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Review of Motorola's Moto G04, priced at $179.

Review of Motorola's Moto G04, priced at $179.
Motorola's Moto G04

 The $170 Moto G04 is evidence that phone prices are decreasing. With its large screen, long battery life, and NFC capability, it offers great value for the price. Could this budget-friendly phone be a winner?

Looking for a phone with quality features in the high-end or mid-range is easy, but what if you want to spend less than $200? It's more possible than ever these days, as seen with Motorola’s latest affordable phone, the Moto G04.

Moto G04: Design

The G04 features a modest and unobtrusive design, with a plastic body in a gently rounded rectangular shape, and a mostly flat camera bump on the back.

The appearance may not be high-end, but it's certainly minimalist, with Motorola providing simplicity from the get-go, making it perfect for those seeking a stylish phone without a hefty price tag.

Moto G04: Features

The design of the phone is minimalist, and so are the specs. However, considering the budget price tag, it's probably appropriate. The phone is powered by a Unisoc T606 processor, 4GB RAM, and 64GB storage, with the option to use some of it for supporting the memory. It also has a microSD storage slot for expansion and comes with Android 14 out of the box.

The rear camera is a 16 megapixel with an F2.2 aperture and is accompanied by a flash, while the front camera is a 5 megapixel with an F2.2 aperture. The device has limited connectivity options including WiFi 5 (802.11ac), Bluetooth 5, Near-Field Communication (NFC), GPS, and 4G. It also has a Type C USB port and a 3.5mm headset jack for wired connections. Additionally, it features a single speaker with support for virtualised Dolby Atmos.

With the exception of the front-facing camera, everything is located beneath a 6.6 inch 1612×720 HD+ LCD screen that operates at 90Hz. The phone is enclosed in a plastic body with volume buttons and a fingerprint sensor-equipped power button on the right edge.

The Moto G04 is powered by a 5000mAh battery that can only be charged using a cable. It does not support wireless charging.

ModelMotorola G04 (Moto G04)
ChipUnisoc T606
RAM/Storage4GB RAM; 64GB storage
OSAndroid 14
Cameras16mp F2.2 rear
Connections4G, WiFi 5, Bluetooth 5, GPS, NFC, USB-C
Size/Weight7.9mm, 179g
Price$179 AUD


To turn on the phone, use the power button on the side, and to wake it from standby, use the fingerprint sensor located under that power button. This is essentially how you use the phone. Android offers on-screen buttons or gestures, and we opted for the latter. Overall, using this phone is pretty much what you'd expect from a modern smartphone.

Motorola's additional features were not present, and the option to shake the phone to open the camera was also missing. However, the operating system is mostly standard Android, except for the noticeable lag.

Users may experience slowdowns and lag, particularly when attempting to open multiple apps or even just the keyboard. While it's not a constant issue, it occurred more frequently than desired, impacting the responsiveness expected from modern smartphones.

Moto G04: Performance

The phone's performance does not contribute to its usability, mainly due to the slow combination of its parts. While it may work fine at times, it frequently experiences lag and slowdowns.

The benchmarks reveal that this phone has some of the lowest scores in recent times. This can be attributed to Unisoc’s chip and the 4GB RAM, which can be “boosted” using storage. As a result, the system operates at a slower pace and experiences common lag, especially when running multiple apps. Patience is definitely required when using this phone.

On the positive side, the 4G performance is acceptable, with speeds reaching as high as 133Mbps in our tests on the Telstra network in Sydney, Australia.

What is the camera performance like, given that the overall performance meets our expectations for a sub-$200 phone?

Moto G04: Camera

The 16 megapixel camera on a budget phone may not deliver amazing results, but it's a step up from 5 or 8 megapixels. The G04's single "AI-assisted" camera mainly excels in portrait mode, similar to Google's camera, by effectively blurring the background.

We didn't notice much AI support, and the camera performance sometimes gets in the way. Just like we mentioned being patient for the performance, you'll also need to be patient with the camera. We observed that while the G04 can take a shot easily, it often doesn't. Many times, the camera will capture a photo half a second after the button is pressed, whether using the on-screen shutter or the volume keys. As a result, some of our shots were blurry, and at other times, the results were delayed.

