Moto Z4 vs. OnePlus 7 Pro: Both good for work with compromises

When picking a value Android smartphone you can't always get what you want. The trick is knowing the features that matter for your workflow weighing the trade offs.

Moto Z4, OnePlus 7 Pro highlights how all the action is in Android midmarket smartphones Lenovo's Motorola unit launched its Moto Z4, a device that'll run you less than $500 and includes a bevy of premium features. It'll compete with OnePlus and Google's Pixel smartphones. Read more: https://zd.net/2EIdED5

The Moto Z4 is a strong device for $499 and can be a capable bring your own device for work contender. A few key perks include expandable storage, a good enough camera and support for a Microsoft-compatible stylus.

I've been trying out the Moto Z4 as a device that can serve as a year-long bridge to 5G as well as a lower-priced entry to replace my Galaxy Note. As I've been trying out the Moto Z4, I've also been toting the OnePlus 7 Pro. As far as looks go, the OnePlus 7 Pro has a better design for slightly more money at $699. Yet, the OnePlus 7 Pro lacks the microSD card and stylus support. We'll also get into the camera bakeoff later.

My biggest takeaway is that you can't always get what you want--especially if you are trying to keep your existing workflows you have the Samsung Galaxy Note.

Here's why the midmarket and value devices are intriguing in 2019. Premium smartphones are simply charging too much. Lower-priced Android devices offer many of the same features and you're not compromising much on design. In other words, budget Android devices are becoming more than good enough. They're becoming premium for less money.

Also: Moto Z4 is both a midrange phone and a Verizon 5G early-adopter machine CNET

In the case of Moto Z4, you have a 6.4 inch display device for $499 some element of future proofing via Moto mods (5G as an add-on) and features that matter for my workflow. I'm a fan of the Samsung Galaxy Note and use it as a notebook, camera, and work device. I can put my work life in a secure folder, so should IT need to wipe something, it's wiping the work and not the personal.

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Moto Z4 with 5G Moto mod.

Motorola

Here's my analysis of where the Moto Z4 stands as a work tool and relative to a competitor like OnePlus 7 Pro, which has a 6.67-inch display.

Balancing work life

One big issue that I had with both the Moto Z4 and OnePlus 7 Pro was that if you hook up your work email, you're agreeing to your employer's mobile device policy and things like remote wipe.

Now, for your employer, this mobile device policy is straightforward. For the employee, these policies may be a bit much. With Samsung devices, I use Secure Folder or Knox to partition my device, clone apps, and keep work separate from personal.

There is an Android work profile feature that would work with the Moto Z4, but not as well as a secure folder would. Samsung's Secure Folder didn't work on the Moto Z4 or OnePlus 7 Pro.

As a result, I accepted the work device policies and hooked up Gmail and other apps. This limitation is a big knock on mid-market value phones and using them for work. The big question is whether this limitation is worth as much as $800 more in a device.

OnePlus may have a way at this problem with its Parallel App approach where you can clone applications, but the company has focused on Instagram and a handful of other apps. There are no immediate plans for OnePlus to support Gmail and similar productivity tools.

In the end, Moto Z4 had the combination of features that won out in the bring your own device department. In order, those features included:

  • microSD card support;
  • Support for Microsoft's active pen protocol, which allows me to use OneNote as a reporter's notebook;
  • Android Enterprise Recommended;
  • Headphone jack, which is needed to hook up a microphone for video interviews

OnePlus 7 Pro had none of those. The Moto Z4's support of a stylus (it is no S Pen for sure) replicates enough of my workflow.

BYOD advantage: Moto Z4

Fit and finish

The Moto Z4 is an attractive device, but there are a few quirks. The biggest one is that the in-screen fingerprint sensor, which seems to be a few millimeters too high and was hit or miss when it came to reading my fingerprint.

Other than that nit, I didn't have a lot of complaints. The bezel-light design provided plenty of screen and while the camera bump on the back can be a bit odd, it wasn't an issue for me.

Moto Z4 is well constructed and feels light in your hand. Of course, this feeling is there when there aren't Moto mods attached. The 5G mod with the device bulks it up considerably. Other Moto mods will do the same. But overall, Moto Z4's hardware is good and you don't look like you've been to the budget phone bin.

