Vibrant 1080p screen
Long-lasting battery life
Vanilla android experience
Unique one button navigation
Lacks NFC (U.S. version)
Subpar camera quality
Chrome trim cheapens the design
Lenovo and Motorola have found immense success their mid-range Moto G series, and has unsurprisingly become the company’s best-selling smartphone. Since its inception, the Moto G line has more or less revolutionized the budget category by proving that the words affordable and good can be used to describe the same smartphone.
Now, with the competition only becoming more intense in this segment over the years, does the Moto G continue to reign supreme with its latest iteration? Find out, in this comprehensive Moto G5 Plus review!
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The Moto G5 Plus features an all-new design this time around, complete with a metal back and plastic sides. This is certainly an upgrade when compared to the plastic builds of its predecessors, though that metal back plate means it’s no longer removable. Most OEMs seem to be moving away from removable back plates nowadays, so this shouldn’t really come as a surprise.
The presence of metal on the back does make the phone look and feel more premium, but it's not as grippy
The presence of metal on the back does make the phone look and feel more premium, but on the other hand, the metal doesn’t provide as much grip as the plastic backs of previous Moto G devices, making the G5 Plus a touch more slippery than what you may be used to. The only thing that takes away from the high quality look of the phone is the fake chrome trim that surrounds the display and the metal back plate.
Fake chrome has been used numerous times in the past in an attempt to give smartphones a more high-end look, and considering that it didn’t really work back then, it’s no surprise that it really doesn’t work now. The fake chrome gets scratched very easily, and generally doesn’t fit in with what is an otherwise decent looking phone. Granted, looks haven’t been a big selling point of the Moto G series in the past, so it may not make as much of a difference this time either.
The fake chrome gets scratched very easily and doesn't fit in with what is an otherwise decent looking phone
Just like the frame of the phone, the power button and volume rocker are also made of plastic. However, they do feel sturdy enough and offer a lot of tactile feedback. The power button also comes with a ridged texture to make it easy to differentiate from the volume rocker. Up top is the slot that holds the SIM card and the microSD card, and at the bottom is the microUSB port.
The bezels up front along the sides of the display really stand out, particularly as we get more and more used to near-bezel-less designs, but a relatively small 5.2-inch display means that the Moto G5 Plus remains easy to use with one hand. The build quality is quite good overall, and aspects like the fake chrome frame are more forgivable when considering the price point of this device.
The Moto G5 Plus comes with a 5.2-inch IPS LCD display with a Full HD resolution. This is easily one of the strongest aspects of this smartphone.
The Moto G5 Plus' display is easily one of the strongest aspects of the smartphone
The display gets bright enough for comfortable outdoor visibility and provides excellent viewing angles, color reproduction, and contrast. The screen won’t compare favorably when pit against AMOLED displays or those with Quad HD resolutions, but again, the display of the Moto G5 Plus is certainly very good when considering its price point.
Under the hood, the Moto G5 Plus comes with an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor, backed by the Adreno 506 GPU and either 2 or 4 GB of RAM. This processing package is certainly not going to set any benchmarking records, but when it comes to real world use, everything has been speedy and responsive.
Playing games on it has been as enjoyable as expected, and quickly switching between different applications has also been smooth. Of course, it is important to keep in mind that this particular review unit comes with 4 GB of RAM, and your multitasking experience may be different if you opt for the less expensive iteration with 2 GB of RAM.
The Moto G5 Plus comes with either 32 or 64 GB of built-in storage, which also dictates how much RAM you get with the device. If storage is a concern, the good news is that expandable storage is available via microSD card for up to an additional 256 GB of space.
Unsurprisingly, the Moto G5 Plus sports expandable memory up to 256 GB
As mentioned, the device comes with a microUSB port instead of a USB Type-C port, which is a move that has likely been made to keep down the cost. This isn’t going to be much of a big deal, particularly if you’re moving to this device from an older smartphone that probably had a microUSB port and the associated cables and chargers as well.
What is a big deal though is the fact that the U.S. version of the Moto G5 Plus does not come with NFC, which means that the ability to use features like Android Pay go out the window. However, the international version of the phone does feature NFC. All versions of the device do come with a headphone jack, which is good to see, considering that Lenovo did leave it out with the flagship Moto Z.
Remember - the U.S. version of the Moto G5 Plus doesn't come with NFC
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The phone comes with a single speaker unit that also doubles as the earpiece. The speaker is pretty average in regards to volume and audio quality, and the only real positive here is that it’s mounted on the front of the device. The phone doesn’t come with an IP rating for dust and water resistance, but it does have a nano coating on the inside that will keep it safe from the occasional spill.
Sitting below the display is the fingerprint reader which is quite fast and accurate when it comes to unlocking the phone, and can also be used to put the phone back to sleep with a long press. The interesting thing about this fingerprint scanner button is that you can replace the on-screen keys and perform all navigation using this one button.
The pros and cons of fingerprint scanner gestures
A swipe left will take you back, a swipe right will launch the recent apps screen, a double swipe right can be done Android 7.0 Nougat’s fast app switching, a tap will take you to the home screen, and a long press will launch Google Assistant. Basically, everything you can do with three navigation keys is now possible with this one button, and this also frees up the entire display.
