Moto G5 Plus vs. Moto G4 Plus: A class apart

The Moto G4 Plus represented a significant change for Motorola, with the company offering a phone with a large 5.5-inch display and a camera that was considerably better when seen against its predecessors. The same holds true for the G5 Plus, which offers a metal chassis, great internal hardware, and a camera that's one of the best in this segment.

Let's see how it matches up to one of 2016's best-selling budget devices.

Design and hardware

Moto G5 Plus vs. Moto G4 Plus

The Moto G5 Plus is the first phone in the Moto G series to sport a metal back. The phone certainly stands out next to its predecessor, which looks boring by comparison. The aluminum back adds heft to the G5 Plus, and makes the phone feel much more sturdy. It's just the back that's made out of metal, however, as the sides are still plastic with a metal feel to them.

Although the G5 Plus has a smaller 5.2-inch display, the phone doesn't look any smaller than the G4 Plus on account of the generous bezels at the top and bottom. On the bright side, you get a Moto logo that sits just above the panel, because Motorola decided that the Batwing logo at the back just wasn't enough for brand recall.

One area where you will notice a difference is the thickness, with the phone now coming in at a much more manageable 7.7mm despite featuring the same 3000mAh battery as the G4 Plus. The width has also reduced from 76.6mm to 74mm, making it more comfortable to use the G5 Plus one-handed.

The power and volume buttons are located to the right of the phone, and their configuration has switched. The G4 Plus had the power button on top, but that's now taken up by the volume rocker on the G5 Plus.

Thankfully, the power button itself hasn't changed much from last year, and retains the grooved texture that makes it easy to isolate the button with your fingers. It's a small addition, but one that makes a lot of difference in day-to-day usage.

The design of the G5 Plus is leagues ahead of its predecessor.

When it comes to the screen resolution, both devices sport Full HD IPS LCD panels. The screen on my G4 Plus has a yellowish tint, but I didn't notice any issues on the G5 Plus. There's an option to tweak the color balance of the display from the default vibrant mode — which boosts saturation — to a more realistic setting on both phones.

With the G5 Plus now featuring a non-removable back, there's now a traditional SIM card slot, which is located at the top of the device. The slot accommodates two SIM cards as well as a microSD slot, much like the G4 Plus.

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CategoryMotorola Moto G5 PlusMotorola Moto G4 Plus
Operating SystemAndroid 7.0 NougatAndroid 6.0.1 Marshmallow
Display5.2-inch 1080p (1920x1080) IPS LCD panel424ppi pixel density5.5-inch 1080p (1920x1080) IPS LCD panel401ppi pixel density
SoCOcta-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625Eight Cortex A53 cores at 2.0GHz14nmOcta-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 617Four Cortex A53 cores at 1.5GHzFour Cortex A53 cores at 1.2GHz28nm
GPUAdreno 506Adreno 405
Storage32GB/64GB storagemicroSD slot up to 256GB16GB/64GB storagemicroSD slot up to 256GB
Rear camera12MP f/1.7 lensdual LED flashPDAF4K video recording16MP f/2.0 lensdual LED flashPDAF
Front shooter5MP1080p video recording5MP1080p video recording
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2 (A2DP), GPS,microUSB, 3.5mm audio jackWi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.1 (A2DP), GPS,microUSB, 3.5mm audio jack
Battery3000mAh battery3000mAh battery
FingerprintFront fingerprint sensorFront fingerprint sensor
Dimensions150.2 x 74 x 7.7mm153 x 76.6 x 9.8mm
ColorsGrey, GoldBlack, White

Another area of differentiation between the two devices is the fingerprint sensor. The sensor on the G4 Plus feels like an afterthought, a feature Motorola decided to include in the last minute. The squarish sensor felt out of place on the device, and it had limited use until recently. The Nougat update introduced the ability to turn the phone on and off by pressing down on the fingerprint sensor, but before that its sole utility was to authenticate.

That said, Motorola learned from its mistakes, and the rounded sensor on the G5 Plus is much better to use. The increased surface area makes it that much more convenient to use the sensor, and it's infinitesimally faster at authenticating your fingerprint when compared to the G4 Plus.

