Wednesday , August 23 2017

Moto G5 Plus — Australian Review

For years now Motorola has led the mid-range with their G range of Android Phones, offering a great value for money and substantially better specs every year. Combine that with widespread Australian retail availability and it’s not hard to see why the Moto G range is their best selling line in Australia. Unsurprisingly, the Moto G5 is one step better again this year and I had the opportunity to spend a few weeks with the Moto G5 Plus 4GB model. For a few years now, I have been searching for an affordable Android device that delivered a solid performance package,…

Moto G5 Plus

Value For Money - 9
Build Quality - 7.5
Camera Quality - 8.5
Software - 9
Audio - 8.5
Battery Life - 8.5
Connectivity - 9

8.6

User Rating: 4.07 ( 18 votes)

For years now Motorola has led the mid-range with their G range of Android Phones, offering a great value for money and substantially better specs every year. Combine that with widespread Australian retail availability and it’s not hard to see why the Moto G range is their best selling line in Australia.

Unsurprisingly, the Moto G5 is one step better again this year and I had the opportunity to spend a few weeks with the Moto G5 Plus 4GB model. For a few years now, I have been searching for an affordable Android device that delivered a solid performance package, with just the right compromises made for an overall great Android experience that won’t break the bank, image a Nexus 5 with a good camera.

Could the Moto G5 Plus be the device that has finally delivered the correct mix of price, quality, specs and reliable performance? Nay, could it even herald the arrival of a reliable decent camera into the middle of the Android Market? Read on to find out.

Moto G5 Plus Hardware

I had the Lunar Grey Moto G5 Plus, we’ll just be calling it the G5+ from here on out, and I have to say to look at it is a lovely device.The metallic finish design is well finished and the glossy silver bezels catch the light and make for a distinctive look.

Measuring in at 150.2 x 74 x 7.7 mm and weighing only 155g, the 5.2-inch device is neither small nor overly large. It’s ever so slightly smaller than a Pixel XL in width and quite a bit shorter in length. Overall I found it easy to use one-handed.

What’s inside

The G5+ is no slouch in the specs perspective; sure you won’t find the top chip from Qualcomm inside, but the Snapdragon 625 paired with the 4GB of RAM in the 32GB model (and 3GB of RAM on the 16GB) delivers a device that runs Android 7.0 seamlessly.

I can honestly say that in two weeks of use I found little performance difference in daily usage between the G5+ and my Pixel XL both of which were configured as close to identically as an Android backup allows. Now, I’m not saying the G5+ would perform the same as the Pixel, what I’m saying is, I never really noticed a difference in my normally daily use. I think this is a reflection of two things.

Firstly, Android 7.0 is clearly well optimised and the Pixel is running with a lot of room to spare, secondly, the Snapdragon 625 might just be a great chip with more than enough power to run Android’s daily functions. Additionally, perhaps Motorola worked hard on optimisation with the G5+?

Rounding out the specs you’ll find a couple of very nice to have features, firstly a front-mounted fingerprint sensor, which I found routinely accurate and rarely had issues with it. Making its first appearance in the Moto G line is NFC, yes, finally you can use Android Pay, along with other NFC functions, with Motorola’s mid-range device.

Check out the full specs below:

Key Specifications:Moto G5 Plus
Release dateFebruary 2017
Screen size5.2-inch
Screen technologyTFT LCD
Resolution1,920 x 1,080
PPI424
Rear camera12 MP
Front camera5MP
ChipsetSnapdragon 625
Core config8 x 2.0 GHz
RAM3GB/ 4GB
Storage16GB/32GB
MicroSDYes, up to 128GB
Battery3,000 mAh
Battery removable
ConnectorMicroUSB
Headphone PortYes
Headphone LocationTop
Speaker ConfigurationBottom
Android OSAndroid 7.0
Vendor skinMoto Stock
Dimensions150.2 x 74 x 7.7 mm
Weight160g
Colours
  • Lunar Grey
  • Fine Gold

This display is clear and bright, and more than adequate in my mind. Being an LCD panel it’s a bit of a pain as a bedside clock, I use the clock screensaver in a dock instead of a clock, as my bedroom gets saturated in a wife disrupting dull haze that an AMOLED simply doesn’t do. This isn’t a fault of the G5+ rather just normal LCD behaviour.

