You can read here why I purchased a phone, and why I didn’t have a need for one. Also my need & want list out of a device in my $200-$300 budget. I purchased a Lenovo Motorola Moto G4 Plus… which if it weren’t for LG which also has a brand model named the G4 I wouldn’t need that mouthful of words—I hope this never becomes an issue when purchasing accessories.
I was asked to give my impressions in the other thread… So far, so good. Happy with the purchase. Some of my comments are Android / Smart Phone related, some of them are Moto G4 Plus related.
I purchased my Moto G4 Plus from Amazon for $250 without ads.
Remember I have only casually made a call or two from friends and families mobile devices and only used our emergency prepaid phone for talk. I am a mobile newb, but not a computer newb (built PCs as a kid in the 80s when you had to do your own IRQs and jumpers and write your own Autoexe and Config files for multiboots; web programming experience a decade ago; etc.) But alas I have never needed a mobile phone. Forever we had a GPS and cameras that met our needs. So some of my comments will be obvious to experienced users, some will be comical, many will just be plain sad. I am coming at this relatively green from an Android/Mobile Phone perspective but I have owned a Palm in the past and can get my around tech. I use tech where I need it and apart from that I don’t–I don’t tinker with tech for the sake of tinkering or gadgets. And I loath social media and had my fill of online chat in IRC and AIM back in the mid to late 90s.
Call Quality on the G4 is good, no complaints. Or old stolen emergency phone was running something like Android 2.x I think and it had silly issues, like for example, when talking if you needed to enter info from the numeric pad the screen wouldn’t want to go on or would want to hang up. Android 6 has no such issues—much more intelligent and easy to use. Setting up my voice mail box required a bit of back and forth from listening and talking and hitting the numeric pad. That said it took me a bit of effort to actually FINDS the voice mail (ended up using OK Google). I am guessing I will receiving notifications there are voice mails? For a phone where talking and messages are to me central features voice mail seems to be a feature pushed below the layers.
The signal has been good with the phone. No drops or areas without coverage yet. Being able to call indoors was something our cheap emergency phone did a poor job of. I was worried about data but between Work, Home, and Church I have had a WiFi network always available. The phone automatically finds and uses WiFi and I can disable data if wanted. Everything has been snappy except uploading a 70MB video to Google Photo which took 3 minutes or so. Downloads (a couple MB/s easy on the phone) are VERY fast and my home WiFi is 50mb up and down stream so either the phone or Google Photo weren’t up to the task.
Battery time on the G4 has been very good. Even on the couple days I toyed with it for hours installing apps, browsing, stressing out OK Google, watching You Tube videos, trying out audio apps like Pandora and iHeartRadio, etc. I always ended the day with at least 30% of the battery left. When just used for talk, text, light reading and browsing, and picture taking the battery is > 60% at the end of the day. That said I am concerned with the USB style plug for charging. I will probably get the $15 dock—I really wish this thing supported Qi charging and removable batteries.
The GPS has worked out better than our aged Garmin that broke. Not only does it have turn by turn audio prompts it also indicates the lane you should be in. Alternate routes, looks at traffic, bike and walk paths, the ability to easily add a 2nd or 3rd stop on your trip, etc. Best of all is the ability is the voice commands. Being able to say, “OK Google… Directions to so-and-so [in my address book]” or “OK Google… Directions to Home Depot North Seattle” and within 15 seconds the GPS is up and running giving me prompts is fantastic. I know this isn’t revolutionary to long time phone owners but for me this is a big feature as I really missed our GPS and visiting my mom at various unfamiliar hospitals 50 miles away is extra stress I don’t need.
The G4 Screen is fantastic. Good viewing angles and the images are crisp. The phone felt a little big w/o the case but once I got a case with a raised edge it felt perfect to grasp. The screen is bright. I have been able to easily view the screen outside on a clear 80 degree day at noon.
PDFs and Kindle Books have been more than usable indoors and outdoors—I have yet to try loading one of my scanned books (~200MB) or tried using Text To Speech in a PDF.
The G4 Photo Camera is solid. I have the G4 Plus so it is the 16MP (not that megapixels says much). All the reviews indicated it was better than the stock G4 camera and solid in low light. Which I can confirm it does OK in low light, as good or better than our 5 year old point and shoot (which was $200 at time of purchase). Photos are crisp and response time is good. I haven’t tried burst shots yet. The digital stabilizer seems to work ok. One of the best phone features is the ability to Twist the Phone twice and the phone app immediately opens, even from sleep. (Which reminds me I should remove the app from the launcher as I will never use it from the launcher so best to put something else there… if I can!) The camera software is pretty easy to use. It has normal and advanced modes. Having an HDR option is nice. It doesn’t have a macro or super macro mode but I took some pictures 2”-3” inches from the lens with objects in the background and it did depth of field nicely and the close up image focused fine. One thing I don’t like is the camera lens is unprotected without the case when back down. $10 case solved that, but I was leaving the phone at home until I got the case in fear of scratching the lens or screen.
The Video Camera has also been solid. Not great in low light, but acceptable for a cheap point and shoot. Outdoors or in average lighting indoors it looks great. The super slow motion is very cool—we have already used it to watch out disc golf drives. The app is very snappy. My mom has really enjoyed the photos and videos. Me having my own camera phone on me most of the time has already allowed a couple quite moments with the kids I wouldn’t have snapped in the past. Of course I was recording in 1080p which made for a 70MB file for 30 seconds of recording which took a long while to upload.
