Motorola first launched the Moto X4 in India back in November 2017, and at the first glance itself, I expected it to become the best smartphone under Rs 25,000 in the country. The Indian market is all about price brackets under Rs 15,000 and above Rs 30,000. The former segment is largely dominated by Xiaomi, while OnePlus made the sub Rs 40,000 segment its own in the last one year. This gave an opportunity to Motorola to grab the Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000 price range. Back in June 2017, the Lenovo-owned company launched the Moto Z2 Play, and in November 2017, it released the Moto X4 smartphone with possibly the best design, hardware on paper.
The Moto Z2 Play is largely the Moto Z Play, in fact, the Z Play was said to be a better option than the Z2 Play. But the Moto X4 is a different smartphone in the Moto X lineup altogether. Once considered as a flagship lineup, Motorola changed its strategy of the Moto X series in 2017 and converted it to mid-range series in terms of hardware. But it’ still calling the lineup as premium series, thanks to the premium materials it used to build the phone. And the company kept the pricing similar to earlier Moto X devices price. So technically, the new Moto X4 is an upgrade to the Moto X Style smartphone which was launched a couple of years back in India, but with mid-range hardware.
Initially, the Moto X4 was made available in two variants with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. And more recently, a 6GB RAM variant with 64GB of internal storage was launched. Here’s how the pricing goes- Rs 20,999 for the 3GB RAM variant, Rs 22,999 for the 4GB RAM option and Rs 24,999 for the 6GB RAM variant.
Months after its launch in the country, the Moto X4 still remains as the only smartphone with Snapdragon 630 SoC, a step up from the Snapdragon 625 chipset seen on the Moto G5 Plus. I have been using the Moto X4 for more than two months as of writing this review, and here’s what I think about the smartphone.
Moto X4 Design and Display
The Moto X4 is the best-looking smartphone in the sub-Rs 25,000 price point. The glass back is melted towards the edges and joins the metal frame to give an excellent in-hand feel. The usage of glass at the back means more fingerprint smudges, and if you’re a person who doesn’t like smudges and hate rubbing them off every hour, then you should get a case along with the phone.
There’s a Saturn ring at the rear which houses the dual cameras and LED flash module. And the ring protrudes out from the back, which isn’t of a big deal, but something worth mentioning. The phone comes in two colours- Super Black and Sterling Blue. I got the Super Black variant for review, and it looks stunning in that reflective glass back.
The power button and volume rockers are placed on the right side. All the three buttons are of the same size, but to differentiate them Motorola has added texture to the power button. To the bottom, we have a USB Type-C port and 3.5mm headphone jack. And surprisingly, no speaker grille because Motorola included the loudspeaker inside the primary earpiece above the display.
Speaking of the loudspeaker performance, it gets loud enough, but not the best one out there in the market. In fact, the Oppo F5’s loudspeaker is marginally better than the one present on the Moto X4.
Coming to the front, there’s a fingerprint scanner located below the display, which is quick in unlocking the phone and can also be used for gesture-based navigation, which we will discuss in the software section.
The front of the phone is dominated by a 5.2-inch Full HD display. Thanks to the 16:9 aspect ratio, the Moto X4 doesn’t look trendy like some other phones such as the Oppo F5 or the Vivo V7+ available in the similar price range. But the panel used by Motorola is good enough for the asking price. It gets bright enough in outdoor conditions and is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass protection. Forget to mention, the back glass also has Gorilla Glass technology.
On the whole, the Moto X4 is one stellar looking device below Rs 25,000, but the 16:9 aspect ratio in 2018 is not acceptable. Nevertheless, that glass back on the X4 steals the entire show. Additionally, Motorola has thrown in IP68 water and dust resistant certification to protect the phone from water spills and splashes. For the unaware, it’s the only smartphone in the mid-range category with IP68 certification.
Moto X4 Hardware, Software and Battery
As I mentioned in the introduction, even after four months since its debut in the Indian market, the X4 is still the only smartphone with Snapdragon 630 SoC. Motorola sent me the 4GB of RAM variant for review which also comes with 64GB of internal storage. The storage can be expanded up to 2TB with a microSD card, but sadly, it’s a hybrid card slot. Graphics in the Moto X4 are taken care by Adreno 508 GPU.
The Snapdragon 630 chipset is a marginal upgrade over the Snapdragon 626 SoC found on the Moto Z2 Play, and it’s built on the 14nm manufacturing process. Performance of the Moto X4 is top-notch. The phone didn’t break a sweat even with heavy intensive tasks, and the power efficiency is excellent too. Even though packing a 3000mAh battery, the Moto X4 delivered a complete day worth of battery in most of my days with it. Also, the phone has support for Motorola TurboCharge.
