Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus, the latest models in the Moto G series, were unveiled at the recently concluded MWC 2017 trade show. Just like the fourth generation smartphones, the latest Moto G series consists of two models with different screen sizes but almost identical specifications otherwise.
At the global launch, Motorola, which is now a Lenovo-owned company, made it clear that launching these phones in India is a high priority, and it seems that the company is indeed not disappointing customers here. The Moto G5 Plus has just been launched here.
The original Moto G was unveiled back in early 2014, and was one of the first smartphones to have been sold exclusively online. At that time, it managed to attract as much attention as any premium device, and we praised it for its features and extremely reasonable price.
Three years later, and over a million units of the Moto G have been sold in India. At a recent meeting, Sudhin Mathur, Managing Director, Motorola Mobility India and Executive Director, Lenovo MBG India, confirmed this to Gadgets 360. So far, there have been four generations of the Moto G, and while not all have done equally well, they have definitely been in demand. The company will hope that Moto G5 Plus can build on the success of its predecessors.
It is the first Moto G-series phone to have a metal body, and is also the first smartphone in its price category to launch with Android Nougat out-of-the-box. Motorola has managed to keep the price competitive while offering enough features for this phone to compete with models that cost more. Will the new Moto G5 Plus able to live up to our expectations? We find out in our Moto G5 Plus review.
Moto G5 Plus design
There have been four generations of Moto G smartphones so far, and their design has evolved every year, along with the expected upgrades to specifications. We loved the original Moto G for bringing high-end features down to an affordable price, but its plastic and polycarbonate body wasn't as exciting. The Moto G (Gen 2) and Moto G (Gen 3) brought some conscious design changes but overall followed the cues of the original Moto G. The Moto G4 series saw a split, with features like a fingerprint scanner limited to the bigger sibling. However, plastic still dominated the design.
With this fifth generation, the Moto G has finally been given a metal body. The Moto G5 Plus and Moto G5 now sport an aluminium finish, and the big-screen Moto G5 model definitely feels sturdy. It looks strikingly handsome from the front, and in our opinion, is a huge improvement over its predecessors.
At first glance, the new Moto G5 Plus looks a lot like the mid-range Moto Z Play (Review), with similar Moto branding between the earpiece and display. The biggest differentiator, however, is the oval fingerprint sensor that sits right below the screen, as opposed to the Moto Z's square one. There are thoughtful chrome accents on the front and rear on the big-screen Moto G5 model. At the global launch event, Motorola did state that the new Moto G5 range is inspired by the premium Moto Z family.
The circular housing on the rear for the Moto G5 Plus camera and dual-LED flash also reminds us of the Moto Z. The iconic Moto logo is etched right below the bump. At 7.7mm thick, the Moto G5 Plus isn't very slim, but that but helps gripping the phone better. During the Moto G5 Plus review period, we were conscious that placing the phone on any surface might result in scratches on the camera lens. We would recommend using a case with the Moto G5 Plus.
The power and volume buttons are on the right, located comfortably for single-hand operation. The 3.5mm audio jack and Micro-USB port for charging and data transfer are at the bottom. We like the fact that this phone can accommodate two SIMs as well as a microSD card simultaneously. The phone's rounded edges and corners make it comfortable to hold and use.
At 155 grams, the Moto G5 Plus weighs the same as its predecessor. It's however worth noting that the Moto G4 Plus had a 5.5-inch display while the Moto G5 Plus has a 5.2-inch display. There's a water-repellent nano-coating; a feature that we've seen on previous Moto G series phones as well. This gives the Moto G5 Plus an edge against its competitors in the same price segment.
The Moto G5 Plus features a 5.2-inch IPS LCD display with a full-HD resolution for an impressive 424ppi pixel density. To compare, the Moto G4 Plus had a 5.5-inch full-HD display. The new Moto G5 Plus also uses Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for protection. During our Moto G5 Plus review period, we felt that the screen was good enough for videos, movies, and games. sunlight legibility was decent, and viewing angles were good too. There's a Colour mode feature in the display settings that lets users select between standard and vibrant colour reproduction.
