The Moto X4 price starts at Rs 20,999, and goes up to Rs 22,999.
The smartphone comes with an attractive front and back glass design.
The Moto X4 boasts dual-camera setup at the back with depth and wide-angle mode.
Lenovo-owned Motorola recently launched a new smartphone in its Moto X-series. Called the Moto X4, the new smartphone comes two years after the company launched the Moto X Style and Moto X Play smartphones. Some of the key highlights of the smartphone are the front and back glass design, dual-camera setup at the back and IP68 certification for water and dust resistance.
Offered in two storage variants, the base variant with 3GB of RAM and 32GB storage is priced at Rs 20,999 and the 4GB RAM with 64GB storage variant is priced at Rs 22,999. At this price point, the Moto X4 will compete with the likes of the Xiaomi Mi A1, Infinix Zero 5 and Honor 9i to name a few. I’ve been using the higher-end variant of the Moto X4 for some time now, and here’s my review.
Design that oozes premiumness
Over the past couple of years, we have seen manufacturers switch to metal unibody designs, and even an affordable smartphone under Rs 10,000 comes with a metal body. This year, we saw the flagship smartphones such as the iPhones and the Galaxies, among others, switch to front and back glass design. Motorola has done the same with the Moto X4, and the smartphone doesn’t cost too much either.
The Moto X4 is a looker from the very first glance. The front and back glass sandwiched between the metal frame adds a shiny touch to it. The back is slightly curved and so are the edges, making it easier to hold the smartphone in your hand. The compact form factor further makes it easier for single-handed operation.
Up front, you have a 5.2-inch Full HD (1080p) display, with the 16-megapixel front camera, LED flash and earpiece sitting on top of it. Below the display, you have the home button integrated with a fingerprint sensor. There are no capacitive Android navigation keys, instead you have an on-screen implementation. Yes, it does eat up some screen space, but Moto has added gesture support too, which allows you to deactivate onscreen navigation buttons, and use gestures instead. We’ll talk more about the gestures in software bit below.
The back houses a circular dual-camera module along with dual-tone LED flash in the upper half, and has the Moto logo sitting just below it. The camera module has a bump, and it could be a bit bothersome for some, but that has always been present on the Moto Z-series too, so it shouldn’t be much of a concern.
Now, because of the glass design, the smartphone could be a bit slippery, and so I’d recommend putting a case on it. There were moments where it almost slipped out of my hand, but thanks to the reflexes, I didn’t let it fall and get damaged. The front and back glass is a fingerprint magnet and attracts a lot of smudges, but that is common with smartphones with glass design.
Talking about ports placement, the top houses the hybrid dual-SIMcard tray, allowing you to either use to nanoSIM cards, or one SIM card and one microSD card. At the bottom, you have the USB Type-C port and the 3.5mm audio socket, whereas the power and volume buttons are on the right. Overall, I am pretty much impressed with the design of the Moto X4.
Software and specifications
Since the launch of Moto G-series a few years ago, Motorola has focused on near-stock Android OS as it makes easier to roll out software updates, and the same continues here too. The Moto X4 runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat OS out-of-the-box with September security patch, and will soon be upgraded to Android 8.0 Oreo in the coming months.
Luckily, there is no bloatware apart from the LinkedIn app, and the only other pre-installed apps are the Google suite – Photos, Gmail, Maps, Docs, Duo, Play Music, Sheets, Slides, YouTube, Wallpaper and Translate. There are some Moto-specific additions though, such as the camera app, Moto app and File Manager app.
Talking about gestures, you can swipe three fingers to capture screenshots, and chop twice for flashlight. There is also an Always On display which can be triggered by waving your hand over the proximity sensor to show your notification icons and time. Just like we’ve seen in the Lenovo Z2, the one button navigation mode is present here too, and it helps you get rid of the on-screen Android navigation buttons.
You can use gestures on the fingerprint sensor to navigate through the menu. Swipe to the left to open the recent apps menu, whereas swiping to the right acts as a back key. A single tap on the fingerprint sensor takes you to the home screen, whereas tap and hold for one second locks the device. And to invoke Google Assistant, you can tap and hold the fingerprint sensor for two-seconds.
Now, talking about the specifications, the Moto X4 comes with a compact 5.2-inch full HD (1080p) IPS display. The screen is very sharp, color reproduction is punchy and it is adequately bright to offer good legibility under direct sunlight. The smartphone is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 octa-core SoC clocked at 2.2GHz. It is paired with 3GB of RAM + 32GB storage, or 4GB of RAM + 64GB storage, depending on the variant you choose. With 3,000mAh battery and fast charging support, the Moto X4 comes with connectivity options such as USB Type-C port for charging and data transfer, Bluetooth, GPS, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, dual SIM 4G LTE with VoLTE HD voice calling support.
