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The Moto G5 Plus (Review and Giveaway)

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Our verdict of the Moto G5 Plus:
The Moto G5 Plus is a dependable mid-range device. It lacks the flare of some more expensive smartphones, and it doesn’t have the value of cheaper smartphones, but it’s a solid in-between.
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If you want a phone with high-end specs but can’t afford a $700 phone like the Galaxy S8, the Moto G5 Plus might just be for you. At $299 for the model with 4GB and 64GB of storage, it sits firmly in the mid-range smartphone market. (The 2GB/32GB model, however, is just not worth the $229.)

It’s more expensive than low-end devices like the $130 Leagoo T5, but it can offer some decent advantages over those kinds of budget devices. The Moto G5 Plus runs nearly stock Android, but has some clever Moto tweaks and decent hardware backing it up.

Specifications

  • Color: Lunar Gray or Fine Gold
  • Price: $229 for 2GB/32GB or $299 for 4GB/64GB at time of writing
  • Dimensions: 150.2mm x 74.0mm x 7.7 – 9.7mm
  • Weight: 155g (5.4oz)
  • Processor: Octa-core 2.0GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 625
  • RAM: 2GB or 4GB
  • Storage: 32GB or 64GB
  • Screen: 5.2″ 1080p IPS display
  • Cameras: 12MP f/1.7 rear-facing camera, 5MP wide-angle f/2.2 front-facing camera
  • Speakers: Single speaker built-in to the earpiece
  • Battery: 3,000mAh battery, charged via microUSB
  • Operating System: Android 7.0 Nougat
  • Extras: Fingerprint scanner, headphone jack, FM radio

Hardware

The Moto G5 Plus is an incredibly sturdy phone. It’s made of metal, which doesn’t bend or creak at all like cheap plastic phones tend to do. The curved edges make it so that phone doesn’t cut into your palm, though the edge of the screen isn’t as smoothly rounded as it could be.

The matte metal finish looks sleeks and is great at hiding fingerprints as well. The 5.2″ 1080p display gives it a bit of a smaller footprint than most other phones, which tend to clock in at 5.5″ nowadays — though the metal body keeps it weighing the same as other 5.5″ phones.

That display is gorgeous, by the way. It’s crisp, colorful, and bright — even in direct sunlight.

On the right side, you’ll find the power button and volume rocker, which are both pretty standard. The left side is empty, while the top has the microSD card slot and Nano SIM card slot. It’s an average thickness, though it does have a noticeable camera bump.

Along the bottom is just the microUSB port and headphone jack. It should be noted that the G5 Plus does not support the newer USB Type-C. So if you’re looking to convert to the newest standard as soon as possible, this phone is not for you.

Wondering where the speaker is? Well, it’s actually built-in to the earpiece itself. This is convenient because it means that it’s always facing you, but it’s also not the loudest speaker in the world. It’s aggressively mediocre.

While the G5 Plus does use software navigation keys, it actually has a fingerprint sensor along the bottom that can work to replace that navigation bar. If you toggle it on in the settings, the fingerprint sensor will work as a Home button. You can go Back by swiping left on it, and go to Recents by swiping Right on it (or you can reverse that order).

You can also hold down on the fingerprint sensor to turn off the screen. In my opinion, this is the coolest and most innovative feature that the Moto G5 Plus has. If you don’t like the nav bar taking up screen real estate, but you’re also not a fan of capacitive keys, this could be the perfect compromise.

On the back, there’s just a Moto logo and the rear-facing camera. There’s no dual camera here like we’ve been seeing on some other phones recently, but it’s still a pretty decent setup. The 12MP shooter has a f/1.7 aperture, which should be pretty great for capturing low-light photos.

In practice, its photos are a mixed bag. Most of the ones I took with it came out a little blurrier than they should have. It’s not a bad camera by any means, but it’s certainly not my first choice of smartphone camera.

The front-facing camera is a similar deal, though it’s only 5MP. It’s good enough, but it won’t blow you away. And the camera software itself is tweaked a bit, but it’s pretty basic and doesn’t have any tricks that help it stand out.

