Motorola Moto G5 Plus review: Spend small to get big value
- All-day battery life
- Good camera
- Attractively priced
- Fast fingerprint sensor
Could be better
- Very plain design
- No water resistance
- Sealed battery
The Moto G5 Plus offers a near-ideal mix of features and a price point fit for outright phone buyers.
There’s an intense focus on premium smartphone handsets, somewhat because they’re usually the showiest of the crop but also because they’re often highly aspirational, including features that will, within a couple of years, shift down into the mid-range and budget handsets. Motorola very specifically positions its G-series phones into that budget to mid-range space. The Moto G5 Plus is the larger and more expensive of its latest range, but is it any good?
Motorola Moto G5 Plus: Design
Design is often a factor that more affordable phones give short shrift to, mostly because finely tuning factory presses when you’re selling on volume rather than price is a luxury few can afford. We’ll say that the Moto G5 Plus isn’t a terrible looking phone, but equally, it’s not blessed with a design that’s going to turn anybody’s head, except perhaps to point out how astonishingly generic the whole package looks. Motorola’s contention is that the metal design of the Moto G5 Plus is "inspired by the premium Moto Z family" and while I get what they mean, that still doesn’t make for an eye-catching handset.
The Moto G5 Plus measures in at 150.2x74.0x9.7mm, meaning that it’s a solidly large phone. They’re not otherwise directly comparable, but during our testing, we placed the Moto G5 Plus on top of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and it completely obscured it from view. If you’re a fan of smaller phones, this won’t be for you, but that’s not uncommon for any phone with a "plus" suffix.
For all its generic style, the Moto G5 Plus is certainly comfortable to hold in the hand, with a rigid form that grips acceptably well. There’s a very slight protrusion for the rear camera that makes it easy to keep your greasy digits off the lens, while the volume and power buttons sit simply on the right-hand side.
Motorola Moto G5 Plus: Why you’d want one
Good battery life: There’s a general assumption that any plus-suffixed phone should have a larger battery than its regular counterpart. That’s because of the simple fact that a larger phone body gives manufacturers more space for a battery. The Motorola Moto G5 Plus has a 3000mAh battery, which isn’t exceptional in the plus-sized phone space, but it certainly gave it good stamina in day-to-day testing. We could easily survive a day in the office working on the Moto G5 Plus in an anecdotal testing sense and this was confirmed with Geekbench 3’s battery test results. Here’s how the Moto G5 Plus compared to a selection of mid-range handsets:
Handset Geekbench 3 battery test duration Geekbench 3 battery score LG X Power 14:50:30 5714 Huawei Nova Plus 13:21:20 8013 Samsung Galaxy A7 12:40:30 7603 Motorola Moto G5 Plus 11:15:40 6756 Samsung Galaxy J2 10:05:20 2689 Motorola Moto X Force 9:46:50 3914 Motorola Moto 4G Plus 9:44:10 3977 Motorola Moto G Play 9:36:00 3840 Alcatel Pop 4 9:20:30 2490 Alcatel Idol 4S 8:14:20 4943 LG Stylus DAB+ 8:11:40 3278 Alcatel Go Play 7:21:10 2941 Oppo R7s 7:00:00 2800 Oppo R9 6:41:50 4018 Telstra Signature Premium 5:48:50 3260 Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 5:42:00 2276
The Moto G5 Plus isn’t quite the budget battery king, but it’s in the top tier of battery performers and it's an easy recommendation if you want a phone with good power at an affordable price point.
