Motorola Moto G 5G Plus Review
- Snapdragon 765G and 5G at a lower price point
- Multi camera array
- Large 90Hz capable display
- Side fingerprint sensor doesn't always work
- Macro camera struggles to focus
- Battery life could be better
|Launch price (RRP)||$0|
Motorola's G-series phones have been the bedrock of its mobile business in Australia, generally providing good-but-not-great performance at a fair price. They were rarely the standouts in their category; just good, everyday workhorse sort of phones.
The Motorola Moto G 5G Plus does bring something a little different to the G series line, by way of 5G compatibility at a very low price point.
The reality of 5G right now is that you probably shouldn't buy a phone just for that speed of network access. Otherwise, the Motorola Moto G 5G Plus very much plays by Motorola's G series playbook, albeit with a few quirks along the way.
- 6.7 inch 90Hz display is good at this price
- Side mounted fingerprint sensor is annoying
- You can have it in blue, blue or… blue.
You really can't miss the fact that the Motorola Moto G 5G Plus is a Motorola phone, as it checks off so many of Motorola's distinctive style notes.
Blue toned case? Check – in fact, the Motorola Moto G 5G Plus only comes in a blue finish that Motorola refers to as "Surfing Blue". Pre-applied simple clear plastic case? Again, check – and this has long been a big plus point for Motorola's budget G series line.
Motorola "Batwing" logo? You got it. Fingerprint sensor conveniently located in that Batwing logo? Ah… there we have a problem.
For some reason – and I have zero idea why – Motorola's shifted the fingerprint sensor away from the conveniently found back location that pretty much every other Moto G series phone has had for years to a side-mounted sensor on the power button.
That's not a new design idea overall, but it's one that is more than a little jarring if you're used to the usual Motorola way of managing authentication.
Side mounted sensors can always be a bit more hit and miss than full finger sensors simply due to the smaller strike zone, and that's certainly the case here. It doesn't help that the power button is directly underneath the volume controls, meaning that more than once I went to adjust volume only to accidentally switch the screen off. You also get a very high mounted left hand side Google Assistant button if you favour that methodology.
The Motorola Moto G 5G Plus is a big phone, but that's always going to be the nature of any device with a 6.7 inch display. It has a 1080x2520 resolution and a 90Hz refresh rate, which is a great addition to any phone at the price the Motorola Moto G 5G Plus commands. Like so many competitors, it's by default put on an "auto" setting to kick in when needed, but you can opt for full fat 90Hz at the cost of battery life, or leave it in 60Hz if you're trying to eke out a few more minutes of power.
I'm a big fan of blue as a phone tone, but the sheer size of the Motorola Moto G 5G Plus, which measures in at 168x74x9mm means that there's a lot of smurf colouring in play here. You've got little choice here, with Motorola only selling the Motorola Moto G 5G Plus in the single "surfing blue" finish, unless you can find a case to hide most of that hue.
- Lots of lenses to play with
- Dual selfie cameras are a nice inclusion
- Macro lens struggles
Having not long ago assessed the Motorola Moto G9 Play, the camera array on the Motorola Moto G 5G Plus looked somewhat familiar, although it does up the ante with 4 rear lenses. There's a primary 48MP f/1.7 lens, 5MP f/2.2 macro lens and 8MP f/2.2 ultrawide 118 degree lens to shoot with, alongside a 2MP f/2.2 depth sensor. It's something of a halfway house between the cheaper Moto G9 Play and the more premium priced Motorola Edge in that respect.
It's around the front that Motorola's done something different for phones in this price class, with a 16MP primary selfie and 8MP secondary ultrawide camera placed in hole punches at the top left. While 2020 isn't the greatest year for getting together with your mates for some group selfie action, it's at least nice to have the capability. Like many selfie cameras, there's the option to engage a beauty mode either manually or automatically. Unless you like that over-instagrammed look I'd steer clear, but your tastes can vary.
Around the back, the Motorola Moto G 5G Plus certainly has plenty of potential capabilities, but the end result is one that's very familiar within the Motorola family. Having capability is one thing, but being able to consistently shoot well is another, and here the Motorola Moto G 5G Plus is more of a middling average shooter than one that really knocked my socks off. Motorola's been on a bit of a tear adding macro cameras to its phones in recent times, and they've all generally struggled with focus and colour, and the Motorola Moto G 5G Plus is no exception. You can with patience get a decent macro shot, but the chances are high that you'll get more duds along the way than you'd like.
