Motorola Moto G4 Play Review

Alex Kidman 27 September 2016


Motorola's Moto G4 Play is a budget phone that doesn't pretend to be anything else, which means it's neither exciting nor disappointing.

One of the key reasons that Android has been able to take a commanding position in Australian smartphone sales has been thanks to the large number of budget-priced handsets on the market. Not that long ago paying less than $300 for a handset meant putting up with all sorts of compromises, but as technology has improved many of those compromises have been removed. You still won’t get world-beating performance, but for most everyday uses, phones such as the Motorola Moto G4 Play offer enough power, and certainly enough battery life.

Motorola Moto G4 Play Specifications

MotorolaMoto G Play
OSAndroid 6.01 ("Marshmallow")
Screen size5.0in
Display density294ppi
ProcessorSnapdragon 410 1.2GHz
Rear camera8MP
Front camera5MP


Upsides: Why you’d want the Motorola Moto G4 Play

  • Great Battery life: Low end phones normally have woeful battery life, because skimping on capacity is an easy shortcut for manufacturers looking to save a few dollars in the construction process. Motorola hasn’t done that with the G4 Play, instead offering up a decent 2800mAh battery to run its 5 inch display. The end result is a handset that can comfortably last the day in anecdotal testing, something that’s backed up by testing in Geekbench 3’s battery test
    HandsetGeekbench 3 Battery Test DurationGeekbench 3 Battery Score
    Samsung Galaxy J210:05:202689
    Motorola Moto 4G Plus9:44:103977
    Motorola Moto G4 Play9:36:003840
    Alcatel Pop 49:20:302490
    Alcatel Idol 4S8:14:204943
    LG Stylus DAB+8:11:403278
    Alcatel Go Play7:21:102941
    Oppo R7s7:00:002800
    Telstra Signature Premium5:48:503260
    Huawei P8 Lite4:39:402768

    Stablemate the Moto G4 Plus, which has similar characteristics, narrowly edges out the G4 Play. While the Galaxy J2 still tops the budget phone battery chart, it did so with a much lower performance score, indicating that it wasn’t capable of running as hard for as long as its lower timed competitors.

  • Dual SIM: There still aren’t too many dual SIM phones available in Australia, so if you’re in the position where having two numbers at once is desirable, the Motorola Moto G4 Play could be a very appealing prospect.
  • Fast charging: It’s not a feature you’d expect on a low-end phone like the G4 Play, but (as long as you’re using the supplied 10W charger) the Moto G4 Play can rapidly charge up its 2800mAh battery.
  • Clean Android UI: Motorola really doesn’t do much to Android 6.0.1 beyond a few gestures for easy screen shrinkage, so if you’re the type who likes a clean Android experience this should appeal. In some ways it’s what the older Nexus phones used to be: a basic clean phone experience at a budget price point.
  • Acceptable camera: Camera optics are often the first thing that you compromise on with budget phones, but the Moto G4 Play’s 8MP camera is essentially workable. Fast and sharp? No, but you really can’t expect top-shelf optics at this kind of price point. It’s as much (again) a sign of how far budget phones have come that you’re getting serviceable optics, if not exceptional ones, at this price point.


Downsides: Why you might not want the Motorola Moto G Play

  • Incredibly generic design: If you asked someone to draw a picture of a generic smartphone, we’re willing to bet that the picture they came up with would look remarkably like the Motorola Moto G4 Play. It’s not so much that its style is bland; it’s that its style is essentially absent. That’s not a bad thing in a utility smartphone, but be aware that anyone looking at the Moto G4 Play will most likely figure it be a cheap phone on first impressions. Most budget smartphones struggle to stand out from the pack, but the Motorola Moto G4 Play doesn’t even try.
  • Mediocre performance: The G4 Play’s battery life is decent, but that’s because its processor doesn’t push particularly hard in any given direction at all. Here’s how it compares using Geekbench 3’s processor tests against a range of similarly priced handsets:
    HandsetGeekbench 3 Single Core (higher is better)Geekbench 3 Multi Core (higher is better)
    Telstra Signature Premium7453116
    Motorola Moto G4 Plus7153042
    Oppo R7s6962980
    LG Stylus DAB+4701418
    Alcatel Go Play4531368
    Samsung Galaxy J23151044
    Alcatel Pop 4289945
    Motorola Moto G4 Play1436480

    We don’t have many budget-range figures for the newer Geekbench 4 test so far. As such this isn’t a straight competitor comparison, because the other figures are for seriously premium-priced phones. Instead it gives a picture of where the G4 Play’s performance sits:

    HandsetGeekbench 4 CPU Single Core (higher is better)Geekbench 4 CPU Multi Core (higher is better)
    Apple iPhone 7 Plus33745649
    Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge13595333
    Samsung Galaxy S713784718
    Apple iPhone SE24494171
    Apple iPhone 6s24654052
    Google Nexus 6P12933594
    Sony Xperia X11222626
    Motorola Moto G4 Play5221334

    Here’s how the G4 Play managed on 3DMark’s Ice Storm Unlimited Test against similarly priced handsets:

    Handset3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited Result
    Motorola Moto G4 Plus9757
    Telstra Signature Premium9559
    Oppo R7s8390
    Motorola Moto G4 Play4475
    LG Stylus DAB+4321
    Alcatel Pop 43863
    Samsung Galaxy J23469

    If you’re only a moderate smartphone user the G4 Play could be an entirely adequate phone, but be ready for a little processor lag if you push it hard in any way.


Who is it best suited for? What are my other options?

The Motorola Moto G4 Play is a budget phone, and it doesn’t shy away from that. If you’re not fussed about having the latest and greatest and just want a plain smartphone to get on with the job of being a plain smartphone, it’s perfectly suitable. It is, in essence, the supermarket label version of your favourite smartphone product; nothing fancy or that you’d particularly flaunt, but certainly worthwhile for the money.

The budget space is awash with choices in this space, however, and while the Motorola Moto G4 Play is certainly affordable, it has plenty of competition from devices such as Motorola's own G4 Plus, the Alcatel Go Play, or Samsung's Galaxy J2.

Where can I get it?

The Motorola Moto G4 Play is on sale now for $279 through Harvey Norman, The Good Guys, Officeworks in black only, or in black or white from Motorola’s web site.

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