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June 19, 2017

Moto E4 vs. E4 Plus vs. G5 vs. G5 Plus: Which should you buy?

by John_A


Motorola’s budget lineup is getting increasingly crowded.

Lenovo is known for rolling out several phones at the same price point, with minor differences between them to justify their existence. With the Chinese company now hedging its bets on Motorola, it was inevitable that we would see a bevy of new phones under the Moto banner.

Motorola launched the Moto G5 and G5 Plus back at Mobile World Congress, and over the course of the last month, we’ve seen the Moto C series followed by the Moto E series.

With the Moto C series now forming the entry-level tier, the Moto E series is positioned just under the Moto G5 and G5 Plus. With so many phones launching in such a short duration, Motorola’s lineup in this segment is getting increasingly crowded. It doesn’t help matters that the naming convention of the Moto E series is one generation behind that of the Moto G phones, making the E4 look older in comparison to the G5.

To further confound matters, Motorola decided to launch nine million variants of each device. The Moto G5 series has over ten SKUs, and the Moto E4 is powered either by a Snapdragon 425 (427 on Sprint) or a MediaTek MT6737. Motorola has been struggling to roll out quick updates, and it isn’t making things any easier for itself by introducing models powered by two different chipsets — if history is any indication, the MediaTek version won’t receive updates as fast as the Snapdragon model.

Before we take a look at what differentiates the Moto E4 from the G5 and the E4 Plus from the G5 Plus, here’s a look at the detailed specs on offer:

Operating System Android 7.1.1 Nougat Android 7.1.1 Nougat Android 7.1.1 Nougat Android 7.1.1 Nougat
Display 5.0-inch 720p (1280×720) IPS LCD display294ppi pixel density 5.5-inch 720p (1280×720) IPS LCD display294ppi pixel density 5.0-inch 1080p (1920×1080) IPS LCD display441ppi pixel density 5.2-inch 1080p (1920×1080) IPS LCD display424ppi pixel density
SoC Quad-core 1.3GHz MediaTek MT6737 (global)Quad-core 1.4GHz Snapdragon 425 (U.S.)Quad-core 1.4GHz Snapdragon 427 (Sprint) Quad-core 1.4GHz Snapdragon 427 (North America)Quad-core 1.3GHz MediaTek MT6737 (global) Octa-core 1.4GHz Snapdragon 430 Octa-core 2.0GHz Snapdragon 625
GPU Mali-T720 (global)Adreno 308 (North America) Mali-T720 (global)Adreno 308 (North America) Adreno 505 Adreno 506
RAM 2GB 2GB (North America)3GB (global) 2GB/3G 2GB/3GB/4GB
Storage 16GB 16GB/32GB 16GB/32GB 32GB/64GB
Rear camera 8MP f/2.2 lens1080p@30fps (North America)720p@30fps (Global) 13MP f/2.0 lens1080p@30fps (North America)720p@30fps (Global) 13MP f/2.0 lensPDAF1080p@30fps 12MP f/1.7 lensPDAF, Auto HDR4K@30fps
Front shooter 5MP with f/2.2 lens 5MP with f/2.2 lens 5MP with f/2.2 lens 5MP with f/2.2 lens
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/nBluetooth 4.1 (North America)Bluetooth 4.2 (global) Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/nBluetooth 4.1 (North America)Bluetooth 4.2 (global) Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/nBluetooth 4.2 Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/nBluetooth 4.2NFC (global)
Battery 2800mAhRemovable 5000mAhNon-removable 2800mAhRemovable 3000mAhNon-removable
Charging Micro-USB 2.0 Micro-USB 2.0 Micro-USB 2.0 Micro-USB 2.0
Security Front fingerprint sensor Front fingerprint sensor Front fingerprint sensor Front fingerprint sensor
Dimensions 144.7 x 72.3 x 9.3mm 155 x 77.5 x 9.6mm 144.3 x 73 x 9.5mm 150.2 x 74 x 7.7mm
Weight 151g 198g 145g 155g
Colors Licorice Black, Fine Gold (North America)Iron Grey, Blush Gold, Full Blush Gold, Oxford Blue (global) Iron Grey, Fine Gold, Oxford Blue Lunar Grey, Fine Gold, Sapphire Blue Lunar Grey, Fine Gold

Now that we have a clearer understanding of what’s going on, it’s easy to see that the Moto E series is the more affordable alternative to the Moto G5 lineup — the E4 and E4 Plus have 720p displays, whereas the G5 and G5 Plus offer Full HD panels. The same goes for the chipsets, with the E4 and E4 Plus boasting quad-core chipsets while the G5 series is running octa-core CPUs. What’s great is that Motorola is rolling out a unified design aesthetic, making the entry-level Moto E4 virtually indistinguishable to the $300 G5 Plus.

That said, there are a few distinguishing features on the hardware front that make individual phones stand out. For instance, if you’re looking for a phone with incredible battery life, the E4 Plus looks like it’ll last at least two days, thanks to its combination of a massive 5000mAh battery, efficient chipset, and 720p display. When it comes to the Moto G5 Plus, the camera takes center stage — as we’ve seen in our review, the camera is the best available in this segment.

The Moto E4 is great value, but it may not get updates on time (or at all).

Finally, there’s the pricing: the Moto E4 starts at just $129, with the E4 Plus set to retail for $179. The Moto G5 is $20 more than the E4 Plus at $199, and the G5 Plus is the costliest of the lot, with the base variant starting off at $229. The Moto E4 is unbeatable when you consider the value proposition, but the uncertainty regarding updates makes it a risky bet.

The E4 Plus would’ve been a much better device were it not for the 720p display, but that’s not supported in the anemic GPUs found in the Snapdragon 425/427 and MT6737 SoCs. Talking about the G5, the device is the all-rounder in this list, offering a decent balance between specs and affordability. Of course, if you want one of the best budget phones available today, opt for the G5 Plus.

With so many devices on the horizon, the only question that remains is if Motorola can continue to roll out regular updates to its ever-growing portfolio. Fast updates and an unencumbered user interface were two of the biggest selling points of Motorola phones following its re-entry into the smartphone segment, but with nine phones set to debut in 2017, its engineering resources will be stretched thin.

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