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Moto G5 Plus review: The budget maker grows up, offers a balance of design and performance
Motorola defined the budget segment with the Moto G. We have seen four generations of the handsets improving year on year and this time the company has quickly launched an update to the most popular budget series. The Moto G5 and G5 Plus were announced at MWC (Mobile World Congress) 2017 and just last month, the Lenovo owned company got the G5 Plus to India.
It is probably the most important Moto G as it is the first time we see Moto launching a metal phone in the budget price segment. But, is it as good as its competition? Let us find out.
Build and Design: 7.5/10
This is the most premium looking Moto G ever. Almost every smartphone coming at this price range features a metal design, and it was high time that Moto did the same. The past four generations saw Motorola using a plastic build, but this time Moto has finally gone for a metal uni-body design.
The G5 Plus takes some of the design cues of the most recent Moto Z smartphones. It has a flat metal back and full glass front with a large round camera bump. The metal has a nice matte finish offering a certain amount of grip. It isn’t that heavy even though it is mostly metal. It’s also quite slim, slimmer than its predecessor with a thickness of just 7.7 mm. The edges have chrome linings, giving them a faux-chamfered look.
At the front, there is a 5.2-inch display with a new and improved rounded fingerprint scanner sitting below it. The earpiece, front camera and light/proximity sensors sit above the display. The earpiece also has the loudspeaker built-in and has a nice finish.
Around the edges,the volume and power buttons sit on the right, the SIM card tray on the top and the microUSB port, headphone jack and the primary microphone are at the bottom.
Moving to the back you can see the large Moto Z-like round camera module with the camera lens and a dual tone LED flash. There is also a shiny Moto logo. Moto is offering the smartphone in two colours, gold and grey. One must say, Moto has done a good job with the design of the G5 Plus.
The Moto G5 Plus has similar features as the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 and the Lenovo P2, with a few differences. Moto has reduced the size of the display to 5.2-inches and has kept the resolution at Full HD (1920×1080). Inside there is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 SoC with an octa-core processor with Cortex A53 cores clocked at 2.0 GHz along with an Adreno 506 GPU. This is paired to 4 GB of RAM, and there is a 3 GB RAM variant as well. For storage, there is 32 GB of internal memory while the 3 GB RAM variant get 16 GB of storage. Both the variants come with expandable storage and the best part is, you don’t have sacrifice a SIM card slot for it. The SIM tray on the Moto G5 Plus comes with two nano SIM card slots and one microSD card slot.
In the camera department you get a 12MP, f/1.7 sensor at the back with autofocus and a dual-LED flash. It can also record 4K videos at 30fps. The front camera is a 5MP unit with an f/2.2 aperture.
As for connectivity options there is Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS/A-GPS/GLONASS, FM Radio, microUSB with OTG support, NFC and LTE with VoLTE support. Other features include a fingerprint scanner with gesture support, a 3,000mAh batter and Android 7.0 Nougat OS.
Moto G5 Plus compared to the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4
Last year the Moto G saw two variants with a 5.5-inch display. This time Moto has gone for different sizes. The Moto G5 Plus features a 5.2-inch display. It is an IPS LCD and offers a resolution of 1920×1080 with a pixel density of 424ppi.
It’s nice to see a smaller display as almost every other smartphone that is launched features a 5.5-inch display. However, the display is a bit wider and the bezels aren’t very slim either. Honestly due to the thick bezels, it feels pretty much like a 5.5-incher.
The display itself is pretty good though. Sharpness is great and there is no colour shift either. It does wash out under the sun, but is usable. You can set it to a vibrant mode which increases the contrast and saturation or you can set it to standard which is said to offer realistic colours. There is a new version of ambient display or Moto Display as the company calls it, which shows a large clock, the battery level, date and time and your notifications. This can be enabled or disabled from the Moto app.
The good thing about Motorola smartphones is the software. All Moto devices come with clean stock Android which gives a pure experience. The G5 Plus comes with Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box. The company said that after a quick update the smartphone will also have the Google Assistant.
Moto has also gone ahead and put a launcher that looks similar to the one on the Google Pixel smartphones. Instead of the app drawer icon, you just swipe to open it. Of course you also get all the standard Moto features like the above mentioned Moto display, chop chop to open flashlight, twist for camera and more under the Moto app.
