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Moto G4 vs. Moto G (2015): Is the new Moto G really that much better?

Lenovo has taken the wraps off of this year’s long-awaited Moto G smartphone, dubbed the Moto G4. Interestingly enough, the Moto G4 is one in a set of three Moto G devices — a lineup that includes the standard Moto G4, the Moto G4 Play, and the Moto G4 Plus.

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

For the purposes of this comparison, we’re only going to look at the standard Moto G. But how does the Moto G4 stack up against the lauded 2015 version? We put the two devices side by side to find out.

Specs

Moto G4

Moto G4

Moto G (2015)

Moto G 2016

Size 153 x 76.6 x 7.9-9.8 mm (6.02 x 3.01 x 0.31-0.38 in) 142.1 x 72.4 x 11.6 mm (5.59 x 2.85 x 0.46 in)
Weight 5.47 ounces 5.47 ounces
Screen 5.5-inch 5.0-inch
Resolution 1,080 x 1,920, 401ppi 1,280 x 720 pixels, 294ppi
OS Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
Storage 16/32GB 8/16GB
SD Card Slot Yes Yes
NFC support No No
Processor 1.5GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 1.4GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snadragon 410
RAM 2GB 1/2GB
Connectivity Wi-Fi, GSM, CDMA, HSPA+, EVDO, LTE Wi-Fi, GSM, HSPA+, LTE
Camera Front 5MP, Rear 13MP Front 5MP, Rear 13MP
Video 1,080p 1,080p
Bluetooth Yes, version 4.1 Yes, version 4.0
Fingerprint sensor No No
Water Resistant No Yes, IPX7
Battery 3,000mAh 2,470mAh
Charger Micro USB Micro USB
Quick Charging Yes Yes
Wireless Charging No No
Marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Color options TBD Black, white
Availability TBD Best Buy
DT Review Coming soon 4 out of 5 stars

When it comes to specs, the Moto G4 shows a clear progression over last year’s model. The processor for the device is a step up, boasting Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 617 chip, which offers an extra 0.1GHz over the 1.4GHz Snapdragon 410. Perhaps even more important, however, is the fact that this year’s device has an octa-core chip, meaning it can handle twice as many processes at once compared to the quad-core chip that comes in the 2015 Moto G.

Storage and RAM options show a similar progression — nothing crazy, but enough to put the new device ahead. While last year’s Moto G had either 8GB or 16GB of storage, Lenovo went a step further with this year’s model, offering the device in either a 16GB or 32GB configuration. Not only that, but while we saw options of either 1GB or 2GB of RAM in the 2015 Moto G, the Moto G4 lands on a solid 2GB. Sure, it’s not the 4GB of RAM we’re getting used to seeing on today’s flagship phones, but it’s still a very respectable amount for a budget device.

Battery life and charging

Motorola Moto G4

Motorola Moto G4

Another area where the Moto G4 shows a natural progression is in battery life. While we’ll have to wait for real-world tests, at least on paper, the new Moto G simply has a bigger battery. The 2015 Moto G offered a 2,470mAh battery, which, according to our tests, gave the device a full day and a half of use. Still, that was partly due to the undemanding 720p display. This year’s Moto G bumps the battery up to 3,000mAh, but with a 1080p display, it will likely last the same amount of time, if not less. Don’t expect any radical changes in the battery department.

Display

As previously mentioned, the Moto G4 brings the Moto G into 2016 with a 1080p display, which will look nice next to last year’s 720p display. Resolution, however, isn’t the only thing to look out for — display size has also changed. It’s no secret that smartphones have been getting bigger and bigger, and the 5.5-inch screen on the new Moto G reflects that, given it’s 0.5 inches larger than the 5-inch screen on the 2015 Moto G. For those that like to watch videos and play display-intensive games on their smartphone, this will be a welcome change. For everyone else, it will be nice to have a little extra screen real estate, but it probably won’t make that much of a difference.

Design

Motorola Moto G4

Motorola Moto G4

The Moto G4 and the 2015 Moto G feature a very similar design, however the newer device looks a little more refined. Both devices feature rounded corners and similar microphone-speaker designs, but when you look at the new Moto G4 from the back, the refinements become much clearer. While the 2015 Moto G had a rather large camera module that extended down to the Motorola logo, this time around, the camera module stays as the camera module, while the logo gets its own little crater. Speaking of camera modules, rather than having a different color for the camera module, Lenovo has opted for a glass look, which contributes to its refined design.

It’s still unknown exactly which colors we’ll see the Moto G4 in, but we do know it will be customizable through Moto Maker.

Durability

While the G4 seems to outshine the 2015 Moto G in almost all areas, durability seems to be the exception. Last year’s Moto G offered IPX7 dust and water resistance, meaning that it could be submerged in up to 3 feet of water for as long as 30 minutes. This year, all we get is a “water repellent nano-coating,” which, according to Lenovo, will help create a barrier in the event of accidental spills and splashes. Point being? Don’t drop this one in the bathtub.

Software

Motorola Moto G4 Plus

Motorola Moto G4 Plus

Both the 2015 Moto G and the Moto G4 are running the latest Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, and you’ll get it as Google intended, with near stock Android. Motorola typically did little to customize Android, and it seems as though that tradition will be upheld under Lenovo’s guidance, at least for now. That also means you should receive Android updates relatively quickly, which is a nice bonus.

Based on the past, we can also expect the new Moto G4 to be among the first devices to get Android N later this year, and while the 2015 Moto G should get it eventually, it probably won’t be as soon as the newer device.

Price

Price has yet to be announced for the Moto G4 in the United States, however, reports indicate that the device costs 13,500 rupees in India. In comparison, the 2015 Moto G cost 12,000 rupees, which translates to roughly $180 stateside. That said, expect a small price bump, even if it is less than $50.

Conclusions

The Moto G4 is a clear winner here, as it offers better specs in almost every category. That’s a good thing for the next generation of a phone, and it shows that the Moto division at Lenovo isn’t getting lazy. If you’re someone who likes to keep up with app updates, Android updates, and new things, but doesn’t want to spend the hundreds of dollars needed for a new flagship device, the Moto G4 remains an excellent option. If you really only need your phone for social media, the occasional web browsing, and other low-powered tasks, then last year’s Moto G will suit you fine, too.