the $720 Moto Z2 Force. But there are details, important ones, that need to be clarified.
From a software perspective, the Moto G5 Plus can do pretty much everything a flagship Motorola device can, from twisting one's wrist to open the camera app to flipping the phone onto its front to silence a call. It doesn't have the always-listening voice commands that the Z line benefits from, but the core features are here, including the excellent, improved Moto Display. But it runs Android 7.0, which keeps it from the subtle improvements found in Motorola's version of Android 7.1.1 that ships on the Moto E4 Plus, namely adjusting the color temperature of the screen at night to improve sleep quality.
The Moto E4 Plus, even though it ships with Android 7.1.1, doesn't have the same sensors as the more-expensive G5 Plus, so that twist-to-open gesture — yeah, that's not here. Neither is the flip-to-silence, chop-chop-to-flashlight, or any number of interesting gestures that come standard on the higher-end models.
Both units have Motorola's nascent One Button Nav feature, which eschews on-screen buttons for home button gestures. I've already made my feelings about the reliability of the space-saving solution in other reviews, but I'll reiterate it here: it's not great. It's far too easy to go home, accessed by tapping the home button, when you meant to go back, accessed by swiping left on the same button. The margin of error is too great, and the results too frustrating, for me to use One Button Nav for more than a few minutes, but I'm only one person — I've heard from people that love it. If that's the case, it's here for you to love.
There is no question that one of the Moto G5 Plus's redeeming features is its excellent 12MP camera. While it's not perfect, it's pretty much unbeatable for the price. The excellent, high-quality Sony sensor with accurate colors; the sharp f/1.7 lens with real bokeh; the simple-but-usable Pro mode — there isn't much to complain about here. Sure, low-light performance isn't comparable to phones twice or three times its price, but for $230, you're getting an unassailable weapon in the fight against bad smartphone photos. And, though you probably don't want to, it can shoot 4K video at 30fps.
The Moto E4 Plus, on the other hand, has a very mediocre, blah camera. Photos look like they're digitally processed; colors look flat and boring; and low-light quality is practically non-existent. You're getting what you pay for here. Sure, there are technically more megapixels in the E4 Plus's sensor, but that doesn't mean much when the details captured are so vague.
Where the Moto E4 Plus shines — literally — is the front-facing camera. It has a flash to illuminate even the most ashen of faces. Both phones have 5MP front shooters, but selfie lovers may want to go with the cheaper option.
This one isn't really a contest, but we'll play along. The Moto G5 Plus has a 3000mAh battery, a 1080p display, and a very efficient octa-core chip; the Moto E4 Plus has a 5000mAh battery, a 720p display and a less efficient quad-core chip. The latter trounces the former by almost half a day, but that shouldn't surprise you.
While I was able to get just over a day of use from the G5 Plus, I used the E4 Plus as a daily driver for just over a week and never dipped below 40% by the end of the night, and more common was above 50% left in the tank.
If battery life is your chief concern — and these days that includes most people — the Moto E4, warts and all, is likely your best bet. It's just a phenomenal workhorse of a budget phone, and one that I would recommend to anyone looking for a no-frills handset.
The two phones can each connect to mobile networks at a theoretical speed of 300Mbps down and 150Mbps up, and both are theoretically compatible with Sprint and Verizon in the U.S., as well as the easier-to-assume AT&T and T-Mobile. Some early buyers of the Moto E4 Plus have noted, however, that it's not possible to activate the phone on Sprint (opens in new tab) just yet, though that issue should hopefully get resolved soon.
Bringing it home, only the Moto G5 Plus supports dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4GHz and 5GHz), which is a big advantage for anyone who doesn't have a big data bucket and plans to offload a lot of wireless traffic to home Wi-Fi. And while neither phone supports NFC in the U.S., the Moto G5 Plus has the slightest advantage with Bluetooth 4.2 over the E4's Bluetooth 4.1, though real-world differences should be minor.