The Moto G5 Plus comes with a 3,000 mAh battery, which is definitely a good size for such a phone and combined with the battery efficiency of the Snapdragon 625, what you end up with is pretty impressive battery life. Even with heavy usage, the device comfortably lasted for the entire day with close to six hours of screen-on time. With lighter usage, I ended up with around 30% battery still remaining at the end of the day. When you do have to plug it in, you get to take advantage of fast charging capabilities to be up and running in no time.
Even with heavy usage, the device comfortably lasted for the entire day
On the back is a circle camera module that looks similar to what is available with the high-end Moto Z, and protrudes the same way as well. However, while the camera protrusion served a purpose with the latter by working as an anchor point for the Moto Mods, in the case of the Moto G5 Plus, its presence seems to be just for the sake of continuity.
You get a 12 MP rear camera with a f/1. 7 aperture and 1.4 micron pixel size, which makes this camera sound really good on paper. Unfortunately, the quality of the photos is just about average. The large pixel size should have really helped with low light photography despite the device not having OIS, but low-light is the weakest point of this camera. The images really fall apart, with there being very little detail, and a lot of overexposure and blown out highlights.
This camera is not going to compete with any of the high-end flagships out there, despite boasting specs that make it sound like it could
You’ll get much better results with daytime shooting, and in the right lighting conditions, the camera is capable of taking some great looking photos. That said, this camera is not going to compete with any of the high-end flagships out there, despite boasting specifications that make it sound like it certainly could.
On the software side of things, the Moto G5 Plus is running Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box. Just like previous Motorola smartphones, what you get is a nearly stock Android experience but with those few and useful Motorola additions built-in such as Ambient Display, the double chop action to launch the flashlight, and the twist of the wrist to launch the camera.
The launcher has been updated with a new folder design and the app drawer now swipes up from the bottom to give you the Pixel launcher look and feel. The stock experience is always a big plus, but unlike before, don’t buy this phone with the hope of quick and timely software updates. Ever since the Lenovo acquisition, Motorola’s updates and the speed of them just aren’t what they used to be.
|Moto G5||Moto G5 Plus|
1920 x 1080 resolution
1920 x 1080 resolution
Gorilla Glass 3
|Processor||1.4 GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 430||2.0 GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625|
|GPU||Adreno 505||Adreno 506|
|RAM||2 or 3 GB||2, 3, or 4 GB|
|Storage||16 or 32 GB||16, 32 or 64 GB|
|MicroSD||Yes, up to 128 GB||Yes, up to 128 GB|
|Cameras||Rear: 13 MP sensor with an f/2.0 aperture, PDAF, 1.1 μm pixels|
Front: 5 MP sensor with an f/2.2 aperture, 1.4 μm pixels
|Rear: 12 MP sensor with an f/1.7 aperture, 1.4 μm pixels and "dual autofocus pixels"
Front: 5 MP sensor with an f/1.7 aperture, 1.4 μm pixels
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11n dual-band|
3.5 mm headphone jack
|Wi-Fi 802.11n dual-band
3.5 mm headphone jack
|Networks||4G LTE (Cat. 6)|
CDMA/EVDO Rev A
|4G LTE (Cat. 6)
CDMA/EVDO Rev A
|NFC||No||Yes, but not in U.S.|
|Water protection||Water repellent nano-coating||Water repellent nano-coating|
|Software||Android 7.0 Nougat||Android 7.0 Nougat|
|Colors||Fine Gold, Lunar Gray, Sapphire Blue (in some regions)||Fine Gold, Lunar Gray|
|Dimensions and weight||144.3 x 73 x 9.5 mm|
|150.2 x 74.0 x 7.7 to 9.7 mm
Pricing and final thoughts
The Moto G5 Plus is priced at $229 for the 32 GB storage and 2 GB of RAM of model, while the higher-end version with 64 GB of storage and 4 GB of RAM will set you back $299. This is the same price tier as its predecessors, and it does feel like you get a little more each and every year despite the unchanging price point. Granted, this is in part due to technology continuing to get better and cheaper, but a lot also has to do with the ever increasing competition in this space.
The Moto G5 Plus isn’t without its flaws, but they are definitely a lot more forgivable when considering the price you are paying for it. It doesn’t have any fancy tricks or features up its sleeves like wireless charging, dust and water resistance, or dual cameras, but there are plenty of options if those are what you are looking for. It is a phone that is reliable, with a solid smartphone experience, and with an extremely affordable price tag, and that is all that some people really want.
It's not without its flaws, but they are definitely a lot more forgivable when considering the low price tag
Speaking of affordable price tags, Amazon Prime members will be able to pick up this device for even cheaper, at $239.99 for the 64 GB storage and 4 GB of RAM model, as long as you are willing to put up with lock screen ads. You won’t find many phones that are this good in this price category, and with the Moto G5 Plus, Motorola proves once again that they are the kings of the budget smartphone space.