Motorola has another winner on its hands with the G5 Plus.

Quick take:

The Moto G5 Plus symbolizes a bold move by Motorola to assert its dominance in this segment. It combines great hardware with unmatched software experience, culminating in a device that stands a head and shoulders above the competition. I'm not going to mince words here — if you want a capable budget phone in 2017, the Moto G5 Plus should be at the top of your list.

The good

  • Amazing camera
  • Decent hardware
  • Unmatched software
  • Great battery life

The bad

  • Base variant has 16GB storage
  • Costlier than rivals
  • Micro-USB doesn't cut it in 2017

Moto G5 Plus Full review

The Moto G5 Plus comes at a time when the Indian smartphone segment is witnessing a heady growth. The Chinese contingent is in a dominant position in the country, and the goal this year for everyone from Lenovo, OPPO, Vivo, and Xiaomi is to outmatch Samsung, who's still leading the pack. Lenovo, in particular, is looking to solidify its second place in the market, and in recent months we've seen the manufacturer roll out several enticing devices in the form of the K6 Power, K6 Note, and the Lenovo P2.

Phones sold under Lenovo's label are going strong in India, but it is clear that the manufacturer is gravitating to the Motorola brand to do the heavy lifting. At the G5 Plus launch event in India, Motorola announced that it sold over 6 million units in the Moto G series globally since its inception in 2014. The series is certainly one that Motorola cares about deeply, which is evident when one looks at the improvements made in this generation.

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The Moto G5 Plus has several upgrades for 2017, including a metal body and beefier hardware in the form of a Snapdragon 625 — the same SoC used in the Redmi Note 4. Earlier phones in the Moto G series weren't known for their hardware prowess, with Motorola instead focusing on optimizing the software for a smooth experience. Software superiority continues to be Motorola's strong suit, but with the Moto G5, the company is also offering robust specs and a significantly upgraded camera in a bid to take the fight to the likes of Xiaomi, Huawei, OPPO, and Vivo.

The result is a handset that has great hardware and software, as well as a camera that can hold its own next to phones that cost twice as much. Read on to find out why the Moto G5 Plus should be worthy of your consideration.

Moto G5 Plus India

Moto G5 Plus Specs

Category Features
Operating System Android 7.0 Nougat
Display 5.2-inch 1080p (1920x1080) IPS LCD panel
424ppi pixel density
SoC Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625
Eight Cortex A53 cores at 2.0GHz
14nm
GPU Adreno 506 with Vulkan API, OpenCL 2.0, and OpenGL ES 3.1
650MHz
RAM 2GB/4GB
Storage 16GB/32GB
microSD slot up to 128GB
Dual SIM connectivity
Rear camera 12MP with f/1.7 lens
PDAF, LED flash, Auto HDR
1080p video recording
Front shooter 5MP with f/2.2 lens
Connectivity LTE with VoLTE
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, NFC
Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, GLONASS
Micro-USB, 3.5mm audio jack
Battery 3,000mAh battery
TurboPower fast charging
Fingerprint Front fingerprint sensor
Dimensions 150.2 x 74 x 7.7mm
Weight 155g
Colors Lunar Grey, Fine Gold

About this review

I (Harish Jonnalagadda) am writing this review after using the Moto G5 Plus variant with 4GB of RAM and 32GB storage for two weeks in Hyderabad, India. The unit was provided by Lenovo India for review and was connected to Airtel's 4G network for the bulk of the testing period. I switched to Jio for a few days to test out VoLTE. The device was running Android 7.0 Nougat (build number NPN25.137-15) with the January 1, 2017 security patch and didn't receive any updates over the course of the review period.

Moto G5 Plus India

Moto G5 Plus Design and screen

The Moto G5 Plus is the first phone in the Moto G series to feature a metal design. Contrary to Motorola's marketing materials, the G5 Plus isn't entirely made out of metal. The back is certainly crafted out of aluminum, but the sides retain the plastic frame that's coated to feel metallic. The new design definitely makes the G5 Plus feel more upmarket, and the smooth curves at the back along with the rounded corners and the subtle chamfers make the device stand out in a sea of similar-looking metal devices.

The phone is a definite improvement over the G4 Plus. That said, the distinct Motorola design language that made initial generations of the Moto G series so endearing has gone. While the overall design of the G5 Plus is by no means underwhelming, it does tend to come across as tacky.