The Audio performance on the G5+ was decent, with its single front facing speaker the audio was more than loud enough in quite environments, and could even handle competing with moderate background noise. Overall it was maybe a little quite but the quality of the sound was excellent, with a warm rich experience.

The front facing speaker actually helped with the volume as the audio was coming right at you. Overall, while I;d still prefer a stereo front-facing speaker system on my phone the G5+ holds it own against the majority of the other devices on the market.

If I had to chime in on any one spec being disappointing it would have to be the lack of USB C instead of Micro USB. This may just be because I have already started the transition, however, the standard change is coming and I think it’s up to market leaders like Motorola to drive that new standard across their whole range.

That said, I would wager that many people would be glad to get one more year out of their Micro USB cables and accessories, so in the end, I don’t think it makes a big difference.

Build quality

Does this phone feel “top end”? No, it doesn’t, however, for the price, it does feel much better than other devices in this price range. You’re never going to mistake this for an all metal phone, both the hand feel and weight tell you that, however, like all phones, it should go in a case anyway, so what real difference does it make?

Make no mistake, this device doesn’t feel “cheap” or “plasticky”, I think it has hit the mid-tier of hand feel just as well as it has hit its price range. Little features like the texture power button and two-tone finish show that Lenovo just didn’t chuck this phone in a casing, it was intentionally crafted.

Moto G5 Plus Camera

Ok, let’s face it, cameras in the mid-tier of the market have traditionally been only reasonable at best, and outright awful at worst. Can the G5+ deliver a great camera experience? Yes, it can and in fact, it did.

Now, when I talk about camera experience I’m not talking about shooting a well-lit, well-framed shot of a still scene. I’m talking about time to load, time to focus, time to shoot, shooting multiple images, burst mode, shooting movement and even to some degree low light images. For me to say your camera has a great experience it needs to deliver all that, and by golly the Moto G5+ basically did.

Now before you go comparing this to the Pixel or Samsung Galaxy S8 just remember the significant price difference, we’re talking ⅓ the cost. No, the Moto G5+ does not deliver a camera experience on par with those. What it does do is deliver the best camera experience in its class, and a more than acceptable performance all around.

The 12MP f/1.7 rear camera (the same sensor found in the Samsung S7 line) with dual LED flash and phase detection auto-focus really lets the G5+ take fantastic images. Clearly, the DSP in the Snapdragon 625 has reached the point where the mid-range can just handle the taxing task of taking photos, fast.

While the time to launch may have been a moment or two longer than the market leaders, both the double tap power button or “corkscrew” motion would start the camera while you were raising it to take a photo, as such it was typically ready by the time I was. Basically, I never missed a shot because it was still loading.

Right along with this was time to focus and time to shoot. Honestly, the G5+ did a great job, you can whip that phone around, change focal lengths and shot with minimal delay, that’s all I ask of a smartphone camera. Taking successive shots never caused an issue with the camera shutter lagging, even when using HDR, and the inclusion of burst mode is welcome, I routinely use burst mode taking shots of my daughter because kids are rarely still.

How did the G5+ handle action shots? Well I say, I’ve added both a shot of my daughter on her bike and one of here zipping down a slide, these were just shot “from the hip” so to speak. I think the results are more than acceptable, I’ve had much worse from more expensive devices.

The one area the G5+ may lack is low light photography. This is where I differ from many tech reviewers. I just don’t expect low light photography, maybe it’s my age, but growing up cameras didn’t work in the dark so I don’t expect them too on my phone.

That’s not to say it doesn’t work in the dark, however, the lack of OIS does mean you get a lot of noise in lower light situations. For a sub $500 device, I think its performance is right where we can expect it to be, at least this year, I’ll expect more next year!