Which should you buy? Moto G5 Plus
Look, at the end of the day, the Moto G5 Plus is a much better phone than the E4 Plus, especially when both are as closely matched, spec-wise, as possible. On Amazon, the Moto 2GB RAM/32GB storage Moto E4 Plus costs $199.99; the equivalent Moto G5 Plus is $229.99, and you get a lot for that extra few bucks, including a faster processor, improved screen, and vastly better camera.
See Moto G5 Plus at Amazon (opens in new tab)
On the other hand, the Moto E4 Plus is a battery champion, and if you don't need 32GB of storage, it begins at $179.99 — or $159.99 if you don't mind Amazon's lock screen ads. I'd still argue that the Moto G5 Plus is a better decision since it's a more well-rounded phone, but you can't beat the E4 Plus for longevity.
See Moto E4 Plus at Amazon (opens in new tab)
What do you think? Which phone would you buy between these two? Let us know in the comments below!
Daniel Bader was a former Android Central Editor-in-Chief and Executive Editor for iMore and Windows Central.
I want that 5000 mAh battery in other phones!!!
If Moto can stuff that big of battery in a $200 phone they can do it in higher end ones.
Yeah, it's weird.... I almost get the feeling that Motorola wants people want to buy their midrange/budget options. I can get almost everything I want in budget phones these days (except the camera) and it performs admirably. Not seeing any point in buying a phone that's over $600.
Specs on the G5 camera are similar to the first Gen Z force and other flagship phones of 2016, phone really has everything most people need.
Specs match, but the software processing isn't on par.
They wouldn't put a 5000 mAh battery in their high end then they wouldn't sell battery mods
Is this stupid or what. They put a 5000mamp battery in the E4plus then put a 2730mamp battery in their premier flagship. What kind of baloney is that. Lenovo sucks, with out a doubt!
It's amazing how blind Lenovo is these days. They simply cannot compete against the Samsung/Apple monolith at the high end (moto Z?, never) but they could easily dominate the mid-range market, at least in the USA. All they need to do is simplify their model line and end up with something like a G5 Plus with an excellent camera, add NFC and add a bigger battery for 2-day battery life and also have a bigger screen version option for those that like'em big. It's so simple and obvious yet they just can't get it done.
In other words Bleex, you want the Lenovo P2?
FWIW I get 2 days out of my G5+ and I'm streaming media (Audio Books, YouTube Red) all night at work It's a great phone
The Moto G5+ is amazing. The camera is a downgrade from my Galaxy S7 (obviously) but otherwise love everything else from the smooth performance to the much better battery life. Oh, and unlike Daniel I actually like the One Nav Button, so much more cohesive.
I've had the g5+ for a couple of weeks now having moved from a not so good ( after dropping) dtek60 and I can safely say that you don't need any whistle and bells to have a good / great phone. My daughter has the standard g5 and that's good to. My only little issue is the screen colour is a pale but I understand the difference in screen between the g5+ and my old dtek.
I have the G5 Plus and I do like it for many reasons. BUT after a couple months I finally discovered that it's not set up for VoLTE (on Verizon) and that's a real game changer. Is there anything I can do besides get a different phone?
On The Motorola support site they are rolling out an update to fix the Verizon VoLTE issue people have been complaining about. So VoLTE should work already or very soon on Verizon with your G5 plus.
I guess that doesn't really tell you which phone I'd buy, but if I had known about the no VoLTE thing I wouldn't buy the G5 Plus
It's sad they put bigger batteries in low to midrange phones than they do their flagship phones. They used to be kings of battery life.
Screw lenovo, E4plus5000map battery,z2force2730mamp battery! What's wrong with this picture. Your premier flagship, a shelf item!
So why in the H cant they put the 5000mah battery IN BOTH!!??? This is why I hate the cell phone industry. I'm always forced to spend my $$$ on crap designs I dont want.