Display Analysis

One of the standout features of the original Moto G was its display. It was a 4.5" 1280x720 display, which gave you a higher pixel density than many other smartphones at the same price which still used 960x540 displays. It certainly wasn't the best calibrated display, but for its time it was one of the best you could find in a mid-range smartphone.

Fast forward to 2016, and we now have $200 mid-range phones shipping with 1920x1080 LCD displays. Phones have also continually gotten larger, with 5.5" seemingly being the new norm for mid-range devices. The Moto G progressed from its original 4.5" display to a 5" one with the 2014 and 2015 models, and has now gotten even larger with the 5.5" display on the Moto G4. Like competing smartphones, the Moto G4 also moves to a resolution of 1920x1080. I really feel that this continued increase in size has been at the expense of usability, but I've already mentioned that in this review, and at this point consumers don't really have any smaller alternatives at this price point anyway.

While the first three models of the Moto G maintained a 720p resolution, Motorola improved the accuracy of their displays as well as other attributes like the peak brightness and black levels. With the Moto G4 moving to a 5.5" 1080p display, I'm curious to see if there have been similar improvements to attributes beyond size and sharpness. To examine the display in greater depth than what is presented on a spec sheet, I've run our standard suite of display tests. As always, measurements are performed with an X-Rite i1Pro 2 spectrophotometer, and managed using SpectraCal's CalMAN 5 software.

Display - Max Brightness

Display - Black Levels

Display - Contrast Ratio

Both the Moto G4 and G4 Plus achieve a high peak brightness, as well as a relatively low black level relative to that brightness. This leads to the G4 achieving the highest contrast ratio that I've seen on a device at this price point. Among the mid-range devices that I've chosen for comparison, the Moto G4 definitely has the best display as far as brightness and contrast is concerned.

Display - White Point

Display - Grayscale Accuracy

SpectraCal CalMAN

Moto G4 Plus DeltaE 2.92

SpectraCal CalMAN

Moto G4 DeltaE 4.45

Having two devices with the same LCD presents an interesting situation where the two can be compared to examine the degree of variance with the calibration. It was clear to me right after I turned on both phones that the normal Moto G4 exhibited a slight green tint and was warmer than the Moto G4 Plus, which was definitely shifted more toward blue than our target white standard of D65. In both cases gamma is a bit high, although this is more pronounced on the Moto G4 Plus. It's also clear that between these two units, the Moto G4 Plus exhibits a greater level of accuracy. For a phone that starts at $200, I would consider both results to be acceptable, but the greyscale accuracy on the G4 Plus unit is definitely a step ahead of the normal G4 unit.

Display - Saturation Accuracy

SpectraCal CalMAN

Moto G4 Plus DeltaE 3.71

SpectraCal CalMAN

Moto G4 DeltaE 3.25

The tables turn when examining saturation accuracy, as the normal Moto G4 demonstrates a slightly greater level of accuracy. The Moto G4 Plus has higher error levels with blue, cyan, and magenta due to the blue-shifted greyscale. Again, in both cases the display is more than acceptable for a $200 smartphone, but it is interesting to see what tolerances Motorola has for display variance from one unit to another.

Display - GMB Accuracy

SpectraCal CalMAN

Moto G4 Plus DeltaE 4.1

SpectraCal CalMAN

Moto G4 DeltaE 3.88

Accuracy in the GretagMacbeth ColorChecker test is very similar between both Moto G4 units, but the normal G4 again has a slight advantage. This difference is mostly academic, and I would actually argue that you'd be better off with the G4 Plus because in this case the normal G4 has a critical error in the light skin shade, which is a color you're likely to come across more so than others. Ultimately both displays are very good for the price, and I don't think users are going to have any issues with the level of accuracy if it can be assumed that all Moto G4 and G4 Plus phones have similar calibration.

Drawing conclusions about displays can be a bit difficult when you have two devices to compare. On one hand, my less accurate unit could be exceptionally poor. On the other hand, my more accurate unit could be exceptionally good. I can only make concrete conclusions based on the data I've collected, and so it's probably best to evaluate based on the worst results. In this case both devices were similar enough, although the G4 Plus has the display I favor because green shifting in the greyscale is something I find much more bothersome than blue shifting, as I've gotten used to the latter due to its pervasiveness on WLED-backlit LCD displays.

