Our Moto G5 Plus long-term review takes an in-depth look at Motorola’s brilliant mid-range mobile, which at £259 in the UK offers a full, satisfying smartphone experience. Has the Moto G5 Plus been surpassed since its launch earlier in 2017, and does it stand up to the test of time?
When we first reviewed the Moto G5 Plus, we awarded it a very healthy 4.5 stars out of 5. This mid-range mobile is the perfect antidote to super-priced premium smartphones, offering a solid and satisfying everyday experience at less than half the cost of a Galaxy S8, LG G6 or HTC U11.
Of course, the number of respectable sub-£300 mobiles is stacking up in 2017, with a new one seemingly launched every week. Recently we’ve been impressed by the Sony Xperia XA1 and Nokia 6, while the Honor 9 offers a serious specs upgrade for just a bit more cash.
So how does the Moto G5 Plus fare after four months of use? Is it still a smooth performer and dependable snapper? And have other mid-range handsets surpassed it for general quality? Here’s our in-depth long-term G5 Plus review to clue you in.
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Moto G5 Plus long-term review: Design
The Moto G5 Plus, along with the even more affordable Moto G5, were the first G-series handsets to sport a sleek metal finish. However, while the Moto G5 cheapened the overall image with its sticky-out chrome-style plastic rim, the Moto G5 Plus still looks rather refined. That increased asking price means no corners cut, so you get quite a premium look and feel, including some nicely chamfered edging and a reasonable heft.
Sure, we’ve seen better-looking mid-rangers launched post-Moto G5, including the minimalist Nokia 5 with its Lumia-esque finish. You certainly won’t be ashamed to whip out the G5 Plus in public, however. We’d just prefer some brighter colour options, for a start.
Don’t worry if you’re a bit of a butter-fingers either. Our review sample has taken a few short tumbles and been bashed around inside of our bags, yet it’s still pristine. Well, as pristine as you can expect after this length of time, anyway. That metal backing is definitely damage resistant, repelling scuffs with ease, even around the corners and other vulnerable zones. Thankfully the jutting camera lens has survived intact also.
The G5 Plus is reassuringly rugged and still looks good, even after plenty of use.
Not a very exciting or vibrant finish.
Moto G5 Plus long-term review: Screen and media
The 5.2-inch IPS panel might not seem particularly ‘Plus’ sized, considering most other smartphones with that moniker: the 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus and Huawei P10 Plus instantly leap to mind. However, it’s still more than spacious enough for catching up with shows on your commute, comfortably browsing the web, gaming and so on.
That Full HD resolution keeps everything looking pleasingly crisp, while viewing angles and brightness levels are brilliant. Colour reproduction is towards the ‘realistic’ end of the spectrum, so you’ll see quite natural hues rather than vibrant visuals.
We’re a bit gutted that there’s no kind of night mode however, to filter blue light and beam out warmer images when you’re browsing random websites at 2am. Most Android phones have this feature now, so its absence on the G5 Plus is notable.
Of course it’s just as well you get 32GB of storage instead of a paltry 16GB, as just over 20GB of that is available to use from the moment you boot up the G5 Plus. The rest of that space filled up rather quickly with apps, Netflix downloads and home movies. Luckily you also have a microSD memory card slot, so you can easily expand the available storage space up to a further 128GB.
Sharp visuals, great viewing angles, solid brightness levels.
No night mode is a shame, while colours could be punchier.
Moto G5 Plus long-term review: Features
It’s always refreshing to return to a smartphone with a vanilla Android experience. Not many handsets offer such a naked, raw version of Google’s mobile OS, although Nokia’s new trio of mid-range mobiles – the Nokia 3, Nokia 5 and Nokia 6 – don’t tinker with Android much either.
The G5 Plus presents Android Nougat in a more or less original form, with one of the only tweaks being the addition of the Moto Assistant. This is actually a great little app, which adds very useful functionality.
For instance, the G5 Plus isn’t amazingly easy to use with a single hand, despite that relatively compact screen. That’s mostly thanks to the rather chunky bezels surrounding the screen. Thankfully the Moto Assistant adds a very handy one-handed mode, which can be used to shrink your desktops or apps down towards the bottom of the screen. Much easier, and less risk of the phone slipping from your grasp.
The Assistant adds some other handy shortcuts too, proving itself a more than worthy addition to Google’s own Android features.
Want to know more about the Moto G5 Plus’ OS and features? Have a gander at our in-depth Moto G5 Plus tips and tricks guide.
Unlike the cheaper Moto G5, the Plus model supports NFC, so you can use it for contactless payments. You also get a fingerprint sensor, built into the home button beneath the screen. This is pleasingly responsive, only failing to recognise our digits when our hands are dirty or wet. And while the unlocking action might not be instant, it’s still perfectly quick.
NFC support, raw Android and the brilliant Moto Assistant, especially its one-handed mode
We’re actually pretty happy with the G5 Plus’ user experience, so nothing to report here.
Moto G5 Plus long-term review: Performance and battery life
A Snapdragon 625 chipset powers the G5 Plus and although that’s not exactly a super-powered platform, we have no complaints about this Moto’s performance.
Over the course of several months, the G5 Plus certainly hasn’t shown any sign of slowdown. We’ve loaded it with apps and filled the storage with all kinds of downloads and yet apps still load up quickly and run smoothly. Games play with a respectable frame rate too, even the more demanding 3D action titles.
We praised the Moto G5 Plus in our original review for its outstanding battery life. Although this phone has been outperformed by some rivals in this area, such as the brilliant Lenovo P2, we’re still perfectly pleased.
If you’re constantly pulling your phone out to check your messages, mess around online and so on, you’ll still get a day and a half of use between charges – even after many months of recharging. Battery drain is still negligible when the phone is hibernating too, which is reassuring.
You also get Moto’s Turbo Charge feature, which rapidly fills the battery for the first half hour of charging. That’ll be enough to see you through the day, just about. It’s just a crying shame that you don’t get the new Type-C USB connectivity, which is fully reversible and allows for faster data transfer too.
Long battery life, smooth performance.
No Type-C USB, booo.
Moto G5 Plus long-term review: Cameras
At this sort of price point, the Moto G5 Plus still provides one of the very best smartphone camera experiences around.
In true Moto style, the camera app is a joy to use. It’s a simple point n’ shoot affair, which also gives you the option of full manual controls if so required. That Dual Pixel focus is incredibly fast, so you can rattle off shots with no kind of delay, and in combination with the double-twist gesture to load the camera app, you’re guaranteed not to miss any action.
Our photos almost always come out well, even at night thanks to that f/1.7 aperture lens. And you can shoot up to 4K video too, so your home movies will look the biz and be completely future-proof.
The only other sub-£300 mobile that we’ve tested in 2017 that can boast just as strong optics is the Sony Xperia XA1. Sony’s phone doesn’t offer Ultra HD video recording, although is just as solid when it comes to photo reproduction and lens action.
Have a gander at our full Moto G5 Plus camera review for samples and all you need to know. We love this camera so much, we even put it up against the brilliant Samsung Galaxy S7, which sports the best camera tech of any phone from last year.
Easy to use, with great results pretty much every time
Pretty much nothing at all. This is one of the best smartphone cameras to be found at this price point.
Moto G5 Plus long-term review: Verdict
Even halfway through the year, the Moto G5 Plus remains one of our favourite sub-£300 smartphones. There’s little to quibble about here, as it’s an all-round solidly constructed handset. Slick performance, long battery life, excellent camera tech and a pure form of Android; the Moto G5 Plus delivers in spades, for a price that really works.
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