Overall the G5+ has delivered the camera experience I’ve been waiting for in the mid-tier. The combination of the f/1.7 aperture, the Snapdragon 625 and Moto’s efforts on the software side have delivered an excellent camera experience that I honestly would be happy using as my primary camera.

Photo samples

All of the below images were captured using a Moto G5 Plus.

Moto G5 Plus Software

One of the great things about Motorola for years now has been it’s very light handed modifications to stock Android, and the G5+ is no exception to that. In fact, to a causal nexus user, this phone would appear completely stock.

Even apps like the Dialer and Contacts appear to be stock, I can tell from the package name that they are technically different apps, but as far as I’m concerned they’re identical. The only app that’s not stock is the camera app, and even that has the feel of a stock app, and it uses Google Photos as its gallery.

The G5+ is basically bloatless, there are no duplicate apps I could see, no pre-installed Facebook or other insipid apps, just what you need to make a phone work, hell, they even use Android Messages for SMS and GBoard for the keyboard, this is basically a pure Google app experience.

The only extra apps I found were the FM radio app, and the Moto app which is a simple guide and quick settings for the few Moto unique features, some of which are cool and I would dearly miss (like the chop chop to turn on the light, seriously this needs to be in AOSP!!) if I ever stop using this phone that is. As is their way Motorola do offer a few optional tweaks to Android that really can enhance the experiences.

I now no longer use the “default apps” like the launcher. I took a quick look, it’s a launcher, it has an app draw, it looks great. However, that’s not how I Android, and I’m assuming it’s not how most of you do either, we all have our standard suite of apps. This thing got my standard deploy of Nova Launcher, Today Calendar, Inbox etc, and it works exactly how I wanted it to, Android FTW.

Storage

With the 32Gb of storage and my standard app install I still end up with 13.82 GB of free storage. What this means is that if you’re a heavy app installer then I’d suggest going for the 32GB model. Not only will you get the extra RAM but you won’t have to worry about using the adaptable storage offered by the MicroSD card.

If you can’t afford the extra money for the 32GZB variant then I’d suggest installing you most critical apps first. After this insert the SD card and assign it as storage. That way if you remove the card or it fails you won’t have lost any data from “critical apps”.

Moto G5 Plus Android Security and Updates

These days no review of an Android device would be complete without a discussion about Security updates and Software updates. In my opinion, while Monthly security updates are fantastic, they are also costly, and we need to be realistic about the expectations we put on OEMs especially those playing at the more affordable end of the spectrum.

I feel that even a commitment to quarterly updates would be acceptable. The other thing that is important is the longevity of updates. For how long will the device receive security patches, one year, two years five years?

At the time of this review in April, my Moto G5 Plus was still on the January 2017 security patch. Considering it wasn’t technically released when I had it I’m going to reserve judgment for a few weeks. Let’s hope Moto pushes out a security update, soon.

The other half of the update discussion is, of course, the version of Android. The Moto G5+ is running Nougat, but it’s Android 7.0, not a later version. Will the Moto G5 Plus get Android O or even Android P?

Again it comes down to the OEM’s commitment on updates, I wish it was clearly set out at launch, this device will get Security patches for x years and platform updates for y.

We have asked Motorola Australia for comment on the frequency and longevity of updates they have confirmed that they will be rolling out quarterly security updates, I’m happy with that. As for the longevity of security updates they didn’t give a specific commitment they hinted at at least 2 year.

As for OS updates Moto said that point updates such as 7.1 are maintenance releases not OS updates, which is great but I’m still unsure if the G5+ is in line for it. What was exciting was confirmation that the G5 line will get Android O.

Overall I think this is good news for a device like the Moto G5 Plus. It looks like Lenovo has struck the right balance between cost and affordability of ongoing updates.

Moto G5 Plus Performance and Battery

As discussed the daily performance of the G5+ was excellent, it never stuttered, it never “needed restarting” it was just reliable. Yes, I had wonk from time to time, yes I had apps crash, but I get that on my Pixel.

I am honestly struggling to find a daily task that pushes the Moto G5+ to its limits.

