You don’t know what you got until it’s gone.
This year, 2016, Motorola has what is arguably its most complete portfolio of smartphones ever. From the high end to the low, they now have:
- Moto Z Force, $720
- Moto Z, $624
- Moto Z Play, $408
- Moto G4 Plus, $249-299
- Moto G4, $199-$229 (or as low as $149 with Amazon Prime ads)
- Moto G4 Play, $149 (or as low as $99 with Amazon Prime ads)
From top to bottom, there is a solid offering for just about every budget, with over $600 separating the best from the, well, not quite so best. In the past several months, we’ve sung the praises of the the Z Force, Z, Z Play, G4 Plus and G4. So what about the G4 Play? What does taking another $50 off the G4 get you, and is the sacrifice worth it?
Before we go any further, let’s look at the specs of the G4 Play:
- 5-inch 720 display
- Snapdragon 410 with Adreno 306
- 2GB of RAM
- 16GB of expandable storage
- 8MP rear camera
- 5MP front-facing camera
- Bluetooth 4.1
- 3.5mm headphone jack
- 2800mAh battery
- Water repellent coating
From the next phone up, the Moto G4, you are seeing a drop in almost every single notable area. The only real similarity is the 2GB of ram both devices share. It’s easy to take the mid-range specs of the Moto G4 for granted until you lose them in the G4 Play.
The screen is considerably worse, animations and noticeably stuttery, the cameras are lackluster at best and it’s slow as molasses to charge next to the Turbo Power on the regular G4. The battery really does last all day, and stock Android with Moto Display is still a major selling point at this price level, but in order to really assess the G4 Play, you have to see where it fits in with similar handsets.
The G4 Play sits firmly between the Moto G4 and the $60 Blu R1 HD. All three devices come with Amazon Prime ads, all three separated by around $50 each. For the $40 jump from the Blu to the Moto G4 Play, it’s mostly worth it. The cameras, battery life and multitasking are all a bit better on the G4 Play, and we prefer it’s more durable feeling rounded plastic body with replaceable battery and back covers. But we aren’t sure if the overall experience is that much better.
For the extra $50 above the G4 Play, at $90 more than the Blu, the G4 is well, well worth the upgrade. Almost every single aspect of the device, from top to bottom, is dramatically improved. Which is exactly the problem the G4 Play will face.
At $60 with ads, it would have been a no brainer against the competition. Even at $80, we could easily say spend the extra $20, you won’t regret it. But every dollar at this price bracket matters. An extra $40 is almost another Blue R1 HD over again. Really. And if you afford the extra $40 for a few improvements and totally stock Android (the Blu is very close, BTW), why not save an extra $50 for a much, much better device in the G4 itself?
If we were to buy a phone at under $200 today, the G4 is the easy, obvious choice. At $99 and under, it gets a little tougher. For us, the Moto G4 Play edges out the competition, for things like battery life, water repellent coating, the promise of future updates and a name you can trust. If those things don’t matter to you, at $99 and under, you may find yourself looking elsewhere.