Moto G5 Plus Hands-on: Has Motorola done it again?

  • Moto G5 Plus price: £259
  • Moto G5 release date: March 2017

Last year, Motorola introduced a new 'Plus' Moto G model, which came with an upgraded camera and fingerprint scanner – it was easily the best budget _phone_ TrustedReviews had ever seen. Now, the Moto G4 Plus has been replaced with the new Moto G5 Plus, and it looks like Motorola has once again outdone itself.

Both the new Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus have been given a design overhaul. Moto's replaced the G4s' plastic chassis with a new all-metal design that adds a premium feel to the budget handsets. It means both feel closer in design to the high-end features they bring with them. While the more compact Moto G5 feels a little sleeker, the all-metal design works well for both handsets.

So, what about that size? Well, last year, both the G4 and G4 Plus shared a 5.5-inch form factor. This year, however, both have been slimmed down, with the G5 Plus featuring a 5.2-inch display. It's only slightly bigger than the 5-inch G5 and what is clear from spending some time with the _phone_ is that the display is just as vibrant and sharp as it was last year. The panel is still a Full HD offering, so it's not exactly upgraded, but it's more than adequate for a phone of this size.

Of course, as it's the 'Plus' model, you'd expect there to be other advantages. And you'd be right. The top-specced version of the G5 series offers faster processing speeds, an upgraded camera, and larger battery than its smaller sibling.

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Moto G5

The 2GHz octa-core Snapdragon 625 processor is a step up from the 1.4GHz octa-core Snapdragon 430 chip in the standard G5. In reality, both phones should be incredibly quick, and in my time with each I found them to be very responsive – even surprisingly responsive. Apps opened incredibly quickly and the general performance seemed nice and smooth. Where you'll likely notice the difference between the two is in more graphically demanding games, but I didn't have a chance to test this.

The G5 Plus also benefits from an extra GB of RAM, if you choose the most expensive model. While the standard G5 Plus comes with 2GB of memory, the more expensive option brings 3GB, which, again, probably won't make a huge difference in day to day use, but is a nice option to have.

The other big difference between the two is the upgraded camera on the Plus, which this year comes with 'Dual Autofocus Pixels'. The company says that means it locks onto a target "in the blink of an eye." From what I've seen using the G5 Plus, the claim is accurate. Using the camera app on the G5 Plus was incredibly easy, with absolutely no shutter lag. The company has also added a larger f/1.7 aperture, a decent step up from the G4 Plus' f/2.2 aperture, along with bigger pixels, which let in more light. It should make for an even more impressive camera than the setup on last year's G4 Plus.

It won't be able to compete with the top-end phones in this category, but within the mid-range space, the G5 Plus might just have the best camera going. Of course, I'll have to reserve judgement we get the phone in for a full review.

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Moto G5

The fingerprint scanner is another welcome returning feature that's had a minor upgrade. The G5 Plus' sensor has a new 'One Button Nav' feature that allows you quickly navigate through screens using the fingerprint reader.

Unfortunately, Motorola has made a big deal out of how it has managed to provide a premium experience at an affordable price, but the fingerprint scanner requires the addition of a home button. This is a barely even a gripe, but with high-end phones set to ditch the physical home button, the Moto G5 Plus could look a little outdated by year-end.

But hey, you will have only paid £259 for it.

You'll also find a larger 3,000mAh battery on the G5 Plus, as opposed to the 2,800mAh cell in the G5. It's the same size as the battery in last year's G4 Plus, but that isn't a bad thing necessarily.

We found the G4 Plus bested top-end rivals such as the Galaxy S7 last year, so I expect similarly stellar performance this time around. There's also a 'TurboPower' charging feature, which the company claims will give you up to six hours of battery life in just 15 minutes.

Other upgrades over the standard G5 included double the amount of included storage (32GB on the Plus instead of the G5's 16GB) but once again, there's the option to add a Micro SD card to expand the storage up to 128GB. Looking at the new all-metal design, it was clear you won't be removing the back to do so. Adding a Micro SD card or SIM will require the use of one of those little SIM tools, unfortunately. That said, it's a small price to pay for the sleek new design.

Moto G5

Upgrades come in the form of software, too. The Moto G range managed to become the go-to budget offering for many in large part due to its stock Android experience. That means no proprietary skins or extra apps and features, and things are no different this time around. Android Nougat appears mostly untouched, and comes with support for Google Assistant.

The addition of the assistant means you'll be able to send messages, make calls, navigate, manage everyday tasks and more, just by holding the home button. Motorola says it worked closely with Google to make sure the assistant works well with the Moto software. It's great to see Google Assistant on more phones, but how useful it will be requires more experience with the phone.

Motorola says the G5 Plus will be available "beginning in March," and Miles Norman, General Manager UK & Ireland & European Operators at Motorola told me that it would be £259 in the UK.

First Impressions

With the Moto G4 Plus, Motorola managed to provide an excellent companion for its consistently impressive Moto G phone. The Plus model wasn't flashy, but it could handle a hell of a lot for the money.

It's been less than a year, and it seems the company is managing to maintain that consistency, bringing out an update that looks to have everything that made its predecessor great, while adding a refined new design and a load of useful new features.

Motorola looks to have another hit on its hands here.

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What do you make of the Moto G5 Plus? Share your thoughts in the comments below.