While we're on the subject of design, the SIM card slot on the G5 Plus bears a quick mention. Earlier generations of the Moto G series had a removable back, allowing you to slot in the SIM cards and microSD card after removing the back cover. But the switch to a metallic back has led to a non-removable back on the G5 Plus, and that means a SIM card slot, which is at the top of the device. The housing has slots for two SIM cards, as well as a dedicated slot for a microSD card — a welcome move considering the base variant of the G5 Plus has just 16GB of internal storage.

As for the screen, the 1080p panel on the G5 Plus is one of the best in this segment, and it doesn't suffer from the unduly warm tones exhibited by its predecessor. Color balance and saturation are good, and while Motorola doesn't offer as many display features as some of its competitors — such as a blue light filter and the ability to adjust color temperature — the screen on the G5 Plus should be plenty adequate.

The design of the Moto G5 Plus is a move in the right direction.

The phone has a slight protrusion at the back for the camera sensor, but it doesn't affect its usage when laid flat on a surface. Oh, and that iconic Batwing logo is positioned right below the camera housing. I was worried about the sensor picking up scratches, but in two weeks, I've yet to notice any. The power button and the volume rocker are on the right, and they offer decent tactile feedback. A nice touch is the texture on the power button, making it easier for you to locate the button with your finger.

Talking about positive changes, the fingerprint sensor is no longer an eyesore, with Motorola deciding to offer a more conventional sensor that's rounded off. The larger surface area makes a lot of difference when using the sensor to authenticate, and the process itself is just as fast — if not slightly faster — than the G4 Plus. You'll be able to switch the phone on and off by interacting with the sensor, and it has other tricks up its sleeve. More on that later.

Moto G5 Plus India

Moto G5 Plus Hardware

The Moto G5 Plus is different from its predecessors in that it has decent hardware. Motorola's motto was always to deliver the best software experience, and that hasn't always led to phones with the best specs. We've seen that last year with the Snapdragon 617 in the G4 Plus and a year before that with the Snapdragon 615 in the Moto G 2015, but this time around Motorola is including Qualcomm's 14nm Snapdragon 625 SoC in the G5 Plus.

This is the same chipset that was used in the Moto Z Play, a handset that debuted for ₹24,999. The difference is immediately noticeable when you start using the G5 Plus. It is quick to load apps and games and doesn't stutter or lag during intense workloads. It does have its shortcomings when it comes to visually intensive games on account of the Adreno 506 GPU, but in everyday usage scenarios, you'll not face any issues with the G5 Plus.

Where the G5 Plus shares a similarity with its predecessor is when it comes to the onboard sensors. Like the G4 Plus, this year's G5 Plus does not have a magnetometer. However, I used the phone with Google Maps while driving, and it worked just fine.

While the Indian G5 Plus has NFC, the base variant comes with a paltry 16GB storage.

Unlike last year — where both the G4 and G4 Plus were powered by the same chipset — the G5 Plus has the Snapdragon 625 while the standard G5 features the Snapdragon 430. As a result, we're seeing several SKUs in the Moto G series for 2017. Motorola is taking a data-driven approach to each market, making features available based on the usage data it has accumulated over the years. That means that the G5 Plus units sold in the U.S. don't have NFC, an omission that is a dealbreaker for many potential customers.

Thankfully, the G5 Plus sold in India is NFC-enabled, and while I'm glad it's present, I'm not getting much use out of it as Android Pay has yet to make its debut in the country. Samsung launched its digital payments service in India last month, and during the G5 Plus launch event, Motorola hinted that Android Pay would be available soon. There isn't a timeline for when the feature will be rolled out, and until that time, NFC is relegated to being a tick mark on the spec sheet.

While Motorola wins a point for including NFC in the Indian variant of the G5 Plus, it loses one for its decision to offer just 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage with the base variant. It's an obvious ploy by the manufacturer to get customers to choose the pricier model, which has 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. The base variant retails for ₹14,999, and with the higher-storage model costing a mere ₹2,000 more at ₹16,999, it's a no-brainer to opt for the latter.

Furthermore, Motorola's decision to stick with Micro-USB is a puzzling choice, considering the similarly-priced Z2 Plus runs USB-C. Lenovo pointed out that the Z2 Plus is aimed at the enthusiast segment and that the Moto G line is targeted at a mainstream audience, but that justification doesn't hold up in 2017.

