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Motorola Moto G4 Plus review – Android Phone

Should you buy the new Moto G4 Plus? With a better camera, more RAM and storage, plus a fingerprint scanner it seems like it but we’re not convinced in our Moto G4 Plus review. MOTOROLA MOTO G4 PLUS REVIEW Motorola has updated its best budget smartphone line-up for 2016 with two different models. The Plus model isn’t bigger but comes with a fingerprint scanner, extra RAM and storage, plus a higher resolution camera so the price might be worth paying for some. Here’s our in-depth Motorola Moto G4 Plus review. Updated with our video review. Also see: Best smartphones 2016. The firm, now owned by Lenovo (formerly Google) has been making great budget phones since 2013 and we’re informed the Moto G family is the company’s most successful range ever. This time around there are two models to choose from which is a first but the range isn’t exactly budget anymore. MOTOROLA MOTO G4 PLUS REVIEW: PRICE AND RIVALS Although the Moto G range has traditionally been budget phones, the price has crept up each year. The regular model starts at £169 now and to bag yourself the Moto G4 Plus, you’ll need to spend at least £199. You do get a few upgrades though which we’ll look at in the specs section below. The specs are impressive for the price and even outpace the existing £259 Moto X Play in many areas. It’s worth noting that the Moto G 3rd-generation from last year is now £149 if you’re looking for something cheaper. The £200 mark is an unusual one for a phone these days and if you want to order via the Moto Maker where you can customise elements such as the rear cover and accent colour, it will cost you £229. For the more tempting 64GB model, the Moto G4 Plus price jumps to £264. MOTOROLA MOTO G4 PLUS REVIEW: DESIGN AND BUILD QUALITY Seemingly unhappy to conform to smartphone market traditions, the Moto G4 Plus isn’t actually bigger than the regular Moto G4. In fact, you’d struggle to tell them apart since they are almost identical in design. The only way to tell the Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus apart is the fingerprint scanner which sits below the screen. So we’re not left with much to say without repeating our Moto G4 review. The phone looks stylish and new while retaining the look and feel of previous Moto G phones. It is bigger due to an increase in screen size though so some users will find the device unwieldy. It’s not too thick and heavy at 9.8mm and 155g.

Moto G4 Plus designMoto G4 Plus design

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Build quality is good but the Moto G4 Plus is still very much a plastic phone and there’s better available at this price point elsewhere if this is important – the OnePlus X is a prime example. It’s a shame Motorola doesn’t offer other materials, such as wood and leather, like it does with the Moto X Style for an extra cost for those who want it. One of our only complaints about the design is that the volume rocker is a little tricky to use as it is very flush with the case. We also envisage the groove for the earpiece above the screen will get clogged with dirt over time. A bigger issue is that Motorola has decided to ditch the waterproofing which it used last year. Instead it has saved some money by just going for basic splash protection which it thinks is enough for most consumers. See also: Moto G4 vs Moto G4 Plus comparison review. MOTOROLA MOTO G4 PLUS REVIEW: SPECS AND PERFORMANCE BENCHMARKS As we’ve already mentioned, the G4 Plus is exactly the same size and shape as the regular Moto G4. This means that it has the same 5.5in screen size, despite the likes of Apple and Samsung using plus models for a bigger phone. You might think that perhaps the screen resolution is higher but it’s still Full HD like the cheaper model. We’re not saying it’s a bad thing and the screen is very good quality offering good contrast, colours and viewing angles. As we’ve said, it’s mainly the size that might put some users off so it’s a bit of a shame there isn’t a choice on that front. The G4 Plus uses the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor as the regular G4. The octa-core CPU (up to 1.5GHz A53 cores) is a nice jump from the Snapdragon 410 previously used and features Cat 7 LTE and Adreno 405 graphics. There’s potentially a big difference if you splash out on the higher-spec model of the Moto G4 Plus which comes with 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM which is double the standard model on both fronts. Storage becomes less of an issue due to the inclusion of a Micro-SD card slot which can take up to 128GB. Sadly, we’ve only been able to benchmark the lower spec and you can see the results below. We’re impressed with the performance from a user point of view; the Moto G4 Plus is a smooth operator in general use. You might be a little bit disappointed when it comes to connectivity as although the Moto G4 Plus is more expensive you still only get 11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1 and regular Micro-USB. This means there’s no NFC, modern Wi-Fi or other features like USB-Type C. The fingerprint scanner provides extra security but the lack of NFC means you can’t use it with Android Pay which is a shame. It’s fast and accurate most of the time but it’s smaller than most and usually as a small rim around it which feels odd but also helps you locate. What’s strange is that you can’t use it as a home button.

