When Motorola introduced the Moto G back in 2013, the company was owned by Google, and the device aimed at offering quality hardware at a pocket-friendly price point. And the phone was able to deliver that successfully. Four years and four generations later, the scenario has changed drastically. Moto might be accredited with creating this category, but now it can’t afford to sit on those laurels as the competition has become intense, and that’s where its latest – the Moto G5 Plus (first impressions) comes in. Unveiled at MWC recently, the smartphone has now made its way to the Indian market. But will it be able to make a mark for itself? Let’s find that out together in this review.
Specs at a glance
|Resolution||Full HD (1080 x 1920 pixels)|
|CPU||Octa core, 2 GHz, Snapdragon 625|
|Internal memory||16 GB|
|External memory||Up to 128 GB|
|Capacity||3000 mAH, Li-ion, Non removable|
|Primary camera||12 MP|
|Secondary camera||5 MP|
|Network support||Dual SIM 4G|
|Other options||Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS|
|Operating system||Android 7.0 Nougat|
Design and display: compact and metal-clad
Dimensions: 150.2 x 74 x 7.7 mm
Weight: 155 grams
So far, all generations of the Moto G range have favoured plastic-bodies. In fact, even its flagship Moto X series (which has now given way to the Moto Z family) have used a combination of metal frames and plastic / glass backs. With the recently-released Moto M (review) however, the Lenovo-owned brand switched an all-metal chassis for the very first time. The Moto G5 Plus also follows the same path, but the metal is limited to the back panel only.
However both the Moto M and Moto G5 Plus are vastly different – right from the fascia to their design elements. The G5 Plus also varies from its predecessor – the G4 Plus (review) – as it offers a compact 5.2-inch display instead of a phablet-sized 5.5-inch screen. The panel takes up the most real estate up front, but you also get an earpiece (which doubles up as a speaker as well) and a front-facing snapper along with a couple of sensors above, and the Moto logo above. Just like G5 Plus’ previous avatar, you get a fingerprint scanner towards the bottom, but this time, it’s much more than an authentication method – the brand is following Apple’s and even its own cousin ZUK’s approach of one button to do-it-all.
Did we get you confused? Well, Moto has always followed Android’s ethos with software-based navigation keys… ala Nexus and Pixel (review) smartphones. But with the G5 Plus, the company is redefining all the navigation options with just one capacitive button. This button supports multiple gestures – you can swipe left to go to the previous screen and swipe right to access the multitasking menu… though you can interchange these functions. To directly jump to the home screen, you simply need to tap on the button once, while long-pressing it locks the device. Since the key also acts as a fingerprint reader, it can also be used to unlock the handset – and the 360-degree scanning is quite fast and accurate as well.
We certainly commend Moto’s idea as the button doesn’t feel redundant unlike the Moto G4 Plus, and it also gives you more screen estate. Having said that, it takes a lot of time getting used to the gestures. Sometimes, we inadvertently returned to the previous screen when we wanted to open recent apps. In comparison, we liked MEIZU’s and ZUK’s implementation for one-button navigation as it isn’t so difficult to remember. Thankfully though, you can enable software-based keys if you want.
Talking about the display, the 5.2-inch IPS screen bears a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. The panel is plenty sharp and offers vibrant colours. The viewing angles are impressive, and brightness levels aren’t an issue either. We were easily able to read the display even under harsh sunlight. Protecting the screen is a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass 3.
In terms of button and port placement, the Moto G5 Plus is quite standard. Both the textured power switch (which makes it easy to find by feel) and the volume rocker are available on the right, while the left edge is completely devoid of any controls. The top hosts an ejectable slot, which deserves a closer look… since it has a dedicated pair of nano-SIM card slots along with an expansion slot. The implementation by Moto for the same is quite ingenious, and not to mention that this would certainly appeal to users who don’t want to sacrifice the dual-SIM functionality to expand storage as is the case with many phones that come with hybrid slots. Strangely, the brand offered the next-gen USB-Type C ports with the Moto Z (review), Z Play (review) as well as the Moto M, but the G5 Plus continues with the micro-USB socket. The latter is accompanied by the microphone and a 3.5mm audio interface.
The rear panel of the Moto G5 Plus is also distinct from previous Moto smartphones as you get a circular camera module which juts out from the body quite significantly. The protruded portion sports the primary camera along with a dual-tone LED flash. We also miss the trademark Moto dimple on the device as it just gets the brand’s circular logo embossed below the camera. Taking a closer look at the G5 Plus, you’d also notice that it isn’t made entirely out of series 6000 aluminium, since the top and bottom portions at the back are plastic and feature antenna bands. While our demo unit came in a classy grey hue, you can also opt for one in gold. The phone also comes with nano-coating making it resistant to accidental spills or light rain.
