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Moto G5 Plus Review

moto g5 plus review

It has been a couple of years since we last reviewed a Moto G phone, so even though we don’t always drop down to the mid-tier range, it felt like a good time to make a return before Samsung’s new ridiculously expensive products arrive. This time, it’s the Moto G5 Plus, a phone that is going to give a whole bunch of phones a run for their money, money that probably doubles what Motorola wants to charge you for this guy.

To recap, the Moto G5 Plus is the upgraded version of the Moto G5 that will be sold here in the US. In other words, there is no Moto G5 here, only this guy, the Plus. It has a 5.2-inch FHD LCD display (1080p), Snapdragon 625 processor, 12MP f/1.7 camera, fingerprint reader, microSD support, water repellent coating, 3000mAh non-removable battery, and connectivity on all major US carriers. Depending on how much you want to spend, you get to choose between 32GB or 64GB storage and either 2GB or 4GB RAM.

I’ve spent the past couple of weeks with the 64GB/4GB model and have a whole bunch of thoughts to share about it. Let’s do this right now – this is our Moto G5 Plus review. 

moto g5 plus review

What’s awesome about it?


Battery life

I already talked plenty about the battery life situation on the Moto G5 Plus, but in case you missed that, just know that this is a little champ in the juice department. It may not be able to top the Moto Z Play for single-charge usage, though no one has to date. However, it does come close and might have matched it had Motorola managed to slap in the same size battery (G5: 3000mAh vs. Play: 3510mAh).

On almost all days, I’m never worried about having enough battery to get me through to the following day. Yes, the Moto G5 Plus is capable of legitimate full-day battery life. Not 6AM to 6PM life. I’m talking about 6AM to 10AM the next day with 6 hours of screen on time.

  

This phone is one of those rare devices that will allow you to forget about how much battery your phone has left and let you live your life a little more stress-free.

Software and performance

If you have used a Motorola phone at all over the past 3 or 4 years, you know what to expect here: clean Android without a bunch of goop, along with some useful tweaks thanks to the Moto app. That also means swift performance, no hiccups, a buttery user experience, and the feel of a phone that could trick you into thinking it’s powered by something other than Qualcomm’s 2016 mid-tier processor.

You’ve got Moto Display to show you notifications, the time, and battery status as things roll in. You’ve got chop twice for flashlight, the wrist twist to launch the camera, flipping over for DND, etc. These aren’t new features, they just happened to be those we still love.

But with this phone, you even have Motorola’s new launcher (or v7.0 of Launcher3) that essentially matches the Pixel Launcher in many ways. You swipe up to access your app drawer and swipe to the right to get into Google Now. It even uses a wallpaper setup process that’s similar to the Pixel phones. It’s super basic, which is why I like it.

 

With that said, the G5 Plus (at the time of this review) is running Android 7.0 with January’s security patch. That’s…not good. Not only has 7.1 been out for months, but it’s April right now – this phone is 4 months behind on security patches. Motorola has become really terrible at updating phones, so as you go into the G5 Plus, don’t get your hopes up on having the latest and greatest with Google’s phones.

I do appreciate the software experience here, but Motorola has to do better with updates.

moto g5 plus review

Price, availability, and connectivity

You won’t find the Moto G5 Plus at a single wireless carrier in the US, yet I’m still listing its availability as a good thing. And I’m doing so because you can find it on Amazon with Prime shipping, Best Buy with same-day pickup, and a handful of other popular electronics dealers. This isn’t going to be a phone that is hard to find. If you want a G5 Plus, you should be able to buy one and possibly set the thing up within a couple of hours if not less than a day. Plus, since this is an unlocked phone that sells for a couple of hundred bucks, you don’t have to deal with contracts or payment plans or any of that jazz. You just buy it, slap in a SIM, and enjoy.

Now, which one to buy is going to be a challenge. Do you go with the Amazon ad-filled versions that have substantial discounts or do you keep it clean without Amazon’s slime? The phones are the same either way, just some have Amazon ads on the lock screen and in notifications from time to time, while the others don’t.

In terms of price differences, we’re talking about the 32GB/2GB model with Amazon ads for as little as $185. You could even go 64GB/4GB with Amazon ads for $240. Those are crazy prices! Should you not want to walk around with an Amazon ad network attached to you at all times, the regular versions are super reasonable as well, especially when you consider all the specs I listed off above. The 32GB/2GB model is $230 without ads, while the 64GB/4GB model is $299.

