Ah, Motorola – Once the brand of choice for every ultra cool teenager, ambitious young adult and ‘hip’ tech lover, the Lenovo acquired company is attempting to claw back market share, through the release of a wide and diversified smartphone portfolio, including the beautifully designed ‘X4’.
As part of its recent brand ‘gentrification’, Motorola has released a suite of new smartphones, including the aesthetically appealing Moto X4 – a ‘premium looking’ mid-range smartphone positioned between its flagship Moto Mod compatible Z series, and its entry-level G series.
Setting back consumers A$699, the Moto X4 is priced relatively close to Motorola’s Z2 Play smartphone, despite lacking compatibility with Motorola’s clipable attachments (’Moto Mods’).
Clearly occupying a very narrow market niche, Motorola’s X4 manages to stand out as a premium product at a mid-range price, almost tailor made for those who crave an ‘expensive’ looking smartphone, without requiring too many tech-heavy ‘bells and whistles’.
For the tech enthusiast, this may seem a rather ludicrous notion, however, there is a notable consumer market who will value a comparatively ‘simpler’ phone, which doesn’t compromise on premium aesthetics. The integration of artificial intelligence or gaming capable specifications, naturally doesn’t appeal to all consumer segments, and the Moto X4 proves that a premium looking smartphone doesn’t have to be ‘complicated’.
Trialling the Moto X4 for over a month, one thing was made clear – this is a beautiful looking device. Numerous compliments were offered whenever I placed the X4 down, with many individuals mistaking it for a Samsung Galaxy smartphone.
The Moto X4 looks especially striking in ‘Sterling Blue’, encompassing a solid metal unibody design, all in all, a very visually appealing aesthetic not apparent in many other mid-range smartphones. This is a phone that is designed to stand out.
Rounded corners and an oval fingerprint sensor on the front of the device, makes for a sleek and striking design.
The Moto X4 features a 5.2” Full HD 1080 x 1920 display, set alongside Corning Gorilla Glass, which whilst durable, does mean the back of the device is prone to scratches and fingerprints. (Buy a case).
The device does rest slightly at an angle, due to a noticeable camera bump on the phone’s rear top, however, this was not found to be an annoyance at all.
Despite its alluring exterior, the X4 is water resistant and features an IP68 rating.
Performance & Usability
Utilising a Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 processor, the Moto X4 features 4GB of RAM, 64GB of on-board storage (with MicroSD support) and runs on Android 7.1.1 Nougat.
As a compliment to the X4’s visually appealing exterior, the interface of the smartphone is clean, crisp and simply put – a ‘visual’ person’s delight.
For someone like myself, who is categorised a ‘Class A Visual Learner’, the strong integration of rich visual features, rendered the device nothing short of delight to use.
When inputting the location of a calendar entry, I enjoyed that the X4 immediately inserted a Google derived image of the venue or suburb. I liked that whenever I typed in calendar entries with ‘lunch’ ‘dinner’ or other common phrases, the X4 immediately inserted a graphic which reflected the nature of the outing – e.g. a graphic of a restaurant.
It made perusing my calendar much more visually rich, and far more interesting compared to other devices recently trialled.
Concerning day-to-day performance, even with plenty of business based apps running concurrently – I’m a multi-tasker – the X4 was more than capable of keeping up, with virtually no lag.
For those who enjoy it, split screen capability is also offered.
For someone inherently impatient, I appreciated that fingerprint unlock was almost instantaneous, with 100% accuracy, unless used with wet hands.
When playing high-intensity 3D games, the X4 did handle the load, though there was a notable weakness compared to other offerings, such as the Sony Xperia XZ. Then again, as mentioned, this is not a tech-heavy smartphone, making it perfect for some female users who crave a beautiful looking phone, which doesn’t compromise on performance, though needn’t require ‘gaming-level’ processing power.
The Moto X4 boasts an easy to use keyboard, which includes ‘SwiftKey’ functionality.
Hands down, one of the best things about this ‘visually rich’ device, is its Full HD display, which offers amazing sharpness and colour clarity when watching videos, or perusing the web. Lying in bed watching YouTube in full screen is an immensely pleasurable experience, as every line, wrinkle, and eyeshadow colour is apparent in the embarrassing number of YouTube tutorials I watch (#noshame).
Concerning sound quality, no qualms here. Audio is clean and well balanced, and capable of decent volume.
Unfortunately, the Moto X4 does lack a responsive LED light – i.e. flickering when new messages or notifications are received. As someone who frequently keeps their phone on silent, and relies on the LED light as a prompter, this is a notable disadvantage. However, it is easily fixed by downloading a relevant app on Google Play.
The device’s smooth and ergonomic design makes it comfortable to hold in your hand for extended time periods. I found the X4 large enough to deliver a striking video watching experience, though still compact and thin enough to fit within a small clutch bag.
For a mid-range phone the Moto X4 is an Instagrammers dream, both in its ability to capture wonderful images through dual camera functionality, plus its suite of in-built photo editing features which rivals many editing apps downloaded on Google Play.
The Moto X4 boasts a dual lens camera on the phone’s rear [12MP f/2.0 and 8MP f/2.2] and a 16MP [f/2.0] camera on the front.
I found that the calibre of images captured on the Moto X4 required far less editing than other mid-range smartphones recently trialled. The X4 boasts HDR, and an ability to capture balanced images through an easy to use exposure adjuster.
Customising light balance via the camera’s user friendly interface, again, makes for very Instagramable images. Selfies come out crisp and clear, in addition to a special ‘panoramic selfie’ mode.
The X4’s wide angle lens and auto-focus feature perform remarkably better than other mid-range smartphones recently trialled.
The Moto X4 features a 3000mAh battery, which when tested was able to extend to second day use, provided I wasn’t employing high intensity tasks.
Motorola has rolled out its TurboCharge tech, claimed to charge the device from flat to six hours use in just fifteen minutes. I found these claims to be largely substantiated.
As a drawback, capability for wireless charging (e.g. via Qi or similar) is not offered.
Once again, for the tech enthusiast, the notion of a ‘premium-looking’ smartphone, with limited tech-heavy bells and whistles, may seem a ludicrous proposition.
However, I believe there is a market for a beautifully presented mid-range device, coupled with an impressive camera – all in all, a special focus on high quality visual elements.
Interestingly, I discovered females in the 40+ age bracket were especially vocal about their lust for the X4, because ‘good looks and a good camera’ was all they really craved.
For those consumers who demand something a little more tech-heavy, Motorola’s Moto Mod compatible Z series smartphones are there, however, the X4 is solid contender for consumers who want the feeling of having a premium looking phone, without needing extra tech capabilities they may rarely use.
Moto’s classy X4 is undoubtedly beautifully designed, and a pleasure to use.
It’s up to the consumer to decide what matters more to them – e.g. better gaming processing capabilities, or high end exterior aesthetics? Based on the needs of my everyday lifestyle, it’s the later. To each their own.