All in all, the Moto G5 Plus certainly looks premium with its metal body and is also quite ergonomic with its slightly-curved rear. However, some of the design choices by Moto seems baffling. The bezels at the top and bottom are quite wide, making the dimensions of the device almost the same as any other 5.5-incher, which defeats the purpose of packing a compact display to ensure easy one-handed usage. The design language also doesn’t seem as coherent as the Moto M.
Software: Nutty Nougat with Moto’s enhancements
Operating System: Android
OS Version: 7.0, Nougat
Motorola has set a name for itself when it comes to software on its devices – the latest iteration of Android in its pure unadulterated form with some useful enhancements. The Moto G5 Plus fulfils that promise as it ships with Android 7.0 Nougat, and you get the same interface as the Google Pixel – be it the lock screen, the home screen or the app drawer.
One thing which we really like is the clock widget, which displays the time, date, weather info and also doubles up as a battery status indicator with its circular ring. The same widget is also visible as part of Moto Display… a feature which wakes up a portion of the display when you remove the Moto G5 Plus from your pocket or just nudge it gently. You also get all the other Moto features such as the ability to open camera by double twist of the wrist, and toggling the torch with a double chop.
While we really liked the software, we were bummed not to see the Google Assistant running on the G5 Plus out of the box. At MWC, the Assistant was available universally on most of the phones on showcase. However, the company has promised that it’ll be rolled out for the G5 Plus soon.
Camera: ups the ante in the mid-tier segment
Primary camera: 12 MP
Flash: Dual-color LED Flash
Secondary camera: 5 MP
While most Moto devices might not be known for their camera quality, the Moto G4 Plus changed that perception. In fact, it still ranks as among the best shooters in the sub-Rs 15k range. Its successor, the Moto G5 Plus also promises a lot on the photography front, as it offers a 12-megapixel snapper with the widest aperture available on smartphones – f/1.7. The same aperture is available on the Samsung Galaxy S7 duo (camera review). The G5 Plus matches the S7 in another aspect too – dual autofocus pixels. With the dual-pixel technology – usually available on Canon DSLRs – the camera can focus on the subject in a jiffy. The shutter speed of the Moto G5 Plus is impressive too. The camera app has also come a long way in Moto smartphones… earlier it used to be minimal almost to a fault, and now it offers a ton of features, including the professional mode to tweak the ISO levels, focus, etc. as per need. The viewfinder also suggests the apt mode as per the ambient conditions, and we also appreciate the fact that the app also offers an auto HDR mode, enabling the dynamic range automatically. Another interesting capability is that it can detect and scan QR codes and barcodes automatically.
With regards to the camera quality, the images reproduce accurate colours, although many people like saturated colours rather than natural tones. The details are quite nice, even though they aren’t the best. The G5 Plus’ shooter can capture superb images across situations, be it landscapes or close-ups. Even the HDR mode is quite effective. Although it does show a bit of lens flare when the images are taken against sunlight, that doesn’t affect the details or colours of the subject. Low-light images are also quite nice, though they still leave something to be desired. The dual-tone LED flash is quite effective in capturing images in dim environments. Of course, it’d be unjustified to compare The G5 Plus’ camera with the S7 as the latter gets a better image sensor, but the new Moto delivers commendable picture quality nonetheless. Take a dekko at the Moto G5 Plus camera samples here:
The G5 Plus is also able to record videos up to 4K resolution along with slow-mo videos. For selfies, the handset gets a 5MP camera at the front with f/2.2 aperture. The selfies offer natural skin tones with a decent amount of details. Interestingly, the company seems to be following Chinese brands, as the G5 Plus offers a beautify mode with seven beauty levels as well as a screen flash to illuminate poorly-lit settings.
In sum, the Moto G5 Plus carries forward the legacy of the G4 Plus quite well. While it might not have fancy features boasted by dual-camera toting smartphones, it definitely offers excellent images across the board.
Performance: a well-oiled machine
CPU: Octa core, 2 GHz, Snapdragon 625
GPU: Adreno 506
RAM: 3 GB
Memory: 16 GB + Up to 128 GB
SIM Slots: Dual SIM , GSM+GSM
Moto has always been known to focus on experience rather than specs, but with the G5 Plus, it’s giving equal importance to the hardware under the hood. The device comes powered by the popular (and our favourite) Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 chipset. The processor offers excellent power efficiency without sacrificing on the performance front with its eight Cortex-A57 cores thrumming at 2.0GHz. Combined with up to 4GB of RAM, the phone is able to deliver a smooth performance throughout. We rarely came across any slowdowns whatsoever. The Adreno 506 graphics engine also manages to ensure a smooth gaming experience. We enjoyed playing titles like Asphalt Nitro and Smash Hit for long durations, and the device offered lag-free graphics. However, we did notice a few jerks while running Smash Hit at the highest settings. The best part is that there are no heating issues while gaming for long periods, though we did notice the back plate getting warm after using it for GPS navigation.
