Moto G5 Plus First Impressions

Posted on April 19, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Hardware, Mobile with 29 Comments

Moto G5 Plus First Impressions

As expected, my Moto G5 Plus was waiting for me when I returned home from a 5-day road trip. And on quick inspection, this looks like a solid handset, with a nice metal body, a crisp and clear 5.2-inch screen, and some quirky and unique Motorola flourishes.

It’s also very clearly a budget handset, in sharp contrast with the OnePlus 3T I took to Montreal and Stowe, Vermont over the past week. Once you get past the sturdy exterior, this phone’s budget roots shine through and it offers none of the performance benefits of more expensive devices.

And I’m mostly OK with that, to be honest. Priced as it is—you can get a 32 GB version with lock screen offers and ads for as little as $185 on Amazon.com—one doesn’t expect flagship quality or performance. The question, instead, is whether the Moto G5 Plus is good enough, whether it offers a great value for the money.

Obviously, I’m going to try and figure that out. To do so, I did stack the deck a bit in Motorola’s favor: I bought a 64 GB version of the Moto G5 Plus direct from the company at a cost of about $285. But that price tag is still a far cry from $750 to $850 cost of today’s Android (or iPhone) flagships. It’s also $200 cheaper than a 64 GB OnePlus 3T, which is itself an incredible value.

In my testing so far, that OnePlus 3T—I purchased as 128 GB model, as they are non-expandable—has proven to be superior to the Google Pixel XL in every way, including performance, but one: Camera quality. Say what you will about the Pixel, but the camera is amazing. The OnePlus 3T? Not so much.

But $200 is $200. Compared to the OnePlus 3T, the Moto G5 Plus offers a slower, mid-tier processor, and much less RAM, and I’ve already experienced a few hiccups and pauses, including during initial Setup. The screen isn’t as nice, for sure, and it’s almost unusable in bright sunlight. And at 5.2 inches, a bit under the 5.5-inch sweet spot, the display and the device itself are both a bit on the small side.

A not-terrible outdoor shot taken with the Moto G5 Plus

That I’m OK with, to be honest, and the Moto’s slightly bulbous form factor—with a nice camera bump that is both a Lumia 1020 nostalgia moment and a current-generation Motorola handset hallmark—makes for a nice fit in the hand. The metal body is in a completely different class from the previous Moto G’s as well. And the gold color I purchased is quite handsome, I think.

The Moto G5 Plus also uses a dated micro-USB connector, which I find a bit odd here in 2017. That said, those who upgrade to this device probably own lots of compatible cables and chargers, and that fact probably factored into that design decision.

I’ve only taken a few test shots—outside in the sun and in the house—and it’s not a lot to go on. But from what I can see so far, camera quality is about on par with that of the OnePlus 3T. That’s not a compliment, and the OK/good camera quality I see on that device is its only shortcoming. On the much less expensive Moto, it’s less of an issue. But if you rate camera quality highly, let me just cut to the chase: You can safely skip this handset and look elsewhere.

Indoor shot taken with the Moto G5 Plus

There are some cute Moto quirks, from the fun sounds it emits to the round Moto widget on the home screen. But I haven’t spent too much time digging around yet.

Later today, I’ll swap my AT&T SIM out of the OnePlus 3T and put it in the Moto G5 Plus, install all my usual apps, and just start using it normally. I’ve got another road trip (to Pennsylvania this time) coming up, so this will be a good opportunity to see how the little Moto fares out in the real world.

More soon.

 

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