Wondering which networks you can use this phone on? All of them. That’s right, folks, the Moto G5 Plus works on all the major US carriers (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and you favorite prepaid services).

You can buy the Moto G5 Plus right here at Amazon or here at Best Buy.

moto g5 plus review

Camera

Calling the camera on the Moto G5 Plus “awesome” is a stretch, I’ll admit that. However, for a phone that can be had for under $200, this camera is quite good.

The 12MP f/1.7 shooter here is more than capable in good light, solid during low-light or indoor situations (for this price), and plenty fast. You can launch it with the flick of a wrist or double-tap on the power button, focus, and fire off shots in a hurry. I’d argue that this phone is faster to launch and snap the first shot than the LG G6 is and that’s a $650 phone.

As for the software, you get a typical camera layout, so everything should be mostly familiar. The camera modes don’t come with any labels, though. Learning them took me some time, but I eventually figured out that you have auto, manual, video, slow motion, and panorama modes. You can adjust photo resolution down from 12MP and choose between 4:3 or 16:9 ratios. The video side does 4K at 30fps as well.

In terms of image quality, you’ll know right away if you are coming from something like a Pixel or Galaxy S7 that this camera doesn’t put up much of a fight. Still, even though the pictures aren’t next-level sharp, I like the natural colors that are presented, the bit of bokeh you get at f/1.7, and the versatility without complete image breakdown from one scene to the next. Overall, this is a well-rounded $200 phone camera that will certainly impress you from time to time.

Here are some samples I took recently.

moto g5 plus camera samples

moto g5 plus camera samples

moto g5 plus camera samples moto g5 plus camera samples moto g5 plus camera samples moto g5 plus camera samples moto g5 plus camera samples

moto g5 plus camera samples

moto g5 plus camera samples

What’s not-so-awesome about it?


Design

The Moto G5 Plus is not a looker. Even though my Zeiss glass is doing wonders for these review shots, I’d argue that this gold version that you are seeing in this review, is one of the ugliest phones I’ve used in years (it’s quite slippery too). Thankfully, there is a silver and black model that won’t embarrass you and I highly recommend looking at that version over this should you be considering the purchase of one.

I mean, look at this thing.

moto g5 plus review

It’s supposed to be metal, but you can tell that there is copious amounts of plastic or off-putting coatings all over it, in between and around the metal. It has an unsightly camera hump, massive chin and forehead, and this weird back plate that is for some reason separated into multiple pieces. I hate to be too harsh here on a sub-$300 phone, but good lord Motorola, what happened to your designers? Also, can we quit the gold already?

Again, go with the silver and black model as it won’t make you into an instant honorary Trump child when owned (unless that sounds fun to you, of course).

No NFC

Can someone explain to me why NFC is the first piece of tech to get cut from everything when budget phones rollout to the market? OnePlus did it with the 2 a year ago. Most of the new Android Wear watchmakers did the same thing, even though Wear now supports Android Pay. And Motorola did it here with the G5 in all models. Even the Plus versions don’t have NFC, so you’ll never be able to use Android Pay if you own this phone.

That’s really unfortunate, especially as Android Pay is becoming widely available these days. Honestly, I use NFC and Android Pay almost every time I leave the house to buy something. My favorite growler shop has an NFC terminal, as do almost all of the grocery stores I visit. Movie theaters have them and local Portland shops do too. Seriously, NFC is really here for us to get used to using.

Is not having NFC a dealbreaker? Eh, maybe? I guess it depends on how futureproof or current you need a phone to be. You’ll need to ask yourself if you use NFC and Android Pay regularly right now or not and that should help you answer those questions.

moto g5 plus review

No USB Type-C

This might not matter to you at all depending on which phone you are coming from to the G5 Plus, but the fact that Motorola kept microUSB in this phone instead of switching to USB Type-C is disappointing. The rest of the world all basically switched to Type-C last year and we thought 2017 would be pure Type-C going forward, yet here is Motorola pissing us off. It’s not that we don’t all have a bunch of microUSB cables shoved in drawers, it’s just that we should be upgrading to Type-C and the future, not hanging around in pre-2016.

