Skip to main content

Moto X4 review: A mid-range phone done right

The quick take

Project Fi was in dire need of a new, solid, mid-range phone — and now it has one in the Moto X4. Motorola's $399 phone offers build quality that will make you feel like you paid far more, with hardware features like waterproofing that are great to see. And Google has managed to make a Motorola software experience even more appealing by adding guaranteed updates through the Android One program. Performance, battery life and camera quality are all befitting a phone of this price range. The Moto X4 is a capable leader in the sub-flagship space.

The Good

  • Excellent software
  • Great build quality with nice materials
  • Good cameras for the money
  • High quality display in all respects

The Bad

  • Just average battery life
  • Notable step down in performance from the high-end
  • Android One version limited to Project Fi
  • Confusing variety of SKUs globally

The internals

Moto X4 Specifications

CategorySpec
Operating systemAndroid 7.1 Nougat
Display5.2-inch IPS LCD, 1920x1080 (424 ppi)
Corning Gorilla Glass 3
ProcessorSnapdragon 630 octa-core, 2.2 GHz
Adreno 508 GPU, 650 MHz
RAM4GB (APAC)
3/4GB (EMEA)
3GB (NA, LATAM)
Storage32GB (NA, LATAM)
32/64GB (EMEA, APAC)
ExpandablemicroSD up to 2TB
Rear camera 112MP, 1.4-micron pixels, f/2.0, Dual Autofocus Pixel
2160p30, 1080p60 video
Rear camera 28MP, 1.12-micron pixels, f/2.2, 120-degree wide-angle lens
Front camera16MP, 1-micron pixels, f/2.0, selfie flash
Battery3000mAh
Non-removable
ChargingUSB-C
Turbo Charging
Connectivity802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0 BR/EDR/BLE, NFC
GPS, GLONASS,
Headphone jackYes
Water resistanceIP68 rating
SecurityOne-touch fingerprint sensor
Dimensions148.35 x 73.4 x 7.99 mm
163 g
ColorsSuper Black, Sterling Blue

Android One Moto X4

Great for the money

Moto X4 Things you'll love

Motorola has its hardware processes absolutely locked in. For all of the valid criticism that it doesn't vary things much from generation to generation, every phone it's put out in the past few years has been built like a tank out of great materials — the Moto X4 is no different, even at $399.

The Moto X4 feels fantastic, and has hardware features you don't expect at this price.

You get the same solid metal frame with tasteful texturing, and finely milled edges that join the glass on both sides perfectly. It feels great all around — befitting a far more expensive device — even though the glass on the back is definitely a weak point when it comes to long-term durability concerns. Yes it's rather generic, looking like just about every other Motorola phone, but that's no big deal in this price range — I'd rather have time and money spent on the actual build of the device rather than extra flare that serves no purpose.

Image 1 of 3

Android One Moto X4

Image 2 of 3

Android One Moto X4

Image 3 of 3

Android One Moto X4

Beyond the external design, the Moto X4 also gives you a set of nice-to-have features you wouldn't always expect for this segment. You get USB-C with fast charging, IP68 water-resistance, dual cameras on the back, a front-facing camera flash and a great one-touch fingerprint sensor on the front. (And hey, a headphone jack!)

The 5.2-inch 1080p display is much better than I'd expect for the money, with punchy colors and surprisingly good viewing angles. It's not the biggest, highest resolution or brightest screen out there, but I would have no qualms with it even if it were on a $650 phone — that's high praise. The only downside is having the older Gorilla Glass 3 on the front, rather than the newer GG 5.

Image 1 of 3

Android One Moto X4

Image 2 of 3

Android One Moto X4

Image 3 of 3

Android One Moto X4

Before receiving my Moto X4 review unit, I was expecting the Android One software experience to differ from what I had seen previously on the "international" Moto X4. Thankfully that isn't the case at all — the Android One Moto X4 has the exact same set of software features and tweaks from Motorola as the unlocked non-Android One version. And that's a really good thing.

You get Motorola's excellent software, backed up by Google's guarantee of updates with Android One.

So you get Motorola's camera app, its super-great ambient display and notifications, and the little gestures like twisting the phone to launch the camera or doing a "chop" motion to toggle the flashlight at any time. But because this is an Android One device, Google guarantees that it'll get "at least two years" of software updates, and that's the one area where Motorola has not done well in the past — especially on less-expensive phones like this.

