Moto G5 and G5 Plus: Our first take

The new phones, successors to last year’s G4 and G4 Plus, are in keeping with the series’ core tenet of uncompromising affordability. Both pack capable processors, high-definition displays, fingerprint sensors, and sizable batteries. And like last year’s G4 and G4 Plus, they’re compatible with all major carriers in the U.S., including T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, and U.S. Cellular.

The G5 and G5 Plus share a design that’s decidedly more subtle than in years past. The water-repellent, removable back cover is made of smooth plastic and, like the G4 and G4 Plus, ergonomically contoured around all four edges. Gone is the indentation near the top-right portion of the rear cover and, short of an ever-so-slightly bulging rear camera, it’s a smooth grade from top to bottom.

The Moto G5, much like its predecessor, is a veritable powerhouse of a smartphone.

It fits comfortably in the hand. Unlike the top-heavy G4 and G4 Plus, the G5 and G5 Plus are noticeably better balanced. The volume rocker and power button feel much more secure than the buttons on last year’s G series models and, despite the slickness of the G5 and G5 Plus’s exteriors, they’re easy to grasp.

Last year’s G series phones boasted impressive cameras, and the G5 and G5 Plus are no exception. The G5 Plus offers Sony’s big, circular 12-megapixel IMX362 sensor with an f/1.7 aperture lens and dual autofocus pixels, which Motorola claims captures 25 percent more light than most phone cameras. The G5, meanwhile, packs a 13-megapixel shooter with phase detection autofocus.

Both shoot up to 4K video at 30 FPS.

It’s too early to pass judgment, and far too soon to tell whether or not the G5 and G5 Plus’s cameras measure up to the spectacular shooters on heavyweights like Google’s Pixel and Pixel XL, and Apple’s iPhone 7. But the few shots we managed to get off at Motorola’s press conference handled the venue’s dim lighting conditions pretty darn well. If the G4 and G4 Plus are any indication, the G5 and G5 Plus will be the budget camera phones to beat this spring.

Moto G5 Plus

The Moto G5, much like its predecessor, is a veritable powerhouse of a smartphone. On the front is a 5.2-inch Full HD display (the same resolution as the G4 Plus) shielded by Gorilla Glass 3, and powered by a Qualcomm 2GHz octa-core Snapdragon 625 and up to 4GB of RAM. The battery is the same size as last year’s model at 3,000mAh, and supports Lenovo’s proprietary TurboPower fast-charging technology. (Motorola said it can deliver up to six hours of battery life in just 15 minutes.) It also has a notable upgrade from the G4 Plus — support for NFC, the wireless standard that enables tap-and-pay transactions via Google’s Android Pay platform.

We were impressed by the responsiveness of last year’s G4 Plus, and the G5 Plus was just as smooth as glass to our eyes. We put the G5 through the wringer in our brief time with the device, opening as many browser tabs and apps at once as we possibly could. It fluidly switched between all of them, but we’ll need to run a few benchmark tests and games to see how it really compares.

A fingerprint sensor is embedded in a raised nub on the front of the Moto G5 Plus, and a MicroSD Card reader sits under the removable back cover. It also features Bluetooth 4.1, Wi-Fi, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a USB Type-C connector, and 64GB of internal storage.

Moto G5

At first glance, the G5 doesn’t look any different from the G5 Plus, but it’s a different story under the hood. The lower-end handset packs a 5-inch Full HD (1,920 x 1,080p) screen, but sports a Snapdragon 430 paired with 2GB of RAM, a sizable step down from the G5 Plus. It also lacks support for NFC, and internal storage and battery max out at 32GB and 2,800mAh, respectively.

Despite the G5’s weaker specs, it didn’t seem all that much slower than the G5. It flew through apps like Chrome and Gmail, and crushed a burst shot photo session like a pro.

The G5 has support for Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, a 3.5mm audio jack, and USB Type-C.

Motorola said that the designs of the G5 and G5 Plus were informed by its customers, and that much seems clear. Citing the results of a customer survey, Motorola said that 63 percent want a higher screen resolution and display, 62 percent want all-day battery life, and 58 percent want better camera capabilities.

From what we can tell so far, both the G5 and G5 Plus deliver on all fronts.


Availability and release date

It won’t be long before the Moto G5 and G5 Plus hit store shelves. Globally, the G5 and G5 Plus launches in March for 229 and 279 euros, respectively. In the U.S., the G5 Plus will retail for $230 (with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage) and $280 (with 3GB of RAM and 64GB of storage). The G5 will not be sold stateside.

Both handsets are available in two color configurations: lunar gray and fine gold. And both ship running Android 7.0 Nougat.

Highs

Bargain price

Broad carrier support

Outstanding camera

Lows

Weak processors

Plastic exterior

Lack of NFC on the G5



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