Tech Review: Motorola X4: Keep it simple

Motorola is one of those phone manufacturers that is perhaps better represented in the mid-range than it is in the higher-range. Their upper-tier offerings are solid, more than capable of holding their own against the likes of Samsung and HTC. For whatever reason, luxury handsets have become the bread-and-butter of the larger makers rather than the more down-to-earth models and its into this gap that the Moto X4 comfortably slips.

To give you an idea of where the Moto X4 fits into the wider Motorola family, its a rung above the Moto G5 Plus and a rung below the Moto Z2. This is a feature-rich little phone for one that sits where it does in the pecking order — dual rear cameras, expandable memory, more software goodies than you can poke a stick at and a reasonably pretty design. Where this new model is different from older entries in the X line is that the customisable colours and grunty processor are no longer present. All this for $699 AUD.

Don’t let that line about a slower processor scare you off — in terms of speed and features, the X4 easily outclasses the vast majority of handsets at its price point. The HTC U11 Life eschews the headphone jack, the Alcatel Idol 5S’s battery doesn’t even come close to matching the X4’s average charge.

While you can’t customise the handset as you could with earlier X-models, this is nevertheless an artfully designed little phone. You can get it in silver or black and it has really lovely metallic finish that gives the impression of it belonging on a space ship. It also boasts IP68 water resistance. This allows it be submerged up to a meter for about 30 minutes, which means you can accidentally drop it in the loo and get away with it (no judgements, we’ve all been there).

The downside of that lovely glossy metallic look is that it’s absolutely covered in fingerprints about .003 seconds after taking it out of the box. It’s also a mite thicker around the edges than most which makes it feel a little bulky compared to the elegant, slimline look most smartphones sport these days. Also, the location of the fingerprint scanner is frankly bizarre. Why is it positioned right below the bezel? I keep pressing it thinking its the home button, but it isn’t and it makes me crazy. Also, if you’re the sort of person who likes to live on the edge and not get a case for your phone, the Moto X4’s screen and rear facade are the sort of material that is very prone to scratches. Get yourself a screen cover at least, even if you think you won’t need it because you absolutely will.

One of the many features the Moto X4 possesses is Moto Gestures, which are just regular gestures but more … Moto? I guess? Anyway, you can whip your wrist twice to open the camera if you want. Pretty good. Moto Display also lets you customise your lockscreen notifications which is a blessing for someone who cops as many notifications as I do on a daily basis.

Speaking of the camera, the X4 features a pair of rear-cameras — one a 12MP standard and the other an 8MP wide-angle. Your photos will look quite nice as long as you’re somewhere that’s reasonably well lit. If you’re in a low light area, you’re going to find the cameras struggle quite a bit more with a ton of grain and artifacting. The wide-angle is good for landscape shots but I did notice a fair bit of warping around the edges. If you’re looking for perfect landscape images, you may want to look elsewhere. The front-facing camera is a 16MP boy with its own flash, which will let you address those low light problems when you’re trying to take a selfie.

Battery-wise, I was able to haul around 12 hours out of this bad boy without it being too much of a problem or needing a significant recharge. That’s quite a long charge for a phone in this price range and not to be sniffed at.

 

In total, the Moto X4 is a solid little phone. It ticks all the boxes — good performance, good spec, good price. If you’re in the market for a handset that won’t massively break the budget and provide decent bang-for-buck, this is the one you want.

Score: 7.5 out of 10
Highlights: Great spec for the price; Nice look; Long battery
Lowlights: Cameras are a bit of a disappointment; Some operational lag here and there
Manufacturer: Motorolo
Price: $699 AUD
Available: Now