Thursday 22 February 2018

Motorola Moto G4... Why I Am Keeping Mine

In February 2017, I switched from an iPhone to Android. I bought a Motorola Moto G4 and compared to my aging iPhone, this thing screamed along. The 5.5” screen, octa-core processor and 2GB of RAM were decent specs and its £159 price tag was half that of a used iPhone.

The Moto G4 was actually released March 2016, so is now coming up for two years old. The Moto G5 was released March 2017 but with a smaller screen than its predecessor, it also benches lower so I decided not to upgrade. The Moto G6 is due to be released shortly, but unless it offers serious improvements I will be holding on to my G4 for some time yet.

Looking around at other handsets from other manufacturers in the sub £200 price bracket and I was thoroughly disappointed with what was offered. Could a two year old mid range handset like the Moto G4 really be better than what is currently being offered?

The Samsung Galaxy J3 2017 and Sony Xperia L1 both have a measly quad core processor, while the Nokia 5 and LG K10 2017 have octa core processors and all feature 2GB RAM.

All of the above feature 16GB internal storage, 13mpx rear camera and 5mpx front facing camera and have Android 7.0 Nougat. While some may have or get the 8.0 Oreo update, some may not and my Moto G4 isn’t going to get it either.

On a side note I was shocked to see low priced sub £50 Android handsets such as the ZTE Blade A110 shipping with Android 5.1.1 ‘Lollipop’ and the Alcatel OneTouch Pixi 3 3.5 even ships with Android 4.4 ‘KitKat’ an OS released in 2013.

Nothing in the same price bracket as my Moto G4 offers much if anything more than I am getting now - and considering my handset is now a two year old model, it really shows how much ‘bang for your buck’ you get from a Moto G handset.

My family all own Moto G handsets. My daughter has a Moto G, my son has a Moto G2, my other son has a Moto G3 and both my wife and I have a Moto G4. They are cracking phones offering far better specs and speed than comparably priced handsets.

Even two years on the Moto G4 is a superb handset. It has never caused me any issues, never let me down, is still super fast, does everything I need and the 3,000 mAh battery lasts forever.

The upgrade from Marshmallow to Nougat didn’t caused any slow down and is a real shame it won’t see Oreo - but having the latest version isn’t that important in the Android world.

It is by far the best handset I have ever owned, a joy to use. On the used market you can pick them up for about £70 which is an absolute bargain.

Written by Simon Royal. Follow me at

Wednesday 14 February 2018

A Moto Z Play Camera issue meant a replacement device for me.

Just the other day i was looking through the photos from my Moto Z Play and noticed in every photo that there were 3 little black splodges, two of which were about a few pixels wide and one a bit larger. Once you notice them, you cannot unsee them in almost every rear camera photo. I looked back through my photos and found that it started happening on December the 4th last year. The last time I had an issue like this it was with the Sony Z3 I had ever so briefly before returning it. I had my Z Play since late November. I had to go through all my photos on my hard drive and edit out the spodges. It's harder to do this in Google Photos or Flickr since you essentially have to end up replacing the images, so I mainly resorted to cropping the marks out, as they are all fairly close to the edge of the photos. There's still a few on both that I have not replaced or fixed yet.

Today I returned my Z Play to CEX and luckily they had a white Z Play in the shop window to replace it with. Though I'm not keen on white usually, it is growing on me, it reminds me of the white front of the second gen X that I had a while back. The back doesn't matter since I always keep my phones in a case.

It is the dual SIM version, and in better condition than my old one. No massive scratches on the glass back on this one, and unusually has the original unused earbuds in a bag in the box. Not that I would use those, I much prefer either my AKAI Bluetooth/wired ones or my LG buds. It didn't have the original charger but they helpfully swapped it with the original one from the one I returned.

Once I got home, I restored all my apps and settings from Google, (apart from Google Camera since the latest version is Oreo only, so I had to find an older version on APK Mirrror) and restored my Nova Launcher settings from a backup off my SD card, along with the Google Now Companion. I have tried lots of launchers but always end up back on Nova. I also paired and setup my Pebble and Bluetooth headphones. Oh and I also had to download and install 3 security updates to get it up to the December Security Patch level. So far it has been trouble free, hopefully I shall keep this phone for awhile, for as long as it gives me no problems.

Update 22/006/2018 - I've just got the official Oreo update on my Z Play

Sunday 4 February 2018

Asus Google Nexus 7… A 2013 Tablet In 2018.

My wife was looking for something a little bigger than her phone for social media, light gaming and writing. She doesn’t own a laptop and decided a tablet would be a good option. Looking around, new tablets are quite pricey and the lower end ones offered terrible specs, so we started looking at local ads and found a Google Nexus 7 tablet locally at a good price, it is the second generation 2013 model.

It features a 7" screen, quad core processor, 2GB RAM, 16GB internal storage, no SD card slot, a 5mpx camera and a 1.2mpx front facing camera. It shipped with Android 4.3 and was updated through to Android 6.0.1. It might not sound too impressive, but there are a lot of new devices with less specs - some even now ship with older versions of Android than that. A quick look over the device and it’s build quality can't be beaten. It has a good weight and overall feel in the hand is great. However, the key question is how does this once high end tablet from 2013, perform almost 5 years on in 2018. I have to say I was a little dubious, but after a few minutes of setting it up and playing around with it, this tablet screams along. The 7” screen is beautifully bright and crystal clear even at different viewing angles, helped by its 323ppi. You can tell this certainly wasn't a budget device.

Navigating around the device is slick and fast. While the quad core may not be top end these days, its no slouch and certainly helped by the 2GB of RAM. The OS navigates fast, general apps have no lag such as FaceBook, Messenger and Google Docs. My wife loaded her selection of games - nothing heavy - HayDay and card games etc and these performed fantastically. The 16GB internal storage and no MicroSD slot may be limiting to some, but she has never filled her phone so it shouldn’t be a problem. The cameras are fairly good. It is one area older devices tend to fail. The 5mpx autofocus on the back is great, but it has no flash so low light shots can be a bit grainy. The front 1.2mpx camera is really just a selfie or video call camera and it suffices for that purpose. Sound is good for a tablet. YouTube videos came through loud and with as decent audio as you expect from an 8mm piece of tech. Things alway improve when you plug in a good pair of earphones and the sound performance was great. Battery life is also impressive. At 3950mAh it may not match some of the 6000mAh behemoths in some of the Samsung devices, but its smaller screen certainly helps and should keep you going for a few days of heavy use. A mobile phones battery consumption is heavily taken by having a SIM card in connected to a phone/data signal all the time, remove this feature in a tablet and the battery lasts a lot longer.
I have had zero issues with this Nexus 7 and my wife hasn’t complained about anything. It is a solid device which still outpowers even modern tablets with the beauty of having a high class quality screen. If I was to pick one downside to it, it would be the placement of the volume and power buttons. They are not directly flat on the side, but follow on the curve of the back, which can make them a little difficult to press and you find yourself fumbling around sometimes.

If you are looking for a low cost tablet I highly recommend going for an older high end model rather than a new low budget offering. The Nexus 7 2013 model is a superb example and superb device.

Written by Simon Royal. Follow me at