Moto G4 Plus hands-on – A beefed-up Moto G with a better camera, but still affordable

The Moto G4 Plus is the beefier, slightly higher specced version of the Moto G4. Releasing two versions of the Moto G simultaneously isn’t anything new. Last year's Moto G 3 had variants with 1GB and 2GB of RAM.

But there are far bigger differences between 2016’s Moto G4 and the Moto G4 Plus. The G4 Plus is easily the most powerful Moto G yet, and yet it still costs just £199.

Moto G4 Plus 1

The differences between it and its predecessors are instantly noticeable. The overall design feels familiar, but there’s now a capacitive pad plonked below the display, which adds in a first for a Moto phone: a fingerprint sensor.

These have become a mainstay on Android phones recently, and it’s nice to see one added here. I wasn’t able to fully test out the sensor with my own digits, but it was demoed to me and it seemed fast and reliable.

WATCH: Moto G4 and G4 Plus hands-on

My one gripe is that the fingerprint sensor is, well, only that. It doesn’t act as a home button; it’s just a capacitive pad. It feels unnatural to not press it down, but maybe that’s just me.

It’s also a much bigger _phone_ than previous Moto G handsets, due to its 5.5-inch display. This, of course, makes the whole _phone_ larger but it’s still manageable. I’m somewhat surprised Lenovo hasn’t made the Plus larger and the regular G smaller, as the names would imply, as 5.5 inches might put some people off.

The screen looks great. It’s the first Moto G with a Full HD 1080p panel, and even though it’s stretched out over a bigger canvas, the individual pixels can’t be picked out. It’s sharp, bright and viewing angles are great.

Moto G4 Plus 11

Sadly it’s all still wrapped up in a plastic case. It seems Lenovo hasn’t quite managed to bring a metal build to such an affordable phone yet.

The biggest difference between the latest two Moto G devices is the camera. The Moto G4 Plus has a 16MP sensor, complete with laser autofocus and phase-detection autofocus. There’s also an f/2.2 aperture, 84-degree wide-angle lens and a flash.

Focusing does seem particularly fast. Locking to a target is near instantaneous and jumping between focus points is accurate. I only had a short time with the camera, but the pictures look detailed and colourful.

Moto G4 Plus 7

On the front there’s a 5MP sensor for all those selfies. Standard fare, really. Lenovo is playing up how well the G4 Plus performs in DXO Mark tests ,and while this is somewhat of an indication, it’s sort of like running a benchmark – it’s not really effective at determining performance in real-world use. I’d expect it to perform well, but never take a DXO Mark score as gospel.

The camera app – a part of Moto phones I hated – has been spruced up too. It’s looks a little slicker, acts much faster and has a couple of manual options. It also no longer takes a picture every time you tap the screen.

The relatively stock Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow interface will feel familiar if you’ve ever used a Nexus device before, or a Motorola phone in recent years, and I still prefer it over any sort of skin. There’s a new Moto clock, but that’s about it. This is about as clean as Android gets.

The Snapdragon 617 CPU plus either 2GB or 3GB of RAM might be a mid-range processing combo, but it gets the job done admirably. There’ll be 16GB or 32GB storage options, plus microSD expansion.

Keeping the phone going is a 3,000mAh battery and it’s equipped with Turbo Charging. When using the supplied Turbo Charger, you’ll get six hours of use from a mere 15-minute charge. Once you’ve tried fast charging, you won’t go back.

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Moto G4 Plus 5

First Impressions

This is a lot of phone for £199. If you can manage the size and aren’t fussed that it’s built from plastic, you’re getting a very good deal. There’s no NFC, so Android Pay is out of the question, but it has a fingerprint sensor, decent CPU and an impressive 1080p.

I’m really keen to put the camera through its paces. It sounds good on paper and apparently performed well in the DXO Mark tests, so it could be a killer feature.

Best budget phone of 2015? It could very well be.

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