Moto has also picked up a feature from its parent company Lenovo which took it from another company that it owns. If you remember the Lenovo Z2 Plus, which is originally a ZUK smartphone, the front facing fingerprint sensor could also act as the Android navigation keys. A left swipe for back and right swipe for the multitasking window. This can be configured on the Moto G5 Plus as well. Of course, if you are comfortable with the traditional on-screen navigation keys, you can use them instead of the swipe gestures.
Overall the UI feels smooth and responsive. I used the handset for a week or so with a bunch of apps. There is the occasional lag, but it isn’t a huge issue.
Considering the Moto G5 Plus comes with similar hardware as the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 and the Lenovo P2, I was hoping that it would be as good. In terms day to day usage, it felt almost as good as the offerings from Xiaomi and Lenovo. Apps load quick, response time is good and even multitasking didn’t give me any issues. As for heating, the temperature does occasionally go up when you are using to many resources and of course during gaming and charging. I played Mortal Combat X and Asphalt 8, both for 30 minutes each. Both of the games take a load on the hardware and yes there is prominent heating at the back. Less resource hogging games didn’t show any issues.
As for synthetic benchmarks, the results were somewhat similar to the Redmi Note 4 if not higher. The Snapdragon 625 with its octa-core processor and Adreno 506 GPU is a nimble chip that brings a balance of performance and efficiency to the table. The smartphone is good for light gaming and is great for your everyday tasks like checking mails, scrolling through social media apps and browsing the internet.
Other areas of performance including call and network quality were on spot. I didn’t face any issues. As for the loudspeaker, it is pretty loud and considering it is mono speaker, the overall quality was above average. I think the speakers on the Redmi Note 4 and even the Lenovo P2 are louder and offer better lows and mids.
Last year the Moto G4 series included an upgraded camera which was probably one of the best in its class. This year Moto has once again update the camera sensor for the G5 Plus. You get a 12MP sensor with an f/1.7 aperture, autofocus and a dual LED flash. In my head, using such a good sensor with no proper stabilisation or any advanced focusing technology was a bad idea. But it isn’t half as bad as I thought it would be.
Focusing is quick and mostly accurate. Shots taken in well lit environments are quick but speeds go down once you move indoors. You need to have a steady hand to take pictures. I took some shots outside and one out of three shots turned out to be blurry.
The ones that did not turn out blurry were actually good. Colours look accurate and even the dynamic range is good. I did notice some pictures to be soft (especially around the corners) and lacking details. The camera can also shoot videos at up to 4K resolution at 2160p which look decent but just like the photos, I wasn’t quite satisfied with the details.
The front camera is 5MP with an f/2.2 aperture. It is fine for some occasional selfies but if you are someone who is influenced by ‘stories’ it won’t impress much.
As for the camera app, it is easy to use and similar to what we have seen in older Moto phones. There is HDR, manual mode, slow-mo video and panorama.
At its budget, the camera is not bad at all. If you have a steady hand you can get some good looking pictures. I think a quick software update to improve the final image processing is required.
The Moto G5 Plus comes with a 3,00mAh battery. A lot of smartphone have made this as a standard and yes, this is lower than the Redmi Note 4 and the Lenovo P2. I was expecting lower battery backup but it wasn’t disappointing at all. The phone lasted all day without any issues. Also, thanks to the bundled ‘Turbo’ charger, I could charge it up in about an hour. Of course, putting the battery through the PC Mark Battery test, I got a result of 9 hours and 1 minute. Compared to its direct competitors, it was lower.
Verdict and Price in India
This is not only the best Moto G, but also the most expensive one. The 3GB RAM variant with 16GB storage is priced at Rs 14,999 and the 4GB RAM version with 32GB storage at Rs 16,999. Comparing the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4, the 4GB RAM with 64GB storage is at Rs 12,999. Moto is not offering a 64GB variant. Of course Moto capitalises on the fact that it is offering the handset without any flash sales, whereas getting a Redmi Note 4 is a tough cookie.
Moto has mostly increased the costs of the Moto G because of its higher-grade build as compared to its plastic predecessors. I still believe people who are loyal to the brand are not going to mind spending a little extra. The G5 Plus is definitely worth considering. But if you are someone who wants the best value for money, try your luck in getting the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4. Also, if you are looking for something that lasts long, the Lenovo P2 is the best battery focused budget handset in the market today.
Moto G5 Plus review: The budget maker grows up, offers a balance of design and performance
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