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

jason-cipriani
Written by Jason Cipriani, Contributor on
moto-e4-plus-front.jpg
5.5/10

Moto E4 Plus

OK
Pros
  • Amazing battery life
  • Fingerprint sensor is reliable
Cons
  • Slow performance
  • Camera's are just OK
  • Fairly thick
  • Editors' Review
  • Specs

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.

Design

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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.

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.

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.

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Performance

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?

moto-e4-plus-fingerprint.jpg
​ (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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