The specs are also solid:

  • A 6.4 Max Vision screen.
  • An in-display fingerprint sensor.
  • A Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 processor.
  • Adreno 608 GPU.
  • 3,600Mah battery with 2 days of battery life, a 15W turbo charger and ability for battery Moto Mods.
  • A 25MP selfie camera with quad pixel technology and low-light photography.
  • 48MP sensor on the rear camera with OIS with quad pixel technology.
  • Software features for gestures such as quick capture, one-button navigation, fast flashlight and 3-finger snapshots.
  • Android 9 Pie.
  • 128GB internal storage.
  • 4GB of memory.
  • Up to 512GB of microSD.
  • Android Enterprise Recommended, which covers everything from devices, service partners, rugged devices to security and enterprise mobility management.
  • USB 3.1 Type C connector.
  • Colors include flash gray and frost white with Verizon, Best Buy, Amazon, and B&H in the US.

The OnePlus 7 Pro design trumps the Moto Z4. OnePlus 7 Pro feels premium and the specs are strong. Jason Cipriani, who reviewed the OnePlus 7 Pro, noted that OnePlus has grown up. He tested the most expensive version at $749. There are a lot of features packed into the OnePlus 7 Pro for the money.

OnePlus 7 Pro does feel markedly heavier than the Moto Z4 and has a larger screen. The display is also brighter than the Moto Z4. Where the Z4 has its front camera in a notch on the front, OnePlus 7 Pro has a pop-up selfie camera.

Cipriani noted:

Only this time, using the OnePlus 7 Pro doesn't feel like you have to accept any trade-offs. Indeed, past tradeoffs were minor, but there's something different about the OnePlus 7 Pro. The OnePlus 7 Pro looks, feels, and performs on the same level as a flagship-caliber phone.

In the end, part of a BYOD device is having your co-workers look at it and think it's pretty neat even if you're a smidge contrarian. OnePlus 7 Pro will have co-workers checking out the device.

BYOD design advantage: OnePlus 7 Pro

Camera

Gauging a device on its work potential is one thing, but let's get real: If the camera isn't up to snuff, it won't be considered.

And here's where this Moto Z4 and OnePlus 7 Pro bakeoff gets curious. Based on the specs, there should be no comparison. The OnePlus 7 Pro has a 3X telephoto zoom combined with a 10x digital zoom and a wide-angle camera. The front-facing camera pops up from the top of the device.

The triple camera set-up includes one with 48MP, 8MP for the telephoto, and 16MP for the ultra-wide angle. The front facing camera is 16MP. Video capture is 4K.

Yet OnePlus 7 Pro had a software update to fix numerous flaws in the camera. That update helped a good bit, but the white balance in images remained off. Enter another software update.

That update also helped in more nuanced ways, but the OnePlus 7 Pro camera remains a work in progress. Compared to the Moto Z4, OnePlus 7 Pro photos are sharper, but the less expensive competitor sometimes produces better results.

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Moto Z4's camera is relatively straightforward.

  • A 25MP selfie camera with quad pixel technology and low-light photography.
  • 48MP sensor on the rear camera with OIS with quad pixel technology.

Based on the specs, the OnePlus 7 Pro should crush Moto Z4. In real world shots, it's clear the OnePlus 7 Pro is a better camera that hasn't found its software footing. Moto Z4 doesn't have a perfect camera, but at $499, it may be good enough.

Here are some comparison shots:

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Moto Z4 

Larry Dignan
oneplus-7-pro-flower.jpg

OnePlus 7 Pro

Larry Dignan
moto-crane.jpg

Moto Z4 

Larry Dignan
oneplus-crane.jpg

OnePlus 7 Pro

Larry Dignan

I've taken a bunch of comparison and found that the Moto Z4 can really muddy shots and then deliver good ones, too. The OnePlus 7 Pro should deliver better shots and often doesn't.

From a work perspective, cameras are critical in industries like real estate and insurance. These cameras can be good enough, but have issues.

In other words, you can't have everything. If CNET gives OnePlus 7 Pro an 8.8 and ZDNet gives it a 9, then the Moto Z4 likely falls in the 7 to 8 range with a bonus for value pricing.

BYOD camera advantage: OnePlus 7 Pro assuming that the camera improves further. Moto Z4's camera can also be good enough, but doesn't have the hardware specs to realistically compete.

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