In any Motorola smartphone, software plays an important role, in fact equally with hardware. Like other Motorola smartphones in the past, the Moto X4′ software to hardware optimisation is on point. There isn’t a single glitch in the user interface, and the new 6GB of RAM variant is shipping with Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box. But for some unknown reasons, my unit is still on Android 7.1.1 Nougat with September 2017 security patches.
Back in the last week of December, I reported that Motorola is rolling out Android 8.0 Oreo update to the Moto X4 in India. However, my review unit never received the update. During my entire usage period, the Moto X4 didn’t receive any software update, not even a single security patch update.
The Android 7.1.1 Nougat on the Moto X4 is slightly tweaked with good old Motorola tricks. We get the same Moto Actions such as quick screen (three finger drag on the screen to capture a screenshot), one-button navigation bar, double chop for the torch, twist for quick capture and a couple of new gestures were added too. It also comes with Moto Display, Night Display and of course, the trademark Moto Voice feature too.
The One-Button Navigation Bar was introduced with the Moto G5 series last year and the company received decent feedback for the feature. All the Motorola smartphones arrive with on-screen navigation keys, resulting in the loss of small amount of screen real state. So to solve those issues, Motorola has implemented this one-button navigation which disables the on-screen keys and relies on the fingerprint scanner for navigating through the phone. The gestures are tap fingerprint scanner to go home, swipe from right to left on the sensor to go back and swipe from left to right to recent apps screen. Not a big task, but if you’re one among the users worried about losing screen real estate, this feature comes in handy.
Then there are a couple of features exclusive to the Moto X4. The Moto Key feature allows a user to sign in to apps and websites with the fingerprint scanner, login to Windows laptops/PCs. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to test the login feature as the Moto Key yet to receive macOS support. But I tried out the sign into apps and websites with the fingerprint scanner, and it worked really well.
Lastly, the feature which I loved the most is the ‘Wireless sound system,’ which allows a user to listen audio on up to four Bluetooth devices individually or also as a stereo setup. This feature is yet to make its way onto other Motorola devices.
Moto X4 Camera
This is where things get interesting. Over the last two years, Motorola has built a reputation of offering best mid-range camera smartphone. The Moto G4 Plus and the Moto G5 Plus stood out from the crowd because of their camera prowess. However, since the launch of Moto G5S Plus and Moto X4, things have rather gone south for the Lenovo’ subsidiary as both the smartphones failed to replicate the success as their siblings.
The Moto X4 comes with dual camera setup at the back. A 12MP primary sensor is coupled to an 8MP secondary wide-angle sensor. Firstly, the inbuilt camera application doesn’t offer good user experience, and secondly, the secondary camera performance is mediocre. Motorola has added new features such as depth detection, selective focus, panorama mode, professional model, object tracking and so on. But the camera application itself is a major letdown.
However, I was quick in figuring out a solution and installed the modified version of the Google Camera application, and the results were amazing. Of course, you won’t get the stock camera app features such as object tracking, focus modes, and even the Google Camera app doesn’t have support for dual cameras (it recently received wide-angle camera support, but Moto X4 is yet to get it). So, you can’t use the wide-angle sensor on the Moto X4 with this procedure, but it serves as a good alternative to the stock camera application though.
Images shot using the GCam application came out really well with good dynamic range and accurate colours. The Portrait mode caught my eyes, especially the front-facing Portrait mode is stunning. All the images displayed in this article are shot on Moto X4 Google Camera application. Numbers-wise, Motorola has added a 16MP selfie camera along with a dual-tone LED flash.
Overall, the camera performance of the Moto X4 is disappointing, but with a small workaround, it becomes the best in the business. If you’re a Moto X4 user and struggling with the camera performance, head over to XDA Forums and install the rootless Google Camera mod.
Moto X4 Conclusion
As the headline itself states, the Moto X4 is the best smartphone a user can purchase under Rs 25,000 right now. The smartphone has some competitors such as the Oppo F5 and Vivo V7+, but the specs on the Moto X4 are too good for them. However, the Moto X4 has a real competitor in the form of Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro at almost half price of the 6GB RAM variant, but additions such as glass body, stock Android, and IP68 water and dust resistance properties saved the Moto X4.
If you’re looking for a smartphone with reliable performance, decent cameras with a little workaround, good display and more importantly, gorgeous looking phone under Rs 25,000, then get the Moto X4 without any looking further. Also, the new 6GB RAM variant is shipping with Oreo out of the box, which makes the device an even better deal.
Chakri is a go-to guy for your next smartphone recommendation. Back in his engineering days, he used to play with smartphones by installing custom ROMs and that passion got him into the tech industry. He still goes nuts about a smartphone knocking his door for review. Currently managing everything at Telecom Talk, Chakri is trying to master PUBG Mobile in his free time.