Recently, I reviewed the Motorola Moto Z4 which sells for $499 unlocked. It’s part mid-range phone, part modular monster and, with the addition of a $349 mod, part gateway drug for Verizon’s fun-sized 5G network. The reason it’s difficult to recommend the Moto Z4 to anyone other than budget-minded 5G early-adopters or people up to their ears in Moto Mods is that there are a number of solid phones from other companies that cost around the same price. If you have a budget of around $500, boy oh boy, do you have some great phone options in 2019.
For starters, there’s the $449 OnePlus 6T and the $479 Google Pixel 3A XL, the latter of which has one of the best cameras on any phone you can currently buy. Then there’s last year’s Moto Z3 which Motorola still sells for $480. But perhaps one of the most jaw-dropping alternatives is the Samsung Galaxy S10E which can be bought through Verizon, AT&T, B&H Photo and Video for $550 or on Amazon for $520.
Moto Z4 vs. Galaxy S10E
A flagship phone for the cost of a mid-range one
The Moto Z4 and Galaxy S10E are two very different phones that for some twist of fate cost nearly the same – at least for the time being. The Galaxy S10E is essentially a scaled down Galaxy S10 and includes a Snapdragon 855 processor, one of the best camera systems and wireless charging that can also be used to charge accessories like wireless earbuds or a smartwatch. At its original price of $750, the Galaxy S10E was an incredible deal, even more so if you can snag one for $520.
At $500, the Moto Z4 lacks wireless charging and has a modest processor compared to the Galaxy S10E. On the other hand the Moto Z4 lasted 2 hours and 21 minutes longer in our looped video tests in airplane mode, has a larger screen and can be modded into a 5G phone with the addition of a 5G Moto Mod. Also, Motorola’s friendly and easy-to-use software on the Z4 is a delight. The near-stock take on Android is honestly one of favorite versions of the operating system out there.
All that said, the Galaxy S10E for $520 is an absolute bonkers deal for what you get and I think would be a better fit for most people than the Moto Z4.
Moto Z4 vs. Pixel 3A XL
Google’s budget wonder changed the affordable phone game
Google ruined budget phones for us when it released the Pixel 3A and 3A XL. The biggest reason is that the affordable phones have the same camera found in the Pixel 4 which is one of the best you can buy. Most other budget phones, including my favorite the Moto G7, have decent cameras for the price, but with the Pixel 3A rocking the one from its older brother, it’s hard not to take notice.
The Pixel 3A costs $399 and the larger Pixel 3A XL, which seems more in-line size wise with the Moto Z4, costs $479. Both Pixels run stock Android and Google has promised a minimum of 3 years of software updates for the phones.
The Moto Z4 has a nice screen that’s also larger: 6.4-inches compared to the Pixel 3A XL’s 6-inch one. The Z4 lasted over 2 hours longer than the Pixel in our battery tests, despite having a lower-capacity battery. And the build quality of the Z4 feels much more premium than the plastic body of the Pixel 3A and 3A XL.
If you’re a camera nerd, the Pixel 3A and 3A XL is the way to go, but if you want a bigger screen and longer battery life the Moto Z4 is worth considering.
Moto Z4 vs. OnePlus 6T
Last year’s flagship for less
Though it launched in November 2018, the OnePlus 6T still offers more flagship appeal than the Moto Z4. It has a better design, build, display, cameras and faster performance. And if Motorola’s software take on Android is my favorite, OnePlus‘ OxygenOS with its elegant and simple UI is my second favorite.
However the Moto Z4’s battery lasted 2 hours and 18 minutes longer than the OnePlus in our tests. And the Moto Z4 is 9 months newer than the 6T.
If you have $50 more to spend in your budget the OnePlus 6T is the way to go. Unless you want to be on Verizon, then the Moto Z4 is the better option.
Moto Z4 vs. Moto Z3
5G ‘budget’ phones
Currently Motorola sells the Moto Z4 for $500 and the Moto Z3 for $480, which has a Snapdragon 835 processor and can also use the 5G Moto Mod. The Moto Z4 has a much longer battery life, comes with twice the storage and newer cameras on the front and back.
Aside from the processor, the Moto Z4 seems like a better phone especially its monster battery which lasted 5 hours longer in our looped video tests in airplane mode than the Moto Z3.
Both phones are able to be used on Verizon’s 5G network via a $349 mod. Though I myself didn’t test the Moto Z4’s 5G connectivity with the 5G Moto Mod, my colleague Jessica Dolcourt got to test a Moto Z3 with the 5G mod this spring. She describes the experience as “kludgy at best.” Her biggest issue with the Moto Z3 and 5G mod setup was the horrible battery life.
If you want to get one of these phones to use with the 5G mod, grab the Moto Z4 since it offers a bigger battery. Otherwise, the Moto Z3 is compelling if you’re into more graphics heavy tasks like gaming, editing photos and recording video.
Moto Z4 specs compared with the Pixel 3A XL, OnePlus 6T, Moto Z3, Galaxy S10E
|Motorola Moto Z4||Google Pixel 3A XL||OnePlus 6T||Motorola Moto Z3||Samsung Galaxy S10E|
|Display size, resolution||6.4-inch OLED; 2,340 x 1,080 pixels||6.0-inch gOLED; 2,160 x 1,080 pixels||6.41-inch AMOLED; 2,340 x 1,080 pixels||6.0-inch OLED; 2,160 x 1,080 pixels||5.8-inch AMOLED; 2,280×1,080-pixels|
|Dimensions (Inches)||6.2 x 2.95 x 0.3 in||6.3 x 3.0 x 0.3 in||6.20 x 2.94 x 0.32 in||6.16 x 3.01 x 0.27 in||5.6 x 2.8 x 0.27 in|
|Dimensions (Millimeters)||158 x 75 x 7.35 mm||160.1 x 76.1 x 8.2 mm||157.5 x 74.8 x 8.2 mm||156.5 x 76.5 x 6.75 mm||142 x 70 x 7.9 mm|
|Weight (Ounces, Grams)||5.82 oz; 165g||5.89 oz; 167g||6.5 oz; 185g||5.5 oz; 156g||5.3oz.; 150g|
|Mobile software||Android 9.0||Android 9.0||Android 9 Pie||Android 8.1 Oreo||Android 9.0|
|Camera||48-megapixel||12.2-megapixel||16-megapixel standard, 20-megapixel telephoto||12-megapixel, 12-megapixel mono||12-megapixel (wide-angle), 16-megapixel (ultra wide-angle)|
|Processor||2.0GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 675||2.0GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdraon 670||2.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 845||2.35GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835||Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 855|
|Storage||128GB||64GB||128GB, 256GB||64GB||128GB, 256GB|
|RAM||4GB||4GB||6GB, 8GB||4GB||6GB, 8GB|
|Battery||3,700mAh||3,700mAh||3,700 mAh||3,000 mAh||3,100mAh|
|Fingerprint sensor||In-display||Back||In-display||On the side||Power button|
|Special features||In-display fingerprint reader, Moto Actions, Moto Mods||AR in Google Maps, Timelapse video shooting||In-display fingerprint sensor, dual-SIM, Dash Charging, notifications toggle||Compatibility for Moto Mods, extra battery pack||Wireless PowerShare; hole punch screen notch; water resistant (IP68); Fast Wireless Charging 2.0|
|Price off-contract (USD)||$499||$479||$549 (8GB RAM/128GB), $599 (8GB RAM/256GB)||$480||$520|