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Moto G5 Review: In Depth

4.5

The Good

  • Clean, intelligent interface
  • Premium design elements
  • Great screen
  • Value for money

The Bad

  • Poor video audio recording
  • Cheap design elements
  • Low internal storage

Moto G5 Review: Whenever a new G-series phone appears on the scene it's sure to get budget-conscious mobile fans a little hot under the collar and the new Moto G5 looks to be another strong effort in a long line of excellent affordable Android handsets from Lenovo/Motorola.

Moto G5 Review: Design

The big hook of the G5 from an aesthetic standpoint is that it integrates metal into its construction, a departure from last year's G4 and G4 Plus that ups the premium factor on an otherwise decidedly plastic handset. There's an attractive polished chamfer around the circular camera surround, metal hardware controls and it's cool to the touch when you pick the phone up.

Moto G5 front Moto G5 back

Jump to the front however and the chromed plastic around the phone's edge, designed to complement the pale gold or lunar grey bodywork, looks comparatively cheap. The Moto G5 still feels like a well-built handset, however, and the fact that the back is removable means you can easily swap out the battery, slot in a microSD card or even throw in a second SIM card. Such accessibility is made better by the fact that whilst there's no IP certification, Lenovo/Motorola has coated the phone's components in a hydrophobic treatment so it can withstand the elements more readily than your average budget blower as well.

One feature that's trickled down from last year's more powerful G4 Plus is a front-facing fingerprint sensor. Set into the cover glass, it serves as the fastest way to unlock the G5, working directly from sleep and if you want, it can replace the on-screen navigation buttons to free up more display space, Huawei P10-style.

Moto G5 Review: Screen

There's a 5-inch Full HD IPS LCD front and centre on the G5 and it's an absolutely beautiful panel on par with the 5.2-inch offering found on the £320 Honor 8. It packs great viewing angles with minimal colour distortion, impressive overall brightness and legibility in direct sunlight, and its smaller size means it actually puts out a sharper image than its bigger brother, the G5 Plus.

Moto G5 screen

It would have been nice were the bezels just a tad smaller and whilst 5-inches means the G5 is better suited than most current Android phones for one-handed use, there's also a dedicated one-handed mode that lets you place a scaled down interface in one of three positions for added convenience and comfort.

Tilt-to-wake also features, letting you easily check the time or your notifications without having to unlock the G5 and what's more, it's protected Gorilla Glass 3.

Moto G5 Review: OS

As is customary for a Moto device, the G5 sports a near stock take on Android, only augmented by a couple of own-brand apps, widgets and a wealth of genuinely useful gestures, letting you do things like quick-launch the camera or turn on the flashlight.

Beyond that, the G5 offers up a clean Android 7.0 Nougat experience, with a swipe-up apps drawer, just as on Google's Pixel phones, there's now native split-screen multitasking and the notifications pane is customisable too. Whether this is your first smartphone or you're coming from almost any other Android phone, the user experience offered up by the G5 should feel easy to get to grips with.

Moto G5 Review: Performance and battery

On the inside, the Moto G5 is one of only a handful of phones to rock Qualcomm's Snapdragon 430 processor. Launching around the same time as the Snapdragon 625 powering the G5's bigger brother, the chipset may sit a the lower end of Qualcomm's current portfolio, but it seems more than capable of ensuring that the G5 feels tightly wound. General navigation is smooth, it doles out short app load times and it seems perfectly happy running two apps side by side using Nougat's native multitasking functionality.

Moto G5 with back removed

Whilst some markets have the option of 2GB and 3GB of RAM, we'd opt for the latter to keep the Moto G5 feeling fresher for longer, particularly if you're planning on picking the phone up on a 24-month contract. One option that's been removed since last years G Series is a 32GB storage skew, leaving users with just 16GB to play with, only 10GB of which is actually user accessible. Thankfully, alongside the phone's welcome dual SIM functionality you can also slot in a microSD card up to 128GB.

Along with elements like metal bodywork, one of the other key goals that Lenovo/Motorola set out to achieve with the Moto G5 was that it offer all-day battery life and the removable 2800mAh cell certainly delivers. We'd hoped for closer to two days based on the battery performance of some of its predecessors and the G5 Plus, but you can at least use it liberally throughout a single day without needing to work.

Moto G5 camera

There's also a 10-watt rapid charger in-box which powers the phone back up to about 75 per cent in an hour that should keep you going on a particularly long day, even it that isn't as swift as the Plus's Turbo Charging.

Moto G5 Review: Cameras

The G5’s camera experience starts with a clean but powerful interface, with some smart features like QR code reader functionality, on-the-fly exposure adjustment and an effective set of beauty tools. The 13-megapixel primary boasts PDAF (another feature previously exclusive to reserved for last year's Plus phone) for fast focusing and auto HDR capture.

Image quality is solid across the board, with surprisingly low amounts of noise for a phone camera at its price point, but there are issues when shooting in high contrast scenarios. One saving grace is that despite its budget nature, it also features a rich manual shooting mode.

Video quality is solid, topping out at 1080p HD at 30fps, with effective electronic image stabilisation (EIS) at play to steady shots, however, audio quality is severely lacking, letting down an otherwise impressive setup.

Check out our Moto G5 camera review for a full rundown of the phone's capabilities and image quality.

Moto G5 Review: Verdict

The new Moto G5 stays true to the G family formula, focussing on aspects like design, battery, camera and at £169, affordability. Certain elements, like storage, fall short of the mark, but for the most part, the Moto G5 packs in plenty of character, functionality and should appeal to social media butterflies, the budget conscious or just fans of the G series brand.

Moto G5 fingerprint sensor

If the G5 feels too small for you, then check out our complete Moto G5 Plus review to see how its bigger brother stacks up.

Key Specs

  • 5-inches
  • Full HD (1920x1080)
  • 145 grams
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 13-megapixels
  • 5-megapixels
  • 1.4GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 430
  • 3GB RAM
  • 16GB. Expandable via microSD up to 128GB
  • Yes
  • Dual SIM, hydrophobic coating, smart gestures/actions, fingerprint sensor

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