Moto G5 Plus review

Lenovo’s Motorola Mobility used MWC 2017 to show off its new Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus, which are brilliantly priced smartphones that offer some of the features of its flagship but without the cost. The G5 Plus is a seriously impressive mid-range phone. Also see: Moto X4 latest rumours

It's hard to tell this year's devices apart but there are various differences to be aware of. If you’re after the G5 Plus' smaller sibling, which we awarded a Tech Advisor Top Pick at MWC, check out our Moto G5 review here. You'll also like Best new phones 2017.

Price and where to buy

The Moto G5 Plus is set now on sale in the UK and is exclusively available from Carphone Warehouse.

You can pick it up at a price of £249, which sits it neatly in the mid-range category alongside the likes of the new Nokia 6 (also announced at MWC 2017) and the Samsung Galaxy A3

That's significantly more expensive than the £169 Moto G5, though (pictured beside the Moto G5 Plus above). We talk more about that later so read on to find out more.

It's also £50 more expensive than it's predecessor but we've seen prices rises in tech to be a general trend.

Moto G5 hands-on review 

Design & Build 

The Moto G5 Plus is a good-looking phone that manages to stay reasonably compact despite its 5.2in display. That's smaller than the previous G4 Plus’s 5.5in display and is an unusual choice considering the much cheaper G5 has only a marginally smaller 5in screen (see above). It's hard to tell them apart.

The G5 Plus measures 150x74x7.7mm and weighs 155g, which is suitably thin and light. That's down from 9.8mm but keeps the same weight due to things like the metal construction and additions like NFC.

It feels comfortable to hold, particularly thanks to its slightly rounded back and edges. However, the slightly raised Moto logo on the back is a bit annoying at times.

The screen-to-body ratio isn't as good this time which doesn't help make the phone look like a new model but it's not the end of the world either.

As with the volume rocker on the G4 Plus, the power button here is a bit too flush to the device to work nicely. However, this is less of an issue do to the fingerprint scanner which is now a much nice shape - more on that later.

Unlike previous models of the G range, Lenovo has opted for a metal body to add a more premium feel to the smartphone, and it is available in stylish Lunar Grey or Fine Gold colour options. We like the circular, central camera housing on the rear of the phone, too.

Moto G5 Plus design

Specs and Hardware

Considering the £80 jump from the G5 to the G5 Plus, we're interesting to see what specs the larger model can offer to temp you. It turns out there are quite a few things so let's take a look.

Screen

As mentioned already, there's a small jump in screen size from the regular model to the G5 Plus - just 0.2in up to 5.2in. That's quite different to the usual variation.

While the resolution is still Full HD - meaning a slightly lower pixel density of 424ppi - the phone has a Gorilla Glass 3 front instead of more basic glass. Plus models tend to have a higher resolution but at this price we're not surprised.

The Galaxy A3 (2017) is more expensive and uses a lower resolution display.

Once again Motorola opts for IPS LCD technology for the panel and the screen is decent for this price. As with previous Moto phones, the screen is suitably crisp, bright and colourful for the amount you're spending.

Moto G5 Plus screen

Processor

Inside the Moto G5 Plus is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 2GHz octa-core processor with Adreno 506 graphics, an upgrade from the 617 chip used inside the Moto G4 Plus.

We've found performance to be very smooth across all kinds of usage, partly thanks to the mid-range Snapdragon and the almost stock Android software. You can see the Moto G5 Plus benchmark results below along with the regular model, rivals and last year's model.

The numbers, especially Geekbench 4, imply the G5 Plus is significantly faster than the G5. However, in a side-by-side test the lower spec Snapdragon 430 kept up impressively well. The G5 Plus can only open some apps quicker but you'll notice a smoother gaming experience and when needing the additional processing power like editing images or video.

Memory and storage

That chipset is paired with 3GB RAM in the UK and there's 32GB of storage, too. Confusingly there are 2- and 4GB configurations available for US customers with a 64GB option for storage as well.

32GB is a resonable amount for a phone this price and it also has expandable storage thanks to a Micro-SD card slot so you can easily add up to 128GB more.

