Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus hands-on review: The king of budget smartphones is back, with an oddly diminished screen
The Moto G5 and G5 Plus launched at MWC 2017 this week to eyes, ears, and prying hands eager to uncover what Lenovo-owned Moto – the acknowledged king of budget smartphones – had to offer next. The result is an aesthetically pleasing all-metal duo of handsets, promising fast charging, a 3.5mm headphone jack (hurrah) and, given the sub-£300 price point, the pleasant surprise of a snazzy front-facing fingerprint reader.
The Moto G5 and G5 Plus are following in the footsteps of the G4 and G4 Plus, insofar as the G5 model sports fewer features, whereas the G5 Plus offers some upgrades but retails at a higher price point. In fact, the discrepancy between the G5 and the G5 Plus is actually more notable than that of the G4 and G4 Plus, with the G5 Plus featuring sharper edges, a faster processor, better camera and ultimately, a larger screen.
If you’re in the market for a basic all-rounder, the G5 is a great option for a pared-down, does-what-you-want-of-it budget smartphone. That being said, you don’t have to be a crazed smartphone aficionado to opt for the G5 Plus, just make sure you’ll get the most of its improved specs if you’re shelling out a bit more cash ($80 more, to be exact).
Moto G5 and G5 Plus: Design, features, first impressions
What initially struck us was the Moto G5’s new aesthetic. Shedding the colourful plastic of its playful predecessor the Moto G4, the Moto G5 has emerged as a matte (read: easy to hold) metal beauty of smartphone, available in (call me a sucker) enticingly exotic colours “lunar grey” and “fine gold”.
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Another departure from the G4, although one that perhaps won’t be met with across-the-board approval, is a significant reduction in screen size; the Moto G5 has a 5in screen and the Moto G5 Plus comes in at 5.2in. Defying the eponymous implication of an enlarged screen, the Moto G4 Plus had a 5.5in screen, the same size as the Moto G4, making both G4 handsets bigger than the G5 and G5 Plus. Alas, this downsize won’t be to everyone’s tastes.
Depletion hasn’t been confined to screen size, either. The battery is smaller in the G5 than it was in the G4 (2,800mAh to the G4’s 3,000mAh), whereas the G5 Plus battery, at a modest 3,000mAh, actually equals that of the G4. Suffice it to say, all of these are dwarfed by the almighty Lenovo P2, whose gargantuan 5,100mAh battery puts its lower-end sibling phones to shame.
The small-battery blow is, however, softened by the Moto G5’s capacity for fast charging; the box includes a nifty 10W Fast Charging cable that promises “hours of power in minutes” – a very neat capability. In an even more impressive feat, the Moto G5’s TurboPower charging can give your phone six hours of charge in a fleeting 15 minutes. Gone are the days you’d be glued to an airport floor for hours on end, just trying to eke out enough battery to get you through your imminent flight. TurboPower’s high-energy eponym makes no false promises.
If we continue to use the Moto G4 as a springboard for comparison, we see that the G5’s 13-megapixel camera has phase-detect autofocus and boasts improved resolution – both welcome additions. The Moto G5 Plus’ 12-megapixel camera, however, falls considerably short of its G4 counterpart, which offered an impressive 16 megapixels. A shame, but it more than makes up for this minor shortcoming with its dual-pixel phase-detect autofocus and bright f/1.7 aperture. Specs like these shouldn’t be overlooked, particularly given that the Moto G5 Plus is a budget smartphone.
They say size doesn’t matter, but when it comes to smartphone storage, I have two years of iPhone 5c usage behind me that begs to differ. Nothing’s more frustrating than not being able to take an impromptu sunset snap because of insufficient storage, I would know. This makes the Moto G5’s 16GB storage seem quite paltry. While the G5 Plus comes with double the storage at 32GB, you’ll probably still want to expand the memory with the included microSD card slot.
Moto G5 and G5 Plus: Prices and early verdict
Well – they’re stylish, they can be charged in the blink of an eye (alright, an extremely weary eye) and the camera is well-equipped with advanced specs. And that’s all before we take into account the price point. After all, these are budget phones; the Moto G5 was marketed at $199 (£169) at MWC, with the Moto G5 Plus going for $279 (£237). Adequate bang for your buck is not something you need concern yourself about when it comes to the Moto G5 and G5 Plus.
Yes, the storage won’t rock your world, and the batteries are equal to if not smaller than those of the G4 and G4 Plus, but so are both of the G5 handset screens, which points to a likely increase in battery life (with no unnecessarily gargantuan screen bloodsucking all that quickly administered power). The only real issue to grapple with is whether you should go for the Moto G5 or the G5 Plus. The latter’s pricier, a setback that the volatility of the pound is likely to accentuate, but the advanced specs, comparatively abundant storage and sharper, chiselled edges could just make it a winner.