Moto G5 Plus detailed Review

Time and time again, the Moto G series has proven itself to be the king of the hill when it comes to high quality budget smartphones. Announced at the Mobile World Congress earlier this month, the phones have already made their way to India which is not particularly surprising. The devices have found a lot of success and have given stiff competition to the likes of Xiaomi’s Redmi series. With the Chinese competition really picking up pace, Moto has made sweeping changes in all the right places. We’ve spent some time with the device and here’s what we think about it.

Moto G5 Plus specifications

  • 5.2-inch (1920 x 1080 pixels) Full HD display with Corning Gorilla glass 3 protection
  • 2GHz Octa-Core Snapdragon 625 processor with Adreno 506 GPU
  • 2GB/ 3GB RAM with 32GB storage, 4GB RAM with 64GB storage, expandable memory up to 128 GB with microSD
  • Android 7.0 (Nougat)
  • Dual SIM
  • 12MP rear camera with dual-tone LED flash, Dual-Pixel Autofocus, Sony IMX362 sensor, f/1.7 aperture, 4K video recording
  • 5MP front-facing camera with OmniVision OV5695 sensor, f/2.2 aperture
  • Water repellent nano-coating
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • Front-ported loudspeaker
  • Dimensions: 150.2x74x7.7 to 9.7 mm; Weight:155 g
  • 4G VoLTE, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n (2.4 GHz + 5 GHz), Bluetooth 4.2, GPS
  • 3000mAh battery with Turbo charging

Hardware & Design

The G5 Plus looks familiar and is unmistakably a Moto device. The front of the phone can be best described as a much refined version of the design language pioneered on the G4 Plus. Front and centre you’ll find a 5.2 inch Full HD display with a Corning Gorilla Glass 3 layer on top. It isn’t really surprising to see the wide bezels which are common on devices in this category of devices.

Subtle Moto branding is above the screen alongside a 5MP front facing camera, ambient light sensor. Below the screen lies the fingerprint sensor which can double up as a gesture area to navigate across the interface. The back, home and menu keys sit as on-screen buttons along the lower edge of the display. All around the front panel you’ll observe a chamfered edge that adds to the visual appeal.

Moving on to the side of the phone, you’ve got the volume rocker and power button. The latter has a ridged pattern on top which makes it easy to identify. The volume rocker on the other hand sits rather flush with the surface making it hard to press. The left side of the device is clean and does not include any buttons. Along the top edge lies the slot hiding a rather clever mechanism to integrate both dual SIM cards as well as a micro SD card. The bottom edge is where you’ll find the 3.5mm audio jack as well as a micro USB port. For a device launching in 2017, we’d have hoped that Moto would give the G5 Plus a Type C connector and the lack of it is just unfortunate.

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Flip the phone over and you’ll observe a lot more of the aesthetic improvements made by Moto. The full metal construction of the G5 plus is particularly nice to hold on to. The back gently curves around the edges and separate plastic end-caps sandwiched between the aluminium frame and back work to improve antenna performance. A Moto logo can be spotted in the centre. The camera module takes design inspiration from the Moto Z and sits proud of the surface. Other than a few snags, we didn’t really face any issues on that front though.

For the first time, Moto has decided to bestow an aluminium frame and shell to the G series and this has had a decidedly positive effect on the feel of the phone. Where the G4 Plus was plasticky, the G5 Plus is a much more premium handset. The dimensions of the handset measures 150.2x74x7.7 to 9.7 mm and despite the aluminium construction, the phone weighs just 155 grams.

Software

The hallmark of the G series and practically all current Moto devices is the pure build of Android. Based on Android 7.0, you get all the latest niceties like split screen support.

Add-ons are few and include a range of gestures likechop twice for flashlight, twist for quick capture andflip for do not disturb. You can also switch on gesture controls on the fingerprint sensor area to navigate the interface. The other addition is a standby mode that displays the time, battery life and additional information when you lift up the screen towards yourself. All of these gestures have been present in Moto devices for a while now and add subtle but useful enhancements compared to the garish approach used by many device manufacturers.

While the UI paradigm is exactly the same as stock Android, we’ll quickly go through it again. The lockscreen shows the essentials like date, time and notifications. You can activate Google Now and the camera by swiping up from the corners of the lockscreen. The home screen has rows of icons and widgets while a fixed shortcut bar at the bottom can be swiped up to get into the app drawer. Swiping right on the homescreen brings you to the Google Now cards display.

Preinstalled apps are few and useful for the most part. The Device Help app includes a very exhaustive manual as well as some basic tests that you can run in case you feel that your device isn’t working to its full potential. You also get the Duo Messenger app, a file manager as well as an FM Radio app that also allows you to play music without plugging in headphones.