As a household that has nothing but newer phones, I can tell that you the charging situation with the G5 Plus has been a pain. Both my wife and I have been using Type-C phones for months, so there aren’t a lot of microUSB chargers lying around. I had to, for the first time in a while, use the damn charger that came with this phone because it was the only non-Type-C easily accessible.

Other notes:


  • Turbo Charging: This Moto G5 has Turbo or fast charging! That means super-duper fast charging of that 3000mAh battery. Not that you’ll need to charge often, but it’s there and the charger is included in the box.
  • Fingerprint reader: The fingerprint reader on this phone is quite good. It’s quick to unlock, plus you can use it to lock the phone too. Motorola also has a mode that lets you use the fingerprint reader to navigate the phone (it hides the navigation buttons), but honestly, I couldn’t even figure it out and almost threw the phone against a wall when enabled. I’d avoid that setting if possible.

Gallery


moto g5 plus review

moto g5 plus review moto g5 plus review moto g5 plus review moto g5 plus review moto g5 plus review

Should you buy a Moto G5 Plus?


Well, let’s talk about this. Is your budget under $200? Then yes, buy the Amazon ad-filled version at the link below and love life. Is your budget under $300? Then yes, you’ll still probably enjoy life with a Moto G5 Plus by your side, because at $299, you can even upgrade to 64GB of storage and 4GB RAM.

With those budgets, you are getting quality hardware, speedy and clean software, a solid camera experience, ridiculous battery life, and connectivity on your favorite wireless carrier.

Now, if your budget is closer to $400, then it’s time to look elsewhere, perhaps at the Moto Z Play or OnePlus 3T.

Moto G5 Plus Links: AmazonMotorola | Best Buy | Newegg | B&H Photo

  • Nilus Dionis

    I am thinking hard about this phone…I am sick of the horribly laggy HTC One M8 I hold on to and I am so disappointed by the premium pricing of Pixel XL, I hardly know what to do.

    This phone doesn’t exactly excite me with the biggest issue so far being the updates. It should be on Nougat 7.1.1 by now, no question. If it was I could stay on that for a while as it should be pretty stable.

    Or maybe I should just get mad and switch to iPhone 🙂

  • João Kramar

    Excellent review.

    …. And i love this wallpaper haha

  • DavidB

    Coming from a Pure Edition flagship that Moto has ignored, I’m a bit hesitant to jump in to another Moto. The lack of USB-C and NFC matter little to me, in fact mUSB is sorta a plus given my current financial situation. But man that battery life in a sub-$300 phone, sold!

  • Evan Yaffe
  • JMonkeYJ

    No riding 3-legged llamas?

  • Chanakya Pendse

    Liked your review man…n about the NFC it is available on the international variant…Like in India I am using Android pay …

  • TC Infantino

    I bought the 64gb/4g RAM version for my mom this past weekend. Her 2013 Moto X was beginning to act up. She loves the G5 plus.

  • michael lind

    Sold my 3t for a plus version Moto 5 am very happy with it fast Smouth and respond well battery is great don’t care about NFC only complain is the placement of on off button some times I accidentally shut phone off should you get one yes

    • M3D1T8R

      Why do so many people these days have keyboards with a broken period key? Strange. Makes what you write unreadable.

  • M3D1T8R

    Does wifi hotspot work out of the box on Verizon with grandfathered unlimited data w/o mod like the Moto G4?

    Need to confirm this and I’ll seriously consider upgrading.
    Just wish it had usb-c.

    • CrewF24

      Yes, hotspot works out of the box with the old grandfathered unlimited plan. I finally killed my old 2014 Moto X and bought this phone a couple of days ago. So far it’s been a very good phone, especially for the price.

      • M3D1T8R

        Thank you!!

        I’ll probably upgrade from my G4, maybe when the G5+ goes on sale. Much better battery life and slightly smaller size probably worth the upgrade.

  • @kellex:disqus Which has the better camera? Z Play or G5 Plus?

  • Racinx

    Not having this phone as type-c (yet) is a good thing. Most of the Android market still has or rocking micro-usb, so why irritate off your customer (average joe, not phone enthusiast) and have them buy more cords when they’re buying a budget phone in the first place.

