Lenovo gives cheap phone buyers a choice by splitting the Moto G in three

Andy Boxall

Motorola and its owner Lenovo introduced a triplet of new phones in the extremely popular Moto G family in May — the Moto G4, the Moto G4 Plus, and the Moto G4 Play. The Moto G4 Play is finally available for pre-order in the U.S., and there’s also a Moto G4 Play Prime Edition that’s available exclusively to Amazon.

Motorola’s G-series represent a considerable advancement over the previous models and show that mid-range, affordable phones are set to be way more desirable in 2016 than in other years. In its fourth generation, it’s the first time Motorola has created a slew of devices for the Moto G lineup. Typically, the name of the device has been “Moto G,” with references to which generation it is a part of or what year it came out, i.e., “Moto G 2015” or “Moto G 3rd Generation.” The new moniker of adding the generation number to the Moto G name may be confusing, as it now closely resembles LG’s lineup of devices, such as the LG G4 and the LG G5.

Related: Moto G4 review | Moto G4 Plus review

The Moto G4 starts at $200 — prices vary depending on what you choose in Moto Maker, the tool used to customize your device. The G4 Plus costs $250, and both devices are available to buy now via Amazon, Motorola’s website, and other retailers. The smartphones are unlocked, so they’ll work on GSM and CDMA networks. You can also get ad-sponsored versions of the Moto G4 for $50 less on Amazon.

The cheapest set of the three is the Moto G4 Play, which costs $150. You can buy it now via Amazon, B&H, and Motorola.com. There’s also a Moto G4 Play Prime Edition, which means it comes with lockscreen ads and offers if you have Amazon Prime. The trade off is it costs $50 less at $99.

Verizon also has a prepaid option for the Moto G4 Play Droid, and it only costs $85.

Moto G4 Play

Moto-G-Play-(1)
Moto-G-Play-(1)

The Moto G4 Play is the runt of the litter. Powered by a Snapdragon 410 processor, the Moto G4 Play comes with only 2GB of RAM, and only 16GB of internal storage. It’s lighter at 137 grams, as opposed to the Moto G4 and the G4 Plus’ 155 grams.

Related: Moto G4 vs. Moto G4 Play vs. Moto G4 Plus — Which one is right for you?

It moves down in size from 5.5 to 5 inches and only has a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels. The battery also is a little smaller at 2,800mAh. The rear camera has 8 megapixels and an aperture of f/2.2, and can capture 1080p video. The front-facing camera has the same 5 megapixels as the other two, except the G4 Play doesn’t use a wide-angle lens.

Still, the G4 Play seems like a decent offer, though ZTE’s ZMax Pro might be a better option for its $99 price. Speaking of $99, the Moto G4 Play has also gotten the Amazon treatment with a Prime Edition. You’ll find lockscreen ads and offers from the retail giant, but the device costs $50 less. The Moto G4 Play is now available for purchase. If you’re on Verizon, Big Red is offering a deal for prepaid customers — the phone only costs $85, but that’s not including the smartphone plan, which could add up to $60 more to your final bill.

Read our review here.

Moto G4 Plus

Regardless, of the three the Moto G4 Plus is the more exciting, specification-wise, of the new phones. A U.K. price of 200 pounds ($290) has been set for the G4 Plus, putting it up against hardware such as the OnePlus X and the Oppo F1 Plus, and the features are ready to compete. The screen measures 5.5 inches and is covered in Gorilla Glass 3, but the best news is a resolution increase to 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. The Moto G has traditionally had a 1,280 x 720-pixel resolution.

Related: 10 Moto G4 tips to help you get more from your budget phone

Under the screen is a fingerprint sensor inside the unusual square-shaped home button, although it’s not clear whether this is a physical key or not. Lenovo says it’s suitably fast to react, and should keep up with more expensive Android phones equipped with the same technology.

Around the back is a 16-megapixel camera with both laser and phase detection autofocus, a f/2.0 aperture, and a manual mode for plenty of control over your pictures. On the front is a 5-megapixel selfie camera that has a wide-angle lens for group shots. Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow is the phone’s operating system, which is the most current version available, and the 3,000mAh battery has a fast-charge mode that will provide six hours of use from 15 minutes of charging time.

There are three versions of the Moto G4 Plus, all of which come with an octa-core Snapdragon 617 processor, but a choice of 2GB, 3GB or 4GB of RAM, depending on whether you choose 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB of internal storage space respectively.

The extra RAM will help future-proof the G4 Plus to a certain extent, but each model comes with a MicroSD card slot that can add an additional 128GB of extra storage, so the extra internal memory may not be a big concern.

Read our review here.

Moto G4

Smack dab in the middle lies the Moto G4, which shares many of the same features as the Moto G4 Plus, including a 5.5-inch, 1080p screen, a Snapdragon 617 processor, and a fast-charging 3,000mAh battery. The operating system is the same, it also has a 5-megapixel front-facing camera with wide-angle lens, as well as a MicroSD card slot.

Related: 5 great Moto G4 cases and covers for style and protection

The changes begin with the lack of a fingerprint reader, which is a great shame, and continue with the camera, which has 13 megapixels on the rear. The Moto G4’s RAM is fixed at 2GB, but there’s a choice of either 16GB or 32GB internal storage.

That makes the Moto G4 a little cheaper, and a starting price of $200 is attached to it.

Read our review here.

Moto Maker

According to Motorola, two of the three Moto G4 models can be purchased through Motorola’s Moto Maker, which lets you customize your handset when ordering through the company. However, it looks like you will have fewer customization options than you currently have with the Moto G 2015.

More specifically, you can choose from eight different back coloring options with the standard Moto G4 and Moto G4 Style, a small drop-off from the 10 options available for the Moto G 2015. The Moto G4 Play is more in line with the Moto E, which also can’t be customized through Moto Maker.

Head over to Motorola’s website to order the devices from the Moto G family, and don’t forget to make use of customization options via Moto Maker.

Original post by Andy Boxall. Kyle Wiggers, Williams Pelegrin, and Julian Chokkattu contributed to this report. Updated on 09-06-2016 by Julian Chokkattu: Added news of the Moto G4 Play pre-order launch in the U.S.