Moto G4 Play review: An affordable smartphone with just the essentials

Android / Mobile / Mobile Reviews / Reviews

The Moto G4 Play is a smartphone with just the essentials at a great price.

It wasn’t too long ago that we reviewed the Moto G4 Plus here at Techaeris. Our Moto G4 Play review takes a look at another member of the updated Moto G4 line, the slightly smaller version of the Moto G4 Plus with quite a few differences.


The Moto G4 Play has the following features and specifications:

  • Processor: 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 quad-core
  • GPU: 450MHz Adreno 306 GPU
  • RAM: 2GB
  • ROM: 16GB Internal, up to 128GB microSD card support
  • Display: 5.0” 720p HD (1280×720) resolution, 294ppi
  • Battery: 2800mAh removable battery (mixed usage up to 24 hours)
  • Networks: 4G LTE (Cat 4), UTMS/HSPA+, GSM/EDGE
  • Rear Camera: 8MP, f/2.2 aperture, LED flash, 4x digital zoom
  • Front Camera: 5MP, f/2.2 aperture, display flash
  • Video Capture: 1080p (30fps)
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.1 LE
  • Wi-Fi: 802.11 b/g/n (2.4GHz)
  • Speakers: Front-ported loud speaker
  • Sensors: A-GPS, Accelerometer, Proximity, Ambient Light
  • SIM: Micro-SIM
  • Operating System: Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
  • Dimensions: 144.4 x 72 x 8.95-9.9mm
  • Weight: 137 grams
  • Water-repellent nano-coating protects from spills, splashes, and even a little rain
  • Google Photos: Stay automatically backed up and organized, and get two years of storage at original quality

What’s in the Box

  • 1x Moto G4 Play
  • 1x Micro-USB power adapter (integrated unit, not separate power adapter and Micro-USB to USB cable)

The Moto G4 Play.


The Moto G4 Play looks similar to the Moto G4 Plus, albeit slightly smaller. The phone has a more rounded edge design on the metal frame, and the removable back features a micro-textured finish which provides a nice grip.

On the front of the phone, you’ll see the front facing speaker at the top with the front camera to the right of it, and a microphone hole near the bottom right of the phone. The right side of the phone houses the power button and volume rocker, with the headphone jack on the top left of the phone, and the micro-USB charging port centered on the bottom.


Moto G4 Play back view.

The back sports the iconic Motorola logo dimple just under the rear camera and LED flash. Removing the back provides access to the microSD and SIM card slots, as well as the removable battery.

The Moto G Play has a pretty simple design which works well and is comfortable to hold and use.


The display on the Moto G4 Play is only 720p, but at the 5” size it’s really not that noticeable aside from the fact that your app icons are a bit larger. Of course the text size can be adjusted in the system settings as well. Colours were decent without being over-saturated and text was crisp and easy to read. The screen was pretty easy to look at in various lighting conditions, and the automatic brightness setting works well.


The Moto G4 Play ships with Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow. Like most Motorola smartphones, there really isn’t much that comes pre-installed outside of the basic Android apps, giving you a pretty stock Android experience. The only other app that Motorola includes is the Moto app which allows you to toggle Actions and Display notifications while the screen is off.

Unlike some of Motorola’s other devices, the Moto G Play is pretty dumbed down when it comes to available actions. The only Action that is included with this device is the ability to swipe down to shrink the screen making it easier for one handed use. However, on a 5” phone that really isn’t an issue so it’s odd that it was included. Chop to toggle the flashlight and twist to launch the camera are also not included on the Moto G Play, even though they are staples on most Motorola devices.

The Moto G4 Play also includes an FM Radio app, which works quite well and even allows you to record the music you are listening to on your station of choice.

As part of the Android ecosystem, of course you’ll have access to all the apps and games in the Google Play Store.


The Moto G4 Play performs well for a lower end smartphone. Apps like email and web browsing, as well as basic games like Hearthstone, Scatter Slots, and others launched relatively quickly and ran fine, and I didn’t notice any slowdown while using the phone when apps or games were updating in the background. For the average user, the Moto G4 Play will definitely run commonly used applications and popular games.

The phone was responsive and switching between apps was pretty quick and I really had no issues with the performance of the device.


The sound isn’t too bad from the single front facing speaker and it’s definitely loud enough to hear your music or watch a video. At full volume the sound is clear and crisp without any distortion. You’ll probably want to plug in a pair of headphones for extended periods of music listening or video watching for better sound.


The camera on the Moto G4 Play isn’t bad, but it’s not the greatest either and definitely does better with shots in fairly well lit areas, especially outdoors. It will do for most quick snaps or selfies, and the one thing that Motorola has included in the camera is the updated camera software with a new camera UI layout. Other additions include adding the Best Shot feature to the front facing camera, and a new Beautification mode which enhances selfies.


Indoor photo, HDR mode, 100% crop.

The rear facing camera has panorama, video, and photo settings, as well as an HDR mode, timer, and flash settings. You can easily tap your screen to focus on a particular spot, and also adjust the brightness or darkness of the photo before you take it, and then tap to take your image, or hold down on the screen to enable burst mode. There’s also a flash mode of sorts on the front camera, if you enable it then the screen turns white to reflect more light towards you when taking a selfie.


Outdoor photo, HDR mode, 100% crop.

Reception/Call Quality

During our testing, the call quality on the Moto G4 Play was fine and there were no issues on either end of the call. Reception was as expected in my area as well, being on LTE where I expected it to be and other networks when there was no LTE signal.

Battery Life

With average daily usage – checking email, responding to messages, taking the odd picture, and watching videos or playing a few rounds of games, the Moto G4 Play easily lasted through the day on the 2800 mAh battery. In the off chance you may need to, you can carry a spare battery as the battery in the G4 Play is removable.


Moto G4 Play with back cover and battery removed.


The Moto G4 Play is available off contract for $200CAD, and you can also get it starting at $0 on contract in Canada from a variety of carriers including Bell Mobility, Koodo Mobile, SaskTel, TELUS, Wind Mobile and Virgin Mobile. This smartphone is definitely a decent budget phone at the right price. You can also pre-order it from Amazon in the US for $149.99USD in two variants: black with Prime Lockscreen Offers & Ads or white without (both priced the same).

Wrap Up

If you’re after a smartphone with just the essentials at a great price, then you’ll definitely want to consider the Moto G4 Play from Motorola.

Moto G4 Play
4.6 Out of 5
Nailed it
Decent build quality, great price. Removable battery, microSD slot. FM radio functionality.
Needs Work
Camera could use improvements. Speakers will do in a pinch but you'll definitely want to use headphones. No gyroscope which means no chop to flash or twist to open camera — two useful Moto features.
Bottom Line
If you’re after a smartphone with just the essentials at a great price, then you'll definitely want to consider the Moto G4 Play from Motorola.
Reception/Call Quality5.00
Battery Life5.00
*We were sent a demo unit of the Moto G4 Play for the purposes of this review.
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