Moto G4 Plus fingerprint scannerMoto G4 Plus fingerprint scanner

The Plus in the model name doesn’t refer to battery life as the phone also has a 3000mAh battery which is non-removable even though you can take the rear cover off. In our benchmark test the Moto G4 lasts a very decent eight hours and 50 minutes with a score of 3537 which is a decent result. What you do get for your money is the TurboPower charger included in the box which the regular Moto G4 doesn’t come with. Via fast charging you can get ‘6 hours battery life from a short 15 minute charge’; or 25 percent charge going by Motorola’s 24 hour battery life claim. We found it only charged 17 percent in the space of 15 minutes. MOTOROLA MOTO G4 PLUS REVIEW: CAMERAS On paper, photography is one area which might convince you to spend the extra cash on the G4 Plus since it comes with a 16Mp camera compared to 13Mp. It still features an f/2.0 aperture, phase detection and laser autofocus plus a dual-LED (dual tone) flash. You’ll need to shoot in a 4:3 aspect ratio to use all 16Mp as the phone will shoot at 11.9Mp by default. Sadly, in our tests there’s really no visible difference in still photos, even when you crop into a small section so for uploading to social media you’re definitely not going to notice any benefit. Moto G4 Plus camera test It’s disappointing to find that the G4 Plus, like the regular model, is limited to 1080p video recording at 30fps despite the extra resolution. It can also only shoot slow motion 120fps video in a paltry 540p. Moto G4 Plus camera testMOTOROLA MOTO G4 PLUS REVIEW: SOFTWARE AND APPS There’s understandably no difference between the Moto G4 models when it comes to software and the Plus comes with Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow. We’re happy to report that Motorola keeps things very much stock so you get a pure user interface experience almost like buying a Nexus phone. Motorola’s thin layer does include some handy features though which are welcome additions. There are basic things like the clock widget which has date and temperature info, but most are found in the Moto app.

Moto G4 Plus softwareMoto G4 Plus software

Head here to find some useful functions which were previously spread across various apps. Now this is a hub for things like Moto Display and Moto Actions. The former allows you to get information on the lockscreen without switching the screen on. You can also set up a time period to keep the screen dark. Moto Actions is a set of optional gestures for quickly doing things like launching the torch or camera app. You can also pick up to answer a call or flip over to enable do not disturb. It’s very much a blank canvas as there are no duplicate apps for things like gallery or messaging. You just get the standard Google selection and then can download the apps you want from the Google Play Store.

OUR VERDICT The Moto G4 Plus is a nice phone but it’s very similar to the regular model. Since we’re disappointed in the camera (with no noticeable difference), it’s not worth paying the extra money to get a fingerprint scanner which can’t even be used with Android Pay since there’s no NFC. The only real reason to opt for the Plus is to gain more storage and the extra RAM which comes with the 64GB model; however, the Micro-SD card slot negates this somewhat

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Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Apparently, six is overrated. Rumors swirling around the next Samsung Galaxy Note — Samsung’s annual large-screen device with a stylus for navigation and drawing — say its name is jumping from 2015’s Note 5 straight to the Note 7, skipping the Note 6 model entirely.