  • Ryan Moore

    I picked up a G5+ on release day here in the US, and immediately started using the OneButtonNav (fingerprint reader gestures instead of onscreen buttons). I haven’t turned it off, and it isn’t that hard to use at all. I definitely wouldn’t say it is perfect, as I tend to tap and end up going ‘Home’ rather than ‘Back’, but that I’d say is more my fault for only dragging 1mm across the reader and it not registering. I do find it is much easier to do gestures ‘blind’ and have them work most of the time (ie: I’m not looking at my phone but I can double swipe left to go back to the last app I had open while I’m giving my toddler the stink-eye and raising my phone at the same time and the last app will be on the screen immediately). It isn’t for everyone, but I definitely wouldn’t recommend against anyone giving it a try for sure.

  • steadymobb

    The only thing I gathered from this review is that I’m hungry. Thanks.

  • PhenomenalEnigma

    I’d include the Honor 8 in the sub $400 budget options as well, especially since it’s as low as $299 through places like B&H right now. Still, I’m gonna have to give the G5 Plus some real thought. That’s a hell of a package for the money.

  • Bourne, Jason C.

    This should be the new standard for phones released in the US. —– “Wondering which networks you can use this phone on? All of them. That’s right, folks, the Moto G5 Plus works on all the major US carriers (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and you favorite prepaid services).”

  • botop

    Got one in gold for my wife. With the dark teal case I think it looks pretty good. Also can’t beat the price for what it does. If the kid destroys it, oh well; buy a second one and still less than a new top tier phone.

  • paul_cus

    Type-C struggle is a real thing. I can’t wait till the S8 drops new chargers all over the market. It’s been rough since fall. Micro USB needs to be a thing of the past.

    • bull3946

      Chances of the S8 charger being spec compliant are slim to nil. The USB situation is just going to get worse before it gets better.

  • Vikinglifeguard

    One question I would have though is something like Nexus 5x vs this? I am looking for my wife right now and it sounds like (Amazon user ratings) everyone is hating the 5x right now (maybe just software updates have caused issues), tons of 1 star reviews. Both close in price, this one without ads is cheaper, but both sub $300

    • rko512

      I chose this over a 5x as a spare phone. The battery and the combo of the 625 is what had me hooked.

    • Brian Cruz

      I think most people are hating the 5X right now due to bootloop problems some folks have been having, I have a 5x now and just sold my spare phone to get the G5.
      I had the Z Play and absolutely loved it, so I would like to try the G5 pretty soon.
      If its the camera you’re after its the 5X, if its battery then G5

  • Vinyas

    I love the fingerprint navigation, takes a bit of getting used to but feels awesome when you get the hang of it.

    • The Bearded Mystic

      I love it also! Although I really almost hated it at first, I wanted to give it a chance. Glad I did. When I try using an iPhone now, I’m always swiping at the home button! Great feature to have, especially with the extra screen space.

  • Tony Kuligowski

    Thought this one would only get the video review treatment. Great review though!

  • This looks like a great choice as a backup phone or a temp between higher end devices

  • disastrousrainbow

    I think you’re being a little over-dramatic about its design. I mean, one of the ugliest phones in years? Did the Turbo lineup slip your mind? Don’t get me wrong, I hated it in pictures, but in hand and in all of your pictures it’s actually an elegant phone. The back is weird, sure, but you’re making it seem like its some sort of Casio smartphone or something.

    • It’s definitely Casio level. I’ve got 5 phones on my desk right now, and if I rated them ugliest to prettiest, it would be the only of the 5 on the list.

      Also, thanks for the compliment on my photography. 😛

    • nivek31

      I actually don’t mind the look either. Got the gold one for my wife and she really likes the design as well. It is no LG G6 or Galaxy S8/8+ but by no means an ugly phone. I don’t like the look of the Pixel so I may have bad taste. Shrugs shoulders….

  • middlehead

    I said it on the last G5 Plus post here, and the answer hasn’t changed: staying on MicroUSB still makes sense here. This is a cheap phone for people who care more about price for performance than sheer performance. Adding USBC may not have increased the price of the phones much, but it would force people to buy new accessories and potentially turn them off of the phone for that added expense.

    • Well Motorola would include a Type-C charger in the box, so they would have one. I know people use multiple chargers, but we have to start somewhere.

