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Motorola Moto X4 Review - Underrated flagship grade cameras and design for less

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The Moto X4's design is flagship grade where you will almost never find a phone with stunning design at PHP 23,999! Does it perform as good as its looks though?
Motorola X4 Review
It looks a lot better in person compared to the press renders!

On paper it carries the Snapdragon 630 octa-core processor with the beastly Adreno 508.

For our review part 1: Motorola Moto X4 Unboxing and First Impressions

Display Quality

Bright and saturated 5 point multi-touch 1080p IPS display
Bright and saturated 5 point multi-touch 1080p IPS display

The display is a 5 point multi-touch, 5.2-inch FHD LTPS IPS 1920 x 1080 that is covered by a Gorilla Glass 3 protected 2.5D curved screenIt's maximum brightness and 1080p resolution is on par if not slightly better than the phones in this price range. It's plenty bright enough to be visible under direct sunlight while maintaining decent sharp images.

1080p IPS goodness!

It is an IPS display so it won't have the jaw dropping eye popping saturated colors and deep blacks of AMOLED but it comes close. It is impressive given at its price.

What surprised us is the 5 points of multi-touch. It is good enough for most tasks but it would limit the type of games that you can play on it. We find this a missed opportunity given the good processor, GPU and RAM.

We hope Motorola would consider a 18:9 display in the future as phones like the CloudFone Next Infinity at PHP 6,999!

Audio Quality

The speaker is at the earpiece above the display!
The speaker is at the earpiece above the display!

There is a single speaker at earpiece with the maximum volume being louder than most of the competition but it does have noticeably distortion at 80% to 100% volume. It was pretty apparent when we played 24K Magic by Bruno Mars. Otherwise the sounds are defined with decent power and sound stage. 

Speaker quality is good with distortion at max volume! 

For headphones and earphones, we used the stock earphones and our RHA S500iThe audio quality from the stock earphones and our RHA S500i is better than when listening to the speaker. There is a decent sound stage with staggeringly better clarity and definition in each tone.

The microphones are clear and clean enough for calls and recordings. We never had an issue or a caller comment that our voice had concerns during calls.

Battery Life

At least 10 hours of battery usage
At least 10 hours of battery usage

In our daily use of email, texting, calling, social media interactions, YouTube streaming, we were getting 7 to 8 hours of on screen time with LTE. We would unplug the phone at 8AM and end our day at 6PM with 20 to 25% battery left.

Without LTE, we were getting around 9 to 10 hours of on-screen time. The X4 has endurance!

It has the standard battery saving modes where it lowers performance and background tasks to improve longevity. It includes a regular power saving mode that will darken the screen and disconnect you to WiFi, data or Bluetooth and smart-saving that consumes less power.

Charging time is under 90 minutes from 0 to 100! Turbo charge is Moto's version of Quick Charge with the Snapdragon processor. It isn't as fast as the Dash Charge tech of OnePlus but we are getting fast results!

Camera

Underrated photography phone!

The rear camera is a combination of a 12MP f/2.0 and a 8MP w/ 120 degree wide angle. Both have Dual Pixel PDAF, and dual tone LED flash.

There is a pro mode where you can customize metering, white balance ISO, shutter speed, focus and exposure compensation. The ISO starts at 100 up to 3200 while the shutter speed starts at 1/4000th of a second to 1/3 of a second. So no long exposures. It also has auto HDR and depth of field mode.

The Dual Pixel autofocus is still the best out there though this version is a little slower than the Galaxy S8's or Note 8's. But generally this one of the best in its price range.

In low light, grain and noise is noticeable but not much resolution is lost. In fact, it is one of the sharpest images we've seen in low light in 2017. Not on par with the Mate 10 or the Note 8 but close. The autofocus on the selfie camera is slightly better than the rear camera

The auto camera experience is good. The white balance is accurate 9 out of 10 time. It almost never fails. The autofocus finds focus as soon as you tap to it or as soon as the camera detects a face.

The images from the 12MP camera are sharp  at 100% and at 150% zoom which is more better than most cameras in this price range. The wide angle is a little softer. It is noticeable when compared side by side with the 12MP rear camera and the 16MP selfie camera.

There is a depth of field mode that works better than most implementations in its price range. We were impressed.

The flash is there if you need it and you can seamlessly transition from one camera to the next and to video mode quickly. The HDR takes a second to one and a half second depending on how dark the environment is. The shutter speed in general is faster than most phones from Lenovo or Moto. 

