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Moto G5 Plus camera review: Photo and video samples and a cheeky S7 comparison

We’ve fully tested the Moto G5 Plus’ 12-megapixel rear camera and 5-megapixel front camera, to see if they really are the best budget mobile snappers around. Here’s what to expect from that Dual Pixel autofocus technology, plus a look at the G5 Plus camera app and photo and video modes. We’ve also compared with the Samsung Galaxy S7, which sports the same Dual Pixel Autofocus and another f/1.7 aperture lens.

Lenovo launched the Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus out at MWC 2017 and the most enticing features on both of these phones is undoubtedly the camera tech.

The Moto G5 Plus boasts a ‘best in class’ 12-megapixel rear camera, which certainly sounds amazing on paper. With its Dual Pixel Autofocus technology and f/1.7 aperture lens, this is comparable in specs to the brilliant and dependable Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge cameras. That kind of smartphone snapper for roughly half the price is a very enticing prospect indeed.

Here’s our full Moto G5 Plus camera review, complete with a breakdown of the tech involved, how the camera app functions, photo and video test samples and our in-depth analysis.

Check out our standard Moto G5’s 13-megapixel camera review to see how the two mobile snappers stack up, and take a look at our Moto G5 Plus in-depth review to learn more about this excellent value smartphone.

Moto G5 Plus camera specs

Here are the specs of the Moto G5 Plus’ front and back cameras.

Rear camera

12-megapixel lens with Dual Autofocus Pixels

ƒ/1.7 aperture

Dual LED flash

8X digital zoom for photos, 4X for video

Auto HDR

4K Ultra HD video capture (30 fps)

Front camera

5-megapixel wide-angle lens

ƒ/2.2 aperture

Screen flash

Full HD video capture

What is Dual Pixel Autofocus technology on the Moto G5 and G5 Plus’ camera and does it work?

Dual Pixel Autofocus is basically a fast method for a camera to lock onto a subject, particularly a moving subject, to keep them sharp and in focus when the shutter button is tapped and the photo is taken.

Most smartphone camera sensors have a number of pixels dedicated purely to focus. These analyse the light hitting the sensor and adjust the camera focus accordingly, to ensure a sharp result. However, Dual Pixel sensors take a different approach. In this case, every single pixel servers a dual purpose; focusing on the subject as well as capturing the final image.

Dual Pixel Autofocus was first found on the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge cameras, which just happen to be two of the best mobile snappers around. We’re rarely left with a blurry shot on Samsung’s flagships, despite taking thousands of photos on those phones.

As expected, the Moto G5 Plus is just as strong. Photos take pretty much the moment you tap the shutter button and unless your subject is moving close to the lens, these shots are almost never blurred.

Read next: Moto G5 vs Moto G5 Plus, what’s the difference?

Moto G5 Plus camera app review

As usual, Moto’s camera app is pleasingly simple to use and the main interface is free of clutter, giving you access only to the most essential settings and features.

There’s an on-screen shutter button on the right edge, along with a button for switching between the front and rear cameras. You also have the camera mode button, which we’ll touch on in a moment.

Over on the left edge you have three important settings: flash, HDR and timer. These can all be turned on or off with a quick tap. HDR and the flash have an auto mode, if you’d rather let the Moto G5 Plus handle that side of things.

Tap on the main part of the screen and you can override the autofocus, as well as mess around with brightness levels. If you demand a bit more control, there’s also a full manual mode. Just prod that camera mode button and choose the leftmost option and you can play with the white balance, ISO levels and so on.

In the camera modes menu you can also choose to record standard video or slow-mo video. And of course you get the obligatory panorama mode.

Swipe up and down the main camera screen to digitally zoom, swipe left to access your photos and swipe right to jump into the G5 Plus’ camera settings. From here you can change the photo and video resolution, enable or disable location tagging and even dive into a brief camera tutorial.

Our only complaint with the G5 Plus’ camera is that it takes two taps to jump into video mode. Many other camera apps give you a video button right there on the main interface, requiring just a single tap to jump straight into your recording. With Moto’s setup, you might miss one of those spontaneous moments that you’d really like to capture.

However, it is possible to quick launch the G5 Plus camera in three ways, including some handy gesture support – great news for those spontaneous snaps.

Moto G5 Plus camera photo testing

Our test shots show that the Moto G5 Plus is a solid budget snapper, capable of capturing good-looking, accurate images across a range of conditions.

Built-in HDR helps to deal with tricky lighting, ensuring your photos are packed with detail even when you have to shoot into the light. It’s not infallible, but it often works well. Just be sure to keep your hands steady when shooting HDR images.

With dim conditions, that f/1.7 aperture lens can still suck up quite a lot of light to produce a usable shot. The two-tone LED flash helps out with seriously low light images too.

As with many mobile cameras, and especially those with wide aperture lenses, the G5 Plus struggles with fast-moving objects when they’re close to the lens. Kids and pets are particularly troublesome, but make sure you’re shooting them with strong light and not too close and you’ll be fine.

Check out our Moto G5 Plus photo samples below.

Moto G5 Plus vs Samsung Galaxy S7 camera test: Photo comparison

For anyone who’s curious, here are some example test photos taken in identical conditions on the G5 Plus and Samsung’s Galaxy S7. As you can see, despite featuring the same Dual Pixel autofocus tech and both cameras sporting an f/1.7 aperture lens, there are unsurprisingly differences in the final images.

Click each photo to see an enlarged image.

The S7 tends to process images so colours really stand out. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but we personally think that Samsung’s shots are more pleasing to the eye. However, detail levels are a match and the Moto G5 Plus holds up impressively well considering it’s a fraction of the cost of the S7.

Moto G5 Plus camera video testing

When it comes to video recording, the G5 Plus does a decent enough job for those home movies.

You can shoot Full HD 1080p footage at either 30 or 60 frames-per-second, while the G5 Plus also boasts the ability to capture 4K Ultra HD resolution video. Detail levels are solid no matter which resolution you choose. Our test video looked good when viewed back on a TV, offering decent lighting and accurate colour reproduction.

The G5 Plus’ focus operates in good time, snapping onto whatever the phone is pointing at without any struggle. There’s an occasional ‘popping’ effect as the focus adjusts on moving objects, but nothing too distracting.

If you shoot at Full HD 30fps, you can expect Moto’s digital image stabilisation to cut down on any judder and shake as you move around. This works pretty well, as long as you aren’t attempting to tango as you film. However, there’s no EIS on 4K footage (standard for mobile phones), so you’ll want to be as still as possible when recording Ultra HD video.

Check out our Moto G5 Plus video test samples below.


Moto G5 Plus selfie camera testing

That 5-megapixel front-facing camera boasts a wide-angle lens, which can be used to capture a group of people no problem. In decent lighting conditions, you can expect a sharp, detailed photo. However, when the light is dim, your mug will appear grainy.

There is a ‘flash’ mode to help out when things get seriously dark, which lights up the G5 Plus’ display as the shot is taken. The results aren’t great, as you can see in the samples below, but it just about does the job for those club selfies.

Click each photo to see an enlarged image.

Check back soon for our in-depth Moto G5 Plus review.