Moto G5 Plus vs. Moto G4 Plus

Although both the G5 Plus and the G4 Plus have the same battery capacity, the more efficient Snapdragon 625 ensures that the G5 Plus lasts slightly longer. On average, that leads to a few extra hours of battery life on the G5 Plus. Both phones offer Motorola's TurboPower charging tech, allowing you to quickly top up in the middle of the day.

Rounding off the hardware specs, the lack of NFC on the G5 Plus is a big drawback in an otherwise feature-rich phone. The G4 Plus doesn't have it either, but in 2017, NFC is a must-have feature for a phone sold in this segment. Furthermore, Motorola's decision to include NFC for devices sold in Asian markets is a perplexing move.

Lack of NFC on the G5 Plus is going to be a dealbreaker for many.

As for the day-to-day performance, the beefier hardware on the G5 Plus makes a noticeable difference when gaming and browsing. The G4 Plus is no slouch, but the phone suffers from the occasional stutter. No such issues on the G5 Plus, as the Snapdragon 625 is a delight to use.

The G5 Plus wins out when it comes to the storage, as the $229 base variant with 2GB of RAM offers 32GB internal storage. By comparison, the G4 Plus has 16GB internal storage. You'll also be able to pick up a G5 Plus model with 4GB of RAM and 64GB storage for $299.


Moto G5 Plus vs. Moto G4 Plus

The G5 Plus comes with Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box, and has the January security patch. The G4 Plus picked up the Nougat update in India a few months ago, bringing with it the December security patch, but there have been no further security patches following the platform update.

For a manufacturer that prides itself on quick updates, Motorola hasn't done a great job of delivering up-to-date security patches. The company has also struggled to get the Nougat update rolled out in all regions, with a majority of the G4 Plus units in the U.S. still running Marshmallow.

There are subtle changes in the user interface from the G4 Plus to the G5 Plus. The default clock widget now shows battery life, and the date and weather-related information is more readable. You also get a notification every time you plug in a TurboPower-compatible charger to the device.

Motorola's commitment to a clean UI is commendable, but it has lagged behind in terms of updates.

Overall, the software experience hasn't changed much, and that's a good thing. For nearly three years now, Motorola has championed a clean and uncluttered user interface, and that trend continues with the G5 Plus. There are a few welcome customizations in the form of Moto Actions, and with the G5 Plus Motorola introduced a new one called One Button Nav.

As the name suggests, One Button Nav ditches the on-screen navigation buttons and instead relies on the fingerprint sensor as the default method of interaction.

The feature turns the fingerprint sensor into a gesture-based navigation system. A quick tap on the sensor takes you to the home screen, and you can go back in an app's interface by swiping your finger right-to-left or access the multitasking menu with a left-to-right swipe.


Moto G5 Plus vs. Moto G4 Plus

To say that Motorola has come a long way in the imaging department would be an understatement. Just two years ago, camera quality was often cited as the major reason for not getting a Motorola device, but the company has managed to turn things around.

We saw that last year with the G4 Plus, and the phone continues to offer one of the best cameras in the budget segment. Motorola has once again made imaging prowess an area of focus with the G5 Plus, and the result is a camera that sets the bar for this category. For a device that costs less than $300, the quality of images you get from the G5 Plus is stunning.

Moto G5 Plus on the left, G4 Plus on the right.

Most of that has to do with the f/1.7 sensor with 1.4-micron pixels. The hardware does an impressive job of taking in detail during daylight conditions, with the G5 Plus producing photos full of color. Both in bright and low-light conditions, the G5 Plus pulls ahead of the G4 Plus.

Which should you buy? Moto G5 Plus

Moto G5 Plus vs. Moto G4 Plus

The aluminum chassis gives the G5 Plus a much more upmarket look when compared to the G4 Plus. The Snapdragon 625 is faster and more efficient than the G4 Plus' Snapdragon 617, and the camera on the G5 Plus has also received an upgrade.

The lack of NFC is going to be a pain point for consumers, but the G5 Plus nails the rest of the details. From the powerful hardware to the clean software and the incredible camera, the G5 Plus is one of the best options for under $300.

Harish Jonnalagadda
Senior Editor - Asia

Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.