Moto E4 Plus review: An economical smartphone for those who only care about battery life

  • Editors' rating
    5.5 OK


  • Amazing battery life
  • Fingerprint sensor is reliable


  • Slow performance
  • Camera's are just OK
  • Fairly thick

The Moto E4 Plus is one of the many smartphones aimed at dominating the low end of the smartphone market. Currently priced at $179 for an unlocked version, and compatible with nearly all US carriers, it has to be a bargain, right?

Well, sort of.



The Moto E4 Plus has a removable back, but not a removable battery. (Image: Jason Cipriani/ZDNet)

The E4 Plus uses the same general design as the rest of the Motorola lineup, only it's thicker. Below the 5.5-inch display is a pill-shaped fingerprint sensor, with power and volume buttons on the right side of the phone.

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The fingerprint sensor can also double as a trackpad for gestures to navigate the phone.

A microUSB port for sync and charging is on the bottom, with a 3.5mm headphone jack claiming the top-right corner of the phone's frame. On the back is a circular camera lens and flash.

The back is removable, providing access to the SIM and microSD card slots. The battery, however, is not removable.

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At 9.55mm thick, there's a bit of an initial shock the first time you pick up the phone -- especially if you've grown accustomed to thinner devices. The added bulk is due to the 5,000mAh battery.


The Moto E4 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 427 processor and 2GB of memory, and it comes with 16GB or 32GB of storage with microSD support.

I tested the 16GB model, and after installing my typical app setup, the device's storage was nearly maxed out. Odds are you will need a microSD card or opt for more storage during checkout.

Running on the phone is Android 7.1.1 with minimal tweaks from Motorola to the overall look and feel of the operating system.

Using the E4 Plus as my main device was a stark reminder of just how fast devices have become. Simple tasks such as reply to a text message from the notification would briefly present a loading icon. Same goes for opening an app after it has been closed. It's not that the device became unresponsive; it just took longer for it to carry out common tasks when compared to similar devices.

A 13-megapixel rear camera captures acceptable photos with a tendency of overexposure.

The saving grace of the Moto E4 Plus is its battery life. When a battery of this size is put in a phone, there's bound to be high expectations of just how long it should last. My experience was impressive, to say the least.

On Sunday, 13 hours after taking the E4 Plus off the charger with nearly 2.5 hours of screen on time, the battery was at 82 percent. Regardless of which high-end phone I'm using at that time, that amount of time and usage typically has the battery under 40 percent (often times lower).

To test standby time for the E4 Plus, I left it on my desk -- connected to cellular and Wi-Fi networks for nearly a week -- and there was enough battery left to stream music for a few hours after.

Should you buy it?

​ (Image: Jason Cipriani/ZDNet)

A few short years ago Motorola's smartphone lineup took a concise approach to various markets, with devices spread across each pricing tier. More recently, after being purchased by Lenovo, Motorola's smartphone lineup is muddled down with phones that are close in price and specifications as well.

At this point, Motorola's lineup is confusing. Motorola's low-end lineup consists of the Moto E4 Plus, Moto G5, Moto G5 Plus, Moto G5S, and Moto G5S Plus. Each one of these devices is closely priced and offer similar features. And that's without covering the Moto Z2 lineup and the rumored Moto X4, which is expected to launch in the coming months.

It's the same approach device makers took years ago, paralyzing customers in the process. Adding to the confusion are sales and promotions for the typically more expensive G5 Plus, which make it the same exact price as the E4 Plus. The G5 Plus is a superior device over the E4 Plus in every way, save for battery life.

And that's what the E4 Plus boils down to: If you care about battery life more than snappy performance and a sharp camera, the E4 Plus is the budget device for you. Otherwise, Motorola's own lineup offers better devices for nearly the same price, and you'd be better served by looking at those devices.


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Motorola continues to bring high-end features to budget smartphones with the G5S line

All attention may be on Motorola's top of the line Moto Z2 smartphones, but that's not stopping the Lenovo-owned company from bringing those features to a pair of mid-range smartphones. Motorola has announced two "special edition" variants of the Moto G5. The G5S and G5S Plus are to the G5 and G5 Plus the company released earlier this year, only better.


Phone Features
Phone Functions Speakerphone, voice control, call timer, conference call, flight mode, voice dialing, vibrating alert
Sensors Accelerometer, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor, digital compass
Additional Features Dual microphones, Glass-film-film (GFF) archecture
Security Devices Fingerprint reader
Form Factor Touch
Integrated Components Rear-facing camera, front-facing camera, audio player, voice recorder, navigation
Body Color Fine gold
Technology CDMA2000 1X / GSM / WCDMA (UMTS)
Type smartphone (Android OS)
Integrated Components audio player, front-facing camera, navigation, rear-facing camera, voice recorder
Navigation GPS
Mobile Broadband Generation 4G
Phone Form Factor touch
Service Provider not specified
Operating System Family Android
Operating System Android 7.1 Nougat
SIM Card Type nano SIM
SIM Card Slot Qty single-SIM
Input Device Multi-touch
Sensors accelerometer, ambient light sensor, digital compass, proximity sensor
Messaging & Internet
Messaging Services MMS, SMS
Supported Social Networks and Blogs Yes
Clock Speed 1.4 GHz
Type Qualcomm Snapdragon 427
Manufacturer QUALCOMM
Processor Core Qty quad-core
64-bit Architecture Yes
Wireless Interface Bluetooth 4.1 LE, IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n
Display Resolution 1280 x 720 pixels
Color Depth 24-bit (16.7 million colors)
Display Format HD
Pixel Density (ppi) 267
Diagonal Size 5.5 in
Diagonal Size (metric) 14 cm
Smartphone Diagonal Size 5.5 in
Color Support color
Features 2.5D Glass
Supported Flash Memory Cards microSDHC, microSDXC - up to 128 GB
Digital Camera
Special Effects HDR
Brand Motorola
Product Line Motorola Moto
Model E4 Plus
Packaged Quantity 1
CE Input Device
Type touch sensitive screen (multi-touch)
Sensors accelerometer, ambient light sensor, digital compass, proximity sensor
Phone Functions call timer, conference call, flight mode, speakerphone, vibrating alert, voice control, voice dialing
Security Devices fingerprint reader
Additional Features Dual microphones, Glass-film-film (GFF) archecture
Installed Size 2 GB
Flash Memory
Internal Memory Capacity 16 GB, 32 GB
Max Supported Size 128 GB
Supported Flash Memory Cards microSDHC, microSDXC
Service & Support Details
Type limited warranty
Service Included parts and labor
Full Contract Period 1 year
Front-facing Camera
Sensor Resolution 5 Megapixel
Lens Aperture f/2.2
Focus Adjustment focus free
Service & Support
Type 1 year warranty