The fact that both displays were relatively close in their accuracy hopefully indicates that users can expect this level of accuracy on any Moto G4 device, although I can't say that for certain. Based on the information I have, I'd say that users buying a Moto G4 should be getting a display that is exceptionally bright, with good black levels, and decent color accuracy, and I think that makes for a pretty good $200 smartphone display.

GPU and NAND Performance Camera
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  • thunderwave_2 - Monday, August 15, 2016 - link

    Could you please review the Huawei P9 and P9 Lite?
  • Rajagopal - Monday, August 15, 2016 - link

    Very bad product. Amazon is selling second hand Moto G4 plus. I purchased a phone recently which I'd not working properly. Neither Motorola responds nor Amazon responds. Public are cheated by the two companies.
  • A5 - Monday, August 15, 2016 - link

    Don't buy a used phone and expect support?
  • smilingcrow - Monday, August 15, 2016 - link

    If bought from Amazon Warehouse do expect to get support.
  • jjj - Monday, August 15, 2016 - link

    Isn't this the first time ever you guys use Profile GPU Rendering? Assuming that's what it is not some app that serves a similar purpose. Anyway, it's great that you do use it but maybe you should have explained the app a bit and show results for some other devices too as most readers are unlikely to be familiar with it.
  • Juan C - Monday, August 15, 2016 - link

    I saw many charts with the p9 as a reference, are you planning a p9 review?
  • mrdude - Monday, August 15, 2016 - link

    I bought this phone and have been using it for about two weeks now.

    It replaced my LG G4, and I vow to never buy another LG phone again. The battery died suddenly, and my mother who owns the same phone experienced the same issue within the same week. The move to Android 6.0 has been problematic with inconsistent performance and worse battery life. Soon after the battery died, the charging port went kaput. I didn't have a great experience with my G3 before that, but I gave LG another chance. Never again :)

    I'm on T-Mobile and wanted full GSM coverage at a price that wasn't over $300. I wound up buying the Moto G4 Plus model with 2GB RAM and 16GB storage on Amazon. A few thoughts:

    - I haven't experienced the UI inconsistency. I have noticed that early reviews shared the same feelings, but I'm guessing that may have been fixed promptly after launch as my phone has been as smooth as the LG G4 before it.
    - The most intensive task I'll do is web browsing, and it's perfectly fine for that task. If you're using your phone for gaming, you may want to look elsewhere
    - 2GB RAM isn't enough. I don't have many apps loaded, but the system seems to take nearly 1GB at idle. Add on a few apps and a web browser, and you'll seeing the slight slowdown as you're hitting NAND. 4GB would've been nice
    - 16GB + SD card slot is enough for me. 16GB alone would not have been.
    - The camera is great in the Plus model.
    - The fingerprint sensor not serving a dual purpose as a home button hasn't bothered me at all. This is the first phone I've personally owned with a fingerprint sensor, so that may be why. One issue I have had is that the sensor won't pick up my fingerprint from sleep all the time, requiring to hit the power button and then putting my finger on the sensor.
    - I've never in my life felt buttons that are somehow both stiff and mushy at the same time, but that's the best way to describe the power and volume rocker on the Moto G4 Plus. I've gotten over it now, but it's certainly doesn't scream 'quality'.
    - Outside of the buttons, the build quality is great. Plastic, sure, but it's typical Moto in this regard.

    Thus far, I'm happy. Provided Moto doesn't fail me on Android updates (and it's unlikely that they will given this is essentially stock Android + Moto gestures), I think I'll remain happy.
  • nico_mach - Monday, August 29, 2016 - link

    They've basically admitted that they're not doing upgrades and only quarterly security patches. It's a huge problem, not just for them. Android is increasingly in trouble outside Samsung and arguably Nexus. Google is dropping the ball big time.
  • Rrskda - Monday, August 15, 2016 - link

    Does the G4/G4 Plus have a gyroscope? I was surprised to see this rarely if ever mentioned in reviews of the G3, in which it was removed. Given the growing interest in VR, I consider this a critical feature.
  • Brandon Chester - Monday, August 15, 2016 - link

    Yes, they added it back in.

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