Display Analysis

One of the standout features of the original Moto G was its display. It was a 4.5" 1280x720 display, which gave you a higher pixel density than many other smartphones at the same price which still used 960x540 displays. It certainly wasn't the best calibrated display, but for its time it was one of the best you could find in a mid-range smartphone.

Fast forward to 2016, and we now have $200 mid-range phones shipping with 1920x1080 LCD displays. Phones have also continually gotten larger, with 5.5" seemingly being the new norm for mid-range devices. The Moto G progressed from its original 4.5" display to a 5" one with the 2014 and 2015 models, and has now gotten even larger with the 5.5" display on the Moto G4. Like competing smartphones, the Moto G4 also moves to a resolution of 1920x1080. I really feel that this continued increase in size has been at the expense of usability, but I've already mentioned that in this review, and at this point consumers don't really have any smaller alternatives at this price point anyway.

While the first three models of the Moto G maintained a 720p resolution, Motorola improved the accuracy of their displays as well as other attributes like the peak brightness and black levels. With the Moto G4 moving to a 5.5" 1080p display, I'm curious to see if there have been similar improvements to attributes beyond size and sharpness. To examine the display in greater depth than what is presented on a spec sheet, I've run our standard suite of display tests. As always, measurements are performed with an X-Rite i1Pro 2 spectrophotometer, and managed using SpectraCal's CalMAN 5 software.

Display - Max Brightness

Display - Black Levels

Display - Contrast Ratio

Both the Moto G4 and G4 Plus achieve a high peak brightness, as well as a relatively low black level relative to that brightness. This leads to the G4 achieving the highest contrast ratio that I've seen on a device at this price point. Among the mid-range devices that I've chosen for comparison, the Moto G4 definitely has the best display as far as brightness and contrast is concerned.

Display - White Point

Display - Grayscale Accuracy

SpectraCal CalMAN

Moto G4 Plus DeltaE 2.92

SpectraCal CalMAN

Moto G4 DeltaE 4.45

Having two devices with the same LCD presents an interesting situation where the two can be compared to examine the degree of variance with the calibration. It was clear to me right after I turned on both phones that the normal Moto G4 exhibited a slight green tint and was warmer than the Moto G4 Plus, which was definitely shifted more toward blue than our target white standard of D65. In both cases gamma is a bit high, although this is more pronounced on the Moto G4 Plus. It's also clear that between these two units, the Moto G4 Plus exhibits a greater level of accuracy. For a phone that starts at $200, I would consider both results to be acceptable, but the greyscale accuracy on the G4 Plus unit is definitely a step ahead of the normal G4 unit.

Display - Saturation Accuracy

SpectraCal CalMAN

Moto G4 Plus DeltaE 3.71

SpectraCal CalMAN

Moto G4 DeltaE 3.25

The tables turn when examining saturation accuracy, as the normal Moto G4 demonstrates a slightly greater level of accuracy. The Moto G4 Plus has higher error levels with blue, cyan, and magenta due to the blue-shifted greyscale. Again, in both cases the display is more than acceptable for a $200 smartphone, but it is interesting to see what tolerances Motorola has for display variance from one unit to another.

Display - GMB Accuracy

SpectraCal CalMAN

Moto G4 Plus DeltaE 4.1

SpectraCal CalMAN

Moto G4 DeltaE 3.88

Accuracy in the GretagMacbeth ColorChecker test is very similar between both Moto G4 units, but the normal G4 again has a slight advantage. This difference is mostly academic, and I would actually argue that you'd be better off with the G4 Plus because in this case the normal G4 has a critical error in the light skin shade, which is a color you're likely to come across more so than others. Ultimately both displays are very good for the price, and I don't think users are going to have any issues with the level of accuracy if it can be assumed that all Moto G4 and G4 Plus phones have similar calibration.

Drawing conclusions about displays can be a bit difficult when you have two devices to compare. On one hand, my less accurate unit could be exceptionally poor. On the other hand, my more accurate unit could be exceptionally good. I can only make concrete conclusions based on the data I've collected, and so it's probably best to evaluate based on the worst results. In this case both devices were similar enough, although the G4 Plus has the display I favor because green shifting in the greyscale is something I find much more bothersome than blue shifting, as I've gotten used to the latter due to its pervasiveness on WLED-backlit LCD displays.

The fact that both displays were relatively close in their accuracy hopefully indicates that users can expect this level of accuracy on any Moto G4 device, although I can't say that for certain. Based on the information I have, I'd say that users buying a Moto G4 should be getting a display that is exceptionally bright, with good black levels, and decent color accuracy, and I think that makes for a pretty good $200 smartphone display.

GPU and NAND Performance Camera
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  • Joschka77 - Tuesday, August 16, 2016 - link

    started reading, 5,5" -> stopped reading...
  • WPX00 - Tuesday, August 16, 2016 - link

    Manufacturers all say they care about selfie performance, but really the OV5693 is the same camera as the one found on my 3 year old LG G Pad (albeit on the back). There's a much newer OV5695 sensor that promises better performance.
  • oaken - Tuesday, August 16, 2016 - link

    Why do you think Honor 5x is better than Moto G4? I read the both reviews and still think Moto G4 is better, bearing in mind that G4 is only $20-30 more than H5x.

    What I am missing? I need a phone near $200 (+-50) and still can't decide.
  • Brandon Chester - Tuesday, August 16, 2016 - link

    Better build, better fingerprint scanner implementation, and software that isn't so unstable that it can't even complete a simple battery test.
  • oaken - Tuesday, August 16, 2016 - link

    thanks a lot for the clear and fast answer. I was sure about G4 but I think I'll consider buying a H5x now, if you do not have any other suggestion, as I really liked your reviews and they gained my trust.
  • nwarawa - Tuesday, August 16, 2016 - link

    No Snapdragon 650, stupidly-large 5.5in form factor... glad I didn't wait and got the LG G5 instead... now if LG could only fix the horrible whitepoint...
  • oaken - Tuesday, August 16, 2016 - link

    hi nwarawa, do you know about the bootloop issues on lg g series? i recommend checking them out.
  • johnsonx - Wednesday, August 17, 2016 - link

    why all the apoplectic complaining about this phone being 5.5"? what, are you all a bunch of women and children? (not that there's anything wrong with being a woman or child) I don't have especially large hands (you know, they're not yuuuge), and I have no problem using either my 5.7" or 6" phones with one hand. I do understand big phones are not for everyone, but surely they are good for many people else they wouldn't make so many.
  • Jumangi - Thursday, August 18, 2016 - link

    Owner of the Honor 5X since February and haven't regretted the purchase. Well made phone that does everything your average day to day user would need. The fingerprint reader is so nice and would never buy another phone that doesn't have one. Just don't see the need to spend double or more in dollars for specs I doubt many but the most hardcore enthusiasts would notice.
  • hybrid2d4x4 - Saturday, August 20, 2016 - link

    What a disastrous design to have that huge bottom bezel and not even integrate any buttons in it!
    And I'm also not a fan of the size creep of phones. Why has there not been a single phone released this year that is <5" screen (not counting landfill-quality <$100 phones with bezels so huge they are the same size as >5" phones)?

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