Put simply, the Moto X4's software is fantastic. Motorola's additions are super useful and perfectly fit in with Google's vision for Android, and features like Moto Display are in my opinion better than what Google ships on the Pixel 2. Nothing is duplicated in the system or unnecessary like you'll so often find on the less-refined phones in this price range. This is software befitting of any phone at any price.

Image 1 of 12

Moto X4 camera sample

Image 2 of 12

Moto X4 camera sample

Image 3 of 12

Moto X4 camera sample

Image 4 of 12

Moto X4 camera sample

Image 5 of 12

Moto X4 camera sample

Image 6 of 12

Moto X4 camera sample

Image 7 of 12

Moto X4 camera sample

Image 8 of 12

Moto X4 camera sample

Image 9 of 12

Moto X4 camera sample

Image 10 of 12

Moto X4 camera sample

Image 11 of 12

Moto X4 camera sample

Image 12 of 12

Moto X4 camera sample

Motorola's other historic weak point is the camera, but it has done a solid job with the Moto X4. Interestingly for a cheaper phone this is Motorola's first rear dual-camera setup, and it's gone with an LG-like pair of a "standard" lens next to a wide-angle one. The main camera's hardware is just better in every way — higher resolution, larger pixels, wider aperture — but it's still fun to have the wide-angle shooter at your disposal.

A surprisingly good pair of cameras, with shortcomings in the usual places.

And you know what? The cameras are actually pretty good! I took a whole lot of photos, many of which you can see above, that were really good in terms of color production and detail. Even the wide-angle shooter is capable of some fun shots, provided you don't tax it with a low-light scene. The main camera can handle low light pretty well, but its processing doesn't match high-end phones in mixed scenes — Motorola's HDR just isn't that great. The camera app itself is relatively quick, but capture times are understandably slow with this processor.

Moto X4

Not much to dislike

Moto X4 Things you'll hate

This section is a whole lot shorter than the previous one — there just isn't much to dislike about the Moto X4. If there's one negative you can point out, it's that the external hardware and software are of a flagship level, but the specs and performance show you that the phone is, indeed, $399. The Snapdragon 630 processor is capable, but not on the same level as flagships with an 835 or even 821. If you're in North America, you're getting 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage instead of the 4GB (if not 6GB) and 64GB or more.

The only place you notice you're using a cheaper phone is in the performance and battery life.

In real-world use, these number discrepancies don't translate into a huge performance delta, but it is noticeable at times. You don't ever see dropped frames or stutters or crashes, but you do notice things just take an extra couple of beats here and there when compared to the hottest phones out today. Everything you do pushes that Snapdragon 630 closer to its maximum capabilities than it'd ever push a Snapdragon 835, and having 3GB of RAM means you're just a bit more likely to see apps dump out of memory than on other phones with 1-3GB more.

Battery life, too, is just okay. With your processor working harder to do all of the typical tasks, it has to be up and running for longer and that takes up some of that precious 3000mAh battery. The capacity in itself is totally fine, and we've seen other phones do pretty well with it when paired with more efficient processors, but here it equates to just average battery life. I could get a full day just fine, but that's on an average day with nothing extraordinary happening — and it didn't have much left in the tank at the end. This aligns well with what our own Daniel Bader found in his Moto Z2 Play review, which is built on a very similar recipe.

Moto X4 Project Fi app

A great choice

Moto X4 Should you buy it?

As an editor at Android Central, I have access to just about any high-end phone I could want. Currently, I'm using a Google Pixel 2. I could swap my Project Fi account over to this Moto X4 and use it every single day and really not notice any drop-off in quality for ~80% of what I do in an average week. In terms of the quality of the hardware, the characteristics of the display, the range of available features and the intuitive nature of the software, things are imperceptible from a $650 phone.

So much of the Moto X4 experience feels like a flagship ... at $250 less.

There are just a few places where you notice the Moto X4 isn't a flagship-level phone. Its cameras are very good, but they can't handle some difficult scenes or low-light shots. Even though the processor and RAM are good enough for the basics, you can find their limits if you push your phone hard. Battery life, as a result, is just average. But nothing is bad on the Moto X4. And outside of these few things, everything else is top-notch — and that's awesome because it means there are lots of people who can save $200-300 and still get a great phone here.

