Earlier, there were not many good phones out there at around similar pricing, so the Moto G4 Plus invariably became the first choice for many buyers. Call it the go-to smartphone if you may. Not anymore. There are some good phones out there now that are challenging the Moto G4 Plus’s benchmark. One of them is the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4. In fact, it’s even better.
1. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 looks (and feels) like an expensive phone, but it isn’t expensive at all. It’s a gradual progression of the Redmi Note 3. With the Redmi Note 4, Xiaomi has added curved 2.5D glass with rounded edges and polished antenna lines, into the mix. The Redmi Note 4 weighs in at just over 160 grams, which isn’t quite that much when you consider the fact that it’s housing a 4,100mAh battery inside. And just so you know, it measures a respectable 8.3mm (in thickness) as well. What is remarkable, however, is that even though it crams in such a big battery inside, the phone feels practically the same no matter how you hold it. An even distribution of weight throughout its body, coupled with the curved glass ensures the Redmi Note 4 feels smaller (and more compact) in comparison to other 5.5-inch phones including the Moto G4 Plus. The Moto G4 Plus, meanwhile, is an all-plastic smartphone which measures almost 10mm in thickness.
2. The Redmi Note 4 has an always-on fingerprint scanner on the back (which works well most of the time unless you have greasy or sweaty fingers) and physical capacitive keys on the front which are backlit. The Moto G4 Plus, in comparison, has an oddly shaped fingerprint scanner on the front and it gives you an on-screen home button right above it. The fingerprint scanner only helps in locking and unlocking the phone.
3. The Redmi Note 4 has a scratch-resistant protective coating on-board but Xiaomi wouldn’t tell me exactly what kind. “For protective glass, we use multiple suppliers and can’t comment on which exact one, but its quality is up to what you’d expect from the premium competition,” is what a Xiaomi spokesperson told me. The Moto G4 Plus, on the other hand, comes with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 on the front.
4. Both the phones come with a 5.5-inch 1080p IPS LCD display but the Redmi Note 4 fairs slightly better in this department. The screen of the Redmi Note 4 does well most of the time unless you’re out and about in direct sunlight. Its (above) average brightness levels feel lacking when you’re out and about. Also, the screen is prone to reflection which adds up, hampering the phone’s outdoor legibility further. But, the screen of the Redmi Note 4 has one ace up its sleeve. It handles — and reproduces — colours so well you don’t mind that it’s not as bright as the company’s more expensive phones. Although the screen of the Moto G4 Plus produces excellent colours, it is also very reflective and viewing angles are average (the screen darkens when viewed at an angle) and that affects the outdoor visibility by a great deal.
5. The Redmi Note 4 is powered by a 2GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor clubbed with Adreno 506 GPU. The Snapdragon 625 is notably the first 600-series chipset to be built on the power-efficient 14nm finfet process. The Snapdragon 625, for your reference, consumes up to 35 per cent lower power than its predecessor (the Snapdragon 617), in typical usage scenarios, according to Qualcomm. In layman’s terms, a phone like the Redmi Note 4 is more likely to give you a (much) better battery life and little (or no) overheating than phones like the Motorola Moto G4 Plus (Snapdragon 617). And it does. The Redmi Note 4 doesn’t heat up at all. And, it gets the job done.
6. The hardware inside the Moto G4 Plus is speedy – a Snapdragon 617 processor — and offers a good bump in raw performance compared to the Moto G3. The Snapdragon 617 is (also) an 8-core processor with a top speed of 1.5GHz. Because Motorola has optimised the software well, the performance of the phone is smooth, lag-free irrespective of what you are doing. But, the Snapdragon 617, is still a dated processor as compared to the Snapdragon 625 that is inside the Redmi Note 4. Also, because Xiaomi has optimised the software well (enough) as well, the Redmi Note 4 even with its fancy animations, feels faster than a phone like the Moto G4 Plus, no matter how you push it. The Moto G4 Plus, at the same time, is also prone to some overheating when pushed to the edge.
