Moto G5 Plus review

Moto’s latest Plus ups the design and cuts the price

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Great Value

Our Verdict

Refreshed from top to bottom, the Moto G5 Plus has redefined itself and it didn't even have to. The premium build, competent specs and low price will suit deal-seekers and phone enthusiasts alike.

For

  • Doesn’t look or feel like a budget phone
  • Inventive one button nav
  • Stellar design and value

Against

  • Lacks NFC (in US) and Moto Mod support
  • Battery isn’t removable
  • Iffy camera performance

Update: Moto has announced that the G5 Plus will receive the upgrade to Android Oreo in the following months. It won't revolutionize the way you use the phone, but notification dots, a retooling of the way apps work in the background, as well as picture-in-picture mode, make for some exciting additions.

Original review follows below.

While flagship makers battle for the top spot with small bezels and pixel-perfect cameras, Motorola has been winning a more quiet, but equally important fight: to offer desired features in a phone without costing too much.

Speaking of features, the new Moto G5 Plus has them in spades. A fingerprint sensor, generous heaps of internal storage with microSD support, Google Assistant, fast charging, GSM and CDMA compatibility. The list goes on.

In that regard, it isn’t a far cry of last year's value-packed Moto G4 Plus - not that you’d even know the two were related by looking at them.

Refreshed from top to bottom (and on the inside, too), the Moto G5 Plus has redefined itself and it didn't even have to.

If you’re strapped for cash, but still want the latest Android Nougat software (with Oreo on the way), this year’s model is on sale for $229 (£249, AU pricing not disclosed at time of review), which is actually a little bit cheaper than the G4 Plus. How often do you see phone prices going down instead of up?

Previous owners and newcomers alike will find a lot to enjoy here for the price. So much so that minor exclusions like NFC (this feature is available outside of the US), the non-removable back and the so-so camera performance don’t detract much from the experience or the value. Though, if those features are absolutely key, you’ll want to spend a little more on some of the other best cheap phones

Moto G5 Plus release date and price

  • Starts at $229 (£249, AU$399) – cheaper than the Moto G4 Plus
  • Supports GSM and CDMA networks out of the box
  • Available now globally
  • Even cheaper with Amazon lockscreen ads in the US

Though most will have the luxury to decide between this and the Moto G5, the plus-sized phone is the only option available to those in the US. The lack of choice is a downer, but thankfully, this phone leaves almost nothing to be desired for the cost.

In the US, it has launched at $229 for the 2GB RAM model with 32GB of internal storage. At that price, it’s slightly cheaper than the Moto G4 Plus, which offered us less for the money in the way of internal storage and a weaker Snapdragon 617 system on chip (SoC).

For $299, you can pick up the US-exclusive model that comes with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of flash storage.

If you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber, you’ll snag a discount on each model: $184 and $239, respectively. The only caveats worth mentioning here is that you’ll be fed ads on the lockscreen and each phone will have some non-removable apps. However, this significant discount will certainly be worth it for some.

Depending on where you are in the world, the configurations available differ a bit.

In the Asia-Pacific region? You have two models to choose from: one with 16GB of storage/3GB RAM and one with 32GB/4GB RAM. In Latin America, there is but one model available with 32GB of storage and 2GB of RAM. To those in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East region, the only G5 Plus available has 32GB of storage with 3GB of RAM. Confusing, we know.

In the UK, you’ll be able to snag Moto G5 Plus for £249. Last, but not least, the model is available in Australia starting at AU$399.

Thankfully, any version that you pick up is compatible on both CDMA and GSM networks. On Verizon and planning a switch to AT&T, or vice versa? You’re all set with this single phone. Feel free to swap between networks on the fly, or if you’re like me, toss in a Project Fi SIM card that works with both CDMA and GSM and get the best of both worlds.

The fact that Moto can add this broad compatibility across networks in its budget phone lineup is impressive and frankly, all other manufacturers should be taking notes. 

Design

  • Revamped design makes it no longer feel like a budget device
  • Borrows from the Moto Z, but carves out a confident look on its own
  • Concave, multi-purpose fingerprint sensor is Moto’s best yet

The Moto G5 Plus takes affordable smartphone design to the next level with a build quality that more closely mimics that of an expensive flagship phone.

Sure, the Moto G4 Plus could be considered good looking in its own right. It was on cue with what we’d expect out of a mid-range phone rolled into a budget handset. But not everyone liked the rubberized back when they equate aluminum or glass with top-tier quality.

This phone is completely made-over and almost unrecognizable next to its previous iteration, which in just about every way is a good thing.

At 150.2 x 74 x 7.7 - 9.7mm, this new phone from Moto trims but a few millimeters from the length and width and has a similar thickness to that of the G4 Plus. Factoring in the reduction from the 5.5-inch screen down to 5.2 inches and the end result is a device that’s easier to hold in the palm.

The slim earpiece cutout and fingerprint sensor on the front borrows from the Moto Z’s styling. If anything, we prefer the feel of the sensor on the G5 Plus more because of its concave design, which makes it easier to find when you’re not looking at the phone.

Set to release in lunar grey and fine gold color options (Moto provided us with the latter for review), the bezels give off a glossy look and are complemented nicely by the metallic effect on the trim that surrounds the phone. We usually see manufacturers opting for a chamfered edge here, so it’s cool to see Moto bucking convention.

From there, the G5 Plus transitions on its back into soft, brushed metal that provides a good amount of grip while avoiding common smartphone plagues, like carrier-specific branding and attracting fingerprints.  As far as buttons and ports go, the G5 Plus plays host to the usual suspects.

On the right side, you’ll find a volume rocker placed above the notched power button. The nanoSIM and microSD card slot sits atop of the device, while the micro USB port and 3.5mm jack occupy its bottom.  

Display

Sitting front and center of the G5 Plus is its 5.2-inch Full HD (1080p) screen. A phone is usually only as good as its display and thankfully, this one doesn’t disappoint.

While we take every opportunity to bash manufacturers for not taking the leap to QHD (1440p) in more expensive devices -hrm, Sony -, FHD resolution suits Moto’s latest just fine. Games with a lot of detailed art look fantastic and VR experiences with the best Google Cardboard games will look just fine with its 424 pixel-per-inch (PPI) screen.

Though, due to Google Daydream’s tough guidelines that only let in phones that have OLED screen tech running at 2K, the G5 Plus will have to keep dreaming.

Indoor and out, the IPS display was clearly readable and multimedia is more vibrant than in Moto’s previous budget entries. This is in part thanks to the new settings menu that tweaks the colors of the screen, a welcome feature for those who like to have options.