For $400, it's tough to find a better overall experience than the Moto X4 today. The best option, if it works for you, is to get the Android One version that has a guaranteed update path. That is, of course, limited to Project Fi — making it an option for a small subset of people. But even if you have to go with the regular unlocked version from Motorola, you're going to be happy with the Moto X4. This is a mid-range Android phone done right.

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

103 Comments
  • Andrew, as a phone reviewer, you (unlike most) actually saw the good in a mid-range phone. Thank you. Having said that, as the owner of the Moto G5S plus w/4 gigs ram- 64 gigs mem, and the of the fact that I only paid $300 for. I feel like it would be a step back to go down to the North American version of Moto X4, w/ 3gigs ram-32 gigs mem and the glass back for $400. Motorola dropped the ball!! Can't do it. No freaking way!!
  • I like the idea of a wide angle lens more than the depth effect lens but compared to the Moto G5S Plus there are some shortcomings; battery life is worse, screen size is smaller, price is quite a bit higher and I have no idea what project Fi is but I need a phone that works on multiple carriers and the Moto G5S Plus does that. But the Moto G5S Plus has known camera quality issues and that really detracts from an otherwise amazing budget phone.
  • yep. this is very disappointing.
  • Sounds like this is essentially the perfect phone for Android One...
  • This is definitely the kind of phone Android One needed to be able to come to the U.S.
  • Disappointed about the battery life. I had higher expectations.
  • it's strange. 1080p at 5.2 and 3000 mAh on power sipping chip should last longer. G5 was doing better with this hardware. who knows , maybe they cheaped out on the display quality. don't know what else could be the reason.
  • Its funny how we consider a $400 phone "cheap" nowadays. It would have been far more useful to give us more RAM and/or storage than give use 2 camera lenses on the back.
  • Compared to $700 and up "super high-end" phones, yes $400 is cheap.
  • But that's what the G5+ is for?
  • The camera on the G5S+ is not that good, at least as per most reviewers. With the current discounts, the Honor 8 is a better option.
  • That's a fair point there. I don't disagree but the G5S+ (or regular G5+) have the benefit of being used on any carrier, which the Honor 8 does not. For GSM, the Honor 8 is winning.
  • Moto G5+ doesn't have NFC (I have the phone)
  • Moto G5+ does have NFC (I have the phone)
  • Not in the US.
  • Anthony has the phone
  • Good job by lenovorola screwing the US market with 3Gb RAM/32Gb storage. Also, would it kill some manufacturer to actually use the SD660 this year in the Western Hemisphere, evidently it’s just vaporware over here.
  • The Moto G5 Plus and G5S Plus both come with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage.
  • Why would the domestic version have less ram than the overseas version? Must be a good reason but I don't have a clue. Anyone?
  • Motorola does this constantly, putting out many different SKUs with different RAM/storage in different parts of the world. I can't honestly say it makes sense or have any idea why it does it.
  • Domestic??? Motorola is now a Chinese company pal. They have 6 gigs of ram on the X4 there
  • When someone talks about the "domestic" market they're referring to where they are as the consumer, not where it's made. All of these things are made in part or in full in China.
  • Have you read the Android Police review? They are more critical of the device. It's honestly really fun to see how different the reception devices get based on the different lifestyles of those using them.
  • If you buy it on project fi, can you leave and use it elsewhere? At least on GSM networks?
  • Project fi also incorporates CDMA with T-Mobile and Sprint being the primary fi partner carriers.
  • Project fi doesn't use SIM cards. It's called eSim. http://www.pocket-lint.com/news/134640-what-is-an-esim-and-how-will-it-c...
  • I don't think that's the case. I had a Nexus 5X which used a project fi micro SIM. I know that project fi does support esims but it has micro Sims as well
  • You are correct the phone uses both eSim and Nano Sim. But project fi uses eSim.
  • Project Fi only uses eSIMs on the new Pixel 2 and 2 XL. Everything else still uses a physical Nano SIM. The Moto X4 uses a physical Fi SIM card.
