I have recommended every iteration of the Moto G since it was launched four years ago. Motorola does it consistently and produces excellent affordable smartphones year after year. Most new Moto G phones are only minor improvements over their predecessor, but with small improvements here and there and an affordable price tag, the Moto G line is hard to miss.
Motorola launched the Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus in 2017. The G5 is a typical budget handset with features like a 5.0-inch 1080p display, a 13-megapixel camera, and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 SoC. The G5 Plus improves the game and offers a slightly larger 5.2-inch display, a better 12-megapixel camera with dual-pixel autofocus and a faster Snapdragon 625 SoC. Both phones are equipped with important functions such as fingerprint sensors, dual SIM functionality, microSD card slots and Android 7.0.
For those in the U.S., the Moto G5 Plus is the only officially available phone priced at $ 229 for 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. It's cheaper than last year's Plus model, and you can lower the price even further to $ 185 when you're ready to run Amazon ads. The Moto G5 is available in Europe for 199 euros, which is around 80 euros cheaper than the Moto G5 Plus in this region.
I have been using both the Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus as my daily driver devices at different times for a month. Both devices are again very impressive for inexpensive cell phones, and I can recommend them without any problems.
One of the biggest changes to the Moto G5 is the improved design. Motorola has thrown the chunky plastic case overboard in favor of a partial metal case on both the G5 and G5 Plus, giving it a better feel. The edges of the handsets are still plastic, but the back is less curved than before and has a metal plate. The G5 Plus has a slightly larger metal area than the G5, although I'm happy to see metal on these two budget phones.
But let's be clear. None of the cellphones will be able to compete with top-end smartphones in terms of design or feel. The Moto G5 is a big step up from previous iterations, but it still feels a little cheap. There are numerous seams on the edges and on the back of the handset and a shiny edge on the front. Motorola offers room for improvement here for some of the inexpensive metal unibody cell phones from Chinese OEMs. Or should I say other Chinese OEMs now that Motorola is a division of Lenovo.
The front panel of the G5 and G5 Plus largely corresponds to that of the Moto G4, so we still see large frames. The G5 Plus is a few millimeters larger than the G5 to accommodate the 0.2-inch larger display, although the size and design of the front panel are practically identical. The good news is the inclusion of a fingerprint sensor in the Moto G5, which was previously only limited to the Plus model. The design of the sensor has been significantly improved – the G4 had an awfully small square sensor – and generally works well.
An important difference between the G5 and the G5 Plus is the thickness. The G5 Plus is slim, 7.7 mm thick and weighs 155 grams, while the G5 is 9.5 mm thick and weighs 145 grams. This is mainly due to a key factor: the G5 has a removable back cover to make the replaceable battery easier, while the G5 Plus has a sealed back and a non-removable battery. No wonder that the Moto G5 Plus is easier to hold even with the camera push.
I'm not a big fan of removable batteries, and the reasons are obvious when you look at the Moto G5 series. The Moto G5 is not only thicker, it also has a smaller battery with 2,800 mAh instead of 3,000 mAh.
This is solely due to the additional housing that is required for the replaceable battery. It makes the phone thicker and reduces the battery capacity. Some users will love the G5's removable battery, but in reality you get a nicer form factor and longer battery life without this feature.
Both phones support two SIM cards and a microSD card: the Moto G5 has these slots under the back, while the Moto G5 Plus uses a single compartment. The G5 Plus is the only one of the two phones that supports NFC, and some models of the Plus in some regions don't have this feature anyway.
Motorola has not switched to USB Type C on the Moto G5, so we still see micro USB here. This is not surprising considering that most USB-C accessories and cables cost more than their micro-USB counterparts, which increases the overall cost for Moto G owners. Oh, and you get a 3.5mm audio jack on both phones because Motorola isn't stupid.
Both the G5 and G5 Plus have a single speaker that is used both as an in-call speaker and as a speaker for watching videos, etc. The quality is not particularly good, but it does have some volume, which can be particularly useful for calls.
I will also talk a little bit about the software on both handsets, since both the G5 and the G5 Plus are equipped with almost standard Android 7.0 implementations. I love standard Android and it's great to see that Motorola doesn't bother playing around with the already great software from Google. One of the few additions is the Moto app, which offers additional functions for gestures and notifications.
Motorola says the G5 and G5 Plus receive quarterly security updates due to restrictions imposed by network operators and regulators in the EMEA region. They want to deploy updates more often, but carriers and regulators are holding them back. The security updates for January are currently installed on my cell phones. Hopefully Motorola will release an update soon to update this.