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Another Note will join this rogue’s gallery.Josh Miller/CNET

But even more important than fretting over the Note’s new name is piecing together its identity: What kind of phone will the next Note be? Will it simply iterate off of the Note 5 and S7 that came before, or will it wow us with unforetold (or hinted at and unconfirmed) hardware goodies that shake us from the eyelid-drooping expectations of smartphones today? The most reliable rumors suggest that the Note keeps its 5.7-inch screen, but adds aUSB-C port (they’re all the rage) and an iris scanner for unlocking the phone with your eyes. Let’s take stock of the most telling rumors. (P.S. remember, they’re unsubstantiated, so anything could happen!)

Note 7’s the name

Chronology be damned! The internet agrees, the next Note will be the Galaxy Note 7 and not the Galaxy Note 6, even though 2015’s model was called the Note 5. But who cares about logic when there’s branding at stake? However, this would make for a mini-trend in phones named “7.” Samsung already has the Galaxy S7, and ZTE’s Axon lunged from the Axon to the Axon 7, and now this Note 7 rumor. Why? It could be a desire for Samsung to keep the Galaxy S and Note series in line, or perhaps phone makers have no wish to be left behind the gold standard Apple’s already established and will likely continue when and if it releases its iPhone 7 this fall. And yet, when you count up Notes 1-5 and add in the little-remembered Galaxy Note Edge, this next Note would make the line’s legitimate seventh addition. So there’s that math for ya. We won’t know for sure until Samsung spills the beans, but the company remains tight-lipped for now.

Launch date: Early August instead of late August

Samsung’s Note line has been a mainstay at the IFA conference held in Berlin, Germany in late August, but whispers suggest an early August arrival. Either way, the phone would come ahead of Apple’s yearly iPhone launch in early September, which usually falls in the first two weeks of the month. Twitter tipster Evan Blass, who has built a reputation of accurate leaks, suggests that the phone will start selling around August 15.

Curved display up front

The Note 7’s display will look more like the S7 Edge than the straight-faced Note 5,according to a recent rumour. Anything’s possible, sure, but assuming it’s true, I do wonder two things. Would the screen be just as navigable with the Note’s signature pen? And with so many similarities between the Note 7 and the S7 Edge, the stylus could be the only important feature dividing the two.

Totally new software interface

New software, new name. The TouchWiz interface that Samsung has used for years to differentiate its phones from other Android-makers could see a major overhaul, including a potential name change. We might kiss TouchWiz goodbye and open our arms to Grace, a more paired-down yet interactive take on phone software, shown in an allegedly leaked video (below) from Italian site HD.Blog.IT. It’s suggestive even if you don’t understand a lick of Italiano.

The video goes pretty deep on widgets, and transparent folder effects, but one cool reveal is that you can swipe up on an icon to see a window that opens more cool stuff. Likewise, pressing and holding on a quick-access toggle in the notifications shade may snap open extra options for you to act on, like on the flashlight and Wi-Fi settings. For instance, the video shows that you can lower the flashlight brightness and change your Wi-Fi network without having to exit the notifications pull-down. In essence, this could make the home screen and notifications shade even more of an activities hub than they are now. The photo gallery could expand and condense with a pinch and zoom of your fingertips.

Updated Note software, too

Samsung usually previews its freshest take on its TouchWiz (or maybe Grace) software on the year’s Note release, but the changes go down to the pen level, too. This time, according to the HDBlog.It video above, we could see a lightly refreshed style with different icons, but much the same functionality to handwrite, scribble and navigate with a touch of the S Pen to the screen.

Pressure-sensitive screen? Not too likely

From what I can see in the Italian video above (which cites the build-of-unknown-origin as “Note5”), the Note 7 doesn’t look like it borrows Apple’s pressure-sensitive display, which lets you press and hold until the screen gently jostles to pull up more granular data. Still, this is a persistent rumor, and one we also heard about the Galaxy S7 (it didn’t happen).

Iris scanner for real this time

We’ve also heard tell of an iris scanner that can unlock your phone by staring you in the eye. The iris scanner loomed large in Galaxy S4 rumors, too, but turned out to be a different feature that kept the screen from locking when you looked at it often enough. Now that Microsoft’s iris-scanning “Windows Hello” feature in the Lumia 950 has made the security option a reality, it’s much more likely that Samsung will include a real iris scanner this time around.