  • Yeah it's still a SIM unlocked phone.
  • That definitely makes this the easiest mid range phone to recommend to someone. Before this I'd be worried that any mid range phone I could recommend would be terrible for updates. Great move for them to get the X4 on Android one
  • Yes you can.
  • The unlocked phone sold through Motorola, not AndroidOne, why does it need to have Amazon's Alexa assistant baked in???
  • Amazon is only selling its "Amazon" version of the phone, which is the cheaper model with Amazon ads on the lock screen and Alexa in the software.
  • Go to motorola.com and you'll see that the unlocked phone has Amazon Alexa on it...
  • That's different. Just the Amazon Alexa service built in, but not the Amazon ads. It's just a value-add that they've partnered with Amazon for. Just like on the HTC U11. You don't have to use it if you don't want to :) Google Assistant is still there.
  • $330 for that is a great deal! But I could get a Moto G5 Plus for less and have most of the same features.
  • The "Moto never updates their phones" attitude needs to stop. Anyone who has had any Verizon Moto Z line of phones in the last year has been getting routine updates and security patches. The Moto Z Pure was the last phone with outstanding software issues, most of the newer phones in the last year or so have been pretty routinely updated (the Verizon ones have been the best of them). My Moto Z play has a more recent security patch and Android version then my Samsung S7 Edge right now.
  • My Moto Z begs to differ Still on 7.0, January patch. Received OTAs. All bricked the phone. Moto support wouldn’t help either
  • My Z is on 7.1.1. September 1st patch. Bell Canada. What carrier are you with?
  • Motorola has historically been one of the worst offenders of leaving relatively new phones behind. Particularly its low- and mid-range phones. An exception does not prove that Motorola updates all of its phones regularly.
  • I'm kind of impressed with Verizon's Moto Z Play Droid. I'm actually on October's security patch and nougat 7.1. On the other hand my wife has and LG G6 and she's still the August security patch and 7.0. Crazy!
  • Just ordered a pixel 2 for my aunt yesterday. She's been using her original Moto x for over 3 years. I guess this would have been a cheaper option but money isn't an issue for her. Plus pixel will be much better with updates.
  • Did Tempow multi-device Bluetooth make it to the production version?
  • I too would like to know.
  • Not on Google Fi. If you want multi-device you would need to order the X4 on Amazon unlocked
  • Personally, I would choose the g5plus. The 4gbmodel with 64gb's of storage. The 625 processer would give you longer lasting battery power. Lenovo has so many phones out their beginning to make me dizzy! But the g5plus model with Amazon will cost you 239.00. Not a bad deal! I'm starting to believe the g5plus is there best release this year!
  • Yeah, Moto has a lot going on in the so-called mid-range right now. I'd love to see a head-to-head comparison of the X4, Z2 Play, and G5(s)+.
  • I didn't even want a mid-range phone, but with my trade-in, the price is reasonable. My Android One arrives Tuesday. Gel TPU case also arrives then. It'll replace my 3 year old Moto Nexus 6. Hope Google decides to give this device 3 years of OS updates, like it's going to do with the Pixel 2's.
  • Great review Andrew, It sounds like 625 > 630 for battery life, I was wondering. 625 holds up very, very well. A medium level user I get about 1 1/2 days to 2 days out of my G5+
  • Somebody kind of asked this earlier, but Andrew, will the Android One version work with another GSM carrier? For instance, if I buy the phone outright through Fi, then cancel the service, will the phone work elsewhere? And would that impact the update schedule? I'm not a data hog, but Fi will cost significantly more than my current carrier.
  • http://www.pocket-lint.com/news/134640-what-is-an-esim-and-how-will-it-c...
  • Yup it's unlocked and has a regular Nano SIM slot for whatever GSM/LTE carrier you want to use (radio bands permitting). The Moto X4 does NOT use an eSIM for Project Fi like the Pixel 2 and 2 XL.
  • Andrew, nice review.
    Disappointed in battery life experienced.
    Did you have adequate time with it for sw to settle down?
    Was expecting 1.25-> 1.4 days per full charge for "normal" days.
    akin to SD625..but better.
    thanks.
  • maybe it it's display to blame.