I am glad I got a model with a lot of Memory. I have already seen RAM usage go as high as 1.6GB so while 4GB is a luxury it is one I was happy to pay a little extra for. Likewise 64GB of local storage and the ability to add a micro SD card for another 128GB. Right now I am being “wasteful” taking HD videos, pictures, downloading ring tones and apps to try w/o deleting, etc. but for as many people who urged me to get a Nexus 5 I have seen a lot of people regret getting the 16GB model and light frustration with the 2GB of RAM. I did just see the Nexus 5 32GB drop to $270 at Amazon and for a better modestly better camera, much better processor, slightly smaller, and more robust update policy it may have been the better choice if it had that price 2 weeks ago. But it didn’t. The battery complaints and the lack of expandable memory on the Nexus 5 were factors for me (and I didn’t want to go the Google Fi route with purchasing/cancelling service which, at the time, for the 32GB model would have been over $300).
I love the Finger Print reader. Very fast. I hardly ever use my unlock Pin. I also like the front placement.
The Moto G4 Plus is mostly vanilla Android 6. One of the Moto features is a couple gestures. Twist the phone twice and the camera app pops up quickly. Shake twice and the flash light goes on (surprisingly bright). I couldn’t get the do not disturb to work, yet.
I am still fiddling with the Do Not Disturb features. I had fun and made the mistake of using Zerge to put custom ring tones on friend’s numbers, notifications, etc. (Wish there was a better way to do this—like go to “Ring Tones” and it be an entire list of users and just select the user and change the ring tone. Right now it seems I need to drill down into each account in the contact book) Anyways, I don’t want Peanuts blaring when a friend calls. Right now I have it on Do Not Disturb at work (vibrate) but I wish I could, for work hours, set it to a set volume automatically (lowest) too if I wanted.
Which is another issue, the speaker / max volume. The device can be plenty loud. But certain apps are too quiet. (Recommendations would be appreciated). So I was streaming the audio from my Bible app (YouVersion) and it is almost too quiet to hear on the road. I cannot find a system or app setting to make it louder. Most items at 50% volume are very loud so I realize this is a recording/app max volume issue. They removed the stereo speakers in this years model but things still sound fine—but I am deaf in my left ear.
I am mounting the device in our minivan to an air vent holder (Wiz Gear). $7 on Amazon + $10 case. Works fine, no issues.
I have downloaded, but have not tried, the Microsoft Remote PowerPoint Control. The MS app only works with Office 2013 and requires the PC have the app installed, too (may require Windows 10 which is fine) which I have Office 2013 at home but the Church computer only has 2010 so I will need to maybe find another app. Well rated app and should do EXACTLY what I want—using my phone as a PowerPoint remote. But alas I may need to find a different app.
The voice recording apps I have tried all work well. I have not tried with a Bluetooth head set (have not chosen one yet, thinking the Plantronics M55 for $38 at Amazon) and need to see if I can use the PowerPoint Remote App WHILE recording at the same time.
I am an idiot… I miss Windows folders. Trying to figure out WHERE my pictures and videos are, and if they are synced online with Google Photo made me cry. I think I figured it out but trying to set rules for what to sync and where… I think I will figure it out. Everything seems well thought out, just too many features learned at once I think. I hope…
The good news is it looks like standard Messaging + Google Photo will work for sharing photos and video messages with my mom. We want to send videos daily of the kids. Was looking at apps and none seemed to have great video messaging… especially if I wanted longer videos, higher quality videos, or access to use them at a later time. Alas: Use Google Photo to store the video or picture. And from there you can send via a link to SMS, Hangout, etc. Even just give my mom access to the folders. Problem solved. My mom is a luddite. With her S5 the first Google Photo Link sent via SMS from the Photo app went without a hitch—see saw it without complaint or needing my dad to assist.
The Google App is ok. But the best feature is “OK Google.”
I am finding I am using OK Google so much I am not learning where things are on the phone. In fact if I can figure out how to more accurately tell OK Google to open a settings option or feature I cannot find I may never go to Settings!
I have been using the CNET and Greenbot command lists to test out OK Google and I am very impressed. Most things I can do with my voice. This morning I told it to open my Bible app on the way to work and then to play audio. Opening apps, websites, or features is a snap and getting basic info like the weather, definition of a word, etc. is intuitive. I just wish it was “HEY Google” and not “OK Google.” Or better “COMPUTER” 😉 Why I cannot rename OK Google–or why a list of commands aren’t on the machine I don’t know…
Voice recording for speech to text is 98% accurate. I have MS so I am finding I almost always use speech for text messaging. I can talk quickly and mumble and Google doesn’t complain. Unlike my mother…
I do wish there was a more robust fast paced tutorial on how to USE all the features. I keep finding stuff randomly. The Google App fell into my lap on accident.
Overall I am happy with the device, software, and experience. I have had some issues with certain apps (not a G4/Android issue) like my Synology Diskstation and their app won’t sync. I can see it but it crashes. Alas I have the storage to put all the audio on my phone which could be a pain… in a perfect world I would enable the cloud feature. I am bummed about no Qi charging as I am horrible at plugging/unplugging and finding a good place for such. The feature geek in me wishes it had NFC but I remind myself I need my license at all times so my wallet isn’t going anywhere.
I haven’t done much beyond the basics but so far it hasn’t been a pain or frustrating. The G4 processor is snappy. I know it isn’t a flagship processor but it isn’t slow for my uses.
So far: I would buy again.
The recent Ars review seemed very heavy handed to me. Comparing against $400+ devices seemed unwarranted. The closest thing is the Nexus 5 and at the time of the review retail was still over $300 and it lacked in certain areas that make the G4 and Nexus 5 not exactly comparable–cheaper with more memory and storage and better battery life aren’t trivial (or is the faster processor, security updates timely, or modestly better camera trivial on the other side). And while the G4 will get N and O the lack of security updates every month is frustrating it seems par for the course for non-Nexus devices.