Taking care of your storage needs is 32 gigs of memory on board. Although depending upon the variant you go for, the phone is also available with 16GB flash storage. Sadly, Moto hasn’t launched the 64GB model of the G5 Plus in India… which is slight disappointing considering many other phones in this price segment are now offering the same. Of course, as aforementioned, you can insert a microSD card of up to 128GB capacity if you wish.
Connectivity-wise, the Moto G5 Plus scores high. The dual-SIM device supports 4G, along with the usual options such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2 and GPS. The phone also comes with NFC, which is usually not present on phones in this segment.
As far as the multimedia experience is concerned, the Moto G5 Plus turns out to be quite disappointing. While the visuals are immersive, the sound quality isn’t that loud because the phone only has one speaker which is hidden underneath the earpiece.
Battery: don’t go by the numbers
Capacity: 3000 mAH, Li-ion, Non removable
While the Rs 15,000 price bracket is seeing a surge of smartphones packing 4,000mAh or even 5,000mAh batteries, the Moto G5 Plus features a standard 3,000mAh unit. However, don’t go by the numbers, as the handset is able to offer fantastic battery life. Thanks to Snapdragon 625’s efficiency and Moto’s optimisations, the phone can easily last up to two days with moderate usage comprising intermittent use of 4G, 15 to 20 minutes of gaming, plus a few calls and messages. In fact, we got close to five hours of SOT, which is simply outstanding. Even with heavy usage, the phone can easily last more than a day.
In our battery loop test, the phone lasted over 16 hours while playing an HD video – which brings it at par with other battery-centric options. The phone can also be juiced up quickly with the bundled TurboPower adapter, charging fully in just about 90 minutes.
Moto is promoting the smartphone using the hashtag #Uncompromise, i.e, a smartphone that doesn’t compromise on any aspect and delivers an all-round experience. We would certainly agree with that as the phone comes across as a complete package – something which is very rare in this price bracket.
However, Moto’s aspirations seems to have changed with the Moto G series. While earlier, the devices were priced affordably around Rs 12,000, they are now moving up the value chain. The G5 Plus is the most expensive smartphone in the range so far – carrying a price tag of Rs 16,999. You can always opt for the affordable variant of the G5 Plus, priced at Rs 14,999… but if you ask us, a phone with just 16GB storage seems to be poor investment, especially if you’re spending this much.
So the biggest issue against the Moto G5 Plus isn’t how good it is, it’s how well can it compete in the already competitive sub-Rs 15k budget that has some powerful rivals. To make it easier, we’ll be comparing the phones one by one:
Moto G5 Plus vs Xiaomi Redmi Note 4
Without a doubt, the Redmi Note 4 (review) is the biggest threat to the Moto G5 Plus and the latter has already sold 1 million units in a matter of just 45 days. The Redmi Note 4 is also priced significantly cheaper with its different flavours available between Rs 9,999 and 12,999. Unlike earlier when Xiaomi Redmi series always had an edge in terms of specs, this time around, both the devices have the same set of innards. While the Redmi Note 4 might be ahead because of its long-lasting battery and more storage, the Moto G5 Plus is able to charm us with its imaging quality and the latest vanilla iteration of Android.
Moto G5 Plus vs Honor 6X
The Honor 6X (review) is another strong competitor, especially because of its dual cameras offering DSLR-like bokeh effects. However, its display doesn’t seem as punchy and it’s hard to beat Moto when it comes to the software department.
Moto G5 Plus vs Coolpad Cool 1
The Coolpad Cool1 Dual (review) makes a strong case for itself with its pair of 12-meg sensors at the back as well as a beefy 4,000mAh battery. It’s also quite potent with its Snapdragon 652 chipset and 4 gigs of RAM. However, its software is poorly optimised which results in frequent app crashes. Its 32GB storage is non-expandable as well. The Moto G5 Plus might not win on the specs front, but promises better user experience.
So, should you buy the Moto G5 Plus? Well, it surely seems to be priced slightly on the higher side considering the competition. However, if you don’t mind paying extra and are looking for an all-round phone, then it’s probably the only one that scores well on all aspects.
Editor’s rating: 4 / 5
- Solid metal-clad design
- Pure Android Nougat with useful enhancements
- Reliable performance
- The best camera in its segment
- Superb battery life
- One-button navigation is difficult to get accustomed to
- Doesn’t ship with Google Assistant
- Underwhelming speaker output
- Priced higher than the competition
Photos by Raj Rout