  • I've used it for just shy of two weeks. The battery life seems to be right on par with what our own Daniel Bader experienced in the Moto Z2 Play with a Snap 626 and 3000mAh battery.
  • it's not the fabrication size - 14nm is pretty good (Qualcomm stuck with 28nm way too long).
  • Xiaomi Mi A1, another Android One alternative, seems like a better deal. Apart from not having all the LTE bands you guys need there in the States.
  • Good review. Could you guys do Comparison btw the Moto G5S plus and the Moto X4?
  • How does the SD 630 SOC compare to the SD 820? is it weaker in every way?
  • Yes.
  • Motorola is committed to selling unlocked, universally-compatible phones in the US, which is good. Their nice clean Android builds with their few tweaks are great. Android One fixes the problem of Lenovo's inconsistent software updates. But the X4 frustrates me because it's not much of a clear upgrade over the G5S Plus. Smaller screen, premium-ish build, less RAM, slightly newer SoC. I had an X Pure that I recently replaced with a Galaxy S7 Edge, which is a totally different experience, but it met what I was looking for. If Motorola made the X4 with a 5.5" 1440p LCD (to save money) screen, SD660, 4 GB RAM, 32 GB + microSD, universal carrier compatibility, fingerprint, NFC & headphone jack, that would be perfect. *Somebody* should make that phone.
  • The upcoming BlackBerry Motion sounds like a phone you'd like then.
  • No, the BB Motion has a 1080p display and Snapdragon 625. The 625 combined with the 4000 mAh battery shows they're focusing on battery life. Which is fine, of course, but it's not an upper-mid level SoC.
  • I'm with you - the screen needs to be 5.5" so it can play YouTube and even movies better. I don't need more than 1080p, but I do need a larger screen. Right now even my now out-of-date Moto G4 is looking better (nice super bright 5.5", 1080p screen). Good grief even the Moto E has a 5.5" version!
  • The only thing I need to know is, is it better than than my Nexus 5X that I traded in for X4. Battery life and performance. Since it has bigger battery and low end processor wouldn't it give more battery life than 5X. Also that 3 GB of ram vs 2 on 5X. Andrew can you compare these two phones. I know 5X has a better camera but that's not priority for me.
  • It will be better all around than the 5X.
  • Yes it'll be better in every way than the Nexus 5X ... at least once the Moto X4 gets its Oreo update :)
  • Better display than the Google Pixel 2 XL.
  • The Moto X4 is a good upgrade for me. I will be upgrading from the original Moto X on Verizon. The Moto x4 has a better processor, more ram, more storage, and a better camera. I think it also has a better battery than the original Moto X. What is really good is I will be paying that same price I paid for the original Moto X, $400 and I will be getting Bluetooth 5 when the phone is upgraded to Android P.
  • Holy cow, yes that will be a huge upgrade for you.
  • If you gotta have a new phone, this is a great price for a great device. However, two devices are getting cheap on swappa; Essential Phone and the LG G6. You can score a G6 for around $350. Essential can be had for less than $550. If my budget was $400, it would be the G6 all day long.
  • G6 is great, but they do not update their software.
  • Something that should be mentioned in the specs: in the past, Motorola's Turbo Charge has been Qualcomm's Quick Charge. The X4 uses USB-C's USB PD. Motorola is meeting the USC-C charging spec, unlike some other vendors who run Qualcomm Quick Charge through a USB-C port.
  • Thanks for the review. Like saket87, I'm interested in comparing the X4 to the Nexus 5X. Other stuff:
    - Does the X4 have EVS codec functionality?
    - Is it Project Treble compatible?
  • All you have to do is purchase it through Fi, then cancel service. The phone is then yours to use wherever you want. It isn't really Fi exclusive. You guys need to point this out.
  • I wondered if it would be that easy. I agree they need to point this out.
  • Of course. That's always been the case with every single phone through Project Fi. You can also just skip that hassle (and cost) and buy the phone unlocked from Motorola — the only thing you miss out on is the Android One update guarantee.
  • Or just buy the regular unlocked version through Best Buy, Newegg, or Amazon.
  • The camera hump looks kind of like the old Nokia Lumia 1020. Of course, it has 25 fewer megapixels ☺️
  • Great calendar Andrew, it's not easy being an EPL fan on the west coast.