Software

If you’re familiar with stock Android, then you’re already pretty familiar with what’s running on the Moto G5 Play. It’s customized a little bit, but not a lot. It ships with Android 7.0 Nougat, and there’s still no confirmation at the time of writing about an update to 7.1, though I would expect Motorola to get on that soon.

The default launcher is a Moto-specific one just called Launcher3. It’s a lot like the Google Now Launcher in that you can swipe over to the left side to see a stream of Google Cards with information that’s relevant to you.

From the homescreen, you can swipe up to reach the app drawer, and swipe it down to go back to the homescreen. This is a really fluid motion that’s such a better idea than having a button for reaching the app drawer.

The notification shade looks exactly as it does on stock Android, and thankfully you can edit all the shortcuts there.

There aren’t a whole lot of customizations available in the Settings menu. You can tweak the font size, display size, and toggle on the ability to press the power button twice to open the camera.

There’s no way to show the battery percentage in the status bar, unfortunately. One of the limitations of running a near-stock version of Android is a lack of customization options that other manufacturers add in with their modifications.

Pretty much all that Moto added here is an app simply called Moto. There are two options in the app: Actions, and Display.

The Moto Display option shows just the time, battery percentage, and your notifications when you pick up the phone — without displaying the full lock screen. You can block certain apps from appearing on the Moto Display screen, if you want.

The Moto Actions have a lot more options. One button nav is what we discussed earlier — you can navigation around just using the fingerprint sensor. You can also chop twice to turn on the flashlight, twice your wrist to open the camera, and a few other motions.

And that’s all the software tweaks that are built-in to the Moto G5 Plus. Other Nougat features are here as well, like split screen mode, but that’s something you can expect to find in most Android phones now.

Performance

Inside the G5 Plus is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625, which is their mid-range processor. It’s certainly good enough, though it does become a bit too taxed at times if you’re doing a lot of things at once, and it can lag.

Thankfully, the 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage should keep you trucking along just fine. The 2GB/32GB model is not worth your time, since 4GB of RAM is really the minimum you should be looking for in an Android phone nowadays. 2GB will feel like too little very quickly.

32GB of storage wouldn’t be the end of the world, but 64GB gives you plenty of breathing room. Plus, with the microSD card slot, you can expand that up to another 128GB.

The Moto G5 Plus has different variants in different regions of the world, so make sure that you’re getting the American version if you live in the US so that it has the proper LTE bands. With the American version, it has super-fast data speeds.

Unfortunately, there’s no NFC on board, which means the G5 Plus cannot use Android Pay.

Battery Life

Despite battery life being the main concern of a lot of consumers, manufacturers seem to have stagnated a bit with it — and Moto is no exception. The 3,000mAh battery here is acceptable, but it’s not ground-breaking.

It will probably get you through the day, but not into the next day. That’s fine, but you’d think that with their wide-range of different Moto lines, they could be squeezing a larger battery into one of those families.

The G family, being the mid-range one, seems like the perfect candidate. It doesn’t need to be as thin as the flagship Z family, and it doesn’t need to be as cheap as the budget E family. Still, the battery remains average.

And that microUSB port could be a deterrent for folks who’ve already swapped over to USB Type-C or who just finally want to use a reversible charging cable with their phone. But, if you’re still cling to your hundreds of accumulated microUSB cables, then the Moto G5 Plus can keep you satiated for a while longer.

Should You Get a Moto G5 Plus?

This phone falls in a weird place in today’s smartphone market. Budget Android phones are getting better and better, while flagship devices are pushing the limits of smartphone technology.

The Moto G5 Plus is somewhere in-between. It’s not the best value you can get for a smartphone, and it’s not the most innovative smartphone out there, but it’s a decent balance of the two. If you’re looking for something better than a budget device, but can’t quite go to a $700 phone, it’s a good compromise.

Enter the Competition!

Moto G5 Plus Giveaway



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