Our long-term Moto G5 review takes another look at one of Motorola’s best value offerings so far this year to decide whether or not it’s still worth your money months on from its original release.
First impressions were good when we first laid eyes on the Moto G5 at the start of the year at MWC and again when it ran our review gauntlet back in March. Priced at £169, it has served as one of the great steals on the current smartphone scene, thanks to premium design touches, a sharp screen and some considered software enhancements.
Since the phone’s original launch two significant things have happened: the sub-£200 space has gained a number of new players, such as the Nokia 5 and Honor 6A, and Motorola released an updated version of the Moto G5 dubbed the G5S. So, is there still a space for the original? Let’s take a look.
Read next: Nokia 5 vs Moto G5
Moto G5 long-term review: Design
The biggest shift moving on from last year’s Moto G4 was the adoption of metal into its successor’s design. Granted, it doesn’t span the entirety of the phone’s body but it does mean that it’s comfortable to hold, cool to the touch and ups the build quality to some degree.
Unfortunately, it’s also proved to take on scratches and scrapes readily, especially if you’ve opted for the lighter Fine Gold colourway. The rest of the G5’s body meanwhile is a mix of matt and chrome-finished plastics. Those too are also already showing signs of mild wear and tear, and as is often the case with chromed touches on smartphones, the finish is already starting to come away, which as it’s on the front, makes it all the more obvious in day-to-day use.
One solution would have been to slap a case on this thing from the get-go but assuming you can find a replacement, which will likely become easier as time goes on, you do at least have the option of swapping out an old Moto G5 back panel with a new one.
Luckily the cover glass has put in a Sterling effort repelling both scratches and fingerprints without issue.
The screen remains clean and clear, even after extensive use. The removable back not only means components like the battery are accessible and replaceable but the rear panel itself can theoretically be exchanged if it becomes too overly scratched or damaged.
That metal bodywork, although upping the premium factor, also takes shows signs of wear easily as do the plastic elements that already felt cheap to begin with.
Moto G5 long-term review: Screen and media
The reasons we originally appreciated the G5’s screen so much all still stand. The phone’s size/resolution pairing of 5-inches at 1920×1080 pixels is a rarity in the current market and it doles out crisp imagery, same as ever.
It’s also a bright and impressively vibrant IPS LCD for a budget phone, which if we had to nitpick, suffers from mild brightness drop-off at more extreme angles but there’s little else to really take issue with when it comes to visual fidelity.
Moto Display is a great boon too, keeping notifications and basic phone information readily accessible by simply touching or picking the phone up. The only real shortcomings are the phone’s bezels, which feel just a touch on the thick side.
The G5’s screen offers a great viewing experience for the size and price of the phone it’s attached to.
If pushed, thinner bezels would have been appreciated.
Moto G5 long-term review: OS and features
The more you use the G5 or any of Motorola’s current lineup for that matter, the more you appreciate the subtle but thoughtful alterations that have been made to stock Android. The phone’s underlying 7.0 Nougat experience still feels current and assuming it follows the same path as the Moto G4, should see at least one major OS upgrade in its lifetime, which will add extra functionality native to the newly announced Android 8.0 Oreo.
Alongside the aforementioned Moto Display, Moto Actions serves as the phone’s shortcuts and quick-launch system; with gestures to open up the camera or toggle the flashlight, smart features like silencing the phone if it’s ringing just by picking it up and so on.
Paired with stock features like split-screen multitasking this clean user experience is still a great way to get into Android if you’re a newbie and should prove super simple to navigate for long-time users.
Very little; shortcomings that will most likely fall under personal preference as opposed to objectively bad implementation.
Moto G5 long-term review: Performance and battery life
We were initially wary of the Snapdragon 430 running things inside the G5 but it seems more than comfortable in everyday use, even if it doesn’t benchmark all that well and intensive games cause the cracks to show. If you’re considering buying the Moto G5, just make sure to opt for the version with 3GB of RAM for longevity’s sake.
Things are a little tighter when it comes to storage, with only 10GB of space to play with out-the-box considering the phone’s system files occupy the rest. As such, the phone quickly fills up internally, so you’ll almost certainly have to pick up a microSD card if you’re planning on using this thing long-term.
We’d have also liked NFC for use with things like Android Pay but for the price, it’s an excusable omission.
As for battery life, the phone’s 2800mAh continues to last us through a day’s use without giving up the ghost and thanks to some fast-charging goodness can be back up for hours at a time after just a few minutes at the wall plug. The fact that it’s replaceable is also a huge bonus in a market now dominated by phones with their batteries permanently sealed away inside.
Dependable everyday performance and great all-day battery life with fast-charging.
It doesn’t take all that much to stress the hardware, primarily with intense gaming. Also, NFC would have been nice.
Moto G5 long-term review: Cameras
There’s no question as to whether or not the Moto G5 Plus has a superior snapper but the standard Moto G5’s 13-megapixel main effort is a plucky shooter in its own right that does a respectable job across the board.
It’s perfect for social media junkies on a budget and has a surprisingly rich feature set, including manual control, wrapped up in a super-simple camera interface.
The main camera’s dynamic range could be wider, the front-facer’s low resolution is a little underwhelming and we’d have liked integrated filters to play with, mainly as most other phones give you such an option irrespective of price or performance.
As for video, the phone’s ability to shoot up to Full HD footage with electronic image stabilisation and HDR is all rather impressive. Poor audio recording is the most notable shortcoming.
Clean camera interface, respectable all-round still capture and capable HDR and EIS when shooting video.
A little light on camera features overall alongside narrow dynamic range and weak audio recording with video.
Read next: Motorola Moto G5 camera review
Moto G5 long-term review: Verdict
There’s little to sway us from our initial verdict, even with the newcomers that arrived on the scene since the Moto G5’s original launch. It’s still a stylish smartphone that’s comparatively compact with a great screen, great everyday performance and battery life, and a competent primary camera for the £169 price tag.
The newer Moto G5S gives you a bigger battery and a better camera but it’s also larger-screened and more expensive, undermining two of the most appealing aspects of the standard G5: its compact form and its cost.
If you’re not enamoured with Motorola’s 2017 budget G-series effort then there are a handful of similarly priced alternatives you can find out about in our ‘Best cheap mobile phones for under £200‘ feature.