  • Lots of too-early mornings :(
  • Wayyyy rather have a phone with GG3 than GG5. At least it won't be scratched to **** in a week of being in a pocket LoL
  • Was interested in this phone until I see U.S. version has 3 gb ram 😕
  • TrustedReviews is pretty down on this phone saying that the G5 is a much better buy. I tend to agree. At $250 The X4 would be a good buy. At $400 it's just vastly overpriced.
  • Best Buy is offering the X4 with a $50 gift card. Bluetooth 5, better modem, better image processing give this an edge over G5S in my opinon
  • Hey Andrew, don’t you think the price is high for the specs? Wouldn’t the Moto G5 plus be a better option?
  • if all you care about is specs for the money, yes the G5S Plus is a better value. I tend to put a little extra value to the Moto X4 having dual cameras and a better overall feeling/looking build. Plus the Android One guaranteed updates, if you care about that.
  • The G5S Plus has dual cameras too.
  • I have a Moto Z Play Droid (Verizon) that I'm happy with, but I'm thinking of this one for a 2nd, Project Fi account, mainly for the updates as an Android One device. Due to security concerns, my workplace doesn't want me using the Droid on their internal network if I have taken it overseas, so I would leave the Droid at home when traveling internationally, and use the X4 instead. The 625 processor has been perfectly fine for my needs, so this one should be as well, And as a travel phone, I'd actually be fine with the slightly smaller size.
  • I liked 2016 when $400 midrange would get you a top tier processor, 6GB ram / 64GB storage (OnePlus 3, Axon 7).
  • Motorola is a good alternative for better support, maybe better security updates. It's a trade-off.
  • Sort of OK; in Amazon Prime exclusive $329 edition, more appealing. BUT why 5.2"? 5.5" is the sweet spot for a mid-tier phone that doubles as a portable media player.
  • It was one of my prospect but I finally went for a Xiaomi Mi A1. I gotta say i'm glad I did. Best deal I ever made on a decent phone
  • God, are you Kidding?? $400?? I can go on Amazon right now and get a V20 for less than $325...New LG V20 H910 64GB - Titan Gray (AT&T)
    by LG
    $319.99 $ 319 99 Prime(4-5 days)
    More Buying Choices
    $269.99(5 used & new offers)
    Product Features
    New Smartphone Go figure, and actual HIGH END phone for less than the Mid Tier mediocre phone.
  • LG V20? OK but it'll never be updated.
  • Actually I've gotten security updates in October and November and I expect at least a 7.1.1 update soon Joel
  • Except you're talking about an LG product. Terrible customer support. I went from the original Moto X to the LG G4. The G4 has a terrific camera, until it bootlooped. Long story but LG doesn't understand customer service. So I'm looking for a new phone. X4 may not be 'flagship' material but considering the price, it's a lot easier to justify a new phone every 2-3 years at the X4's price.
  • I’m really torn between the Moto X4 or the G5 Plus or G5S Plus. All three phones seem fantastic for their price.
  • I just ordered the X4 and it's going to arrive on Tuesday only because my Nexus 6p was stuck on nougat 7.1.2 along with the August security update...... However, all that seems to be fixed now since I opted to download the developer 8.1 version which added the September and October security updates so my Nexus 6p is no longer vulnerable to the Blue Bourne hack for Bluetooth now, one less worry!! I think the Nexus 6p actually runs pretty nicely with 8.1, a lot quicker!! Once I get the November security updates then my phone can be patched for that Krack vulnerability with WPA and Wifi.. Hmm, I guess I don't need the X4 anymore
  • Yeah, well, I spoke to soon!!! My Nexus 6p is still running 8.1 developer version and I withdrew from the Beta and was not offered any other former Android version. Google offered me NOTHING AS a replacement for my 499.00 Nexus 6p, like they did with other Nexus 6p owners, even out of warranty. I'm already on my 2nd Moto x4 phone............
  • I'm getting mine from Amazon for 330 dollars. Plus, it's work with Project Fi. It has FM radio chip and CDMA. That's all I need. I don't care about the rest.
  • I've been waiting for a mid-range Moto to get the compass back! I returned a G5 Plus last year when I realized geocaching with the app was terrible. I'm thrilled to see that the X4 has the compass and the good ol' headphone jack. Hello, Waze via Android Auto! Apple CarPlay is causing me to jump ship.