Motorola Moto G5 smartphone review

Cheap yet cheerful. But is this the budget android phone to buy?

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Motorola Moto G5 smartphone
  • Motorola Moto G5 smartphone
  • Motorola Moto G5 smartphone
  • Motorola Moto G5 smartphone
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Well built
  • Good battery

Cons

  • Average camera

Bottom Line

It's cheap and cheerful but may be a bit under-powered for some.

Would you buy this?

We’ve been spoiled for choice with budget phones lately. In just the last week we’ve reviewed the Moto G5 Plus which we declared to be the best-value phone we’ve tested in ages. This was immediately followed by the even-cheaper Oppo A57 which arguably offered better value. Now here’s the Moto G5 which costs less again. So should you pay more or is cheaper once again better?

Key specs

5in, 1920 x 1080 LCD screen, 2GB/16GB RAM, 1.4GHz Octa-core Snapdragon 430 CPU, Adreno 505 GPU, 13MP rear and 5MP front cameras, microSD, dual SIM, Micro USB, Android 7, 2800mAh battery, 144 x 73 x 10mm, 145g. Full specs here.

Design and handling

As with the G5 Plus, the G5 is housed in a diamond-cut, bead-blasted aluminium chassis which belies its budget credentials. It’s available in boring grey or a gold finish. It’s comfortable to hold but it’s still worth buying a case – at this price the high-quality shatter-resistant glass is absent.

The 5-inch screen comes with an bright-and-colourful Full HD screen which looks very good and is a noticeable step up from the HD-resolution Oppo A57. However, under the hood is the last-gen octa-core 1.4GHz processor and only 2GB of RAM which can feel limiting these days (there’s a 3GB version but it’s not available in all markets). Nonetheless, it ticks along very well with general-usage apps opening quickly. There can be a little lag during some operations but nothing that proved frustrating.

Power users may well run out of headroom with the 2GB RAM ceiling though. Games like Angry Birds generally run OK but there are a few pauses. Pokemon Go generally ran smoothly (though it was a bit slow to load) with only a few frame-rate hiccoughs.

A separate fingerprint reader lies beneath the screen (which is a poor use of space in our book) but it’s reliable and quite quick to unlock the phone – better than many expensive brands but not as instantaneous as Oppo’s brilliant biometric buttons.

Android 7 is included and works well. Casual users won’t notice much difference with the likes of the much-dearer HTC U Play when it comes to using basic apps and web browsing.

In terms of audio, like the G5 Plus, the main phone speaker is used. Bass is rendered relatively well for a phone (which isn’t saying much) and the sound is quite well rounded. Treble, however, tops out very quickly and is very tinny. Speaker-phone calls are clear and distinct but at no point does this speaker get very loud.

Moto G5 Camera review

The Moto G5’s main camera has a 13-megapixel resolution while the front has just 5-megapixels. In good lighting, the G5 was capable of crisp and colourful captures. It was also fast at focusing and there was minimal shutter lag.

In good lighting, photos were crisp and colourful. Detail could get lost in the shadows though.
In good lighting, photos were crisp and colourful. Detail could get lost in the shadows though.
Quick snaps in good lighting were also decent but, again due to dynamic range issues, detail could be lost in bright areas.
Quick snaps in good lighting were also decent but, again due to dynamic range issues, detail could be lost in bright areas.

Dynamic range could be an issue if bright and dark areas were in the same image with the phone favouring light while dropping detail in the shadows when it had to make a choice.

As lighting fell, pictures could still be bright and colourful...
As lighting fell, pictures could still be bright and colourful...
But things would get blurry quickly in low light.
But things would get blurry quickly in low light.

In low-light situations it performed slightly-better than past models but fell off a cliff when it got a bit too dark. In decidedly-dark areas it would quickly take pictures but they’d turn out to be blurred, grainy and indistinct.

The G5 really struggled with dynamic range in general - bright areas and dark areas lost detail.
The G5 really struggled with dynamic range in general - bright areas and dark areas lost detail.

However, despite the low resolution of the front camera, Selfies looked good. The Beauty Mode touch-up also added a nice layer of polish.

Despite only offering 5-megapixels, the Selfie cam worked well. Beauty Mode (right) added some effective-yet-natural polish.
Despite only offering 5-megapixels, the Selfie cam worked well. Beauty Mode (right) added some effective-yet-natural polish.

Video is recorded up to 1080p at 30fps. In good lighting and with minimal movement it’s very good and can focus quickly. However, the limited dynamic range and metering abilities can get shown up here as (once again) bright areas are shown at the expense of dark with a great deal of detail getting lost in the shadows. Focusing can struggle in lower lighting and we had to jab the screen a few times to wake it up to the fact it was out of focus. It’s not the worst we’ve seen but it’s much better when lighting is uniform and good. Audio is an issue, however. Background noise gets recorded as a robotic chatter and people’s voices sound pinched and tinny.

Next: Battery, Other Features and Conclusion...

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