Not every function experiences lag - sometimes the camera operates smoothly. However, lag is a common issue and suggests that the phone is low-end. The image quality is decent, but not exceptionally impressive. We won't debate over megapixels - 16 megapixels is sufficient. However, the sensor is not outstanding.

You can capture good color shots in daylight if you're patient and avoid moving the camera too quickly. The photos may not be the sharpest, but they'll work well for social media and sharing, and possibly for printing occasionally.

The camera also supports background de-focused portraits, but it requires patience. However, low-light shots are the weakest aspect of the camera, often turning out grainy and blurry.

The 5-megapixel front camera isn't much better, but it at least allows you to take selfies, as long as you don't move the camera too much.

Moto G04: Battery

The battery capacity of 5000mAh in the device falls a little short of expectations, as it doesn't quite last the two days as anticipated, instead running out after around 1.5 days. This could be attributed to the Unisoc processor inside, which lacks the power optimisations found in other chipmakers' processors. During our testing, we observed a significant 10 percent battery drop overnight while the phone was idle with the screen off, which is unusual compared to recent phone models we have reviewed. The Moto G04 typically lasts for around three hours of screen time or 1.5 days of general usage, whichever comes first. While this performance is not exceptional, it is acceptable considering the device's price point.

Moto G04: Value

The Moto G04 offers great value despite its average battery, camera, and performance. Priced at $179 in Australia for an outright phone, or $149 for a Telstra-locked prepaid phone, it's a steal for an Android phone with NFC capability. This makes it a great choice for those in need of a budget-friendly phone that supports mobile payments. It's a win for anyone looking for a large and capable smartphone in today's market.

What needs work?

Before delving into the areas that need improvement, it's important to acknowledge that the Moto G04 is a budget phone. It doesn't even fall into the mid-range category. This phone is designed to be affordable, representing the epitome of being cost-effective, and that's perfectly acceptable. It's completely reasonable for any manufacturer to forgo fancy features in order to create a product that comes with a very low price tag.

Priced at $179, the G04 certainly hits the mark for being a budget-friendly option, although it does come with some noticeable drawbacks. Let's go over them again:

Performance: The phone's performance is somewhat sluggish and could be faster. Patience is required when using this device.

Camera: The camera takes a while to capture a photo, there's only one camera, and the results are not outstanding. They'll get the job done, but it's far from being an exceptional camera setup.

Screen: The large 6.6-inch 90Hz screen is nice, but the resolution is only HD+, so you'll notice pixels if you look closely.

Battery: The battery could also be improved. While some budget phones can last for two days, this one will likely fall short, offering around 1.5 days of battery life or three hours of screen time, whichever comes first.

There's another drawback that hasn't been so openly addressed by companies in the past: the Moto G04 is locked to Android 14 and will never receive an update to any future Android version. This was something Motorola mentioned upon the release of the G04, which was quite surprising, as companies have typically not been so transparent about this issue.

Aside from Apple and Google, phone updates are not usually guaranteed and may take several months to a year, or some devices may never receive updates at all. Depending on the price point, certain budget and mid-range Android models remain locked without updates, either because the manufacturer is still working on it or simply has no plans for an update and is not communicating about it.

Motorola is taking a more direct approach with the G04 by stating that it will not receive any further Android updates, which essentially means the device will remain on Android 14 indefinitely.

Final thoughts (TLDR)

It’s important to remember that the Moto G04 is a phone priced under $200, and with that comes some compromises. You may have to give up certain features for the price, such as performance, camera quality, display, and even a bit of battery life.

However, the upside is that the Moto G04 includes a feature that is often missing in budget phones: NFC. This means you can use Google Pay on the Moto G04, which is not common in phones at this price point. It’s about time this technology became more accessible in lower-priced phones, and it’s a welcome addition to the G04. We tested it and it works just fine. We only wish more budget phones included NFC.

Of course, this great feature seems to come with the downside of potential performance issues and lack of phone updates. But for some users, these drawbacks may not be a deal-breaker. If you can overlook these issues, the Moto G04 is a perfectly decent phone, especially if you’re looking to save money.


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