I was pretty excited when I was asked to review the Amazon Prime Exclusive Moto X4. It’s been a couple years since a Moto X device was released, and as a big fan of the original Moto X, I was interested to see how well this new Moto X would live up to the name that essentially put Moto back on the map. I’ve been spending the past few weeks getting to know the new Moto X4, and overall I’m impressed – but not completely.
I’m going to go ahead and get the negatives out of the way first. There’s mostly just one negative, and that’s how the device feels in the hand. It’s a bar of soap. Glass on the front and glass on the back plus my perpetually cold hands means that without a case, this phone is constantly at risk of becoming completely shattered. I am way over the trend of using glass front and backs on smartphones. I regret ever complaining about “plastic” housing.
On the other hand, if premium design is your thing, the Moto X4 does an excellent job of providing that. It’s not too hefty and not too light, and a metal frame is sandwiched between the glass panels. The model I was given is a rich black color and it looks very nice; I just can’t stand the way it feels. Like any phone with two glass sides, I would highly recommend a good case for this device. It does have an IP68 rating, so even if it’s not protected from being shattered, it’s at least semi-protected from excessive dust and water exposure.
The model I was given features ads. I’ve reviewed a couple of devices with ads enabled on them from Amazon, and the experience is consistent across all Prime Exclusive devices. How well you deal with the ads is going to vary from person to person; I personally don’t feel that they impede on the experience too much, but they do have a presence. The only thing I love more than technology is a good deal, though, so I’m the type of person that would sacrifice the annoyance of ads for a discount. In this case, it’s $70 to remove ads if you so choose. This can be done at any time, so there’s no pressure to make the decision right off the bat if you’re not sure when you purchase the phone.
The performance of the phone is quite good. It’s speedy and can multitask perfectly well with its Snapdragon 630 processor and 3GB of RAM. I’ve had several apps open and it can switch between them and refresh quickly and without issue. There were a couple of stutters here and there, but I decided not to change anything out of the box with this device. All Amazon apps and ads are enabled and running, and I suspect that has something to do with the stuttering. There are some things that can be disabled and removed.
The Snapdragon 630 processor (along with the 3,000mAh battery) keeps the X4 running all day and then some under what I would consider moderate use (on one particular day I fit in social networking, watching a few videos, emails throughout the day, GPS, some light gaming, consistently checking the news, and streaming music to a Bluetooth speaker) and I ended the day at 33%. This was without disabling or turning any features off or using any sort of battery saver mode. The X4 features a 15-watt TurboCharger that claims to get you “6 hours of use” in 15 minutes of charging, so even if you are a heavy user that managed to blow through the battery like it was nothing, it doesn’t take much to revive it.
The cameras are two of the headlining features of this device, as it features a dual-camera setup with 12 and 8-megapixel cameras. I wouldn’t say the quality of the rear-facing camera blew me away by any means. It’s a good camera, but if you’re just an average user like I am who doesn’t fuss around with settings too much, the dual-camera setup isn't much better than any other camera aside from giving you an easy setting for taking "depth" shots, or shots that focus on a subject while simultaneously blurring the background. What is impressive is the 16-megapixel front-facing camera with dedicated flash, which frequent selfie-takers and video callers are sure to appreciate. Not very many phones put that much effort into the front-facing camera.
There are two features that I very much appreciate about the X4: the location of the fingerprint sensor, which is located in the center of the bottom bezel, and the 3.5mm headphone jack. Two years ago I wouldn't give a hoot about either of those things, but many manufacturers (Lenovo included, in some models) have chosen to omit the 3.5mm headphone jack when it’s still a perfectly good feature. And although it’s widely debated on which location is the best for a fingerprint sensor, I’m still quite fond of having it in the front of the device.
All things considered, for $329 ($399 if you choose to remove ads) it’s a decent deal. The battery life is great, the phone performs well, the cameras on both sides are solid, there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack, it supports TurboCharge, and it has a solid 32GB of internal storage with microSD support up to 2TB afterwards if 32GB isn’t enough. My only real complaint is how slippery it is and how fragile it feels with glass on both sides, but if you’re normally one to put a case on your phone anyway (or if you simply like that type of design) it’s a non-issue. In my opinion, though, the Moto X4 deviates too much from the expressive options the Moto X line offered in the past, which is a big part of what made Moto X special to begin with. I would love to see the Moto Maker make a return someday.