Battery life

I just couldn’t fault the G5+ and it’s 3000mAh battery. When conducting a review I slightly modify my daily habits. Normally I dock my phone in a car charger whenever I drive anywhere, as well as using Android Auto on the phone and a fair bit of Google Maps navigation for traffic updates. For reviews, I do none of that. I use the phone from getting out of bed until going back to bed, with no charging but also no unfair Android auto usage.

As you can see from the screenshots below I never ran out of battery, it lasted from 0500 until around 2130 every day, no top ups. With over 3 hours of screen on time and a minimum of 15% still left in the tank the G5+ looks like an all day phone, even with moderate use.

All day battery is great, and very welcome, however, we all know batteries loose oomph over time, and I like to have a little more in reserve. Don’t get me wrong the battery is great, I just want a little more and I’d be willing to sacrifice width and weight to get it. Still, the battery on the G5+ is impressive as the rest of the device.

Moto G5 Plus Connectivity

The G5 Plus is now not missing anything. With the inclusion of NFC, the G5+ is really a no-compromise device as far as connectivity goes. With dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2 LE, GPS, NFC and even an FM radio the G5+ can keep you connected wherever you are.

The non-removal of a headphone jack is a welcome move on Motorola’s behalf, I’ve already used the headphone jack more times than I can remember. While I would have loved to have seen Qi charging included, let’s face it I’m one of the only people still stuck on that bandwagon.

Again switching to USB C would have really shown that Lenovo was out not just to make a well selling device but a true market leading mid-tier phone. The use of Micro USB instead of USB C will likely make little difference this year, however, especially considering it comes with a Moto fast charger in the box.

Moto G5 Plus Conclusion

When I first saw the Moto G5 Plus at the launch event in Barcelona I was excited. To be honest it was the phone of the show for me. Why? Because it offered the promise of a truly great Android Device at a more affordable price point. Android as a platform needs that. Consumers of all means deserve a good experience, and it was my hope that the Moto G5 Plus may just have been the herald of such a time, and I think it is.

Great hardware, check, no missing features, check, good camera experience, check, reliable Android performance, check, stock Android without out bloat, big CHECK. I can honestly say this is the first mid-tier Android device I have used without compromises, or should I say with all the right compromises.

From this point forward the answer to the “What phone should I get my child/spouse/parent/aunt/dog” question will be the Moto G5 Plus, and if they can afford it the 32GB version.

With Motorola committing to quarterly security updates perhaps for at least 2 years I can happily recommend this phone. While longer updates may be nicer, for a device that costs between $399 and $449 but will still get all of the security updates quarterly that sounds like a good compromise to me, and with Android O confirmed as coming that is an added bonus.

Sure, if you’re the ultimate tech nerd who has the financial means to get the latest and greatest you may just want to get the new hotness. However, if you’re an Android fan in search for a great stock Android device like a replacement for your Nexus 5 for instance, look no further, the Moto G5 Plus has arrived.

In fact, I think the Moto G5 Plus is so significant I’d be willing to use it as my daily driver for the next few months, or longer, to really road test it. See how the G5 Plus performs on the long road. Yes, I’d put aside my Pixel to truly test out the Moto G5 Plus, I think it’s that good and that important.

 

Duncan Jaffrey   Journalist

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47 Comments on "Moto G5 Plus — Australian Review"

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Member
google_user

Your review doesn’t mention anything about signal reception. Without a mobile signal it’s just a pocket computer.
This is a pretty important factor as some devices have such poor signal reception that they cannot be used to receive calls or text.
How does it compare with other devices regarding signal strength?

Peterc
Valued Guest
Peterc

No magetometer/compass — that sounds like pretty basic functionality. I suppose they get round it just using the accelerometer. But does this work in practice?

Neil
Valued Guest
Neil

Hey great write up. Would like to ask the following “Which would be better for playing Pokemon?” Looking for a phone for this as well as general use phone introduction for young child. Choices then is between the G5 Plus vs Z Play.

