The Moto range offers premium-smartphone looks and features at very low prices, and the Moto G5 Plus is no exception. This 2018 refresh of the G4 Plus has been improved inside and out, and it’s cheaper than the outgoing G4 Plus too. It’s just odd that US customers don’t get the same NFC features that everybody else in the world can get.
Beware the unnecessarily confusing Lenovo/Moto naming system. This is not the same phone as the slightly more expensive Moto G5S Plus, and in some cases it’s better specified.
Moto G5 Plus review: design
The G5 Plus is a massive improvement over the G4 Plus, which looked fairly cheap thanks to a practical but unpretty rubberised back. The G5 Plus is almost unrecognisable (in smartphone terms; obviously it’s still a big screen with a phone glued to it): it looks, and feels, like a reassuringly expensive flagship, not a budget banger. The screen is down from 5.5 to 5.2 inches, which makes it a lot more comfortable in the hand, and it’s also slightly thinner and shorter than before. There are some design elements borrowed from the handsome Moto Z, and the soft brushed metal back looks equally good in both lunar grey and fine gold.
Moto G5 Plus review: features and usability
The Moto bucks the trend for 4K displays, sticking instead to a perfectly reasonable, bright and clear Full HD (1080p) display. At 441 pixels per inch it’s hardly full of jaggy giant pixels, and both games and movies look superb. It’s worth noting that because it doesn’t have a 2K screen, the minimum spec for Google Daydream, its VR capabilities are limited to Google Cardboard.
The G5 Plus ships with Android Nougat and Oreo “is on its way”, and as ever the Moto doesn’t mess around much with the stock Android: the few additions, such as the Moto app’s ability to make the fingerprint sensor work as navigation buttons, are worthwhile. We also really liked the way you can display notifications by waving your hand over the phone.
As we’ve mentioned, there’s NFC, but not in America.
Moto G5 Plus review: performance
This isn’t the best multimedia Moto: that’s the Moto Z. But the G5 is no slouch. Its octa-core Snapdragon 625 is noticeably quicker than the 617 inside the G4 Plus, and there’s an improved Adreno GPU too. Specced out with 4GB of RAM, as our review unit was, it multitasks smoothly and doesn’t keep you hanging on for everyday activities. It actually benchmarks better than the Moto Z Play, although we think that’s more to do with OS optimisation – the G5 Plus runs the newer Nougat – than the hardware.
The battery is 3,000mAh and coped effortlessly with everyday usage. It charges quickly too, thanks to Moto’s TurboPower fast charging technology. That goes from 0% to 20% in fifteen minutes and 60% in 45 minutes. A full charge took us just under an hour and a half.
While 4K video recording is possible we felt the best results were at 60fps in 1080p: the camera is one of the few areas where you’re conscious of using a budget device, especially if you try and shoot 4K video. The rear sensor is 12MP, which is less than before, but there’s much improved low light shooting and the sensor captures bigger pixels to improve noise reduction. Nevertheless it’s the G5 Plus’s main area of weakness, with photos that just aren’t as good as rival devices: they look like they were taken with a budget device. It’s a shame, because Moto’s camera software is really good.
Moto G5 Plus review: verdict
The G5 Plus is a big improvement over the G4 Plus, and the combination of a mainly premium device with Android Nougat’s fast performance is very appealing at this price. There’s no Android Pay in the US and the camera is very disappointing, but when you consider how cheap the G5 Plus is we think you’ll be willing to overlook those negatives. The G5 Plus looks and mainly feels like a much more expensive smartphone and it’s excellent value for money.