​Moto G5 Plus phone: full, in-depth review

Moto's mid-range Android smartphone does everything well. Why pay more?

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Motorola G5 Plus phone
  • Motorola G5 Plus phone
  • Motorola G5 Plus phone
  • Motorola G5 Plus phone
  • Expert Rating

    4.50 / 5

Pros

  • Good at everything
  • Impressive battery life

Cons

  • None

Bottom Line

There are no weak points with this $400 Android smartphone. So why pay more?

Would you buy this?

2017 Has seen some impressive phone launches at the high end. However, the most revolutionary stuff might be appearing at the lower end. The gap between expensive phones and cheap phones has started narrowing at a dramatic pace. Whereas last year we were impressed with cheap phones that only exhibited a few compromises, we’re struggling to find any weak points in the new generation. Moto’s G5 Plus is in this category.

Key specs

5.2in, 1920 x 1080 LCD screen, 3GB/16GB or 4GB/32GB RAM, 2GHz Octa-core Snapdragon 625 CPU, Adreno 506 GPU, 12MP rear and 5MP front cameras, microSD, dual SIM, Micro USB, Android 7, 3000mAh battery, 150 x 74 x 10mm, 155g. Full specs here.

Design and Handling

We’ve seen some impressive claims from manufacturers with regards to build-quality and materials in the past year, but they’ve been in regards to high-end phones like the HTC U Ultra and Play plus the glossy black iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. Now Moto is regaling us with tales of it’s 'diamond-cut Aluminium chassis' which has been blasted with microbeads – you don’t see that on too many $400 phones.

Indeed, this year’s Moto mid-range marvel is much classier in look and feel than last year’s plastic G4 Plus. It’s still not nearly as flashy as HTC’s U phones – it’s limited in colour from grey to gold – but it does feel stronger and less likely to catastrophically shatter if dropped onto something hard.

The 5.2-inch, Full HD LCD screen is topped with Gorilla Glass 3 – not the latest, greatest and strongest version, so buying a case might ramp up protection as well as the aesthetics. The screen itself is bright and colourful when it’s turned on, though. Few will complain about not having Ultra High Definition AMOLED unit – especially those who value function and battery life over slightly-better image quality.

Under the hood is a 2GHz Snapdragon-based processor and Adreno GPU. It was hard to detect any lag under general usage. All general-purpose apps opened almost instantly and we also didn’t suffer from any real lag when playing games. The Operating System feels like standard Android 7 although Google Assistant isn’t present.

As before, there’s a fingerprint reader beneath the screen but it doesn’t act as a button – the three main Android buttons are displayed on the screen itself. This feels a bit like a waste of space. However, it is fast at unlocking the phone, if not quite instant.

We’re big fans of Moto’s haptic feedback which provides a soft-yet-meaty dull thud whenever you touch the screen. It makes the whole phone feel solid. It’s a little thing, but it doesn’t get old and provides a sense of quality that no other phones match.

The speaker (which is the same one used when listening to phone calls) provides distinct audio for conference calls and even music, but doesn’t get very loud. There’s certainly no punch for multimedia playback – but then there rarely is these days.

The only gripe we have is Moto’s appalling, “Hello Moto” ringtones which were derided by surrounding people whenever and wherever they heard them. Mercifully you can turn them off.

The Moto G5 Plus camera

Many phones live or die by their cameras these days. Last year’s G4 operated well in good light but could struggle thereafter. The G5’s cameras felt like an improvement although they weren’t perfect. The rear camera is 12-megapixels while the front camera is only 5-megapixels which can be a bit too low these days.

In harsh lighting, the G5 Plus managed an impressive exposure.
In harsh lighting, the G5 Plus managed an impressive exposure.

Nonetheless, in good lighting, pictures were mostly sharp and well exposed with very little focus reaching or shutter lag. The only minor annoyance is of the quick animation of each photo taking, zooming off into the ether. It doesn't last long, but in the world of photography, any delay in shooting can feel like an age.

While motion could be an issue, the G5 Plus still captured a great shot.
While motion could be an issue, the G5 Plus still captured a great shot.

As light decreases, performance was a bit more challenged but still above average. Low-to-modest light shots were still very usable and it had to get dusk-like before grain started appearing. Even then shots could be usable so long as there was minimal motion. All in all it punched well above its weight and didn’t feel like it had a weak point.

Quick, sharp and colourful... all you really need from a camera.
Quick, sharp and colourful... all you really need from a camera.
Well-lit landscapes were generally well-exposed although the High Dynamic Range still meant that some detail was lost in shadows.
Well-lit landscapes were generally well-exposed although the High Dynamic Range still meant that some detail was lost in shadows.
Low-light indoors is much improved. While some grain is present, the shot is very usable.
Low-light indoors is much improved. While some grain is present, the shot is very usable.
Despite only being 5-megapixels, the Selfie cam offered some decent results.
Despite only being 5-megapixels, the Selfie cam offered some decent results.
If you like taking panorama shots, note that the Moto's field of view is very narrow and the image isn't very high resolution.
If you like taking panorama shots, note that the Moto's field of view is very narrow and the image isn't very high resolution.

When it came to video, we found that it was most comfortable taking 60fps Full HD. While the lack of optical image stabilisation meant that wobbles were often prevalent, the smooth frame-rate playback made up for this. The main gripe we had here was that in areas where there was even the slightest background noise, the G5 made everything sound very noisy - even though speech was still distinct. We’d like to see future updates improve that audio filtering.

Focusing was generally impressive although once you've touched the screen to correct it, you have to keep touching it. It's not a big issue but it's there.

Next: Battery Life, Other Features and Conclusion

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