Daniel Tyson
Ausdroid Manager

For Pokemon Go it’s battery, battery, battery. As the only resident Ausdroider still playing Pokemon Go regularly, I can tell you that the bigger battery is the one you want to go for.

You can certainly go for the Moto G5, it seems like a good handset (review is coming up soon), but in the end if it’s extended sessions of Pokemon Go you’re after then any phone with an external battery is the way to go.

Jason Murray
Ausdroid Manager

Specs-wise, I’d say it’s a dead-heat. Both phones feature the same processor and even the same graphics chipset. The Z Plus has an edge in its larger battery, though the G5 Plus has an edge in the better camera for those fun AR Pokemon shots.

Ausdroid Director

Based on this, I’d go for bigger battery. A young child probably won’t care quite so much about camera quality as they will about their phone going flat too quickly; Pokemon being rather intensive, etc.

Bianca
Valued Guest
Bianca

Thanks for the great review. I have a question regarding Moto voice: does it work with this phone completely hands-free like it does with the Moto x series?

antzpantz
Valued Guest

I’d received a Facebook Message from @MotoAustralia clarifying what sizes and colours were available in store after being told at Harvey Norman that no stores in WA have Gold and/or 32GB versions. It seems Gold 32GB will have to be ordered on their store. If anyone can prove otherwise, please comment!

Neerav Bhatt
Ausdroid Team

No walk in retail stores anywhere in Aus will have those

32GB and Gold versions are only available by ordering from Moto Australia online

Michael
Valued Guest
Michael

Actually Mobileciti in Parramatta in Sydney has just listed on their website the 32Gb/4Gb version in both grey and gold – to be available from 17 May – and at $429 $20 cheaper than the end-to-end profit from Moto. I object to that kind of ransom, do they think they are Apple?? I will be there on 17 May to pick up!

Michael
Valued Guest
Michael
Well maybe not as to Mobileciti, on 17 May anyway. Their website says you can pre-order (but the site does not seem to actually allow this other than creating an alert for supply when in). The person I spoke to there claimed you could – but then said that whatever supply they had coming on 17 May was already spoken for! Who knows how many they are getting, and when more will arrive. Other suppliers such as Harvey Norman and Officeworks are equally blank so good luck with that! Not quite desperate yet but it is annoying to be held… Read more »
Peter
Valued Guest
Peter

Thanks for the review Duncan! Had my eye on this as a sub-$500 LG G4 replacement and it seems to hold up!

Now to find a good deal on a 32GB version 🙂

Duncan_J
Valued Guest
Duncan_J

Good luck, I hope it works out well for you. Not sure you’ll find great deals in the first few weeks.

Peter
Valued Guest
Peter

Well my OzBargain alert has been created 🙂 Here’s hoping!

Michael
Valued Guest
Michael

Are any Australian retailers selling the 32GB version? It does seem like about what I would be looking for in a phone. I have been considering importing one of Xiaomi’s mid-range devices, but not too keen on their software.

Neerav Bhatt
Ausdroid Team

32GB and Gold versions are only available by ordering from Moto Australia online

Member

My brother bought one through Motorola. Arrived in 2 days from ordering and he loves it.
It’s a great phone for the price. He’s coming from the LG G4 and he says Moto is leaps and bounds above it.
It’s the software and battery that really makes these mid Moto phones great.

twister286
Valued Guest
twister286

Not a bad device but I’m not too impressed with SD625 for $449 for the 32GB model…

Duncan_J
Valued Guest
Duncan_J

As in you feel it’s a bit expensive?

twister286
Valued Guest
twister286

Yes…$449 is on the higher side consider the Xperia X went for $399 not long ago at JB.

Michael
Valued Guest
Michael

How does the Moto G5 compare to the Xperia X?

twister286
Valued Guest
twister286

SD650, much better camera.

Member

I’m really bummed this doesn’t have USB C. At the end of the year I will probably replace my 6p and I don’t want to go back to the old chargers.