Connectivity

You’ll find 4G LTE connectivity and Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, an FM Radio and dual-band Wi-Fi (not 11ac, though) on the G5 Plus.

This year it has NFC which is good news but the phone charges via Micro-USB rather than the newer, reversible USB-C.

Moto G5 Plus fingerprint scanner

Fingerprint scanner

As we mentioned earlier, the fingerprint scanner is new shape on the G5 Plus - we found the small square one on the G4 phones with a raised edge a bit awkward.

This time, it's a more traditional oval shape and is slightly sunken into the phone making it nice to you. It can be used to unlock the screen without pushing the power button and it's lightning fast, too.

If you don't like on-screen buttons then the fingerprint scanner can also be used for navigation including gestures. Check out the software section below for more details on how it works.

Moto G5 Plus camera

Cameras

The Moto G5 Plus' rear camera offers an improvement over its smaller sibling but not when it comes to megapixels. It’s a 12Mp snapper compared with the G5’s 13Mp, but with Dual Autofocus Pixels for a sharper image and speedy focusing.

It also has a larger f/1.7 aperture (matching the Galaxy S8!) and bigger pixels to let in more light in darker conditions and dual-tone flash.

The front facing camera is the same though, at 5Mp with a wide field of view and an f/2.2 aperture. When it comes to video, the G5 Plus can capture 4K Ultra HD (and improvement over the G5’s 1080p Full HD). 

We're impressed with the G5 Plus camera which offers excellent quality results for a phone priced under £250.

Moto G5 Plus camera sample

Battery life

There’s a 3000mAh battery that Lenovo claims will last all day and the supplied TurboPower charger will give the smartphone up to six hours worth of juice in just 15 minutes.

We found it gained around 15 percent charge in that time from half way. When empty it will manage even more.

That's only 200mAh larger than the G5 - unsurprising given it's only a slightly bigger phone - so won't mean a significantly longer battery life. We found the G5 Plus comfortably lasted though a day of usage like most modern smartphones.

Moto G5 Plus software

Software 

The Moto G5 Plus runs Android 7 Nougat - the latest version - and there's not a huge amount to say about software on the phone. This is a good thing from our point of view and once again Motorola has keep things almost entirely stock, as Android is intended.

The main addition is the Moto app, which bundles various things together that were previously individual apps. They include Moto Display and Moto Actions.

Moto Display lets you see a preview of your notifications and updates without requiring you to unlock your phone to let you decide whether you need to take action now or leave it for later.

Moto Actions, on the other hand, lets you access apps much quicker with a simple movement or gesture. You could open the camera by twisting your wrist, for example, or chop down twice to turn on the torch. 

You'll find no other pre-installed apps which is great to see but there is a change when it comes to navigation. 

As alluded to earlier, there's a new way of using the fingerprint scanner. As well as unlocking the phone it supports gestures in a very similar way to the Huawei P10. Once you've added a fingerprint, switch on One-button nav in Moto Actions.

This gets rid of the on-screen buttons and you can use the sensor to do everything. Tapping will take you home, swiping right opens recent apps and swiping left goes back. You can reverse these should you wish to.

It comes complete with Google Assistant, too, which means there’s even more that can be done on the phone much more quickly than ever before.

Moto G5 Plus: Specs

  • Android Nougat 7 5.2in 1920x1080 touchscreen, 424ppi 2.0GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 octa-core processor Adreno 506 graphics 3GB RAM 32GB storage 12MP main camera, dual-LED flash, support for 4K video at 30fps 5MP front camera Bluetooth 4.2 4G LTE Nano-SIM GPS 3000mAh non-removable battery 74x150.2x7.7mm 155g
  • Android Nougat 7 5.2in 1920x1080 touchscreen, 424ppi 2.0GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 octa-core processor Adreno 506 graphics 3GB RAM 32GB storage 12MP main camera, dual-LED flash, support for 4K video at 30fps 5MP front camera Bluetooth 4.2 4G LTE Nano-SIM GPS 3000mAh non-removable battery 74x150.2x7.7mm 155g

OUR VERDICT

The Moto G5 Plus is an impressive phone for under £250. It's barely any bigger than the normal model which is odd but it might well be worth spending the extra to get more storage, a better processor and a significantly better camera.

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