Moto G5 Plus review: Everything the Moto G5 should have been (with an incredible camera)

£250
Price when reviewed

Moto G5 Plus review: Screen

Unfortunately, to get the most out of these beautiful snaps, you’ll want to find another screen to enjoy them on. While the Moto G5’s display isn’t terrible, it’s not going to win any awards any time soon.

Let’s get the positive out of the way first. You’re looking at a 5.2in screen, which is 0.3in smaller than last year’s model with the same 1080p resolution. That means it’s ever so slightly sharper – but if you can tell the difference between 424ppi and 401ppi, then you likely have the kind of super-human eyes that could read this review from across a room.

The viewing angles are also decent, but sadly that’s where the positives end. The colours feel quite murky, and even with the display set to Vibrant, it never lives up to that description. These feelings were confirmed when we took our professional testing equipment to the screen. Not only did it reach a pretty low top brightness of just 401cd/m2 (last year’s model reached 486cd/m2), it also covered just 73.4% of the sRGB colour gamut – a big drop from last year’s 90.6%. At 1,149:1, the contrast is pretty good, but any IPS screen is facing an uphill battle to match AMOLED’s perfect contrast.[gallery:6]

Moto G5 Plus review: Performance

Things are significantly better when you get to the raw performance. Powering the Moto G5 Plus is a 2GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor, backed by 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. If that’s not enough, the phone supports microSD cards of up to 256GB.

That means it feels suitably nippy in day-to-day use, and that performance level is backed up when compared directly to its nearest rivals:geekbench_4_geekbench_4_multi-core_geekbench_4_single-core_chartbuilder_1gfxbench_manhattan_3

Of course, while looking at those graphs it’s worth remembering that the Moto G5 Plus is kind of on its own in terms of price. At £250, there’s just nothing close at the moment in either direction. That works in its favour in some respects – it’s £80 cheaper than the Samsung Galaxy A5 despite similar performance – but it’s a double-edged sword. While it comfortably beats the Moto G5, Lenovo P2 and Honor 6X, it’s £80, £50 and £25 more expensive respectively. That means in terms of pound per performance, it’s actually a tiny bit behind in some cases.

The battery sealed away inside the Moto G5 Plus is a 3,000mAh affair, and it copes pretty well with the daily strains of smartphone usage. Our standard test for these things involves a looped 720p video on airplane mode, at a uniform screen brightness of 170cd/m2. In those conditions, the Moto G5 Plus lasted a respectable 13hrs 13mins.[gallery:9]

That’s good, but if battery is all important to you, the similarly specced Lenovo P2 managed a whopping 28hrs 50mins in the same test – and it’s £50 cheaper.

Moto G5 Plus review: Verdict

For years, the regular Moto G has been the one to go for, while the Moto G Plus version hasn’t been worth the extra cash. This year, the roles have flipped – and if you’re a keen photographer, nothing comes close in this price bracket. Or the one immediately above it, for that matter. I really can’t overstate how great the camera on this phone is, given most budget phones cut corners on the snapper.

If you’re not a keen photographer, though, there are better options out there. The Moto G5 Plus is a good phone, but its screen and (relative) price let it down. For £50 less you can get the Lenovo P2, and while its camera may not be as good, it’s a better all-rounder for my money. The Honor 6X also offers a better overall experience for £25 less than the Moto G5 Plus.[gallery:15]

That said, if Lenovo wants to reclaim the Moto G budget crown next year, it’s the Moto G5 Plus it should use as its starting point, not the Moto G5. It’s a good handset, but with a price that’s crept up year on year, the Moto G series has let itself be undercut by others. In other words, the Moto G series has been beaten at its own game – the game it wrote the rules for way back in 2013.

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