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Performance

The Moto G5 Plus is powered by a 2GHz Octa-Core Snapdragon 625 processor with Adreno 506 GPU and has 4GB of RAM onboard. If you’ll remember our review of the Redmi Note 4 which is powered by the same chipset, you’ll remember that we found performance to be more than satisfactory. The clean build of Android further helps the phone run fast and smooth. The Snapdragon 625 chipset has a Octa Core configuration with eight Cortex A53 cores. The 4GB of RAM certainly helps in keeping things running at a fast clip. We tested out popular games like Real Racing 3. Compared to the Redmi Note 4, we observed start-up time to be faster which can likely be owed to the clean build of Android. The game runs without any frame rate drops and even extended playing time doesn’t cause the phone to overheat. We’ve included a full range of benchmarks below to give you a better idea of comparative performance.

In the 3D Mark Ice Storm Unlimited benchmark, the Moto G5 Plus scores 13656 points which is almost the same as that scored by the Redmi Note 4 and the Lenovo P2.

In the AnTuTu 6 Benchmark, the phone scored 62893 points.

In the Geekbench Multi Core benchmark, the Moto G5 Plus scored 3764 points placing it at the top of the test bench.

Finally in the Geekbench 4 Single Core benchmark, the Moto G5 Plus scored 785 points.

Display

The Moto G5 Plus comes equipped with a 5.2 inch Full HD display with a Gorilla Glass 3 coating on top. In addition, there’s also a water repellant nano-coating which should ideally protect your phone from stray droplets. While Moto doesn’t advertise oleophobic capabilities, we found that the front panel wasn’t too susceptible to fingerprints which is certainly appreciated.

With 1920 x 1080 pixels stretched across just 5.2 inches, the Moto G5 Plus has a pixel density of 423.64 ppi. Icons and text looks absolutely sharp on the panel but we found the colors to be on the cooler side. Color rendition is not all that accurate, brightness levels leave much to be desired. Outdoors in sunlight, the screen can be hard to view even at the maximum brightness level.

Camera

A great deal has been made about the improved camera on the Moto G5 Plus. Walking through the specs, users will get access to a 12MP rear camera with dual-tone LED flash, Dual-Pixel Autofocus, Sony IMX362 sensor, f/1.7 aperture as well as 4K video recording capabilities. Moto has given the G5 Plus a much brighter lens than what you’d get in the price bracket which should technically be beneficial for low light shots.

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In our experience with the handset, the camera was satisfactory but not really revolutionary. Walking around in brightly lit conditions can give you decent shots though the Moto G5 Plus certainly isn’t going to yield award-winning shots. This appears to be mostly because of over aggressive sharpening and some heavy-handed noise reduction too. Images look quite decent on the phone but pixel peeping unfortunately reveals the true story. In less than ideal light, the phone still manages to get a bright image but there’s a trade-off in the level of detail. The phone will do a passable job in a pinch but we wouldn’t recommend using the phone as your main camera on your next vacation. To be fair, we are being very critical here and in its own category, the Moto G5 Plus has a pretty competitive camera.

Connectivity & Battery Life

Connectivity options on the Moto G5 Plus include 4G VoLTE, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n (2.4 GHz + 5 GHz), Bluetooth 4.2 and GPS. There’s Dual SIM support and thankfully Moto hasn’t opted for a Hybrid SIM slot. You get a full-fledged microSD card slot which can be used to augment the built-in 32GB of storage.Just about 22GB of free storage is available at launch. Additionally, you can plug in a USB OTG drive for more storage. The phone has a built-in FM Radio app which can be used without plugging in a pair of earphones though they definitely help in improving antenna performance.

The Moto G5 Plus is powered by a 3,000 mAh battery which unfortunately pales in comparison to the 4,100 mAh unit in the Redmi Note 4. That said, the battery is big enough for a day of average use. The inclusion of a Turbo Charger helps you top off the charge pretty quickly. We managed about a full day of use though heavy media streaming will definitely put a dent in that number.

Conclusion

The Moto G5 Plus is a worthy addition to the family. It maintains the high standard set by its predecessors and improves in meaningful ways. Be it the metal construction, the improved camera module or just consistently good performance, there’s a lot to like here.

On the other hand, the competition too has matured and the Moto G faces tough competition from other devices that offer bigger screens, bigger batteries or even a combination of the two. The phone is priced at Rs. 14,999 for the 3GB RAM + 16GB storage SKU. We have reviewed the 4GB RAM + 32GB storage SKU which is priced at Rs. 16,999. It will be available exclusively from Flipkart starting today midnight.

Pros

  • Improved construction
  • Stock Android

Cons

  • Poor outdoor visibility
  • Less than stellar battery
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