(Pocket-lint) - The king of budget smartphones - the Moto G - has been updated, again. There isn't just one model marking the fourth generation of the handset though, instead Lenovo-owned Motorola announced three - the Moto G4, Moto G4 Plus and the Moto G4 Play.
The Moto G has come a long way since it originally launched at the end of 2013 in terms of design, but each succeeding model has continued to offer excellent value for money. The question is, do the new Moto G4, Moto G4 Plus and Moto G4 Play also do this and what do they bring to the Moto G table?
We have put the new 2016 Moto G models up against the third generation of Moto G from 2015 to see what the differences and similarities are between the four devices. Here's how they compare in terms of numbers and our experience.
Motorola Moto G4 vs Moto G4 Plus vs Moto G4 Play vs Moto G (2015): Design
The Motorola Moto G (2015) measures 142.1 x 72.4 x 11.6mm and weighs 155g. It features a plastic interchangeable rear with a camera lens and the signature indented "M" symbol centralised and joined together with a metal bar.
The front has speakers above and below the display, both of which have metal detailing. The Moto G third generation is also IPX7 certified meaning water resistance up to one metre for 30 minutes. It didn't impress us as much as the original, offering a slightly bulky design in comparison, but the design is still good for the price.
The Moto G4 Play measures 144.4 x 72mm with a curve from 8.95 to 9.9mm and it hits the scales at 137g, making it slimmer and lighter than the third generation, as well as the other fourth-gen models. The measurements for the Moto G4 Plus and Moto G4 are 153 x 76.6mm with a curve from 7.9 to 9.8mm. They also both weigh 155g, like the third generation.
The new models see more refinements in design though with the rear metal bar on the rear reduced to just house the camera lens and flash, while the signature "M" sitting below. On the front, you'll find just one speaker at the top of the display. The look and feel of both devices is more sophisticated than earlier Moto G models, especially without the silver bars around the speaker grilles, while the textured removable polycarbonate back offers a nice finish.
The Moto G4 Plus features a fingerprint sensor within a square button below the display, while the standard Moto G4 offers capacitive buttons only below the display.
Motorola Moto G4 vs Moto G4 Plus vs Moto G4 Play vs Moto G (2015): Display
The Motorola Moto G third generation has a 5-inch LCD display offering a 1280 x 720 pixel resolution for a pixel density of 294ppi. It is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3 and it does a good enough job. Viewing angles are strong, colours vibrant and brightness more than ample to resist excessive reflections.
The Motorola Moto G4 Play has the same display as the third generation while the Motorola Moto G4 and G4 Plus both increase the display size to 5.5-inches. The original Moto G was 4.5-inches so two of the fourth generation variants see a big step up in comparison to the 2013 model.
They also both increase the resolution to Full HD, meaning a pixel density of 401ppi, which theoretically means sharper and crisper images on the G4 and G4 Plus. Neither offers the brightest display out there though, and although they both deal with indoor and outdoor lighting conditions well from all angles, the G4 Plus is a little yellow compared to the standard G4. Of the two, the standard G4 has a better display in our experience, despite being identical spec wise.
Both the Moto G4 and the Moto G4 Plus are protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3 like their predecessor and like the G4 Play.
Motorola Moto G4 vs Moto G4 Plus vs Moto G4 Play vs Moto G (2015): Camera
The Motorola Moto G (2015) features a 13-megapixel rear camera with an aperture of f/2.0, autofocus and a dual-LED flash. The front camera sits at 5-megapixels with an aperture of f/2.2. There was some image noise in low-light shots but the third-generation of Moto G significantly improved its camera offering compared to previous models.
The Motorola Moto G4 Play drops the rear resolution to 8-megapixels but sticks with 5-megapixels for the front-facing camera. The aperture on both is f/2.2, meaning the rear camera will let less light in than the 2015 model. It also opts for a single LED flash over a dual-LED flash, although the front camera does have a display flash.
The Moto G4 pushes the resolution back up to 13-megapixels for the rear camera and again opts for a 5-megapixel front camera, offering a very familiar experience to the third generation. Shots in good light are fine but low-light causes some issues with image noise, although there is plenty of control at your fingertips with individual sliders for manual adjustments.
