Our in-depth Moto G5 Plus review takes a close look at the performance, battery life, camera tech and overall user experience of Lenovo’s great-value mid-range mobile.
The Moto G5 Plus is one of two affordable phones launched by Lenovo in 2017, out at the massive Mobile World Congress expo in Barcelona (the other being the more modestly specced Moto G5). And while the G5 twins may have been eclipsed by premium flagship mobiles like the LG G6 and Sony’s Xperia XZ Premium at MWC 2017, we were instantly intrigued.
We’ve been big fans of the Moto G range for yonks, with last year’s Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus proving to be two of the best affordable phones of 2016. However, recent months have seen the release of some seriously strong handsets around the £200 to £250 price point, including heavyweights like the Lenovo P2 and Wileyfox Swift 2 X.
Thankfully the G5 and G5 Plus can match these mobiles blow for blow. They’ve slimmed down compared with the G4 handsets, while once again packing solid specs and dependable camera tech for an impressively low price.
Here’s our complete Moto G5 Plus review, revealing everything you need to know before you commit to a purchase.
Moto G5 Plus Review: Design
The Moto G series has certainly evolved over the past few years, offering up a diverse range of designs to cater for pretty much any tastes.
Until now, the Moto G3 was probably our favourite thanks to the colourful finishes and water resistant finish. Last year’s G4 seemed like a step in a slightly unsatisfying direction however, with a super-wide body that wasn’t particularly comfortable to clutch, plus a rather tired plastic frame.
Now we have the Moto G5 and G5 Plus, which offer a more mature and premium-feeling design. These are the first metal Moto G phones and we’d expect nothing less, after enjoying the aluminium body of the Lenovo P2 for under £200. The G5 Plus’ sandblasted surfacing is a serious improvement over the old grooved plastic of yesteryear, even if the border is constructed from colour-matched plastic.
Sure, the rear camera juts a fair way from the surface of the phone, but this never troubled us when we slipped the phone into our pockets. And although the G5 Plus isn’t water resistant, it’s splash proof to survive a rainstorm or two no problem.
One-handed use is still a little tricky at times, despite the more slender frame. However, Lenovo has included a helpful feature which shrinks your desktops and apps towards the bottom of the screen, which works well in a pinch.
Moto G5 Plus Review: Screen and media
Like last year’s Moto G4 and G4 Plus, you get a Full HD panel plugged into the Moto G5 Plus. This time around it’s a slightly smaller screen of course, at ‘just’ 5.2-inches. But that’s still spacious enough for a comfortable extended Netflix session, while visuals are as pleasingly crisp as you’d hope.
Colours don’t exactly leap off the display sadly, even with the Vivid mode activated. Images are still attractive enough, they’re just not quite as lively as we’d have hoped. Thankfully the G5 Plus’ screen is as bright as you’d like, with solid viewing angles and sharp contrast.
You can expand the 32GB of internal storage (24GB of which is available) using a microSD memory card. Just slot your card into the SIM tray and you can carry around a massive media collection.
Moto G5 Plus Review: Features and OS
Android Nougat comes pre-installed on the Moto G5 Plus, offering all of the usual benefits and nifty features. You can now use two apps side-by-side for instance, using the split-screen mode. Tighter power efficiency makes for longer-lasting battery life, while improved notifications keep you informed of everything that’s going on (and allow for quick, direct responses).
Lenovo hasn’t messed around with Google’s Android experience much at all. You get some funky built-in gestures, which are genuinely useful; these include the ability to mute the phone by flipping it over and open the camera app with a twist of your wrist. You also have the option of replacing the on-screen back, home and recent apps buttons with fingerprint sensor gestures. This works even better than the Huawei P10’s sensor shortcuts, proving much more intuitive.
Check out our in-depth Moto G5 Plus tips and tricks guide for a full run-down of Lenovo’s UI tweaks.
Speaking of the fingerprint sensor, that scanner is pleasingly accurate and responsive. Tap your chosen digit to the surface and the phone unlocks in an instant, almost never throwing up any kind of error.
Moto G5 Plus Review: Performance and battery life
Inside the G5 Plus you’ll find a Snapdragon 625 chipset backed by 3GB of RAM. The result is reassuringly smooth performance. Apps load with nary a pause, while zipping around Android rarely throws up any kind of lag or stutter. Only once during our week of play time did the Moto G5 Plus struggle, when trying to message in Skype. Closing down the app and reloading thankfully helped the phone to regain control.
You can also play the latest games with a consistent frame rate. The likes of Super Mario Run pose no problem, while other fast-paced, reaction-sensitive action titles run just as well.
As for battery life, the Moto G5 Plus is one of the best-performing Moto G handsets we’ve ever tested. On a full charge, you’ll have enough power to keep going for around two days. That includes plenty of use too, including regular messaging, some media streaming, occasional calls and a fair bit of web browsing.
Of course the G5 Plus can’t quite reach the incredible three days of life offered by the Lenovo P2, but that’s no surprise. After all, that phone packed in a hefty 5100mAh battery, compared with the Moto’s 3000mAh cell.
Sadly you don’t get a fully reversible Type-C USB port for charging, for some reason. This also means that data transfer is slower, when copying files to and from the phone.
However, the Moto G5 Plus is pretty quick when it comes to powering back up. That Turbo Charge feature means just half an hour at the plug is enough for a full day of use; always handy when you wake up and realise your battery’s just about dead.
Moto G5 Plus Review: Cameras
One of the most intriguing and enticing features of the Moto G5 Plus is that 12-megapixel rear camera. Not only does it boast the same clever Dual Pixel Autofocus tech found in the splendid Samsung Galaxy S7 camera, but the G5 Plus’ lens sports the same f/1.7 aperture for improved low light functionality.
This time around you also get full 4K video recording, something not found on previous Moto G handsets.
So, is the Moto G5 Plus’ camera really all that? Go read our Moto G5 Plus camera review for our full analysis, plus our thoughts on the UI and full photo and video samples.
Moto G5 Plus Review: Verdict
The Moto G5 Plus is a worthy continuation of the great value Moto G family, offering a more than satisfying user experience at an affordable price. Anyone after a dependable mobile snapper will be happy with the easy-to-use camera, while the impressive battery life and smooth performance make for a solid all-round smartphone.
Smartphones at this price point have to deliver in buckets thanks to the high quality of the competition. Thankfully the Moto G5 Plus is more than a match for other mid-range mobiles like the Lenovo P2, Wileyfox Swift 2 series and Huawei’s P8 Lite 2017.