Moto G4 Play: Solid budget phone with a removable battery and microSD card

Moto G4 Play: Solid budget phone with a removable battery and microSD card

As a budget smartphone, the Moto G4 Play—with its removable battery, microSD card and carrier-agnostic service—is a good option.

Credit: Steven Max Patterson

A removable battery! Moto G4 Play, you had me at hello

Testing the Moto G4 Play during the past week was pleasant, if not nostalgic.

In a way, the Moto G4 Play’s removable battery, microSD card and one-handed, light, sturdy plastic form factor has a retro-design and feel to it. A metal and glass premium exterior is not a reasonable expectation because at $149 it is a budget-priced phone. In the budget category, it is good option.

The removable batteries and microSD cards that were designed out of smartphones a few years ago over consumers’ objections are nice features. microSD cards have started to reemerge in some phones, offering 128GB of ROM and promising to increase that to 1TB when compatible cards become available. Few phones, though, have a removable battery.

Removable batteries are the most convenient mobile power source. A spare battery fits more conveniently into a pocket or purse than a charger and cable. And unlike power banks, they don’t tether the user to an awkward power source module with a USB cable.

Reminiscent of the Nokia 6610

The retro impression of the Moto G4 also comes from its form and carrier-agnostic design. It reminds me of the Nokia 6610 (announced 2002) bar phone, which many people have fond memories of. A photo of the 6610 I posted on Facebook recently received more 100 Likes and affectionate comments of former owners.

When I owned the Nokia 6610, assignments regularly took me to international destinations where prepaid mobile services were more common than contracts and changing carriers was frictionless. I could pop off the back, remove the SIM from the previous country stop, and add the SIM for the carrier at the next stop.

Competition is moving the U.S. market in this direction, forcing carriers to drop phone subsidies and motivating consumers to shop for the best non-contract deals. Carrier-agnostic phones are good for vacation travel, too.

The Moto G4 and Nokia 6610 were both designed to be shoved, worry-free, into a pocket and forgotten—unless, of course, it is needed.

Durable design

No worries about dropping the phone or sitting on and bending the metal frame—like one does with some more expensive phones. Motorola, maker of the shatterproof Turbo 2 and Moto Z Force, doesn’t release drop testing information about the Moto G Play. However, my experiences show the phone is pretty resistant. After dropping the Moto G4 Play accidentally a few times, I purposely dropped it a couple times on the marble floor from chest height without any apparent damage.  

Decent power, but graphically intensive games drag

Designers made some trade-offs in designing the Moto G4 Play because, well, no one can build a glass and metal flagship phone with a Snapdragon 820 for $150.

The design decisions produced a good phone for consumers who want to please themselves. They don’t have to pay three times the Moto G4 Play’s price to make an iPhone-like fashion statement. The typical portfolio of apps—Facebook, Gmail, Snapchat, WhatsApp and mobile web search—all run well, imperceptivity different from how they run on more expensive phones.

The Snapdragon 410 at 1.2Ghz that powers the Moto G4, though, doesn’t have enough horsepower for real-time graphically intensive realistic games.

Here are the specs:

moto g4 specs Motorola
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