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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Comments (29)

29 responses to “Moto G5 Plus First Impressions”

  1. MikeCerm

    Sorry to be pedantic, but in this case it kind of matters. Only that back panel is metal. The rest of the body is plastic, even the edges that look like shiny metal, and the insides are all plastic too. The effect is convincing, but it has neither the feel nor the structural stability of a truly metal phone. This doesn't mean that it's a bad phone, but people should know what they're getting.

  2. Sachin Khanna

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  3. Amber Gandotra

    The moto g5 plus is the best phone till date everyone must buy it and use TweakBox Apk on it to enjoy all the apps for free.

  4. appspopo

    The MOTO G5 is really awesome. Comes with lot of improvements from it's older generation. If you want to get some cool apps for free on your first MOTO G5 device, download tutuapp. Tutuapp is an app store available for Android, iOS and PC to download all latest apps for free.

  5. ozaz

    If using it in the real world means trying to use Android Pay, you'll be out of luck.

    No NFC on this phone!

  6. kazzed

    Are there any phones in this price range with a better camera? I'm currently helping my dad search for a new phone and this one fits his budget.

    • QuantumC0mputer

      In reply to kazzed: Buy in confidence. Just got one for my mom and had it for about a week while I played with it and set it up for her. Camera is good to very good normally and in some conditions excellent. Phone is plenty fast, screen is nice size, fingerprint scanner is very quick, super clean OS install with no junkware. I would say its a phone that's good at everything and doesn't have any glaring omissions (US version does not have NFC if mobile payments are important to you).  I got the 64GB storage and 4GB RAM version for $300, the 2GB of RAM version would probably feel a little slower.


  7. napkatz

    I've recently switched from a Lumia 640 to this handset, and I will say, its nice, even the 2 GB / 32 GB model. Especially when augmented with Microsoft's Android software. The Arrow Launcher really provides a boost over the default Launcher. It takes some doing to get your Microsoft Account and Office 365 accounts working exactly how you might want them to.


    I'm still deciding whether to switch to Google Assistant or stick with Cortana, which I also have running on the phone. Both seem to have their pluses and drawbacks; Android lets you set your voice assistant like you can the Launcher, so ultimately, Cortana can be pretty deeply embedded in your UI experience.


    I'm begrudgingly liking the upgrade. It's nice not having a Facebook app anymore that takes 30 seconds to load, not to mention to reasonably crash free. And there's a wealth of Microsoft software available that is also top notch, including Outlook, Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Microsoft Authenticator, OneNote, OneDrive, Office Lens, Office 365 Administrator, SharePoint, etc...


    As a Windows Phone / Windows Mobile 10 user of 5 years, I've realized that Microsoft's current "Microsoft Phone" is one running Android.

    • QuantumC0mputer

      In reply to napkatz: Hi napkats, FYI I have been playing with Cortana and Android for some time. Just some hints you may not have realized yet. If you use Nine you get two way sync of contacts and calendar against native phone calendar and contacts, THATS HUGE. Plus BONUS, this addresses Cortana limitation of only utilizing the native phone calendar (regardless of seeing option to set it up with calendar). If you use Outlook for example, Cortana only sees events but cannot create them in your outlook calendar, uses phone native calendar and you end up with two calendars to use.


      • napkatz

        In reply to QuantumC0mputer:

        THANKS! Yes, indeed this has been a challenge for me, as it is hard to setup an Exchange connection for the calendar, and not bring in the Contacts too (yes there's a sync setting for contacts, but they often flood in before one has a chance to turn the Contact sync off).


        I'll definitely give it a look!

  8. Waethorn

    How different is the launcher (i.e. the shell) from the Google Now Launcher (available for most Android handsets via the Play Store) and the Pixel launcher?


    Have you checked to see if the Google Camera app works for this? Is it any better than the stock camera app?

    • QuantumC0mputer

      In reply to Waethorn: Its essentially stock Android so looks like what you would have on Nexus phones aka the Google Now Launcher. Motorola just adds some additional options in settings, they don't put a skin. Having said that I still put Nova Launcher, as its not a skin either but provides advanced customization options. Camera looks very similar to Google Camera probably just a version of it. But really its the internal firmware for processing the image that determines quality and separates camera phones from one another. That happens at a lower level than the camera app. However, I find the camera is good to very good and sometimes excellent. Reviews mostly agree (https://www.dpreview.com/reviews/lenovo-moto-g5-plus-camera-first-impressions-review)


  9. Brandonlpierce

    Looking forward to thoughts on this and the coming Nokia phones. 5.2 is my personal sweet spot.

  10. jimchamplin

    Paul...


    I want your chair.

  11. Bats

    LOL..Paul is now reviewing Android phones? LOL...that's so funny. The guy doesn't even know how to use one. He still can't figure out the Pixel, which the overwhelming majority of technologist say is Android's best phone. All you have to do is Google it and you'll see the overwhelming positive reviews on the Pixel. 

    Paul is the guy who was mocked by Steve Jobs and Tim Cook for his comments regarding their non-Microsoft technology. LOL...it took years later and changing technologies and changes with consumer behavior for Paul to come out and revise history.

    Seriously, can Paul be trusted and taken seriously with this review? 

    Are we going to see Android phone usage in his upcoming blog posts.

    Paul does not know technology. Paul doesn't understand the markets. Paul does not understand human behavior. To paraphrase what he said on Windows Weekly, "I can't understand why people didn't like the Xbox One." LOL...everything Paul endorses fails and everything he bashes succeeds. 

    Maybe Brad or Mary Jo should be doing this review. Heck, I'll even settle for Andrew (What the Tech).

  12. jerrycorley221

    I love Moto G5. Because I am using this smartphone without facing any problem. Find Out More

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