Battery

When it comes to the battery life, the G5 Plus managed to last a day with ease. Phones like the Redmi Note 4 offer a massive 4,100mAh battery, but the 3,000mAh battery on the G5 Plus delivers a day's worth of use on a full charge. Standby time on the device is particularly great, with the phone lasting three to four days with low usage. As always, when you do need to top up quickly, you can call upon Motorola's TurboPower fast charging to deliver a few hours' worth of charge in 15 minutes.

Moto G5 Plus India

Moto G5 Plus Camera

One of the most-talked-about features on the Moto G5 Plus is the camera. The 12-megapixel IMX260 imaging sensor in the phone is the same as that on the Galaxy S7, offering an f/1.7 lens and 1.4-micron pixels, but that doesn't mean you'll see the same quality of images from the camera on the G5 Plus. There are a lot of other factors here that determine the image quality, such as the ISP and the software processing — an area where Google has excelled with the Pixel.

That said, the Moto G5 Plus beats out every other phone in this segment when it comes to camera quality. Not a single phone under ₹20,000 comes close to the G5 Plus in this regard, and Motorola's focus in this area will definitely pay dividends over the course of the year. It's remarkable what Motorola has achieved in two years considering the Moto G 2015 had a mediocre camera.

When it comes to taking images with the phone, you have the option of choosing if you want a dedicated shutter button within the camera interface or to revert to the earlier system that let you tap anywhere on the screen to take a photo. The camera also automatically reads QR codes and barcodes, a feature that should be standard on all phones.

Shooting with the G5 Plus is an easy affair, and Motorola offers one of the most convenient (and fastest) ways to launch the camera app with its double twist gesture. The resulting images are full of detail and color, with the phone managing to take great macro shots. The camera was also fast to focus, and there's a pro mode that lets you tweak the white balance, ISO, exposure compensation, and shutter speed. While the camera excels during well-lit and daylight scenarios, it isn't nearly as good when it comes to low-light shots.

Moto G5 Plus India

Moto G5 Plus Software

There isn't a lot to talk about when it comes to the software side of things on the G5 Plus, and that's because Motorola hasn't tweaked the overall experience a whole lot from the G4 Plus. Considering that the Moto G series set the bar for software in this segment, that's a good thing.

The user interface on the G5 Plus is clean and devoid of any customizations aside from what you get with Motorola's own Moto Actions, which are definitely useful. One-handed mode made its debut in Nougat, but the mainstays — the ability to quickly see notifications without turning on the screen, double chop for flashlight, and automatic DND — are still there. One new addition that's worth talking about is One Button Nav, which is one of my favorite features about the G5 Plus.

It takes a while to get accustomed to One Button Nav, but you should take the time to do so.

The G5 Plus has standard on-screen navigation keys, as well as a new feature called One Button Nav that lets you rely on the fingerprint sensor for navigation. With the feature enabled, you'll lose the on-screen nav keys and instead use gestures across the face of the fingerprint sensor to move in and out of menus and interact with the user interface. For instance, you'll be able to get to the home screen with a single tap on the sensor, whereas a right-to-left swipe takes you back within an app's interface, and a left-to-right swipe serves up the multitasking pane.

Lenovo came up with the feature last year on the Z2 Plus and extended it to other phones following positive feedback, and this year it has made its way onto the Moto G series. The gesture-based interaction certainly has a learning curve, but it is a novel new way of interaction. It's also one of those features that you'll either love or hate.

The feature wasn't pioneered by Lenovo but rather by fellow Chinese manufacturer Meizu (thanks Adrian!). However, Lenovo's system is easier to use, more intuitive, and is more customizable. The G5 Plus doesn't yet offer the ability to set custom gestures like the Z2 Plus, but it is possible we'll see the feature make its way to the phone via an update.

As we're on the subject of updates, Motorola has lagged behind when it comes to rolling out the Nougat update to the Moto G4 in other regions — the U.S. unlocked units just started receiving the OTA at the end of last month. Thankfully, with India being the manufacturer's largest global market, there are no such issues with updates in the country.

The Moto G4 and G4 Plus picked up the Nougat update all the way back in December, and there's no reason to suggest that Motorola won't follow suit this year with the G5 Plus.