The smartphone will be going on sale in India in Lunar Grey and Fine Gold colours, and we received the former for our review. Moto G5 Plus comes with a TurboPower charger in the retail box along with a Micro-USB cable and earphones. You can also find the usual documentation and a SIM ejector tool with the Moto logo.
Moto G5 Plus specifications and software
This phone packs a 2GHz octa-core Snapdragon 625 SoC coupled with Adreno 506 GPU. This is a popular SoC and has been used in other phones such as the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (Review) and Lenovo P2 (Review) as well as Lenovo's mid-range Moto Z Play, which is priced at almost Rs. 10,000 more.
At MWC 2017, three variants of the new smartphone were announced, with 2GB, 3GB, and 4GB of RAM and either 32GB or 64GB of inbuilt storage. In India, only two Moto G5 Plus variants are being introduced: one with 3GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, and the other with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. We received the 4GB RAM model for this Moto G5 Plus review. Both will support microSD cards of up to 128GB.
The Moto G5 Plus supports two Nano-SIMs, both of which can connect to 4G networks, though only one at a time. NFC, VoLTE, and GLONASS are also supported. The phone is powered by a 3000mAh battery, and supports TurboPower fast charging. It measures 150.2x74x7.7mm.
The Moto G5 Plus is the first smartphone in its price bracket to run Android 7.0 Nougat out-of-the-box. You can also find some neat software touches from Moto including Moto Display, which shows preview of notifications while the phone is locked. This is a handy feature and has been seen on previous Moto G models.
Google Assistant was one of the most important features demonstrated at the Moto G5 series' launch event at MWC. Google Assistant can be activated simply by long-pressing the home button, and you can chat with it naturally to search for anything or interact with your phone. Unfortunately, our review unit did not come with the Google Assistant and Motorola confirmed that this feature will not be available on the Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus when they first ship. Buyers will have to wait for a software update - there's no word on when the update will be rolled out.
A preloaded Moto app allows you to enable or disable various gesture shortcuts, similar to what we've seen in earlier Moto phones. Some of the signature Moto gestures include a double "karate chop" to toggle the torch, a twist to quickly launch the camera, and a flip for 'Do not disturb.' One-button Nav allows you to tap or swipe the fingerprint sensor instead of reaching for the Android navigation buttons. You can use the Moto G5 Plus fingerprint sensor to lock the phone as well - just place a finger on it (not necessarily the finger that's registered). If you prefer, you can choose to make the screen smaller for one-handed use and improve reachability.
The stock Android Nougat experience can be a very important reason for buyers to choose this phone over others. Most competitors have their own manufacturers' custom skins, including the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4, Honor 6X (Review), and Lenovo's non-Moto models. Android Nougat offers several features including split-screen multitasking, and we were able to run two apps simultaneously.
You can also multitask quicker by just double tapping on the Recents button, and set a separate wallpaper for your lock screen. To avoid confusion with Google's Daydream VR, Android's Daydream feature has now been renamed Screen Saver; there's a Clear All button in the recent apps list; and new animations including one for the Quick Settings toggles make the UI more fluid. Nougat groups notifications from a single app, and users can set priority levels for app notifications. A Moto G5 Plus feature called Data Saver restricts specific apps from using cellular data in the background, the Settings app has a new menu on the left for easier navigation, and last but not least, you get new emojis.
Moto G5 Plus performance
The Moto G5 Plus can be your daily driver, and will not disappoint in terms of performance. It handled multi-tasking with ease, and apps launched quickly. Different types of media files were handled well. We were able to play heavy games like Marvel: Contest of Champions, Dead Effect 2, and Asphalt 8 with no stuttering. Do remember we got the Moto G5 Plus model with 4GB of RAM for review.
The Moto G5 Plus can play 1080p video files as well as FLAC audio files with ease. Unfortunately, the Moto offers limited audio tweaking options and you might find third-party music players and streaming apps better than Google Play Music.
The bundled headphones are below par, and we would recommend using a third-party earphones. The earpiece in the front doubles as the phone's speaker, and although it was loud, we didn't find the quality of audio good enough.
During our Moto G5 Plus review period, we used the smartphone for navigation, and found that the rear became uncomfortably hot - sometimes so much that it was difficult to carry the phone. Another issue we had was the absence of a LED status indicator, which is handy to check in on notifications and while the phone charging. The Moto Display feature somewhat compensates for this, but isn't as useful all the time.