There is also a mode called spot color where it will isolate all objects with that color and you can choose whether to desaturate it or saturate it (grayscale the colored object or make the color more vibrant). It's a unique feature for creative use. I doubt though that a lot of people will use it daily. It is nice to have though.

Rear Camera Samples

Normal
Normal
Wide
Wide
Close-up
Bokeh
Bokeh
Lowlight indoor
Lowlight indoor
Night
Night

On the other hand, it carries the 16MP f/2.0 with LED flash as the selfie camera. It doesn't have a portrait mode but it does have a pro mode. The customizable settings are the same with the rear camera. 

You can also do selfie panorama with this. It gets really wide and we like it but any movement will cause weird effects.

It has a 7 levels beauty mode that works well but kind of artificial like most beauty modes.

It uses an auto-face recognition autofocus. It works 9 out of 10 times which is an amazing experience whenever we don't have to struggle with using both hands or one hand while trying to balance the phone and tap the shutter button.

The selfie camera performs similar with the main in terms of daylight and low light but it because it has a higher MP count, it does tend to have slightly more grain in low light. Otherwise, this is a compelling selfie camera even with the absence of a bokeh/depth of field mode.

We are impressed with both cameras of the Moto X4. Our only gripe is that the wide angle lens camera is softer and doesn't handle low light as good as the others but it outperforms other implementations in its price range.

Selfie Camera Samples

Daylight selfie
Daylight selfie
Indoor selfie
Indoor selfie
Indoor dim
Indoor dim
Selfie flash
Selfie flash

See also: Motorla Moto X4: First Camera Samples

For videos the rear (standard and wide) take up to 4K 30fps, 1080p 60fps, and slow motion 720p footage. On the other hand, the selfie camera can take up to 1080p 30fps selfie video footage with 720p slow motion. 

The settings however is almost non existent. You only have the toggle for the flash/torch for both rear and selfie camera and the resolution and framerate.

There is no OIS or EIS so there is noticeably wobbling or jitters when taking a video while walking. The video for both are similar characteristics. Both have high detail and saturated color for all resolution but the noise is noticeable especially in low light. 

Over all we were impressed by the image quality of the video, EIS or OIS would have made it perfect given that we have a standard view rear camera and a super wide view.

Video Samples


Performance

AnTuTu and Geekbench
AnTuTu and Geekbench

The phone packs the 2.2GHz 64-bit Snapdragon 630 octa-core processor with the Adreno 508 plus the 4GB of RAM makes this phone more than good enough for your daily needs!

Respectable overall performance!

The result is silky smooth multitasking and good gaming performance with almost no hiccups with normal tasks like web browsing, texting, streaming or productivity related.
Heavy gaming, no problem most of the time
Heavy gaming, no problem most of the time

It is not designed for gaming but it can handle games at a respectable performance. We've never had lags or stuttering with our time with the phone even with demanding games like NBA and Asphalt 8 at medium and even high settings!
Clean skin!
Clean skin!

Equipped with the latest Android 7.1 based Motorola skin of Android. It is relatively near stock but have some new features like Moto actions that we talked about in our review of the Moto Z2 Play and the Moto G5S Plus.

It is the same Moto actions where you can shake your phone to launch the camera app and use your fingerprint to unlock and/or lock the phone.

We love how near stock it is which makes it snappy, responsive and up to date! We got confirmation from Moto Philippines that an Oreo update is coming during the first quarter of 2018!

The fingerprint scanner is fast! Not as fast as the One Plus 5T but faster than some of the competition in its price range. It is accurate too! We only had one instance where it misread my registered fingerprint.

Telephone connectivity is good with strong signal and steady 4G data connectivity. There's the usual WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS as well that never failed us.

Pros - Flagship grade design, decent gaming performance, great camera performance,, shoots up to 4K video at 30fps, turbo charge is fast!
Cons - Fingerprint magnet, 5 point multi-touch only display, lack of EIS and OIS for videos

Verdict

The Motorola X4 is an underrated phone whose strengths lies in best in category photography performance, respectable productivity and gaming performance. It also has a beautiful flagship grade designed body with Turbo Charging.

The drawbacks are the 5 point multitouch display, the back glass panel is fingerprint magnet, and the lack of EIS or OIS yet we are willing look past given at how great the phone performs.

Though the PHP 23,999 asking price is a little steep, we highly recommend it (especially if you can get it on sale!)

Build / Design - 4.5
Display - 4.25
Audio - 4
Battery - 4
Camera - 4.5
Performance - 4.25
Average - 4.25 / 5
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