The Motorola Moto G4 Plus ups the resolution further to 16-megapixels on the rear, and offers both phase detection autofocus and laser focus. Low-light focus is pretty good thanks to the laser autofocus, but aside from that, there isn't a huge difference between the G4 and G4 Plus despite the bump in resolution. The G4 Plus also has a 5-megapixel front snapper and both the G4 and the G4 Plus have front-facing flashes.
Motorola Moto G4 vs Moto G4 Plus vs Moto G4 Play vs Moto G (2015): Hardware
The Motorola Moto G third generation has a 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor under its hood with Adreno 306 graphics and it is a pretty smooth performer based on our experience.
The base level Moto G offers 8GB of internal storage with 1GB of RAM but there is a 16GB model with 2GB of RAM available too, for £50 extra. Both offer microSD support for storage expansion. In terms of battery, the Moto G third generation features a 2470mAh capacity, which saw us through the day without any complaints.
The Motorola Moto G4 Play also opts for the SD410 chip and Adreno 306 graphics, but it has 2GB of RAM as standard, along with 16GB of internal memory. MicroSD expansion is on board again, but up to 128GB instead of 32GB, and the battery capacity is a little bigger than the third generation at 2800mAh.
The Moto G4 and the Moto G4 Plus both have a 1.5GHz octo-core processor and they come in 16GB or 32GB models. The G4 only comes with 2GB of RAM, while the G4 Plus is offered in 3GB or 4GB models. MicroSD is once again available with storage expansion up to 128GB.
Like the Moto G (2015), both the Moto G4 an G4 Plus models perform just fine with no stuttering when playing high intensity games, even if apps do take a few seconds to load.
The Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus come with a 3000mAh battery, which is a nice bump from their predecessor. They also both have TurboPower charging on board, which will give you six hours use from 15-minutes of charge but only the G4 Plus comes with the charger in the box. They both got through the day, even if the claimed 24-hours was a little optimistic with our usage.
Motorola Moto G4 vs Moto G4 Plus vs Moto G4 Play vs Moto G (2015): Software
The Motorola Moto G third generation arrived on Android Lollipop as this was the latest Android software at the time of launch. It has since been updated to Android Marshmallow, which is what the G4 Play, G4 and G4 Plus launch on.
Motorola devices offer a close to vanilla Android experience, with only a few additional apps rather than a complete software overlay like Samsung and LG devices have. The Moto G4 Play, G4, G4 Plus follow this path so a close to stock Marshmallow experience is what you'll find.
You'll need to programme your fingerprint with the G4 Plus, but other than that, you'll find the same experience across the Moto G models, which is a good thing as it's a good one.
Motorola Moto G4 vs Moto G4 Plus vs Moto G4 Play vs Moto G (2015): Price
The Motorola Moto G third generation has a lowered starting price of £129. The model offering 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage has a slightly higher price tag of £159, as we mentioned.
The Motorola Moto G4 Play starts at £129 too, although not yet available, while the G4 starts at £169. The Moto G Plus starts at £199 and is available exclusively through Amazon.
Motorola Moto G4 vs Moto G4 Plus vs Moto G4 Play vs Moto G (2015): Conclusion
The Motorola Moto G third generation is a great device that is brilliantly refined compared to its predecessors. Based on the numbers though, the Moto G4, Moto G4 Plus and Moto G4 Play are better, even if the latter only improves in a couple of areas.
The Moto G4 and G4 Plus improve on performance, battery capacity, display size and resolution, as well as design. The G4 Plus also offers a fingerprint sensor and a higher resolution camera. The G4 Play offers a better design, bigger battery capacity and more storage and RAM as standard, but the rear camera sees a drop.
The price does go up for the Moto G4 and G4 Plus, especially the latter, in comparison to the third generation of Moto G, but you get quite a few improvements for the extra cash. On paper, the Moto G4 Plus would be the device to go for out of these three devices. Based on our experience with them however, we would say the standard Moto G4 does the majority of what you'll need just fine.
The G4 Play might be cheaper, but it doesn't look as good on paper as the standard G4, unless you want to spend less and want a smaller device.