Republic Wireless Moto G4 PLAY smartphone review 2017
a great deal and value on a better-than-budget smartphone

the $149 Moto G4 PLAY smartphone
 

Motorola MOTO G4 PLAY smartphone from Republic Wireless
Rating: 5/5 by Steve
Last Updated: January 13, 2017

 

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Introduced in January 2017, the Republic Wireless Motorola Moto G4 PLAY smartphone for $149 is replacing the $179 Samsung Galaxy J3 and Huawei Ascend 5W as Republic's lowest-priced entry (economy) phone. So is the Moto G4 PLAY smartphone any good and should you consider buying it? In my opinion, the answer is a resounding yes... that is, the Moto G4 PLAY is a good smartphone, and you should consider buying it, if you think it will meet your needs and expectations. I have a strong feeling that the Moto G4 PLAY could easily become Republic Wireless's most popular smartphone. The Moto G4 PLAY is not for everyone, and some people may decide to go with the slightly more expensive Moto G4 or Moto G4 PLUS, or one of the higher end phones, like the Moto Z, Nexus 6, Samsung Galaxy S6, or Samsung Galaxy S7. The Moto G PLAY is not a high end phone. If you want a high end phone, there are fancier, more powerful phones, like the phones I just mentioned. But if you just want a perfectly decent smartphone that will get the job done, you will not find more bang for your buck than the Moto G PLAY smartphone. Since a lot of people use Republic Wireless to save money on their monthly bill, I believe they'll also chose the $149 Moto G4 PLAY because it really is an affordable better-than-budget smartphone.

I think the best way to review the Moto G4 PLAY is to compare it to its bigger "older brother", the Moto G4, which Motorola introduced first in July (2016). I really like the Moto G4, but I also like the Moto G4 PLAY. The Moto G4 PLAY has a 5.0" screen, which is a nice upgrade from the original 4.5" Moto G (1st gen), and makes the phone more useable without making it much more bulky. The larger Moto G4 has an even bigger 5.5" screen, which makes the phone even more useful for many tasks, but also makes the phone less "portable". I love a 5.5" screen, but I think a 5.0" screen is a nice compromise between portability and function.

What you get with the $149 Moto G4 PLAY
Affordability: For $149 bucks, Motorola has really hit it out of the ballpark with regards to maximizing your bang-for-the-buck. No, you don't get all the bells and whistles that you would get on the latest and greatest iPhone, but you also have to pay a heck of a lot more for an iPhone. We paid $149 for our original Republic Wireless Moto G (1st gen) smartphones in 2014. Now, three years later, for the same price, you get a bigger screen, a faster phone, twice as much RAM, twice as much ROM, a microSD slot so you can add even more memory, a better camera, 50% more battery life, and the list goes on. Smartphones just keep getting better and better, and what you get for an "affordable" "budget" phone just keeps getting better and better. The bottom line is that you don't have to spend a lot to get a really good smartphone. The main thing I like about getting an "affordable" phone such as the Moto G PLAY for $149, is that if your kid drops it and breaks it, or if you lose it, it's only $149 to replace. I don't like tying up a lot of money in a phone, and then worrying about what happens if it breaks or gets lost or stolen.
Screen size: To my mind, the 5.0" screen is an ideal smartphone screen size. I do like my 5.5" screen phone, but 5.0" is a nice balance between usability and portability.
Plenty of Memory (thanks for the latest Android Marshmallow operating system): The Moto G4 PLAY has 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal memory (ROM). It also has a microSD slot that allows you to add up to a 128GB microSD memory card. Android's new Marshmallow OS (on Motorola phones) has a feature called "Adaptive Storage". When you add a memory card, it will ask you if you want to add it as a removable storage card or as part of the phones internal memory. Adding it as internal memory may slow down the memory slightly, but it's a great, easy, and relatively cheap way to increase the phone's internal memory.
Motorola's "Clutter-Free" (aka bloatware-free) version of the Android user interface: I like Motorola because they don't load their phones with a lot of bloatware. The phone comes with a minimal number of stock apps. You can load it up with all the apps you want, but you won't need to spend your time disabling or deleting a bunch of unnecessary and unwanted apps.
A decent main camera and selfie camera: The 8MP main camera and 5MP selfie camera are decent cameras that will probably make most people satisfied. They aren't great cameras. If the camera is important to you, the Moto G4 has a better 13MP camera, and if the camera is really important to you, the high end smartphones do have even better cameras... but will you be able to tell the difference for what you do with your pictures?
Water "resistance": The Moto G4 family of smartphones has a "water-repellent nano-coating" on their electronics to protect from spills, splashes, and even a little rain. I've seen youtube videos where people have dunked their Moto G phones in a bowl of water and they're survived. I don't recommend testing it yourself, but it's nice knowing that accidentally if your kid accidentally drops your phone in the toilet (which happens) it will more than likely be ok.
An unlocked phone that will work with ALL US carriers: unlike the big Four (AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon) who lock their phones so they only work on their network with their service, when you buy a new phone from Republic Wireless, the phone is unlocked, and if you decide to leave Republic, you can use your phone on any other carrier. In addition, the nice thing about the Moto G family of phones is that they have both CDMA radios (for Sprint and Verizon) as well as GSM radios (for AT&T and T-Mobile). Many older phones and other phones were only CDMA or GSM, which limited your options if you wanted to change carriers.
A "all day long" REMOVABLE battery: Not only does the Moto G4 Play come with a big 2800mA battery, but the battery is removable and replaceable! Unlike the Moto G4 and the vast majority of other current smartphones with built-in batteries, the Moto G4 PLAY actually has an "old school" removable battery! You can carry a spare and swap batteries if your phone goes dead, but more importantly, when the day comes that your phone won't hold much of a charge anymore, rather than sending your phone somewhere and being without a phone for however long it takes to get the battery replaced, you can replace your own battery! One of the major requests I see many people make when they are asking about new phones is to have a removable battery. Well, if that's what you want, the Moto G4 PLAY is for you.