Other suspected specs

  • 5.7-inch screen
  • 12-megapixel camera
  • 5-megapixel front-facing camera
  • IP68 certified against water and dust
  • 64GB of space expandable through a microSD card
  • USB Type-C port; Quick Charge 3.0
  • 4,200mAh battery
  • Black, silver, blue colors

What about Android Nougat?

Notably missing from the seething rumor mill is an indication of the Note 7’s operating system. Google’s Android N, revealed this week to be named Android Nougat, isn’t out yet and won’t be until fall, so don’t expect the new Note to debut with the OS. Instead, expect Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, with an upgrade later on, at least a few months after Google’s Nexus phones get a chance to show off all that Nougat can do.

Price and availability

As a rule of thumb, Samsung’s prices hover on the higher end of the scale, and a stylus-packing handset like the Note goes for more than a smaller, more mainstream model like the S7. If prices hold from 2015, expect the 64GB version of the Note 7 to sashay out for roughly $800, which converts to roughly £600 and AU$1,080. Prices will vary further by region, carrier, storage capacity and promotional deals. Samsung responded to a request for comment by saying “we don’t comment on rumors or speculation.”

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Best Android Mobile Phones 2016

Only interested in Android smartphones? If so, our best Android phone round-up has all the top handsets all in one place. Your next mobile is on this list. Summer is here, and it’s the perfect time to upgrade your old phone. Whether you’re looking to save a few pennies and pick up a stunning budget smartphone in the Moto G4 (2016) or blow the bank with the five-star Samsung Galaxy S7, our list of the best Android phones has something for everyone. Those other great choices include the beautiful HTC 10 which is a return to form for the Taiwanese brand, the Leica-branded Huawei P9 and the S7’s curvier Edge toting brother. Oh, and don’t forget about the Nexus 6P – we gave it 5-stars last year and it’ll be one of the first in line to bag the Android N update when it launches later in the year. What-Is-An-Android-Phone

BEST ANDROID PHONE 2016: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Not sure what you need, or even how to choose from the selection above? Here are a few pointers to get you started.

WHAT SIZE ANDROID PHONE SHOULD I BUY?

Smartphones in general are getting bigger and bigger. Some of you might remember Steve Jobs explaining at the launch of the original iPhone back in 2007: “It’s got a three-and-a-half-inch screen on it. It’s really big.” Fast-forward to the present day and 4-inch smartphones are the smallest, and often cheapest, handsets out there. They’re good for children and users who don’t care for games and multimedia content, but even ‘mini’ Android phones like the older Sony Xperia Z5 Compact have at least 4.5-inch screens. 5-inch screens are far better for watching movies and playing games on, but they’re right on the edge of too big if you have small hands. Anything between 4.5 and 5.1 inches is generally considered the perfect combo of portability and a display that’s good for browsing, gaming and more. You can, of course, go even larger than this. Phones with 6-inch screens, often called “phablets”, are growing in popularity. They’re a good option if you have a long commute, as their larger screens are perfect for watching films, playing games and reading. However, we recommend trying one out in a shop first if you’ve never owned a phone this big before.

WILL I GET THE LATEST VERSION OF ANDROID?

Google is constantly looking at ways to improve the Android operating system, and releases major software updates on a regular basis. But that doesn’t always mean the phone you’re buying will get that update. The latest version is Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, which is making its way onto existing smartphones. However, many current handsets still run Android 5.1 Lollipop or even 4.4 KitKat. Google has also just announced Android N, but that won’t be coming until later on in the year. Read our Marshmallow update guide to find out if and when your phone will get the latest version.

OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER

Finally, you need to think about extra features. Things like NFC, water-resistance, fingerprint scanners and microSD card slots may just seem like bonuses, but they can dramatically improve the overall user experience of a smartphone. A microSD card slot is a good idea if you want to watch lots of downloaded videos or music, and it’s an essential feature on some cheaper phones that have limited built-in memory. Any phone with 4GB or less of storage will need a microSD card slot.