Moto G5 Plus India

Moto G5 Plus The competition

Normally by this point, I'd just talk about how the G5 Plus offers a lot of value for its price tag and leave it at that. But with the recent influx of great budget phones, it makes sense to take a look at how the device fares in this segment.

Competition in the budget segment in India is intense, which is a good thing as customers are spoiled for choice. Between Xiaomi's Redmi Note 4, the Honor 6X, Motorola's Moto M, the Lenovo Z2 Plus, Lenovo P2, Galaxy J7, and a litany of phones from the likes of OPPO and Vivo, there's an abundance of options if you're looking for a decent budget phone.

With a price tag of ₹16,999, the G5 Plus costs ₹4,000 more than the Redmi Note 4. Xiaomi's latest budget offering is going to be one of the best-selling devices of the year, and it's easy to see why. The Redmi Note 4 has decent specs in the form of a Snapdragon 625, Full HD display, 13MP camera, 4GB RAM and 64GB storage, and a 4100mAh battery, and while the phone is still running Marshmallow, MIUI 8 offers a ton of features.

The G5 Plus takes on the best that Xiaomi and Huawei have to offer and comes out on top.

The G5 Plus loses out when it comes to the storage — it comes with 32GB to the Redmi Note 4's 64GB, but it has a better camera and software that's in a different league altogether. While Xiaomi has a lot to offer with MIUI, Motorola's clean implementation coupled with fast updates make it a much more enticing handset.

Same goes for the Honor 6X: Although the phone offers dual cameras at the back, the secondary sensor is more of a gimmick and doesn't come in handy in most real-world shooting scenarios. The camera as a whole isn't as good as last year's Moto G4 Plus, and that should give you an indication as to how it fares next to the G5 Plus. At ₹15,999, there's even less reason to go for the Honor 6X.

With Lenovo launching a flurry of devices over the last six months, the toughest competition to the G5 Plus comes from within its own ranks. The Lenovo Z2 Plus continues to be one of the best devices in this segment, and the recent price cut means that the model with 4GB of RAM and 64GB storage is now selling for just ₹500 more than the G5 Plus. That's a steal considering you get a phone with a Snapdragon 820, 5-inch Full HD display, 13MP ISOCELL camera, and a 3,500mAh battery. The main issue with the Z2 Plus is that it's still on Marshmallow, and while Lenovo says that it's dogfooding the Nougat update, there's no word on a public release.

Motorola's fiercest competition in this segment comes from within.

Then there's the Lenovo P2. The phone is the closest to the G5 Plus when it comes to the specs and pricing, offering a 5.5-inch Full HD panel, Snapdragon 625, 13MP camera, 4GB of RAM and 64GB storage. The differentiator for the P2 is the massive 5,100mAh battery, which allows the phone to run at least two days on a full charge.

I'll be taking a detailed look at how the G5 Plus compares to the Lenovo P2 — as well as other handsets in this segment — over the coming weeks, but for now, the main advantage with the G5 Plus is the software experience. While Motorola is doing a great job of offering timely updates for its devices, the same cannot be said of its parent company.

Moto G5 Plus India

Moto G5 Plus Bottom line

Previous devices in the Moto G line championed uncluttered software, but they lacked a certain grunt when it came to the hardware side of things. That isn't an issue any longer with the G5 Plus: The phone offers an unencumbered software experience that's a delight to use and internal hardware that's right up there alongside devices from Xiaomi and Huawei. This is the phone that changes the way budget devices are imagined.

I'm using the Indian variant with NFC, so I can confidently say that there's not a single thing wrong with the phone. The design — while tacky — is a move in the right direction, the internal hardware ticks all the right boxes, and the software is quintessential Motorola. Considering that we still see devices that fail to get the basics right even in the high-end segment, it's refreshing to see Motorola not leave out any noteworthy feature in the G5 Plus.

Should you buy it? Yes!

If you're in the market for a budget handset that offers great hardware and clean software, the Moto G5 Plus is the device to get. The phone is loaded with features, and with India being Motorola's largest market, you can be assured of quick software updates.

Yes, it costs ₹4,000 more than the Redmi Note 4. Does that extra cost justify the great software experience? Absolutely. While you're at it, do yourself a favor and pick up the model with 4GB of RAM and 32GB storage. You'll thank us later.

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