The Moto G5 and G5 Plus are the G series phones that most clearly aspire to Z series status: they do away with the plastic chassis and adopt some Moto Z range characteristics. But are the Moto G5 and G5 Plus just mid-rangers masquerading as flagships or are they truly attempting to bridge the gap between the G and Z?

These are by far the most premium-looking G series phones Motorola – or should we say Lenovo – have ever made. But looks can be deceiving: are these phones more old school G or new school Z? The answer is they’re a little bit of both. The new Moto G’s deliver everything we know and love from the G series but wrap it all in a frame that resembles the flagship Z series a lot more than ever before.

Think about it: the Moto G series has historically been Motorola’s bigger seller. But the Z series is the flagship line. What better way to encourage fans of the mid-range devices to consider stepping up to the top tier than to provide flagship looks in a cheaper device?

We’ve seen a similar “trickling down” of flagship features on other smartphone ranges plenty of times before, and Motorola has taken this attitude as its personal M.O., so there’s nothing particularly new going on here. But what is new is the G series’ design: a full-metal build on a mid-range phone that costs little more than $200 rather than double that.

The G5 Plus is the more premium of the two phones: slightly larger and with slightly better specs than the regular G5. But that difference won’t matter much to U.S. customers, as the G5 Plus is the only version making it to that market. Priced at $229 for the base model with 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage (with microSD expansion) and $299 for an additional GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage, the G5 Plus will be available Stateside in March.

Among the many decent features in the new G5’s include a front-facing fingerprint scanner that not only serves a security purpose but can also be converted into a navigation tool. Simply enable a setting to remove the on-screen navigation buttons and use a series of swipe gestures on the finger scanner to move through the interface.

The 12 MP camera on the G5 Plus has Dual Autofocus Pixels for super-fast autofocus – up to 60 percent faster than the G54 Plus – with a 1.4 micron pixel size, on-sensor phase detection and impressive f/1.7 aperture for low light shots. The camera app will be familiar to any G series fan, but the sensor is a major step up from previous G phones. The front-facing camera is a 5 MP shooter with f/2.2 aperture.

On the battery front there’s a 3,000 mAh battery featuring TurboPower charging for six hours of battery life in just 15 minutes. On the display front, the 5.2-inch Full HD IPS LCD is pretty standard mid-range fare but there’s a 3.5 mm headphone jack, unlike the flagship Moto Z. The Moto G5 and G5 Plus run Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box with Moto’s added value software features in the settings.

The G5 Plus is powered by the power-sipping Snapdragon 625, meaning that battery life should last even longer than on a flagship phone with a similar capacity, due to the lower power demands of the chipset. There’s also Google Assistant coming via update, Moto Actions like the familiar wrist-flick to launch the camera and a karate chop gesture to launch the flashlight.

If you’re in a market that will get the G5 as well, things take a step down: to a Snapdragon 430, 5.0-inch Full HD display, 13 MP f/2.0 aperture camera which maxes out at 1080p video (whereas the G5 Plus can shoot 4K), a 2,800 mAh removable battery and 16 GB or 32 GB versions.

The Moto G5 starts at 199 Euro for the 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB ROM version with an upgrade available to 32 GB of storage. Both the G5 and G5 Plus have dual-SIM capabilities but neither come with NFC, so there’ll be no contactless payments in your future if you pick one up.

 Moto G5Moto G5 Plus
Display5.0-inch LCD
1920 x 1080 resolution
441ppi
5.2-inch LCD
1920 x 1080 resolution, 424ppi
Gorilla Glass 3
Processor1.4GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 4302.0GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625
GPUAdreno 505Adreno 506
RAM2 or 3GB2, 3 or 4GB
Storage16 or 32GB16, 32 or 64GB
MicroSDYes, up to 128GBYes, up to 128GB
CamerasRear: 13MP sensor with an f/2.0 aperture, PDAF, 1.1μm pixels

Front: 5MP sensor with an f/2.2 aperture, 1.4μm pixels
Rear: 12MP sensor with an f/1.7 aperture, 1.4μm pixels and "dual autofocus pixels"

Front: 5MP sensor with an f/1.7 aperture, 1.4μm pixels
Battery2,800mAh
Removable
3,000mAh
Non-removable
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11n dual-band
Bluetooth 4.2
MicroUSB
3.5mm headphone jack
Wi-Fi 802.11n dual-band
Bluetooth 4.2
MicroUSB
3.5mm headphone jack
SensorsFingerprint reader
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Magnetometer
Ambient Light
Proximity
Fingerprint reader
Accelerometer
Gyroscope
Magnetometer
Ambient Light
Proximity
Networks4G LTE (Cat. 6)
CDMA/EVDO Rev A
UMTS/HSPA+
GSM/EDGE
4G LTE (Cat. 6)
CDMA/EVDO Rev A
UMTS/HSPA+
GSM/EDGE
NFCNoYes, but not in U.S.
Water protectionWater repellent nano-coatingWater repellent nano-coating
SoftwareAndroid 7.0 NougatAndroid 7.0 Nougat
ColorsFine Gold, Lunar Gray, Sapphire Blue (in some regions)Fine Gold, Lunar Gray
Dimensions and weight144.3 x 73 x 9.5mm
144.5g
150.2 x 74.0 x 7.7 to 9.7mm
155g

There’s no pretending these phones are anything even close to flagships in specs, but they certainly look the part. Samsung has successfully delivered its premium design to the Galaxy A series and the same approach will likely work wonders for Lenovo too. They deliver the same tried-and-true recipe the Moto G series has become famous for, but they do it in a style typically reserved for flagship phones. And that sounds like a recipe worth repeating.

John Velasco
Storyteller, ongoing health nut, persistent complainer of running, & religious flosser.
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