7. The Redmi Note 4 sold in India is available in three versions: 2GB RAM and 32GB memory, 3GB RAM and 32GB memory, and another with 4GB RAM and 64GB memory. Price starts at Rs 9,999 and goes all the way up to Rs 12,999. All the versions of the Redmi Note 4 support expandable storage of up to 128GB via a hybrid microSD card slot. The Moto G4 Plus, on the other hand, comes in two versions: one with 2GB RAM and 16GB internal storage and the other with 3GB RAM and 32GB storage. Expandable storage is supported. The two variants of the Moto G4 Plus have been priced at Rs 13,499 and Rs 14,999. Clearly, the Redmi Note 4 has more options (including more colour options as well) and is also cheaper in comparison.
8. The Moto G4 Plus runs on Android Marshmallow and the user interface it sports is the same that you get on a Nexus phone plus a few Moto nuggets which are useful and not overburdening. Aesthetically, it is slick with polished animations. In usability, it is simple and yet comprehensive. Software is the high-point of the Moto G4 Plus, something that makes it stand apart from others in the crowded market. An update to Android Nougat is already rolling out for the Moto G4 Plus. The Redmi Note 4, on the other hand, comes with Android Marshmallow-based MIUI. As expected, you get a user interface with lots of fancy colour schemes and animations, and no app drawer. If, you are not a ‘stock Android fanatic’, the MIUI offers all the bells and whistles that you’d want from a fully-functional operating system, including customisation themes. Some of its features like scrollable screenshots, second space and dual apps are worth mentioning. An update to Android Nougat is already in the works (it’s in beta now, and is downloadable if you’re willing to take the plunge) for the Redmi Note 4. Additionally, the Redmi Note 4 comes with an IR-blaster that can be used (in tandem with the Mi Remote app or even some third-party solutions) to control smart home appliances.
9. The Moto G4 Plus has a 16-megapixel rear camera, with laser and phase detection autofocus along with a dual-tone flash. On the front, it comes with a 5-megapixel camera. The performance of both the cameras is fantastic. The front camera has a wide-angle lens, which covers a lot of area. This is great for shooting group selfies. The rear camera really impresses with the amount of detail it captures. By default, it tends to slightly underexpose the images but the colours it shoots come out rich. It particularly excels at macros or somewhat close-up shots that allow it to capture details very well. The Moto G4 Plus can manage impressive results in low light as well. The Redmi Note 4, on the hand sports a 13-megapixel camera on the rear with f/2.0 aperture, phase-detection autofocus along with a dual-LED (dual-tone) flash. On the front, you get a 5-megapixel snapper. The phone captures some good-looking photos — with occasional softness — in good light with good amount of detail and mostly spot-on (if a little oversaturated) colours. Dynamic range could have been better but then none of the camera phones at under Rs 15,000 (save phones like the Moto G4 Plus) have dynamic range to really brag about. They are just about average. The Redmi Note 4 is a tad better. Also, the Redmi Note 4, surprisingly, does well in macro photography scenarios which means close-up shots come out well (enough) when the light is adequate. Xiaomi’s new phone is also able to capture well to-do photos — with occasional softness — in tricky light situations with good detail.
10. The Redmi Note 4 is backed by a massive 4,100mAh battery, which is non-removable. Moderate to extreme usage saw us cross the one whole day barrier with ease, while toning down further should get most users one and a half to two days out of the phone. Extreme usage scenarios got us close to 15 hours on the Redmi Note 4, which is phenomenal. Sadly, the Redmi Note 4, supports only 5V/2A charging and not Qualcomm’s Quick Charge. The Moto G4 Plus with its 3000mAh battery, meanwhile, consistently manages around 14-15 hours of battery life with heavy use. The Moto G4 Plus also supports turbo charging and comes with a compatible charger that can recharge the battery by 20 to 30 per cent within minutes.
11. Both the phones support 4G LTE (VoLTE-ready) and dual-SIM connectivity options. The Moto G4 Plus has a mono speaker on the top. The sound quality is average and peak loudness leaves a lot to be desired. The bottom-firing mono speaker on-board the Redmi Note 4, meanwhile, gets very loud, but there is some distortion at peak volume.
So, which one should you buy?
The Moto G4 Plus may be a fantastic smartphone and a benchmark setting one at that. But, it’s dated now. Lenovo (the company that owns Motorola Mobility now) may be launching one too many smartphones at around similar pricing lately, but, none seem to inspire the level of confidence that a certain Moto G brings to the table. Maybe the Moto G5 will change all that. For now, there’s a new champion in the block – the lower mid-range segment – and it is called the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4.