Moto G5 camera review: In the case of the new Moto G5 Lenovo/Motorola has put together a camera experience the only way it knows how, with clean, simple software controlling some suitably powerful hardware.
The G Series prioritises a few principle smartphone features as part of its enticingly affordable package and camera tech is unquestionably amongst them. Last year’s G4 Plus had some decidedly premium snapper skills, including talents like phase detection autofocus (PDAF), an ability that has now trickled down to the new G5.
As well as faster autofocus than its predecessor, the G5 packs a 13-megapixel principle sensor with an f/2.0 aperture, whilst its 5-megapixel front-facer also includes a wide-angle lens to capture those all-important group shots with your besties.
Moto G5 Camera Review: UI
As with the company’s existing portfolio, the new G5 sports a familiar and incredibly clean interface. During setup you’re given the option to choose between a shutter button or simply tapping anywhere on-screen although it’s easier to control the former as you then have tap-to-focus functionality which includes on-the-fly exposure adjustment.
The camera can be quick-launched from the lock screen, by double tapping the power button whilst the phone is sleeping or with a double twist of the wrist, making it incredibly accessible, especially in a pinch, helped by the fact that it opens up and is ready to go in a second flat.
By default the G5 shoots in 16:9 at 9.7-megapixels (we shot all our samples in 4:3 at its native 13-megapixel resolution) with HDR enabled automatically – a feature typically associated with premium devices. Should you wish to turn it off or edit any of the camera’s other settings, however, they can be easily changed from the swipe-out menu on the left.
Swiping the other way serves as a shortcut to the gallery, whilst swiping up and down grants access to up to 8x digital zoom when shooting stills or 4x zoom with video. In addition, a nice party trick of the G5’s camera is that it can also read QR codes natively.
Moto G5 Camera Review: Picture quality
There’s little doubt that the G5’s camera can punch above its weight, proving as capable across a range of scenarios as the likes of the Honor 6X and other mid-rangers that break the £200 mark.
A lack of image stabilisation, a common theme amongst more affordable smartphone cameras, is its biggest weakness, but thanks to a fast shutter, no doubt helped by that PDAF system, the G5 can capture a pretty sharp shot in a host of lighting scenarios.
High contrast is a big challenge, with the phone typically underexposing scenes even with auto-HDR enabled, however, this is one of the few phones at its price point that also offers manual control over everything from focus to white balance, ISO and exposure.
We’re particularly impressed with the G5’s performance in artificial lighting and when capturing macro scenes, both of which render colour and detail extremely well. Even poorly lit scenes feature minimal noise for such an affordable phone, although, unsurprisingly, finer details become lost.
If you’re after a solid budget selfie-taker, than the G5 is a reliable companion. The wide-angle lens is the biggest draw, whilst the 5-megapixel resolution does mean that shots appear a little murky, with poorly defined edges and details. At least the integrated beauty mode produces balanced result when set to auto and there’s a screen-based flash on offer too.
Moto G5 Camera Review: Video quality
As for video quality, the Snapdragon 430 processor inside the G5 means capture tops out at Full HD resolution and at 30 frames per second. The biggest surprise is the inclusion of EIS, which you can switch on and off, but proves to do a sterling job when shooting whilst walking or moving the camera around.
It’s almost the reverse to shootings stills, as you have stabilisation where there wasn’t any before and the previously snappy autofocus has trouble keeping up without a helping on-screen tap or two. Audio quality is also underwhelming, so whilst shots might look nice, they don’t sound all that great, but slow-motion video (at qHD resolution) is another surprising bonus too.
Moto G5 Camera Review: Verdict
You get a lot of phone for your £169 with the Moto G5 and the camera system is certainly a highlight. The G5’s camera feels like a good fit for social media junkies on a budget who want good-looking content and the most important features made easily accessible.
Perhaps some stylised filters and better audio capture would have been nice, but for the price, there’s a lot more to love about the Moto G5 and its cameras, than hate.