Tech Talk: Can Motorola's Three Moto G4 Models Compete?

The original Moto G was released in 2013. Until this time, the overwhelming majority of low-end Android devices were sluggish, with substandard displays, minuscule amounts of internal storage, sluggish processors, poor cameras and were rarely supported by manufacturers after release. The Motorola Moto G took the established entry level rules and tossed them aside, offering customers a 720p display, a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, and 8GB of internal storage. Better yet, the Moto G was kept up to date with smart releases for Android 4.4 Kit Kat and then 5.0 Lollipop. It was not a perfect handset but it was very well priced. The 2014 Moto G offered a similar specification but a larger battery and the third generation, 2015 model, used more powerful internals and had access to the Moto Maker way of customising the device. For 2016, after Lenovo's takeover of Motorola, the company is releasing not one but three new generation Moto G models.

The core Moto G4 is based around a 5.5-inch, 1080p display backed up by a mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 System-on-Chip, with between 2GB to 4GB of RAM and 16GB through to 64GB of internal storage. There's also a 3,000 mAh battery. It comes with Android 6.0 Marshmallow, Moto Display and Moto Actions. Lenovo are also offering the Moto G4 Plus, which features a similar specification and software experience but an enhanced 16MP camera and a fingerprint sensor. In the United Kingdom, the Moto G4 will start at £169 and the Moto G4 Plus will start at £199.

There's another handset in the family that slots below the Moto G4: this is the Moto G4 Play, which is based around the lower level Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor, uses a 5.0-inch, 720p display, has 2GB of RAM and either 8GB or 16GB of internal storage. It has a lesser 8MP rear camera but the same near-stock user interface and Moto enhancements. The battery for the Moto G4 Play is 2,800 mAh. It's Motorola's smaller device but sadly comes with a smaller internal specification: there's no Sony Z5 Compact or iPhone SE magic here, where a smaller device has the same horsepower as the larger models. We don't know the pricing of the Moto G4 Play or availability yet as it will be released after the Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus models.

How well can these three new Motorola devices compete with other similar priced devices? Motorola is using a near-stock interface, which is clean and fast, whereas some Chinese competitors are using a metal chassis combined with at least comparable internal components. A great example of such a device is the Huawei Honor 5X: similar specification, a similar price, but metal build and Huawei's skin on top of Android. Motorola also has Moto Maker (for the Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus but not the Moto G4 Play) and a reputation for keeping devices up to date. It also has better brand awareness and the company has never been about matching specifications but instead offering a great experience. It may come down to marketing and reputation. The changes taking place at the carrier side of things will support all mid-range devices. Equipment installation plans - where the true cost of a device is more transparent to the customer than ever before - is helping people pick a lesser model and saving money. Time will tell if there is space for Motorola's mid-range Moto G4.

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About the Author
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David Steele

Senior Staff Writer
I grew up with 8-bit computers and moved into PDAs in my professional life, using a number of devices from early Windows CE clamshells and later. Today, my main devices are a Nexus 5X, a Sony Xperia Z Tablet and a coffee cup.
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