Moto G4 Play Review: Can it Play With the Best?

Published: 23 September 2016
The new Moto G4 Play with Amazon Prime Ads

Opt-in for lock-screen ads on Amazon Prime and the Moto G4 Play costs just $99.

The new Moto G4 Play is Motorola and Lenovo’s bold way of showing the world that they still own the low range market.

For $149.99, or potentially $99.99 with lock-screen ads, the Moto G4 Play is one of the cheapest SIM free phones around from such a reputed manufacturer. Obviously, for such a limited price tag a lot of corners have been cut, especially as far as hardware is concerned. Even with its limited hardware capabilities, does the Moto G4 Play have enough to play with the best?

Appearance and Build Quality

With sacrifices being made to achieve such a low price tag, the overall appearance and build quality of the Moto G4 Play was a concern of mine ever since I heard about the device earlier this year. Thankfully, there isn’t much to be concerned about.

Appearance-wise, there isn’t that much that makes the Moto G4 Play stand out from any of its brothers. Whether you’re examining the G4 Plus, the Play or the standard G4, you’ll notice that the overall durability and quality of materials used to make the devices remains the same throughout.

This is a good thing for the G4 Play because it means that for the most part the device feels sturdy and durable enough to be put up against more expensive devices.

Like other G4 handsets from Lenovo, the Moto G4 Play also has a rubberized material on the back. This has been used to help with shock absorption and overall grip, but it’s not particularly appealing design-wise.

However, when cash is a limited resource, physical durability takes precedence over appearance any day. It’s not that the G4 Play looks ugly, because it doesn’t, it simply doesn’t have that premium appearance some older Moto handsets have had. Considering that the device has a 5 inch display, the Moto G4 Play is certainly on the smaller scale of things too.


A View of the Moto G4 Play Back

Like the other G4 handsets from Lenovo, the Moto G4 Play also has a rubberized material on the back.

The display might just be the biggest sacrifice Lenovo has had to make to bring the Moto G4 Play to such a low price point.

With 5 inches and a resolution of 720 x 1280, not only has Lenovo dropped display size from their more expensive variants, but the overall display quality has been dropped considerably, too. The resolution isn’t exactly perfect for viewing media and the overall sharpness for text and colors is lacking considerably.

To top it off, you’ll have a terrible time trying to view the Moto G4 Play’s display out in the summer sun. It’s not so bad inside of course, but it would have been nice to see sharper colors and better brightness for outside viewing. Unfortunately, this is something that any smartphone user will have to make do with at such a low price point.

Software, Functionality and Prime Ads


Before I get into the overall software and functionality of the Moto G4 Play, I’d like to point out that the $99 Amazon Prime version does have advertisements loaded onto the lock screen. As a result, the overall experience between the Prime-ad version and the normal $149.99 version is going to be a big difference for those who can’t stand ads.

Past the lock screen, adverts won’t play a part in your smartphone usage, but every time you switch on your display you’ll see advertising encouraging you to purchase various products or services from Amazon.

Moto G4 Play Display Image

The display isn’t so bad inside, but it would have been nice to see sharper colors and better brightness for outside viewing.

I’m personally not a big fan of the adverts and would have preferred spending the additional $50 for an ad-free experience, but it’s good to know that the cheaper option is available for those on a super low budget.


Once past the Amazon Prime ads, you are served with a crisp, clean bloatware free version of Android Marshmallow 6.0. In fact, all of the Moto handsets this year are still running stock Android.

To the uneducated, this is a good thing for a few reasons; performance, storage and customization.

With stock Android, you are given a cleaner interface with less invasive apps so you’ll have more internal storage space to download the apps you prefer from Google Play Store. Stock Android performs a lot better than other, more bloated interfaces too. This is a good point to keep in mind for our next section.

Camera, Specs & Performance


Unfortunately, the Moto G4 Play has been stuck with the Snapdragon 410 chipset. Thankfully the version you’ll find on Amazon does have 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, but some other variants have just 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage.

I feel sorry for anybody that owns the 1GB variant, because at that point Android smartphones really start to show their frailties. 2GB of RAM is just enough to get the operating system running and a few basic apps without any slowdown.  If you see the 1GB variant for sale, I’d highly advise you not to purchase it.

As for the Snapdragon 410 chipset, it’s now two years old, and in the mobile world, two years is a long time.

The Snapdragon 410’s age is finally starting to show, – you may notice the occasional stutter on fairly non-intensive apps. Run anything more intensive than your typical web browser or email, such as games or graphically demanding apps, and you may start to notice slower performance more regularly.

Fortunately, the overall interface and system menus can be navigated without stuttering.

Moto G4 Play Comparison

The version you’ll find on Amazon has 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage.

For an 8 megapixel snapper, the camera on the Moto G4 Play isn’t actually that bad. It manages to capture a range of colors both indoors and outdoors, but it certainly performs best where it can get some good lighting.

Shoot images in darker areas and you’ll start to see grainier results, but even then the images are far from terrible. Unfortunately, this is on par with most other budget devices in the smartphone world right now.

Here is a quick overview of the actual specifications

  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB Internal memory, MicroSD support up to 256GB
  • Snapdragon 410 SoC (quad core 1.2GHz Cortex-A53 & Adreno 306 GPU)
  • 8 MP primary camera
  • 5MP front-facing camera
  • 5 inch 720 x 1280 resolution display
  • Removable 2800mAh battery


Price and Rating – 4/5


It’s hard to find fault with a smartphone that’s potentially up for grabs for $99 SIM free, but I find myself asking for more. A new chipset and perhaps even a better display and the Moto G4 Play would blow my mind.

There are a few cut corners on the device that make it hard to justify a full 5/5 rating, but on the other side of the coin, you really aren’t going to find any other new smartphone that performs as well as the G4 Play does for under $100.

This is the cream of the crop as far as budget smartphones go. There has never been such a great opportunity to pick up a brand new smartphone for $99.




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