Motorola Moto X4 Review: Premium style at a mid-range price

Alex Kidman 18 October 2017

Motorola's classy looking X4 handset hides some neat features at a mid-range price point.

Quick Verdict
Motorola's X4 punches above its price weight, making it a good option for outright phone buyers who want a premium looking handset.

The Good

  • Clean Android
  • IP68 Water resistance
  • Solid metal body
  • Dual lenses

The Bad

  • Slow camera
  • Huge fingerprint magnet
  • Mid-range processor performance

The Motorola Moto X4 is an odd handset in the Motorola lineup, largely because it sits above the Motorola Moto G5S, but below the Moto Mod-capable Moto Z2 Play handset. It's a narrow pricing niche for the X4 to occupy, but what Motorola's done with this particular handset makes for a compelling option if you're happy with Motorola's general Android approach.

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Design

Motorola's own style is present in the design of the Motorola X4, with the same rounded corners and oval-based fingerprint sensor setup as found on the Motorola E4 or Motorola G5S. Where the Moto X4 really differs is in the construction of the handset itself. It's a solid metal unibody design in either "Super Black" or "Sterling Blue". I'm a bit of a sucker for blue metal phones, and the Motorola Moto X4 is certainly visually appealing at a level you don't always see in mid-range handsets.

The Moto X4 measures in at 148.35 x 73.4 x 7.99 mm, although it does have a rather prominent camera bump at the rear that pushes out the top of the phone to 9.45mm. While this means the Moto X4 sits at an angle when it's on a flat surface, it's not wobbly in any real way.

The Motorola Moto X4 features a 5.2 inch 1080x1920 pixel display, which is entirely functional if not exactly exciting at this price range. It's behind Corning Gorilla Glass, which should give it some durability, although rather predictably we did notice that the shiny casing quickly attracted fingerprints.

The Motorola Moto X4 is also notable for being water resistant, with an IP68 rating. As always a little caution is advised, so don't throw your phone through the dishwasher, however, a small accidental immersion should be fine.

MotoX4_2_738

Camera

One of the Motorola Moto X4's signature features is the inclusion of a dual lens camera. That's a feature we've seen creep down into the middle tier of phones via handsets such as the Oppo R11 or OnePlus 5, although the X4's implementation is more similar to the camera found in LG's G6, with one 12MP f/2.0 primary sensor and one 8MP f/2.2 wide-angle lens.

Like the G6, there's an onscreen toggle for either camera mode, although this is a rather slow process when changing from one lens to another. That's fine for panoramic landscape work, but ill-advised if you're capturing fast action scenes. It's not a super-wide angle, but it can change your photo's perspective nicely with just a little work. Here's the standard lens at work:

MotoX4_CameraSample2_s

And here's the same shot taken on the wide lens:

MotoX4_CameraSample2_w

Mid-range cameras have picked up pace in recent months, putting solid pressure on the premium space if all you want is a workable camera, and that describes the Motorola Moto X4's camera capabilities nicely.

It's an entirely workable camera with an optional landscape and object recognition feature, similar in concept to the Google Lens feature on the new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. However, you can't force it to identify landmarks if it decides not to. As an example, I could get it to identify Sydney's Centrepoint Tower without issue, but to the Moto X4, the Queen Victoria Building was just another building.

It's also possible to use the Moto X4's dual lenses for bokeh style effects that mostly work in a realistic fashion, with a slider for the level of focus blurring, similar to that of the Galaxy Note 8. Here's a standard shot:

MotoX4_CameraSample2_d1

And a shot taken seconds later with the depth effect applied:

MotoX4_CameraSample2_d2

The Moto X4's overall camera performance was generally quite pleasing, and while it's a little slow for a dual-lens camera, with a little patience it can deliver some quality results. Here are some sample shots taken directly from the Moto X4:

MotoX4_CameraSample1
MotoX4_CameraSample5

MotoX4_CameraSample4

MotoX4_CameraSample3

Performance

The Moto X4 runs on Qualcomm's mid-tier Snapdragon 630 SoC, which is entirely in line with its pricing and positioning. That being said, the 630 is a relatively new chip that we've seen in very few phones here locally, so I was curious to see how it compared against other mid-range offerings.
Here's how the Moto X4 compared using Geekbench 4's CPU test:

HandsetGeekbench 4 CPU Single Core (higher is better)Geekbench 4 CPU Multi Core (higher is better)
OnePlus 519766506
Oppo R1116165895
Huawei P1019225633
Motorola MotoZ Play 28914485
Moto G5 Plus8424180
Motorola X48654087
Samsung Galaxy A77713998
Huawei GR5 20178143398
Huawei Nova Plus8432985
LG Q65362005

And here is how it compares using 3DMark's Ice Storm Unlimited test:

Handset3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited Result
OnePlus 539497
Huawei P1025168
Oppo R1124525
Motorola X416763
Motorola Moto Z2 Play14032
Huawei Nova Plus13969
Moto G5 Plus13753
Samsung Galaxy A713629
Huawei GR5 201711859
LG Q67779

Those figures put the Moto X4 pretty much where I'd expect it to sit, but once again the benchmarks aren't the full story. For heavier apps it will no doubt struggle a little compared to premium flagships, but for day to day tasks, it's quite a nimble performer. That's undoubtedly helped by the fact that Motorola only throws a very light overlay on top of stock Android. This means that there's little clutter to add to performance lag on the Motorola Moto X4.

You do get Moto's "Moto Actions", as seen in other handsets, so you can use specific motions to enable the flashlight or camera quickly. The X4 handles these quite well, although they're entirely optional in any case.

MotoX4_3_738

Battery

The Motorola Moto X4's metal construction means that its battery is entirely sealed. Motorola throws in a 3000mAh battery in the Moto X4, which should, on a mid-range processor like the Snapdragon 630 and with that smaller screen lead to pleasing battery life.

Thankfully that's exactly what you get, with the Moto X4's battery performance right up there with the best mid-range phones available today. Single day performance at an anecdotal level is entirely feasible, and multi-day could be within range if you're a light phone user.

This was backed up by Geekbench 3's battery life test, where the Moto X4 compared very favourably:

HandsetGeekbench 3 Battery Test DurationGeekbench 3 Battery Score
Huawei Nova Plus13:21:208013
Motorola X412:42:007515
Samsung Galaxy A712:40:307603
Motorola Moto Play Z 211:50:507107
Huawei GR5 201711:33:506938
Motorola Moto G5 Plus11:15:406756
OnePlus 59:33:305735
Huawei P109:31:305523
Motorola E49:26:103752
LG Q68:44:403498
Oppo R117:52:304725

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Verdict

The Moto X4 is, as noted at the start, a phone that sits in an unusual position in Motorola's roster of phones, because it's not a true budget option, and neither, technically speaking is it a premium option a la the Motorola Moto Z2 Play or Moto Z2 Force, although the latter is a phone we won't see here in Australia according to Motorola representatives.

As such, the pressure is on for it to perform, and this it does, with an appealing design, quality camera and exceptional battery life marking it out from the crowd. But that's quite a deep crowd, so you'd do well to consider your alternatives. There's the excellent but hard to source OnePlus 5 to consider at this kind of price, as well as (effective) stablemate the Oppo R11, which has worse battery life but a faster camera. LG's G6 has seen price tumbles bringing it close to this kind of price point if you're happy going with a directly imported model, and there are plenty of lower cost options, including a number of handsets from Motorola itself.

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Motorola X4: What the other reviewers say

SiteCommentScore
TechRadar (hands-on)"The Moto X4 all adds up with good specs, an impressively low price point and a very interesting design."N/A
CNET (hands-on)"Motorola wants the Moto X4 to be your Goldilocks phone"N/A

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Pricing and availability

The Motorola X4 is available in Australia now at an outright price of $699. It's not available on any carrier contract plans at the time of writing.

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Specifications

Product Name
Motorola X4
Display
5.2in
Resolution
1080 x 1920 pixels
ppi
424ppi
Software
Android 7.1
Storage
32GB
RAM
3GB
Battery
3000mAh
Front camera
16MP f/2.0
Rear camera
Dual 12MP f/2.0, 8MP wide angle f/2.2
Processor
Qualcomm Snapdragon 630
Size
148.35 x 73.4 x 7.99 mm
mm
Weight
163g

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