Moto G5 Plus camera
The new Moto smartphone sports a 12-megapixel rear camera with a feature called Dual Autofocus Pixels which lets you lock focus in a blink. The Moto G5 Plus camera has an f/1.7 aperture and dual LED flash. There is also a 5-megapixel front camera with an f/2.2 aperture and display flash that could come in handy in dim areas. The camera app is easy to use, and launches without delay. It offers 8X digital zoom and an active viewfinder which can recognise QR codes and barcodes. Mode selection controls are on the right, and you can capture slow-motion video and panoramas. There's also a professional mode. You can switch to the front camera with a tap on the screen. There's a beautification mode for the front camera which can be toggled in the settings.
Talking about image quality, Moto G5 Plus camera captured decent results in all sorts of situation. We were impressed with the phone's quick focusing, and managed to get some decent macro shots. Daylight landscapes looked detailed, with punchy colours, although some results were oversaturated. In low light, photos had some noise, and at times appeared too grainy. This was mostly when there was very little light around. We personally liked the Professional mode on the Moto G5 Plus which let us adjust settings like the white balance, shutter speed, ISO, exposure compensation, and manual focus.
Moto G5 Plus front camera surprised us with its colour accuracy with adequate light, but results were just average in low-light situations. We noted the lack of filters in the default camera app. The camera on the Moto G5 Plus is capable of recording 4K videos at 30fps, which is a big advantage at this price point. You also get full-HD video recording at 30 and 60fps. 4K videos look better than full-HD ones, but we have seen better results from other phones in the same price band. We felt some heat while recording 4K videos, but that's understandable.
The Moto G5 Plus returned healthy benchmark scores with 63,855 in AnTuTu, 8,310 points in 3D Mark Ice Storm Extreme, and 23fps in the T-Rex test in GFXbench. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 scored better in all these benchmarks, but these results are still great.
Moto G5 Plus battery
Moto G5 Plus has a 3000mAh battery, which according to the company, can deliver up to 24 hours of mixed usage. In our real world tests, we found that this phone lasted roughly a day with heavy usage which included regularly checking emails, WhatsApp, Twitter, and Facebook, using 4G data the entire time. Call quality on the handset was satisfactory, and it supports VoLTE (voice over LTE).
In our HD video loop battery test, we were able to get 12 hours and 10 minutes of continuous playback, which is good for a battery this size. We were impressed with the TurboPower charging functionality which was extremely useful. A 20-minute charge got us up to nearly 50 percent. The company however claims a more aggressive 60 percent power with just 15 minutes of charging which could be possible in ideal situations. Fast-charging is another advantage that the Moto G5 Plus has over its most direct competitor, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4.
Moto G5 Plus or Xiaomi Redmi Note 4?
Both Moto G5 Plus and Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 are powered by the same chipset but we noticed heating issues on the former while using navigation. The cameras on both the devices are almost equivalent though the Redmi Note 4 has slight edge over Moto G5 Plus in low-light situations. Xiaomi claims Redmi Note 4 supports fast-charging though TurboPower charging was way quicker, in our experience. In terms of design, Moto G5 Plus has a distinct look that helps it stand out from the competition.
The Moto G5 Plus has been launched at a price of Rs. 14,999 for the variant with 3GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, while the variant with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage (reviewed here) is priced at Rs. 16,999.
The Moto G5 Plus ticks all the right boxes when it comes to pricing, design, performance, and battery life. It comes with a stylish metal body and is the only smartphone that offers a pure Android Nougat at this price level. TurboPower charging is a great feature and the camera is good for casual shots. However, there are a few issues, like the heating problem when GPS is active for an extended amount of time, which made usage difficult for us. The low-light camera performance - typically a problem with most phones in this price category - could've been better as well.
If you are looking for a new budget-friendly smartphone, the Moto G5 Plus ticks most of the boxes. It will be going on sale online exclusively on Flipkart. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (Review), our top pick in the budget smartphone segment, is regularly out of stock, and the Moto G5 Plus could be a decent alternative if availability isn't an issue, as promised by the company.