The Moto G4 PLAY has an "old school" removable battery!

What you don't get (but would get for $50 bucks more)...
The $149 Moto G4 PLAY is a great deal, but you do get a bit more with the $199 Moto G4.
A bigger screen: The Moto G4 has a bigger 5.5" screen, which is nice, but also reduces the "portability" factor. The G4 also has an even higher definition screen.
A better camera: The G4 PLAY has a decent 8MP camera, the G4 has a better 13MP camera.
5GHz WiFi support: The G4 PLAY only supports 2.4GHz wifi. The G4 supports 2.4GHz and 5GHz wifi. This is only a factor if the 2.4GHz channels in your house has a lot of interference, and you have a wifi router that supports 5GHz. Our home wifi router is only 2.4GHz and works just fine, so this is not a factor for us.
Gorilla Glass: The G4 PLAY does not have Gorilla Glass, the G4 does.

And of course, neither the G4 PLAY nor the G4 have a fingerprint scanner, or the latest top-of-the-line, state-of-the-art camera. Those features are on much more expensive phones.

 

Moto G4 PLAY vs Moto G4 (specifications)

price

$149 (16GB) $199 ($16GB) / $229 (32GB)
Moto G4 PLAY Moto G4

available

will introduce on January 18, 2017 introduced July 28, 2016 (available now)
Moto G4 PLAY Moto G4

display size / type

5.0" diagonal / HD 5.5" diagonal 1080p Full HD
Moto G4 PLAY Moto G4

resolution (pixels)

720x1280 pixels (~294 ppi) 1920x1080 pixels (~401 ppi)
Moto G4 PLAY Moto G4

screen

no gorilla glass Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Moto G4 PLAY Moto G4

phone width / height / weight

5.69" x 2.83" x 0.35-0.39", 4.83oz 6.02″ x 3.01″ x 0.31-0.39″, 5.47oz
Moto G4 PLAY Moto G4

memory (ROM)

16GB internal ROM
plus add up to 128GB removable via MicroSD slot
16GB or 32GB internal ROM
plus add up to 128GB removable via MicroSD slot
Moto G4 PLAY Moto G4

battery

2800mAh lithium-ion (removable) 3000mAh lithium-ion (built in)
Moto G4 PLAY Moto G4

processor / RAM

1.2 GHz Snapdragon 410 quad-core processor with 2GB RAM 1.5 GHz Snapdragon 617 octa-core processor with 2GB RAM
Moto G4 PLAY Moto G4

main camera / flash

8MP with LED flash 13MP with dual LED flash
Moto G4 PLAY Moto G4

"selfie"  front-facing camera

5MP with wide angle lens & display flash 5MP with wide angle lens & display flash
Moto G4 PLAY Moto G4

OS

Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
Moto G4 PLAY Moto G4

data speed

WiFi (2.4GHz), 3G, 4G LTE WiFi (2.4GHz + 5GHz), 3G, 4G LTE
Moto G4 PLAY Moto G4

water protection

water repellent nano coating water repellent nano coating
Moto G4 PLAY Moto G4

cellular carriers supported

unlocked, GSM and CDMA, works with all US carriers! unlocked, GSM and CDMA, works with all US carriers!
Moto G4 PLAY Moto G4

MY CONCLUSION: I think Motorola hit it out of the ballpark with both their new Moto G4 and Moto G4 PLAY smartphones. Both are worthy heirs and successors to the original Moto G, and either one should more that meet the needs of the majority of smartphone users. If one of my kids needed a new phone, I'd get them a Moto G4 PLAY, and get a good case for it too. If I needed a new phone, I'd get myself a Moto G4 PLAY. If my wife needed a new phone, I'd get her a Moto G4. She's well worth the extra $50 bucks.

MAKE SURE REPUBLIC WIRELESS IS RIGHT FOR YOU...
Republic Wireless has a 14 day money-back guarantee for new phone purchases. That said, if you are new to Republic, I recommend making sure their coverage will work for you. You can use the Republic Wireless Coverage Checker and enter your zip code to make sure they have good coverage in your area. Republic Wireless utilizes both Sprint (with voice/text roaming on Verizon) and T-Mobile (with voice/text roaming on AT&T) , and the coverage checker will determine which one will work best for you and show you the available phones with that service (i.e. the Ascend 5W is GSM-capable only and would not be available for customers who would be better served by Sprint Service). If neither service will provide good coverage in your area, the coverage check will let you know.

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