Hands on: Moto G5 review

Making cheap phones looks premium again

What is a hands on review?
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Our Early Verdict

The Moto G5 is the budget phone with little compromise.


  • Metal phone at an affordable price
  • Innovative fingerprint sensor on front
  • Runs Android Nougat and Google Assistant


  • Slower Snapdragon chipset
  • Uses micro USB instead of USB-C
  • Not available in the US

Update: Perhaps the greatest competitor to the G5 is Moto's own G4. Should owners of last year's budget masterpiece feel the need to upgrade or are they fine with holding off for now? Check out the video below for a dissection of each device.

The Moto G5 is bringing Android Nougat and Google Assistant to an affordable metal phone without too much compromise.

Motorola is finally designing its top-ranked budget phone series without an all-plastic or rubberized look and feel. It's the new Moto G grown up for 2017.

Its new hardware outfit is supposed to make you forget about the fact that this is a cheap phone. Its software, meanwhile, pulls from more expensive flagships.

Moto G5 runs Google's latest software combo, Android 7.0 Nougat and Google Assistant, the latter having made its debut in the Google Pixel and Pixel XL.

You're getting some serious perks in this metal phone – highlights that we were all lauding six months ago in more expensive handsets. That was fast.

If you're looking for a new Android smartphone and don't want the Moto Z for its higher overall specs and MotoMods, this one has potential.

Release date and price

The Moto G5 is being touted as a 'premium for all' smartphone, but it won't be launching in the US, unlike the slightly bigger Moto G5 Plus.

Instead, the smaller Moto G5 is making its way to Europe, Africa, the Middle East, two countries in South America and America's neighbors to the north and south, Canada and Mexico.

Specifically for Europe, the Moto G5 is launching in the UK, France, Italy, Russia, Poland, Spain, Germany, Benelux, South East Europe and Nordic Region.

In South America, it'll come to Columbia and Brazil, where the Moto G series has become extremely popular over the years. In Brazil, it was the top-selling phone. 

The Moto G5 price is €199, which is about £170 for the UK and, if it were coming to the US and Australia, that would translate to about AU$270 and $210.

Design and display

The Moto G5 is ditching all of those plastic and rubberized back covers for what the Motorola team calls a 'premium' design.

That rather generic 'premium' term means we're finally getting a metal Moto G5, though it's still enveloped in a large amount of plastic around the top and bottom for the sake of the antennas. A unibody phone this is not.

It still feels like a Motorola phone with a riveted power button on the side along with a smooth volume rocker. The twist and karate chop gestures remain shortcuts to open the camera and turn on the flashlight like before.

Here's a true twist for the fingerprint sensor: it can replace the default on-screen buttons by acting as the home button. 

Where are Android's back and recent buttons? Swipe to the left for back and right for recent, all utilizing the front fingerprint pad. With the Moto Z series, we saw the fingerprint sensor also turn off the screen when pressed (just like some Android phones turn on the screen with this gesture). That's here, too.

The Moto G5 has a 5-inch display with a Full HD resolution and a familiar Motorola time-and-notification-filled proximity-sensing screen.

The screen looked bright enough at MWC 2017, even if it'll never be capable of VR. Virtual reality requires a lot more pixels when the screen is so close to your face.

While we appreciated the metal back, we did find the demo units on hand to be scratched up a bit, especially on the back, reflective Moto logo. Luckily, the all-important diamond-cut camera lens glass remained unharmed.

It's a big leap for the Moto G series in terms of design. It'll be interesting to see how longtime fans react to the upgraded Moto G5.

Moto G5 specs

The Moto G5 is using a more budget-friendly Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 chipset instead of sticking with the mid-range 600 series.

The 1.4Ghz octa-core processor should be fast enough for most tasks, as we experienced 3D gaming on the phone during our brief testing, but it's not as powerful as the Moto G5 Plus.

It has 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage on the inside with a microSD card slot. Other areas of the world may get 3GB of RAM. It's going to be country dependent.

These Moto G5 specs are just enough for emerging markets. But they're going to be enough for more demanding phone users, which is why the Moto G isn't coming to the US.

On the backside the Moto G5 rear camera gives you 13MP photos with a f/2.0 aperture and phase detection autofocus, while the rear camera sticks with a 5MP wide-angle lens and a f/2.2 aperture. 

Inside, we're getting a 2,800mAh capacity battery. It's supposed to provide all-day battery life and 10W rapid charging. 

You are going to have to deal with micro USB when the rest of the world is moving toward reversible USB-C at the moment.

MWC (Mobile World Congress) is the world's largest exhibition for the mobile industry, stuffed full of the newest phones, tablets, wearables and more. TechRadar is reporting live from Barcelona all week to bring you the very latest from the show floor. Head to our dedicated MWC 2017 hub to see all the new releases, along with TechRadar's world-class analysis and buying advice about your next phone.


Matt Swider is TechRadar's gadget-savvy, globe-trotting mobile editor in Los Angeles. As an expert in iOS and Android, he owns over 120 phones that someone keeps setting the alarms on – simultaneously. He received his journalism degree from Penn State University and is never seen without his TechRadar headphones.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.