Solid performance: The Moto G5 Plus runs on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 625 SoC. That’s not a top-end performer, but instead a processor designed to sit comfortably in the middle ground, although we’ve only seen a handful of phones running on it in the local market. We were keen to see how it fared against the Huawei Nova Plus, a slightly more expensive mid-range option with the same internal innards. The Nova Plus was slightly better on battery life (and it should be, given that it has a larger internal battery), but the Moto G5 Plus was a better overall performer, both anecdotally and in our benchmark tests. Here’s how the Moto G5 Plus compared in Geekbench 4’s CPU test:
Handset Geekbench 4 CPU single core (higher is better) Geekbench 4 CPU multi core (higher is better) Motorola Moto G5 Plus 842 4180 Samsung Galaxy A7 771 3998 Motorola Moto X Force 1352 3581 Huawei Nova Plus 843 2985 LG X Power 554 1482 Motorola Moto G Play 522 1334
And here’s how it stacked up using 3DMark’s Ice Storm Unlimited test:
Handset 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited result Alcatel IDOL 4S 18186 Huawei Nova Plus 13969 Motorola Moto G5 Plus 13753 Samsung Galaxy A7 13629 LG X Power 4953 Motorola Moto G Play 4475 LG Stylus DAB+ 4321
Here, the Nova Plus and Moto G5 Plus were neck and neck. We tested with the 4GB/32GB version of the Moto G5 Plus, so you should expect those figures to be a little lower for the cheaper 3GB/16GB variant. While the Moto G5 Plus isn’t a processing powerhouse, that’s not what you’re paying for. In the budget-to-mid-range class, its performance is acceptable and arguably a little better than you might expect.
- Fast fingerprint sensor: You can’t miss the Moto G5 Plus’s fingerprint sensor, located at the bottom front of the phone. It’s large, which means it’s easy to tap with whichever digit you choose to enrol and the response is rapid. It’s not quite as handy as the multi-gesture-capable touch sensor on, say, the Huawei P10, but then this is a phone that costs quite a bit less.
Good camera: The best camera optics are always saved for cutting edge premium phones and the Moto G5 Plus isn’t claiming to be the best of the best. What Motorola does claim is that it’s best in its class and having used it in a variety of situations, we’ve got to say we’re largely in agreement. On the rear of the Moto G5 Plus sits a 12MP F/1.7 lens with a very good response due to its use of Dual Pixel autofocus. This sharpens the focus remarkably rapidly and while it’s not a new or unique technology for Motorola specifically, it’s unusual to see it on a phone in this price range. The end result is pictures that do stand out, bearing in mind the overall cost of the phone. Predictably, low-light photos aren't stellar, but you can still get some very pleasing images out of the Moto G5 Plus:
Motorola Moto G5 Plus sample photos
- Android 7.0: We’re still seeing plenty of budget phones ship with Android 6.0 ("Marshmallow"). Given that many Android phones never see an upgrade beyond their initial release, having the current Android OS is a great step.
Motorola Moto G5 Plus: Why you might not want one
- Very plain style: The Moto G5 Plus’s design is best described as utilitarian, despite Motorola’s marketing copy talking up its metal body design. It’s pretty much what you'd expect a clipart program to come up with if you told it you wanted a generic picture of a smartphone. While it’s true that many phones in the more affordable price range don’t go in for a fancy design, we are seeing more and more phones that at least make some effort to look attractive.
- Sealed battery, but no water resistance: The Moto G5 Plus features a water-repellent coating on the display screen, which means that if you spill a little water on it, it should roll off without a problem. Drop it in water, however, and you’ll most likely kill it, as there’s no specific internal waterproofing to speak of. Despite this, the metal body design of the Moto G5 Plus means it uses a sealed battery, whereas the cheaper (and slower) Moto G5 still offers you the option of swapping a battery in and out.
Who is it best suited for? What are my other options?
Motorola is onto a good thing with the Moto G5 Plus, given the fact that it punches just above what you might be expecting at this price point. It’s not the prettiest contender, but it performs the essential Android tasks well, has a camera that’s a bit better than you might expect and delivers it all with a pleasingly large full-HD screen.
If you’re truly strapped for cash but you like the essential proposition of the Moto G5 Plus, you could opt for the cheaper Moto G5, although you will take a hit on the processor, camera and screen size in return.
If you’re casting around more generally in the same price range, you could consider any of a number of phones from Alcatel, Oppo, Samsung or Huawei such as the Huawei Nova Plus, the Samsung Galaxy J2, the Oppo F1s or the Alcatel A5 LED.
Where can I get it?
Motorola sells the Moto G5 Plus through its web site in two configurations. $399 outright will buy you the Moto G5 Plus with 3GB RAM/16GB ROM, while $449 will buy you the 4GB RAM/32GB ROM version. The $449 model is only on sale through Motorola's web site, while the $399 model can also be purchased at JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman, Good Guys and Officeworks stores.
Motorola Moto G5 Plus: Specifications
|Rear camera||12MP Dual Autofocus Pixels|
|Processor||2.0Ghz Snapdragon 625 Octa-Core|