Member

hey guys. typo in the Storage heading first sentence where you call the 16GB version of the phone 32GB

Chris
Valued Guest

not a typo

Member

oh cheers 🙂 on a re-parse I get it now.
so used to having ~13GB left on 16GB phones but missed the bit about standard app installs

theslothuk
Valued Guest
theslothuk

The Moto Z Play is a better phone, it’s on Kogan at a price that’s almost the same as the Moto G Plus, and officeworks offer a 5% discount on online prices so in my view, get the Z Play which has double the battery life or near enough and it is a step up in spec.

twister286
Valued Guest
twister286

OW will not price match grey imports.

daft009
Valued Guest
daft009

I have the Z play and just ordered the G5+ for the wife, as it seems the camera is better on paper on the G5+.
She doesn’t really need the ~2 day battery life I get out of the Z play.

Have switched to only buying local stock now, after my LG G4 debacle.

theslothuk
Valued Guest
theslothuk

I’d be interested to hear more. From my understanding the Z Play has a 16MP camera, vs the 12MP on the G Plus. That’s one third improvement in resolution. Speaking generally, that means a better quality picture. Also, the front facing camera has a flash on the Z Play. So, better low light pictures on the front camera. In what way is the camera improved on the G Plus? Thx.

daft009
Valued Guest
daft009

yeah, as Duncan said i was going by the f/1.7 aperture 🙂

Duncan_J
Valued Guest
Duncan_J

The f/1.7 aperture on the G5 would make a difference

Duncan_J
Valued Guest
Duncan_J
The Z Play is definitely a similar device. Unfortunately having not used it I can’t comment on how the Snapdragon 625 paired with 3GB of RAM performs. Additionally it’s got a different sensor so I can’t comment on image performance. The extra 508ish mAh of battery should help, however with a larger screen I wonder what the difference would be. Lastly The G5 being a bit newer should be in line for longer security and os support. That said if your plan works and office works doesn’t consider a Moto shipped from Hong Kong as a Grey market importer than… Read more »
Member

I just checked the Kogan site for specs. The Kogan Z Play does not support B28 or B40. It does not matter how good the phone might be if it is constantly dropping back to 3G as soon as you leave the signal area of city based B3 and not being compatible with Telstra 4GX or Optus 4GPlus. The Moto Z they sell has proper Oz frequency bands.

Member

Kogan sometimes gets specs wrong, I wouldn’t use it as your source

Member

Kogan will not tell you a model number even if you email and ask, so checking frequency bands is difficult. You would not spend $700 on a phone when all you are doing is guessing. If their site says specifically that it does not support B28 then that is it, do not buy it from them.

Iain Simmons
Valued Guest

Look for the XT-1635-02 model of the Z Play on eBay or other sites, it supports all the Australian bands. Can find some on eBay for around $460 or so

Member

If Officeworks match then that is a different story.

daft009
Valued Guest
daft009

the z play I can get an easy 2 days out of it, or a *VERY* long work day comfortably.
Have done a few 20hrs day (going interstate for the day) and was serious impressed I got home 20hrs later with ~25% battery left

Member

You say it has all connectivity covered, but it still doesn’t have a compass. I’m going to wait for the Nokia 5 because it has everything the Moto G5+ has and more including a compass … and likely to be cheaper.

Duncan_J
Valued Guest
Duncan_J

Certainly if compass is important too you, I honestly never noticed it missing. Maps worked while driving so I was happy, but we all have different needs. Be together, not the same.

Michael
Valued Guest
Michael

Is there any word on Australian release of the new Nokia phones? I’m keen to see them…

Daniel Tyson
Ausdroid Manager

We’re asking the question, but Nokia and their PR company aren’t answering…yet.

Member

Hmmm, I’d go look at the Nokia 5 specs. It’s a pretty low end phone.

Member

Finally NFC! Shame to see no Moto dimple on the back, though. It’s one of the most pleasant things about holding Moto phones.

I’ll be keen to see how your experience plays out long term.

Great review, BTW!

Duncan_J
Valued Guest
Duncan_J

Thanks Max, I’m hopeful how it will hold up!

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