Moto G4 Play review: it's OK

This cheap, flawed smartphone is still good value

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Motorola G4 Play
  • Motorola G4 Play
  • Motorola G4 Play
  • Motorola G4 Play
  • Expert Rating

    3.50 / 5


  • Cheap
  • Cheerful


  • Mediocre camera
  • Struggles with top games

Bottom Line

Perhaps a better way to explain the Moto G4 Play is to call it an overachieving mediocre phone.

Would you buy this?

The thought of a modern smartphone, capable of putting the world’s knowledge in the palm of your hand, priced at only $269 is kind of ridiculous, isn’t it?

Motorola’s latest entry-level model is the Moto G4 Play, a $269 device that’s a cheaper, less-well-equipped device when compared to the other two devices in the “G” line: the G4 and G4 Plus.

Just how much phone do you get in a phone that costs less than Apple’s wireless AirPods? Let’s take a look.

Fast enough for basic tasks, not for gaming

moto g4 back off with battery removed Jason Cipriani

A removable back leads to a removable battery, and a microSD card slot.

The Moto G4 Play ships with Android 6.0.1, is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 410 processor with 2 GB of memory. Its 2,800 milliamp-hour battery is removable, while its standard 16 GB of storage is expandable up to 128 GB through microSD support.

Translation: The G4 Play isn’t a speed demon, but thanks its 5-inch 720p display and low-end processor, its battery life is stellar.

Battery life in real world use was enough to get me through a 14 hour day, full of email, Facebook, random camera use, and Slack conversations.

During normal tasks where you’re not asking a lot of the processor, such as using Gmail, the phone shows almost no signs of slow performance. However, while racing around the track in Asphalt 8 is possible, you'll suffer some stutter and choppiness to the gameplay.

As is the case with the rest of Motorola’s smartphone lineup (not tied to the Droid branding), the overall Android experience is designed to look and feel more or less stock, with a few custom tweaks here and there. For example, you can launch the camera at any time by pressing the power button twice in quick succession.

Excessive apps and carrier bloatware are nonexistent on the G4 Play, unless you opt for the Amazon version (more on that below).

The camera is just okay

moto g4 play kid standing alone goofy look on face Jason Cipriani

A candid shot caught with the G4 Play.

Almost every photo I capture with the G4 Play’s 8 megapixel camera has a grainy look to it. The photo above, for example, looks fine when viewing it on the phone, but view it on a computer and the graininess shows up.

Abnormalities are most apparent around my son’s face, just below his chin. Color reproduction in this particular shot is decent, but the sky is completely blown out, with some of that carrying over to the roof of the school just below it.

moto g4 play emoji dog Jason Cipriani

Emoji, my dog, is not impressed with my constant need to use him when testing phones.

On occasion, however, I would get a clean shot with balanced exposure and color replication. Even when viewing the photo of my dog on my computer’s display, I was impressed with the shot.

In other words, the G4 Play’s camera isn’t going to wow you. Often times, you'll will wish you had a better camera, but it does a good enough job for sharing on Instagram or Snapchat where the quality of a photo doesn’t matter as much as the subject matter.

back of moto g4 play with camera lens Jason Cipriani

The back of the Moto G4 Play is easy to grip.

A definite buy for those on a budget

moto g4 play earpiece top of phone Jason Cipriani

The G4 Play comes in black or white.

Perhaps a better way to explain the Moto G4 Play is to call it an overachieving mediocre phone. I know, it makes no sense, but when you look at its benchmarks, the scores are really low. Yet, daily use doesn’t suffer in the same manner the HTC Desire 530 did, which scored just below the G4 Play.

I didn’t recommend the Desire 530, however I have no problem recommending the Moto G4 Play to those who are looking for an unlocked phone on tight budget.

The Moto G4 Play will get the job done, so long as its duties are limited to light computing and the occasional gaming session.

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