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Motorola Moto G4 Plus review: A minor step up, but not the best deal

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The Good In addition to retaining its sibling's water-resistant body and full HD screen, the Moto G4 Plus adds a fingerprint sensor, slightly better camera, and you can select more storage and memory.

The Bad That fingerprint scanner confusingly looks like a home button, and the lack of NFC means you can't use the phone for contactless payments.

The Bottom Line The Moto G4 Plus adds a fingerprint sensor and slightly better camera to the mix, but its cheaper sibling is still the better deal.

8.0 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Performance 7
  • Camera 7
  • Battery 8

The Motorola Moto G4 Plus and Moto G4 are extremely similar Android phones that perform far better than you'd expect for the price. In fact, these fourth-generation entries in the Moto G line effectively redefine value in the smartphone realm, moving from merely "good enough" to "amazingly good for the money."

Both phones offer a bevy of solid features, including 5.5-inch full HD screens, capable octa-core processors and decent 3,000mAh batteries, including some notable niceties -- expandable storage and water-resistant bodies -- not found on current iPhone models that retail for three times as much.

The Moto G4 Plus edges ahead in the specs race with a fingerprint sensor and a better camera. Unfortunately, though, it doesn't include NFC compatibility for Android Pay purchases at real-world retailers.

For that reason, we're more inclined to stick with the base G4 model, which costs just $199 or £169 at its base configuration. But if you value scanning your finger to unlock and zooming in to photos for more detail, the Plus may well be worth the modest price increase -- an extra $50 or £30.

Read our full review of the Moto G4 for details on both phones, or continue here for a quick overview on the primary differences between the two models.

Editors' note (July 6, 2016): This review has been corrected to reflect that the G4 Plus does not offer NFC or Android Pay, and that we recommend the cheaper Moto G4 as the better overall buy.

What's the price difference?

Motorola doesn't make it easy to give a direct comparison between the US and UK markets. That's because the phone is available in slightly different configurations at retailers (like Amazon) and the company's own Moto Maker site (where you can configure customised versions). But the bottom line is that both phones have amazingly low starting prices for what you're getting.

The base 16GB G4 is $199 or £169. Adding $30 or £30 gets you a 32GB version at Motorola's website. (For the equivalent price in Australian dollars, please see the spec chart at the end of this review.)

The base 16GB version of the G4 Plus starts at $249 or £199. For £30 more (£229), those in the UK can get a 32GB version (not currently available in the US). The Plus tops out at $299 or £264 for 64GB, which also doubles the on-board RAM to 4GB from 2.

The bottom line is that the Plus adds a couple of "nice to have" features, especially if you prefer to unlock the phone with your fingerprint or like to zoom in to your photos for greater detail. But the lack of NFC and full Android Pay features makes us inclined to stick with the baseline G4 model.

What's different between the G4 and G4 Plus?

It boils down to two main things. The G4 Plus has a larger, 16-megapixel (versus 13MP) camera and a fingerprint scanner that unlocks the phone. What the Plus also allows you to do is spec up the internal storage capacity up to 64GB, which also snags you double the RAM (4GB in total).

motorola-moto-g4-plus-product-3.jpg
Andrew Hoyle/CNET

If the fingerprint scanner had worked with point of sale Android Pay, the G4 Plus would be an easy recommendation over its less expensive twin. But its lack of NFC means you won't be paying for cabs and Chicken McNuggets at the register.

One other problem with the fingerprint sensor is that it looks like a home button and I regularly found myself pressing it to leave an app -- which does nothing, as it purely functions as a scanner.

Do I need the G4 Plus's 16-megapixel camera?

More resolution means more pixels are crammed into the image, so fine details on shots taken with the Plus's 16-megapixel sensor look sharper. Take a look at the comparison image below to see what that really does to an image.

Moto G4 Vs Moto G4 Plus camera resolution comparison (click to see full size)

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

More pixels don't always make better-looking photos, though. Both phones can capture lovely scenes and are well equipped for your summer snaps. The resolution is only a benefit if you want to zoom in on details, or display them at full screen on a monitor. If you mostly look at your shots on the phone or on Instagram, the extra resolution matters less.

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