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Moto G5 vs Moto G4: Worth an upgrade?

Moto G5 vs Moto G4: The Moto G5 feels like a notable departure from its predecessor in a number of ways, but just how different are these two when we dissect what they have to offer amidst the chaos of MWC 2017?

Moto G5 vs Moto G4: Specs at a glance

  Moto G4 Moto G5
Screen size 5.5-inches 5-inches
Screen resolution Full HD (1920×1080) Full HD (1920×1080)
Weight 155 grams 146 grams
OS Android 7.0 (originally 6.0) Android 7.0
Front camera 5-megapixels 5-megapixels
Rear camera 13-megapixels 13-megapixels w/ PDAF
Processor 1.5GHz/1.2GHz Snapdragon 617 1.4GHz Snapdragon 430
Memory 2GB/3GB 2GB/3GB
Storage 16GB/32GB + microSD up to 128GB 16GB + microSD up to 128GB
Battery 3000mAh 2800mAh
Price (at time of writing) From £149 From £169

Moto G5 vs Moto G4: What’s the difference?

To look at there are a fair few obvious differences. The G5 was designed with consumers’ love of premium materials and top-notch build quality in mind; as such it looks and feels like a pricier and more well-built phone than its predecessor. Both the G4 and G4 Plus suffered from decidedly uninteresting and cheap-feeling plastic bodies. The flat back of the G4 doesn’t sit anywhere near as comfortably in the hand as the G5’s considered rounded, partially metal body does either.

A smaller screen size also helps the newer phone’s palm friendly nature. The 5-inch Full HD IPS LCD on offer shrinks the phone’s overall footprint when compared to the 5.5-inch screen-laden G4, whilst also resulting in sharper, more pixel-dense imagery and a panel that pushes out better contrast and colours too.

Once reserved solely for the Plus family, the G5 also benefits from a front-facing fingerprint sensor set into the cover glass beneath the display, the G4 has no such hardware so you’re stuck with Android’s more traditional PIN, pattern or password for security.

On the software side, whilst the G4 has recently made the jump to Android 7.0 Nougat, the G5 comes running with it out the gate (and will likely receive an update to the next major release while the G4 gets left behind). Both phones run a near stock take on Google’s mobile OS, with the G5 showcasing the newer swipe-up apps drawer first seen on Google’s own Pixel and Pixel XL. Both retain smart additions from Motorola/Lenovo in the form of quick-launch gestures, so you can open the camera or turn on the flashlight with a swift double twist or chop of the wrist.

On the inside, the G4 and G5 come running Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 617 and 430 respectively. Both chipsets were announced at the same time, but launched relatively far apart (the 617 came first). There are a number of commonalities between these two too, however, the newer 430 in the G5 promises beefier graphical chops for gaming and entertainment, whilst the 617 inside the G4 can accommodate faster 4G LTE speeds.

Lenovo/Motorola also gave you a choice when it brought the G4 to market, with skews of storage in both 16GB and 32GB flavours paired with either 2GB or 3GB of RAM. This time around the company has simplified things a little, with 16GB of storage in the G5 and the option of 2GB or 3GB of RAM for an extra £10. It seems odd to only offer the lesser storage capacity, but like the G4, the G5 is also expandable via microSD up to 128GB.

Whichever way you swing it you get fast charging, with a bigger (non-removable) 3000mAh battery in the G4, versus a 2800mAh (non-removable) cell in the G5 that offers four hours of use from 15 minutes charge time. We were hoping that the G5 would also jump onto the Type-C bandwagon, but it, likes the G4 relies on microUSB instead.

The Moto G4 set a high bar with its 13-megapixel primary camera last year. It takes decent photos in most conditions and shoots solid Full HD video too. The camera arrangement on the new G5 is relatively unchanged, save for the addition of phase detection autofocus (PDAF), another feature that was previously exclusive to the Plus. As such expect faster focussing when snapping with the G5 and equally competent selfies from its 5-megapixel front-facer (just like the G4’s).

These phones may look different, but they’re more alike than they first seemed. There is a slight difference in price, however. Almost a year on from its launch you can pick up a based level 16GB/2GB RAM G4 for around £149, whilst the 2GB Moto G5 will be hitting the market in mid-March at the £169 price range.

For £20 more that more premium metal build, fingerprint sensor, more efficient fast-charging tech, newer skew of Android and snappier camera seem like a pretty good proposition. Now all the Moto G5 has to do is fight off the rest of the affordable smartphone market.

Read next: Moto G5 hands-on review