What you don't get in that camera array at all is any form of optical zoom, and by default the Motorola camera app doesn't even try to claim that it's present. You can quickly switch between the wide and ultrawide lenses, or use a pinch motion to engage digital zoom, but predictably you lose quality pretty quickly when doing so.
Motorola Moto G 5G Plus Sample Photos:
- Snapdragon 765G is quick for this price range
- 5G capable, but not a reason to buy
The presence of 5G in the Motorola Moto G 5G Plus is intriguing for a phone in the sub-$500 space, and it's due to the same Qualcomm chipset we've seen in every single mid-range 5G handset this year, namely Qualcomm's Snapdragon 765G. It's a capable little processing platform, but also quite widespread across multiple vendors. What that means is that actual app performance really doesn't vary that much between differing phones that run on the 765G, outside variances in other variables such as RAM. Here's how the Motorola Moto G 5G Plus compares using Geekbench 5's CPU test:
Yes, it technically tops the list there, but by such a small margin as to be insignificant. The Motorola Moto G 5G Plus doesn't compare quite as well when you run it through 3DMark's Slingshot Extreme test:
Here's what all of this means: The Motorola Moto G 5G Plus keeps pace with the high mid-range phones we've already seen this year, including Motorola's own, more expensive Motorola Moto Edge handset when it comes to application performance. That's a solid win for anyone looking for a value-centric handset with enough grunt under the hood to handle most tasks. There's only 128GB of storage on board, but it's microSD capable, so upgrading that should be a breeze.
Then there's the question of actual 5G usage, which would seem to be a core part of the Motorola Moto G 5G Plus's selling proposition. It certainly works – I tested with a Telstra 5G SIM and had few issues hitting decent speeds between 200-400Mbps down in my area – but 5G by itself still isn't that widespread or that functionally leveraged by consumer-facing apps and experiences to be a true "must have" proposition.
That's especially true in the lower mid-range/higher budget sector, because we should see phones based on the even cheaper Qualcomm Snapdragon 690 platform reasonably soon now.
- 5000mAh battery doesn't quite live up to expectations
- Fast wired charging
Motorola has plenty of form in providing phones with 5,000mAh batteries, and it's interesting to note that amongst its Snapdragon 765G brethren, the Motorola Moto G 5G Plus has the largest actual battery capacity.
However, it has to balance that against the power draw of a 90Hz capable 6.7 inch display. To test that, I ran the Motorola Moto G 5G Plus through our standard battery test, streaming a Full HD YouTube video at maximum brightness and moderate volume from 100% battery for an hour. The Motorola Moto G 5G Plus was in its auto mode, where it's meant to intelligently pick between 90Hz smoothness and 60Hz battery conservation modes intelligently by itself.
What we look for here are phones that can reliably manage about 90% battery remaining, because that's a good indicator of a phone that can last for a full day's moderate to heavy usage.
Here's how the Motorola Moto G 5G Plus compared:
That 91% figure is a little disappointing when you consider that larger battery capacity. To check where it may have positioned its refresh rate, I ran the test again in pure 90Hz mode, and it delivered exactly the same result. What that means is that you could get a little more battery power if you're happy enough with a 60Hz refresh rate. In more anecdotal testing, that 5000mAh battery is just fine for a single day's moderate usage, and lighter users should be able to sail into a second day with few large scale issues.
Motorola provides a 20W USB C charger in the box with the the Motorola Moto G 5G Plus, but predictably for a budget plastic body phone, there's no wireless charging capability on board.
Should you buy the Motorola Moto G 5G Plus?
- Buy it if you want a powerful all rounder phone that just happens to be 5G capable.
- Don't buy it if you want better cameras or a more refined design.
Motorola might tout the 5G capabilities of the Motorola Moto G 5G Plus as the reason to buy, but that's almost an incidental part of why you might want this particular phone. Like many of the G series phones this is mostly a no-nonsense budget handset, but the inclusion of the Snapdragon 765G does give it a bit more pep than comparable phones at this price point. There's a few design oddities, like that side mounted fingerprint sensor that aren't an improvement on existing G series phones, and the 90Hz display does predictably kick the battery life down a little, but this is otherwise a solid value phone.
Or in other words, it's a Motorola Moto G phone, again.
Pricing and availability
Power, storage and battery
Images: Alex Kidman
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