    • Ryan Moore

      Yea it keeping with mUSB is one of the reasons I was drawn to the phone. The wife and I have a veritable plethora of usb chargers and even more mUSB cables for a variety of devices (not just phones; dog collars, battery packs, etc). I didn’t want to make the switch yet, I know it’ll end up happening eventually and even those cheap commodity devices likely won’t switch to usbC for many many years.

  • Gary Honickel

    I purchased the phone because the USB port on my Moto X Pure was dying so I needed a new phone. I didn’t want to pay for the mega prices of the Samsungs or the Pixel. So after looking at the features and reading some previews, I went with with the gold g5 Plus. Love it. Works fine on Verizon. USB-C lacking is fine (I don’t have to replace any of my cords yet). NFC lacking is odd but honestly, I didn’t use it alot. Honestly, I love this phone. I think its doing a great job for what I need it for and the features are great. It runs smooth.

    Seriously the battery life is amazing. I could go a long time between charges.

    There is one issue on Verizon that has many people having issues. https://forums.lenovo.com/t5/forums/v3_1/forumtopicpage/board-id/MotoG5thGen/page/1/thread-id/1392 . Choppy calls when the Enhanced LTE is on. Turning it off seemed to resolve it for now but they are looking into it.

    • Had someone mention to me in an email last night that they had issues calling 9-11 with a Verizon SIM in. That’s scary, though I’m not sure it’s a widespread issue or what.

    • Gary – funny, same thing for me. My wife’s Moto X Pure USB port started getting flaky no matter which USB plug I used in it, so I bit the bullet and got her the Amazon Prime 4Gb/64Gb G5 as a replacement. For a $235 phone, it has great build quality, a sharp screen, and the 4Gb RAM really helps with multiple apps. And the Prime ads are mostly just notifications that can be swiped away – well worth the $50 savings on the price of the phone. I’m running both a G4 and a GS7, and while the G5 Plus isn’t a GS7, it’s a huge improvement over the G4, and considering I could get 2 or 3 S7s for the price I paid for the G5 Plus, I’d go that route any day.

      • TC Infantino

        I think you got that last sentence backwards. You can get 2 or 3 G5 Plus phones for the price of the S7.

  • landale

    I agree on the lack of NFC as a big miss for Lenovo, especially since the US is the only market that doesn’t get it. If it’s a cost issue why not just include it in the 4GB/64GB model only as a compromise? In regards to lack of USB Type-C I understand their reasoning. This phone is designed with budget users in mind all of which are likely coming from phones with MicroUSB ports (hell I mean after the recall of the Note 7, Samsung has yet to sell a phone with Type C). I am sure Lenovo didn’t want to deal with complaints, especially in developing countries where a few dollars means a lot, about having to buy new charging cables. Now if next year’s Moto G doesn’t include Type C then I won’t be as likely to give them a pass on this.

    • hkklife

      Agreed on the microUSB point as well. As of this very instant, Samsung has exactly 1 product (Galaxy Tab S3) for sale in the US with a Type-C port.

      You can go to any dollar store, discount store, drug store or gas station/C-store in the country and find plenty of microUSB cables . Yet you’ll be hard pressed to get a Type-C cable anywhere at retail outside of Best Buy, Apple, Microsoft, or carrier stores. I couldn’t even find one in a recent visit to Wal-Mart!

  • sagisarius

    The lack of NFC drives me a bit nuts, I also use Android Pay all the time. But I guess that will just push me to a Z play… which is probably the intent?

    • Could be, yeah, but it’s still too bad. We’re talking the ultimate budget phone if this has NFC.

      • sagisarius

        Basically the only thing stopping from from buying the G5 plus. I looked into getting the international version, but it’s missing one of the ATT bands. Sad trombone….

  • BobButtons

    I think it’d be easier to get over the whole no NFC thing if it wasn’t available in any version of the phone. But knowing they specifically took it out of the US model is annoying. And it should really be on USB-C by now. It’s just slowing the adaptation.

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    • itstinksitstinksitstinks

      i never use NFC so it doesnt bother me

      • BobButtons

        Which is all well and great but still unacceptable that they provided it in international models but removed it specifically in the US.

  • MichaelFranz

    Someones up might early today!

    Also i can always count on a Kellen DL review for a picture of a Burger (not a sandwich)