Moto G5 Plus: Classic line gets internal makeover
By Edwin Yapp September 28, 2017
- G5 Plus packed with features and phone; more bang for your buck
- Overall, G5 Plus feels dated in design; credible competition on offer
EVER since the brand Motorola was acquired by Google in 2011, I have always been intrigued by this household name in wireless communications. After all, it was Motorola who gave the world the first cellular phone in 1973.
My encounter with Moto smartphones began back in 2014, when I personally bought my first Moto X. In 2015, I upgraded to the second-generation Moto X, and in those two years, I was simply charmed by Motorola’s simplicity in design, near-stock Android deployment of the operating system (OS), and the natural presentation of its AMOLED screens, as well as a reasonable battery life.
A lot has happened since then. For starters, Google sold Motorola to Lenovo Group Ltd in 2014, as the Beijing-based vendor trained its sights on being a serious smartphone player globally.
Secondly, Lenovo began putting its stamp on its products by increasing the breadth of its smartphone portfolio, ranging from lower end to mid-range smartphones under its own brand name. But it also kept the Moto branding, as it’s so iconic, and right now, Lenovo still sells handsets such as the top end Moto Z right down to the very affordable Moto E. In between them, there is the Moto G5 Plus, a feature-packed, mid-ranger for the masses.
The mid-range market is fast gaining on smartphone buyers simply because the quality of handsets that are available is pretty high and yet people do not have to sell an arm and a leg to own one.
Design, performance and build
The Moto G5 Plus is a pretty well-built smartphone. The overall feel gives its users a good feeling and compared to the recent experience I had with the Nokia 6, I find that the G5’s rounded edges make it easier to hold.
Specs-wise, the G5 sports a 5.5 inch IPS LCD screen at a resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels (FHD), protected by a Corning Gorilla Glass 3. It comes equipped with a 3,000mAh battery and even has Moto’s Turbo Power charging, its version of Qualcomm’s Quick Charge technology.
Under the hood, it has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 Octa-core CPU running 2.0 GHz (Cortex-A53) with a Adreno 506 GPU. Camera-wise, it comes with a 12 MP, f/1.7, autofocus, dual-LED (dual tone) flash.
In the video department, it records 4k videos with digital stabilisation. It is also NFC equipped, 4GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage, that can be expanded up to 256GB via micro-SD card.
The Moto G5 Plus also comes with a fingerprint reader for added security. The One Button Nav feature combines the three navigation keys on the bottom into one on the fingerprint reader.
Swipe either left to right or right to left on the reader to initiate back or the app switcher. There is also an option to use regular on-screen keys too. Being a Moto, you get regular updates for your software OS and best of all, you get a near stock-android feel for your money. The Moto G5 Plus comes in two colours: Lunar Gray and Fine Gold.
From a purely aesthetic point of view, the Moto G5 Plus looks bland and unexciting to me. Just as a point of comparison, the campher-edged Nokia 6 looks better and gives a classier feel to the overall device appeal.
Don’t get me wrong: The unit is well built and the curved edges makes the smartphone easy to hold and navigation around the screen is easy. But the looks just don’t excite me or any person I’ve shown the phone too.
Aside from that, the performance of things such as the fingerprint scanner, display under bright light, snappy feel of the UI (user interface), as well as the performance of the front-facing audio speakers are all satisfactory and good.
The speedy UI is helped by Moto’s implementation of the stock Android based on its latest Nougat 7.1 The G5 Plus also comes equipped with Google Assistant, which is accessed via a swipe left from your main home screen.
Battery life is extremely good with my test unit achieving a screen-on-time (SOT) of about seven to eight hours. Loop video testing was also excellent, with the unit achieving a whopping 10 to 12 hours of video playback. A two-hour video over YouTube at 80% screen brightness only sapped 9% of battery life.
Camera and video
The camera is a bit of a hit and miss for me. While the pictures from the G5 come up relatively good in brightly-lit situations, I was hopeful that the f/1.7 shooter would perform better in low-light situations.
Alas, the dimly-lit shots weren’t as good as I thought they would be due to the absence of optical image stabilisation. That said, this isn’t surprising given the price point of the smartphone and many of its competitors are in the same boat too.
Video however was slightly better. For a mid-ranger to have 4k recording is already a plus point but with the digital stabilisation – which was not present in the camera setup – it is even better. Though not as good as having OIS, the video stills were able to absorb some measure of bumps while recording.
Still for a mid-ranger, the camera took some nice vivid pictures with good white balance and reasonably good dynamic range and colour saturation. Bearing this in mind, the Moto G5 Plus, IMHO, has an acceptable camera and video package.
At RM1,299 (US$309), the Moto G5 Plus is a good offering. To me, its greatest selling point is that it is packed with a whole lot of good specifications – 4GB RAM, 4K video recording, 12MP shooter, Moto Turbo Charging, a Snapdragon 625 chip – for that price.
Aiding this appeal is the long battery life you can squeeze out of the G5 Plus, which we all know is a premium these days. I don’t foresee the average user depleting the battery juice down to a single percentage in the course of an 18-hour day.
So, what should determine your choice? Well, the G5 Plus, to me, really appeals to those who like a minimalist feel to their smartphone. This means the crowd who will appreciate non-bloated firmware, and are Google Assistant-loving, stock Android-feel enthusiasts.
That is not to say that it isn’t appealing to others who aren’t purists; you’d be surprised, but the speed, long battery life and decent features also work for your average mid-range shopper.
That said, the look and feel of the G5 Plus does feel dated and I would deem it classic at best, boring at worst. Also, there are some credible challengers out there competing in this space should you want something similar. Names such as Huawei 6, Vivo V7, Xiaomi Mi A1 and even the Nokia 6 spring to mind.
So, as cliché as it sounds, it all boils down to what your preferences are, and whether you feel you’re able to trade off a simple-looking smartphone for some good specs.