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Great Budget Smartphones
Once again, the Motorola Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus are great buys for those after a budget smartphone, particularly at the new, aggressive price points for both devices. The handsets are solid upgrades on their predecessors in most regards, and thanks to stock Android 7.0, they're easy to recommend over other alternatives.
The build quality on both handsets has improved over the Moto G4 line, thanks to the inclusion of metal. The G5 Plus in particular feels nice to hold thanks to its slim design and fewer seams, while the Moto G5 trades off thickness for a removable battery. Bezels are still quite large and neither phone has the premium touch of some Chinese alternatives, but it's clear Motorola has worked hard to improve the design of their budget phones.
The Moto G5 manages to gain a fingerprint sensor despite its lower price, while the Moto G5 Plus gets an upgrade to LTE Category 6 and NFC in some models. We're also seeing 4K video capture in the G5 Plus for the first time, along with more internal storage as standard. All these features are a welcome inclusion to such a cheap handset.
When looking at the display, there's not much on the spec sheet that separates these two IPS LCDs, aside from the 0.2-inch larger size of the G5 Plus. It was surprising to discover that the Moto G5 outperforms the G5 Plus in display brightness, contrast ratio, and color accuracy across the board. Both panels are decent 1080p displays, however I feel the more expensive of the handsets shouldn't get a worse viewing experience.
Performance is one reason to get the Moto G5 Plus over the Moto G5. While the Moto G5 is almost identical to, if slightly slower than the Moto G4 in system benchmarks, the Moto G5 Plus is a good 35 to 45 percent faster than the Moto G4 Plus. In a budget handset, every little bit of performance counts, and this extra speed makes the G5 Plus feel noticeably snappier to use.
The Moto G5 Plus also exhibits fantastic battery life, better than the Moto G4 Plus, despite both phones packing the same battery capacity. The Moto G5 doesn't hit the same heights, but its battery life is still decent, packing in a smaller battery than the G5 Plus to accommodate the extra housing for its removability.
The main disappointment with both phones is the camera, which have regressed compared to their predecessors. I was expecting big things from the Moto G5 Plus, considering Motorola has used the same sensor as the Galaxy S7, but it seems the company completely neglected to optimize the camera's software and processing. Photos captured by the 12-megapixel sensor are okay, but not as good as the Moto G4 Plus, and despite ultra-fast focus speeds, the G5 Plus camera doesn't hit the right mark.
And neither does the Moto G5's camera, which is, surprisingly, a downgrade on the Moto G4 Play. The camera here falls well into the 'entry-level' category, and again, Motorola needs to work on its processing to get more out of the hardware in this phone.
However, even though the cameras aren't particularly amazing, other aspects of both the Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus are strong enough for this to, once again, be my budget smartphone recommendation. The Moto G5 Plus, at $229 for the base model is particularly attractive, though countries where the Moto G5 is available also get a fantastic deal.
Motorola Moto G5 Plus
Pros: Improved build quality. Noticeably better performance, supported by more internal storage, 4K video capture, and faster LTE. Excellent battery life. Runs stock Android 7.0. Aggressively priced.
Cons: Lacklustre camera is a downgrade from the G4 Plus. Display isn't as good as the Moto G5.
Motorola Moto G5
Pros: Improved build quality. Similar performance to the Moto G4, but at a lower price point. Decent battery life and display. Includes a fingerprint sensor for the first time. Runs stock Android 7.0.
Cons: Lacklustre camera is a downgrade from the G4 Play.