Review: Motorola Moto E4 Unlocked Smartphone

11 months ago Jack 0
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Motorola’s Moto E4 is their latest budget-conscious smart phone. Specification and feature wise, it will strike you as utilitarian. However, you might be surprised at how capable this guy is.


Processor: Snapdragon 425 Quad Core CPU with 2GB RAM and Adreno 405 Graphics

Local Connectivity: Dual Band Wi-fi a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.1 LE

Sensors: GPS, Accelerometers, Compass

Screen: 5-inch 1280×720 pixel IPS display with Gorilla Glass 3

Cameras: 8mp f2.2 rear camera, 5mp f2.2 front facing camera. Flashes on both sides. The rear camera is capable of video at 30fps up to 1080p.

Network Compatibility: Unlocked for all major networks. I think it has most, if not all of the bands needed at the time this post is being written, but check Motorola’s product page for full and accurate information.

Storage: 16GB internal storage with micro SD card slot for expandability up to 128GB

Sound: Single front-firing speaker with headphone jack.

USB/Charging: Micro USB 2.0

Bonus Extras: Fingerprint Reader, moisture resistance

You can read more about the specs right on Motorola’s Website.

In my opinion, a great package for people who aren’t into the latest games or don’t need the newest tech. If you are a basic user that wants to capture a picture now and then, browse the internet or use common apps, and even turn on Pokemon Go from time to time (no augmented reality without the gyroscope though), then you might be OK with these specs.

In my own use, which is limited mostly to listening to music, checking a few websites, and monitoring texts and emails, it’s more than enough.

Build Quality

Heck, I think it’s fine. The right materials for the job are well… sufficient. When I pick up this phone, I don’t immediately think “cheap junk.” To me, it feels light, but solid.

The overall finish seems classy and clean. The phones design doesn’t bomb you with gimmicks. It actually keeps fingerprints to a minimum too.  Overall, I have no issues with build quality.


Android 7.1 is pretty nice. If you don’t like it, you can throw on a different launcher and have the same basic software enhancements but with an interface you’re more familiar with. Probably though, you won’t mind sticking with the stock setup. The phone felt quick and responsive. It still has Motorola’s active display feature, which is nice, but you can’t trigger it by the proximity sensor or brightness sensor anymore. That’s disappointing. When I had a Moto X Pure, I loved being able to wave my hand over the phone to see notifications.

Typing, connecting, and using was easy. Even with my fat hands I could type with reasonable accuracy. I’ve read some other reviews of phones that complained about the resolution of 1280 x 720. That’s silly. This is more than sharp enough to read small text and enjoy media. Actually, on a funny note, flagship phone makers often boast about the crazy high resolutions of the screens they’ve used, but if you take a look at Samsung, you’ll find that they offer an option to turn the resolution down to save battery life. In fact, when turned down, it ends up being about the same resolution as this phone. Go figure.

The camera app is slow and the picture quality is average. Install Open Camera and your photography experience will improve significantly. The picture quality won’t increase, but at least the app won’t be as slow to react to your shutter button presses.

Other things to note are the battery life and sound quality. The battery has been impressive to me so far. I’m a very light user, but even then it takes almost all day to lose 20-30% of the battery life. A heavy user will get through it much more quickly, but the 2800mAh battery combined with a lightweight processor does great for endurance.

The Moto E4 didn’t produce very pleasing sound through my Sennheiser earbuds. By default, it sounded flat and a little muddy. When I tried out my Koss KSC75 headphones, the sound became much more crisp and pleasant. In general, I would say it’s a pleasing sound. Using the equalizer significantly changed the sound, as it should, but not necessarily for the better. I think an equalizer like what you get in the stock android music apps is more of a taste thing than a sound enhancer. Overall, sound didn’t wow me, but it works well enough. The speaker is good. I can’t quiet tell whether the Nextbit Robin (review coming soon) does a better job with it’s twin front firing speakers or not. For quiet listening to talk radio at my desk, it does a fine job. Even louder listening with a group wasn’t completely unpleasant. It won’t compare to the sound through headphones though.

Bonus Features

The things that really got my attention in this phone were the moisture resistant coating, removable battery, and wide compatibility with cellular networks.

Almost all of the flagship level phones made now don’t have user replaceable batteries. This one does, and it’s as easy as it has ever been. Just pop the back loose and take the battery out.  That means, when your battery stops holding the charge it used to, you can fix that. You’re not stuck with it.

Water resistance is really important to me. I like outdoor activity and I don’t want to worry about a slight splash or drizzle. This phone is NOT waterproof, but according to Motorola, it should be somewhat resistance to moisture. Read the footnotes on the product page I linked to get Motorola’s official language on the subject. Still, that gives me a little more confident that I won’t destroy the phone if I can’t protect it well enough from bad weather or something similar.

Broad compatibility with networks is fantastic. I really don’t like the idea of buying a phone and ending up trapped with a certain carrier. For $129.99 + tax (right now) this phone gives me that freedom.


UPDATE: I’ve been using this phone for my “daily driver.” Rumor has it that the phone won’t be getting any OS update to Oreo. That’s OK, because the daily performance has been great. 

I think I can recommend this phone to anyone that uses a phone like a phone! I don’t like phones scanning my iris, monitoring my health, or competing with my desktop PC. I just want it to make calls, send texts,  and get a few bonus features out of it; web browsing and navigation mostly. This phone handles my normal use easily.

I have an S8 sitting here right next to me and this Moto E4 doesn’t even come close in performance or features to that S8. It’s outclassed in almost every way. The thing is, you have to pay about 5 times as much to get the S8 unlocked. That’s probably not an added expense most people can justify; let a lone stomach.

If you’re interested in buying this phone, please follow my Amazon link below. There’s also a gallery of the phone I reviewed below so you can see what comes in the box and the details of it. There is an option to buy the phone a little cheaper if you can tolerate Amazon showing you advertisements. I couldn’t tolerate that though and went with a bare stock version.