Moto G4 and G4 Plus early impressions: Mid-ranged phones that feel (almost) high-end

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Motorola's mid-ranged wonder hasn't faded a bit under Lenovo ownership, as the Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus (pictured) deliver incredible value(Credit: Will Shanklin/Gizmag)

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We'll have our full review of the Moto G4 and G4 Plus (also known as Moto G 4th generation) up before long, but in the meantime our first impressions of these phones are extremely positive. Let's put it this way: I review high-end phones for a living, and I'd be perfectly happy switching to either of these handsets. Considering they start at US$200 and $250 full retail (respectively), these phones are nothing short of incredible values.

The Moto G series has always been about squeezing as much value as possible out of a budget unlocked handset. I always thought saying "it's the best version yet" is a ridiculous comment to make about a tech product: With only a few infamous exceptions, every upgraded piece of gear is going to be better than its predecessor (hence the "upgraded"). But Motorola is getting so good at making a budget smartphone feel like a high-end one, that might be all we can say about it. The G4 and G4 Plus continue the same Moto G strategy, only kicked up yet another oh-so impressive notch.

Our first couple of days with the Moto G4 and G4 Plus have shown us big and sharp displays, quick performance, attractive and comfortable builds, stock Android Marshmallow and surprisingly good cameras for any price range – positively stellar for this price range.

Battery life especially has been a wonderful surprise. We haven't run our standard benchmark yet, but in regular use they easily outlast all the recent flagships we've reviewed, including the latest from Samsung, HTC and Apple.

If you're wondering what the differences are between the two, the Moto G4 Plus has everything the G4 has – including 5.5-inch 1080p screen, Snapdragon 617 chip, microSD slot and either 2 GB or 4 GB of RAM – but adds a fingerprint sensor and better camera (16 MP to 13 MP).

Sticking with Motorola's ongoing customization theme (which the company will take to a new extreme when the Moto Z launches), you can order the G4 and Plus in a variety of primary and trim colors, along with custom engraving options.

We'll have much more in our review – look out for it (likely) this Tuesday. But right now we can say that Motorola, along with OnePlus, continues to push the envelope on what a quality smartphone is supposed to cost. To get a great phone, you used to need to buy one of the latest, big-name, expensive flagships. But with typical regular person use, a quality mid-ranged processor feels almost as fast as a high-end one, 1080p screens are still very sharp (just not ultra-sharp like QHD panels) and Motorola has managed to put a great camera in a $250 phone.

It's to the point where we might start thinking twice about recommending $650-750 high-end smartphones, no matter how terrific they are. For most people, the differences between phones like the Moto G4 pair (and OnePlus 3) and the highly-marketed flagships that we spend so much time talking about – the Galaxies, iPhones and so on – are largely negligible.

Product page: Motorola

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