Moto X4: an impressive build-quality packaged in a stylish water-resistant design

Highs

  • Great design, IP68 water-resistant
  • Good photo quality in its class
  • Large battery capacity

Lows

  • Slow camera action

Rating and Price

  • Rating: 8/10

#IFA2017 The Moto X4 was released in early September 2017 at IFA/Berlin and was originally targeted at the mid-range market. The main features include a dual camera, hands-free support for Alexa voice assistant, Tempow Audio profile (TAP) a unique technology that allows to stream audio to four devices simultaneously. But what really sets the Moto X4 apart is its impressive, unique, and shiny new design!

In 2017, Motorola have five product categories: C, E, G, Z and X. Moto G5 launched at MWC in February , and we saw Moto C and C Plus emerging in May, the Moto E4 and E4 Plus in June. As for the Moto Z-series flagship, born in 2016 with its unique Moto Mods accessories, the new models the Moto Z2 Force and the Moto Z2 Play launched earlier this year. The Moto X-series, born in 2013, did not see any updates during 2016, and its last apparition was in 2015, in the form of the Moto X Force, the Moto X Style and the Moto X Play.

At publishing time, the Moto X4 is priced at 399 Euros, but it has not appeared at major e-tailers such as Amazon, yet, it will be available in Europe in September 2017. Update: the U.S MSRP is $399 but Amazon has announced a $329.99 availability.

Even if this product was originally designed to address the mid-range market, the reality is that many products will change positioning as their price are pushed down over the years.

At the $430 (399 Euros converted) price level, it would compete with the Galaxy S7 (~$400-$450), the HTC 10 ($400), the Sony XPERIA Z5 ($400) and the LG G5 ($300), which are the flagship devices from last year.

Looking at the  mid-range smartphones released in 2017 with similar prices, we can compare the Moto X4 to the ZTE Axon 7 ($440), the HTC U Ultra ($499) and the Moto Z2 Play ($499). Note: All prices as of Sept 17, 2017.

Industrial Design

Comfort

With a width of 73mm (2.87 inches) and a thickness of 8mm (0.31 inches), the smartphone feels comfortable in hand. This is comparable to a Galaxy S7 or an HTC 10 if you know these devices

We use U.S M-size gloves for male hand-size reference, so this will vary from person to person. The device weighs 163 grams (5.75 oz) and we would consider that weight level to be normal for its size. The S7 is the lightest at 152 grams (5.36 ounces) and the XPERIA Z5 is the heaviest at 180 grams (6.35 ounces).

The X4 is slightly lighter than the HTC U ultra (170 gram) and the ZTE Axon 7 (175 grams) with similar thickness (8 mm vs. 8mm and 7.9 mm), but thicker than the Moto Z2 Play (6 mm). With a volume of ~5.27 cubic inches (CI), the Moto x4 is chubbier than the LG G5 or the Galaxy S7 (4.2 CI). The HTC 10 is a little bit bigger than the Moto x4.

In the mid-range smartphones market, the HTC U Ultra is bulkier at 6.25 CI while the Axon 7 is a hair smaller at 4.84 CI, and the Z2 play is significantly lower at 4.34 CI.

Build Quality (Excellent)

The built-quality of the Moto X4 is very impressive for a mid-range smartphone, featuring a thin glass surface on top of a metal layer with a contoured back, and Gorilla Glass 4 at least on the front. Such an elegant and sleek design is usually found in pricier devices such as the Galaxy S7 (flagship more expensive at launch), S8 and Note 8.

It does look great, but its weak point is that it is more prone to breakage upon a drop onto a hard surface. Despite this fact, glass has been a favorite surface treatment for smartphones, and users can protect their handset with a thin case.

Looking at how the smartphone was built, we estimate that the risk of crack during a drop on a hard surface to be relatively high. You can refer to our general article about how phones can be designed to avoid breaking upon drops.

Durability (Excellent for the price range)

The Moto X4 smartphone has an IP-rating, which means that it is protected to some degree from dust and/or water. Here’s what the IP68 rating means: Dust tight, no dust can penetrate. Up to 3-meter immersion waterproofing. In some cases, waterproofing means that “some” water can penetrate, but without harming the device.

Among the competing devices, only the Galaxy S7 and the Xperia Z5 features the IP68 rating, all the others (LG G5, HTC 10, HTC U Ultra, ZTE Axon 7 and Moto Z2 play) are not rugged at all.

Design Ingenuity

This industrial design packs a fair amount of performance in relation to its size, but of course, it is much less powerful as high-end phones priced $200+ higher. From another standpoint, the amount of battery capacity the user gets is very good for a handset of this size.

The screen display-to-body ratio of 69% is good and comparable to the XPERIA Z5’s 69.6%, but lower than the 71% and 72% of the HTC 10 and Galaxy S7. For the mid-range category, the X4 features a hair lower display-to-body ratio than the Moto Z2 play (70.3%) and the U Ultra (70%). Compared to the Axon 7 (73.6%), the X4 gets a significantly better ratio.

The Moto x4 has a relatively large body in relation to its display diagonal of 5.2”. Looking at the overall size of the phone, only the HTC 10 has a bigger overall body size for its screen. The S7, G5, Z5 all offer more screen for the size, although keep in mind that the XPERIA Z5 has a larger 5.5-inch display.

Overall product rating: 8/10

Filed in Cellphones >Reviews. Read more about IFA, IFA 2017, Lenovo, Motorola, Smartphone Reviews and Smartphones.

Related Articles
User Comments