Dual-cameras – double the fun?
One of the key highlights of the Moto X4 is the dual-camera setup at the back, and it is also one of the biggest problems. Surprised? Well, the camera quality is pretty good, but it has its fair share of negatives in the form of the poorly developed app. Companies go for different types of dual-camera setups – some opt for the RGB + monochrome sensor setup, some prefer a higher resolution sensor for photos and a lower resolution one for depth information, whereas some prefer wide-angle and telephoto lens.
Moto has gone with a standard 12-megapixel dual pixel sensor of aperture f/2.0, paired with an 8-megapixel wide-angle sensor of aperture f/2.2. With this type of setup, you can capture standard and wide-angle photos, just like on the LG G5 and G6. There is also a depth mode that lets you add DSLR-like bokeh effects to your photos. And lastly, Moto has added a selective background mode that lets you keep the subject in color while background is black and white, or vice-versa.
The problem starts with the camera app, which is pretty slow. Right from the moment you hit the shutter button till the time the photo is captured and saved in the camera roll, you have to wait for a couple of seconds. And if your hands are not steady, the photo turns out to be blurred. The wait becomes over three seconds when you activate the depth mode. Even with steady hands, and subject properly in focus, I did not manage to get the depth effect right.
What I noticed is that the algorithms seem to be designed to keep the top half of the body and face in focus, whereas the rest of the body is treated as background. As you can see in the photo below, the camera is sort of doing the bokeh effect right.
However, now when you look at the other sample, especially the edges, the smudging is clearly visible. Honestly, that is not the depth effect you would expect with the dual-cameras at work.
I compared the portrait / depth mode with Xiaomi’s Mi A1, which costs around Rs 5,000 less than the Moto X4. Sure, it does not have the good looking front and back glass design or the water resistance feature or good overall camera quality, but it does the portrait mode right, thanks to the telephoto lens. Below are some samples.
Day-light shots look good, and there’s nothing more to complain about, especially considering the smartphone’s price tag. The camera is able to capture enough details and the overall photos look good. Wide-angle photos are decent, and the fish-eye effect is clearly visible, but that’s mostly how those photos look. Even low-light shots look decent. There is some amount of graininess that is visible, but it is not as bad.
Selfies taken on the Moto X4 look good and captures enough details. However, daylight shots slightly go for a toss as at times, the skin tones appear to be slightly reddish. I also took a selfie in low-light around 11PM on a skywalk with the tubelights being the light source, and it turned out to be pretty decent too.
Good performance and battery life
No matter how fancy the phone looks like or what top-notch specs it boasts of, the end performance is all that matters. And well, the Moto X4 doesn’t disappoint. I’ve had my three email accounts configured, many social networking apps and Slack running all the time. On a typical day, I constantly keep switching between Slack, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger chatting with colleagues, friends and more. I even surf websites, watch videos and do a lot more things, and sure enough, the Moto X4 ran as smooth as butter without any issues.
The UI is pretty fluid, and there is no visible lag or stuttering. Gaming performance is also good when playing casual games such as Temple Run, Subway Surfers and Jetpack Joyride. Even graphics intense games such as Asphalt 8: Airborne and Modern Combat: Blackout run smoothly, with bare minimal framing noticeable at times. The back of the device also gets a little warm, but the amount is negligible, and shouldn’t bother you at all.
Moto has also added some battery optimizations to ensure that the Moto X4 lasts longer. The 3,000mAh battery comes with fast charging support – it took an hour-and-40 minutes to charge from empty to full. Now, with Wi-Fi and 4G on, and using two SIM cards, the Moto X4 easily lasted for a day with moderate to heavy usage. On lighter days, such as weekends, I could go two full days without needing a charge, and screen-on-time of close to four hours. I think it is pretty good for a smartphone in its price range.
The Moto X4 is an impressive smartphone in the sub Rs 25,000 price range. Right from a striking design and build quality, IP68 certification for water and dust resistance to neat performance and battery life, there’s a lot going for the smartphone. However, the only area it disappoints is the camera performance – the shutter lag and depth mode is what I mean.
If you can live with the shutter lag and the partially-working depth sensing mode, the Moto X4 shouldn’t be a bad choice. Alternatively, the Mi A1 is a decent phone for its price point and you end up saving some money too. Other options in the same price range include the Honor 9i, which we have already reviewed, and the Infinix Zero 5, which also looks like a decent alternative.