Once a flagship... But that was then, now the X holds Motorola's middle ground. Z is there to look up to, the Gs have a few more tricks to learn.
The Moto X4 is one of those phones that doesn't make any blunders, but also doesn't really stand out. Or does it? It is the only phone (other than LG) with an ultra-wide camera and unlike any LG phone with an ultra-wide camera, the X4 does portraits, and portraits are all the rage. Fair enough, the Moto's portraits aren't the best you can get but some portraits is better than no portraits at all, right?
The camera experience is not exemplary, but the phone can take good photos in the right circumstances and you can't really replicate the wide angle cam's view of the surrounding world without an actual wide angle cam. We should be seeing more of these in various segments instead of just waiting for LG flagships to drop in price.
Not all is camera and the Moto X4 has you covered when it comes to other important stuff. The display could use a boost in brightness, but does the job as it is. The battery life is solid when you're actually using the X4, and less so when it's idle, but which counts more? The software is a carefully touched-up Nougat with Oreo on the way. The chipset is the same Qualcomm 625 we've come to love, only made +5 better with a more powerful GPU and improved radios.
The Moto X4 is available as an Android One device in the US, but the rest of the world gets the regular flavor. If you want the fastest OS updates straight from Google, but you're not in the States, the Xiaomi Mi A1 might be your best bet. Slightly larger with its 5.5 inches, the Mi A1 is powered by the older S625 chip so it's no match for the Moto in 3D gaming. It's got a tele camera to put up against the Moto's ultra-wide one - pick your favorite. Portraits do come out better from the Xiaomi A(ndroid)1 and it will outlast the X4 in most battery endurance disciplines, but the Moto has the IP68 rating for peace of mind.
For a more established name you can look at the Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017). It may be due for a replacement soon (hint: price drop), but the current model isn't half bad - high-quality AMOLED display and superior battery endurance are in its favor, it matches the IP rating and the performance of the Moto X4, but with just one camera on its back it looks slightly dated. It'll probably remain on Nougat too, seeing as how it launched on Marshmallow, and two major releases could be pushing it for a handset in this price bracket.
The HTC U11 Life is an unlikely favorite in the midrange thanks to a stand-out design, careful hardware choices, and similarly minimalist software to the X4's - that's another member of team Android One. Same chipset as the Moto X4, slightly better display, slightly worse battery life, already on Oreo, but no second camera - a personal brand preference would really help untie this knot. Unless the lack of a 3.5mm jack on the U11 life slashes it in favor of the X4 before the HTC manages to pull out the loyalty card.
The Nokia 7 looks like a textbook case rival to the Moto X4 - a similarly equipped device from another famed brand with a turbulent past. The 7 we haven't yet had the chance to test, but just looking at the numbers the Moto X4 has a couple of key advantages - IP68 > IP54 and 2 > 1, cameras on the back, that is.
Mean machine, that's what the Moto X4 is. Only not in a fierce, tough, and uncompromising way, no - 'mean' more like 'average'. But not 'average' in a bad way, mind you.
Quite the contrary, the Moto X4 embraces the X's newfound mid-tier position and delivers just enough not to eat into the Z2 Play (the Force is obviously way out of reach), yet be a cut above the G-series.
And since Motos don't live in isolation, the X4 offers enough goodies to lure in customers from outside. No one other than LG puts an ultra-wide angle cam on a phone, and affordable as the G6 may be, the X4 can still be had for less. In the midrange, the X4 has one of the best chipsets all-round, a display that makes no excuses, and battery life that won't leave you stranded mid-day. Add some functional software, weather sealing and a design with just the right amount of flair and you have one hell of a case for 'average'.