Moto G5 Plus Review – The New Budget King?

Review, Tech

The Moto G family is a series of amazing budget smartphones released by Motorola. Previously owned by Google, now under Lenovo, Motorola has had a lot of success with its Moto phones and for good reasons. I take a look at the recently released, the all new member of the G family, the Moto G5 Plus. I was a long time Moto user, my first device being the amazing original Moto G Gen 1, and so I review this device to see if Motorola has done it again with its 5th Gen successor.

BUILD

Moto G5 Plus is built with diamond cut high-grade aluminium that’s 150.2 x 74 x 7.7 mm and weighs around 155g. Just 3 grams lighter than my OnePlus 3T but feels much more comfortable in the hand thanks to its slightly thicker body and the curved edge back. What I really love is the move from plastic to a metal body which gives this device a premium look in the budget category. Good work Motorola.

The G5 Plus comes in two colors, Lunar Grey and Fine Gold. I had the Lunar Grey version and surprisingly it looks really good. Looking at the photographs my expectation was a much lighter color aluminum skin but it’s darker than I expected and looks stealthy to a certain extent. But still, I wish every phone was matte black.

The back has the big round camera bump with dual LED flash and below that we have the Moto logo. Motorola has done away with its famous Moto dimple that you’ll find in the previous G models and instead has the flat metal-cut batwing logo. I won’t say I’m quite happy with it because I really loved the dimple but design wise, this looks much more cohesive.

The frame has the usual buttons, with the top consisting of the microSD+sim tray(you can use 2 sims and microSD card together), the right has the power button and the volume rocker, the bottom consists of the micro USB port and a headphone jack. Interestingly, the position of the power button and the volume rocker has been switched. I don’t know why Motorola did this but if you are used to the previous position of the power button being above the volume buttons then it’ll take sometime to get used to this. Thankfully the power button has the textured feel which makes it easier to locate.

Finally the front has the display with a single speaker at the top and the capacitive touch fingerprint sensor at the bottom with one button navigation feature.

PERFORMANCE

Housing the popular budget chip Snapdragon 625 and 4GB RAM, this phone is quite fast when it comes to performance. It’s not the fastest by any means but it runs pretty great for the price it’s selling at. Note that there are three versions of this phone with 2/3/4GB RAM respectively and the device I had was the 4GB RAM with 32GB storage. It’s a no brainer to go with the higher RAM and storage, even if a little expensive, to ensure it works perfectly even after a year or two.

What I like about Moto devices is that they don’t easily heat up. The time I spent with this device I didn’t notice any major lag or heating while doing intensive tasks like playing Asphalt 8. It definitely handles games well with minor lags that mostly go unnoticed giving you a smooth experience at this budget price.

Out of the box, the G5 Plus comes with Android 7.0 with probable updates to future versions. I am not a huge fan of Moto’s stock launcher and wished they would have gone with the Pixel Launcher but I love the fact that the device doesn’t come with any bloatware (unlike.. you know). This keeps the apps to a minimum and helps in performance.

The capacitive touch home button/fingerprint scanner below the screen is fast and accurate and also packs in a couple of extra features(more on that later). But I really wish manufacturers place the fingerprint scanner at the back of the device and increase the display size. Coming to this device, you can switch between on-screen buttons or use the home button with one button navigation and enjoy a bigger and fuller screen size.

DISPLAY

The display is one of my small complains. Motorola opted for reducing the display size to 5.2in from 5.5in which the Moto G4 Plus had. The advantage being though, is more pixel density leading to sharper display and the display on this device is amazing. For an IPS LCD screen the G5 Plus has an amazing 1080p display with great viewing angles and brightness. It performs well under sunlight with pictures and videos looking much sharper than the previous model. But, like me, if you have been using a larger size screen than it does become a little difficult to go to a smaller display, but trust me it does make up for it. The display is one of the best in that price range.

BATTERY

I have always been a fan of Motorola’s battery and the G5 Plus doesn’t disappoint. With 3000 mAh non-removable battery, the G5 Plus lasts comfortably for a day with average to heavy use. But the best feature isn’t the battery that lasts all day but it is the quite impressive TurboPower charging. It’s not as fast as OnePlus’ Dash Charge but it’s fast enough to give you adequate juice to last almost a day in 15-30mins. Having that battery power with an impressive fast charging technology in a budget category is very hard to beat.

CAMERA

Motorola has come a long way in the camera department from the 1st Gen Moto G and the G5 Plus does a decent job, but if you’re looking into high quality shots then look elsewhere(probably more expensive devices). Talking about the G5 Plus camera, it’s pretty good in its range. The back camera is a 12 MP, f/1.7 shooter with dual-LED flash while the front camera is 5 MP, f/2.2.

Talking about the image quality, the pics have a nice dynamic range, especially in HDR mode, and the colors aren’t that oversaturated which is nice. But where the G5 Plus falters is in low light. Lack of proper post-processing results in poor image quality which consists of noise. One of the impressive feature of the camera is the quick focus. The focus is fast enough to take quick shots without waiting for the camera to adjust its focus. You won’t get high quality photos with the G5 Plus but it’s better than any other phone in its price range.

Coming to capturing videos, probably the best feature in the camera department is that the G5 Plus can shoot 4K@30fps. The only drawback is the lack of any image stabilization which leads to handshakes.

Overall, the camera does a pretty decent job and it’s quite impressive for that price. If you want to get more out of it, then there’s a professional mode that allows you to control ISO, shutter speed, exposure,white balance and manual focus which results in much better photo quality even in low light.

FEATURES

Moto G5 Plus has a few handy features that not only are useful but the more you use it, the more you get used to it and if you change brands, you will miss it.

One of the cool feature is the famous karate-chop to activate the flashlight when the screen is switched off. Now, I’ve use almost all types of flashlight gestures, hardware based like holding the power button, screen based like making a ‘V’, and movement based like the karate-chop. Even though I prefer the first two methods, the chop in the G5 Plus is not bad and works pretty accurate too. Another gesture is the twist to open camera which I am not a big fan of but it’s quick and works perfectly for quick capture.

There are many other actions inside the Moto App but the one I really like is the One-button nav. It basically combines the back and the recents button action into the capacitive home button with swipes. So, left swipe on the home button is for going back, right swipe is for recents, long press is for the Google Assistant and there’s a medium long press to lock the phone. These are interesting features that work great and allow you to remove the on-screen navigation buttons giving you more screen real estate.

DRAWBACKS

It is a budget phone so according to the price there aren’t many major drawbacks. The lack of water resistance can be a deal breaker for some but that doesn’t make this a non-worthy device. One of the drawbacks that many smartphones have including the Moto G5 Plus is mono speakers. Even the Google Pixel lacks stereo speakers. Stereo speakers sound great and would love to see more budget smartphones have them. It does have NFC which is amazing, but no wireless charging, which isn’t a drawback right now considering the price at which this is selling at, but in the future I would love to see even budget devices include that technology.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Moto G5 Plus offers so much at so little that it’s really hard to recommend any other smartphone. Sure it’s not a flagship killer but it surely is a flagship phone in that price range. It is difficult to offer this level of performance, battery and camera for just around Rs.16,999(~$229, $299 for 64GB) and Motorola has done it yet again. If you aren’t looking to spend much and want an amazing budget smartphone that does everything to a good decent level then the Moto G5 Plus is the best choice. This is coming from a long time Moto user.

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