At Mobile World Congress earlier this year, Lenovo-owned Motorola launched the latest iterations of its popular G range of smartphones — long seen as among the best mid-range options available. The Moto G5 Plus and Moto G5 continued with the winning formula of the range, offering great looks, above average features and reliable performance at a very reasonable price.
Most important of all, the range continues to differentiate itself with software; the phones both run Android Nougat out of the box, with a near-stock user interface, at a time when most manufacturers continue to launch phones running Android Marshmallow. Today we’re reviewing the Moto G5, the slightly less-capable cousin of the excellent Moto G5 Plus, which we reviewed last month. We go into the details to tell you whether the Moto G5 can compete in the competitive mid-range space in our review.
The Moto G5 shares a lot of similarities with the Moto G5 Plus when it comes to design, particularly the back of the phone with its metal back plate and circular camera module. The front is similar too, and the Moto G5 also features a fingerprint sensor at the front of the phone, which can read up to five fingerprints and unlocks the phone quickly and usually accurately too.
However there are some key differences; the Moto G5 has a removable back panel and replaceable battery, and the phone has a slightly smaller 5-inch full-HD screen. This is a decent screen; it’s sharp, detailed and has good color reproduction as well. You can also tweak the color settings a bit for more vibrant colors if you prefer, and the size is just right to maintain a compact form factor. There’s a lot of non-screen space at the front as well, with thick borders around the screen and plenty of room at the top and bottom.
The removable back panel means that there is no ejecting SIM tray at the side of the phone, and the SIM and microSD slots can be found under the rear panel. You will have to remove the battery to gain access to these slots, and fortunately, there are dedicated slots for all three. This means that you can have two SIM cards as well as a microSD card in place. It may appear otherwise, but the microSD slot actually sits on top of SIM slot 1. Charging and data transfers use a micro-USB port at the bottom, the 3.5mm jack is at the top, and the power and volume buttons are on the right.
While the Moto G5 Plus comes bundled with Motorola’s signature Turbo charger, the Moto G5 comes with an ordinary 10.4W variant. This does offer faster-than-normal charging, but it isn’t quite as fast as the Turbo option. Battery life is fairly good, and you can expect to get well over a full day of use on a single charge, thanks to the efficiency of near-stock Android, and the low power usage of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 SoC. Additionally, 3GB of RAM keeps the phone running fairly smoothly and efficiently.
One of the biggest advantages of the Moto G5 is its software package. One of the few affordable smartphones to run Android Nougat out-of-the-box, the Moto G5 also has the near-stock Android user interface that Motorola is known for. The launcher is very similar to the one you see on the Google Pixel smartphones, and it’s light, easy on resources and mostly free of bloatware.
One department where Motorola has won over its users is the light design and functioning of its near-stock Android user interface. This keeps the phone running smoothly and comfortably, thanks to the lack of bloatware on the device. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of the Moto G5. Although it’s still a light user interface based on Android 7.0, Motorola’s claim to being bloatware-free is lost, thanks to three significant Amazon apps on the device that can’t be uninstalled.
Kindle, Shopping and Prime Video find a permanent spot on the phone, thanks to a distribution agreement with Amazon India that sees the Moto G5 sold exclusively on the e-commerce portal. Not just that, Amazon also finds itself a hardcoded place in the settings menu, which lets you set up and maintain your accounts. It’s bothersome to say the least, and Motorola has done some damage to its reputation with this.
The specification sheet of the Moto G5 isn’t one to be proud of, either. It’s powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 SoC, a budget option that is usually seen on smartphones that are priced at under Rs 10,000, such as the Lenovo K6 Power. At Rs 11,999, the Moto G5’s biggest competitor is the Rs 10,999 Xiaomi Redmi Note 4, which offers not only a better SoC in the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625, but also more internal storage, with 32GB compared to the Moto G5’s 16GB.
While the camera on the Moto G5 isn’t too bad, it isn’t quite as good either. Both the Moto G5 Plus and Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 do a better job with photography, producing shots that are more versatile and better in conditions that are a bit harder to capture. In good light, you’re unlikely to find anything wrong with pictures taken on the Moto G5, with enough detail and composition on show. While colors might be a bit dull, it’s decent enough to do a basic job.
In low light, the camera suffers a bit, and video is just about average as well. While it is able to shoot at 1080p, frame rate is limited to 30fps. Slow motion is possible too, but resolution is limited to 540p when shooting in this mode, making the phone just about ordinary when it comes to video recording. Shots taken with the front camera are just about acceptable, but don’t expect too much from the phone when it comes to camera abilities.
The Moto G5 occupies a somewhat odd position in Motorola’s otherwise diverse smartphone portfolio, serving as a slightly less equipped version of the Moto G5 Plus. While the G5 Plus is a fantastic smartphone that we love, the Moto G5 falls short in too many ways. It’s a fair attempt at offering a product that competes directly on pricing with the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4, and has certain aspects such as software and the non-hybrid SIM arrangement in its favor. However, it falls short on too many points.
From the poor specifications to the average camera, the Moto G5 isn’t quite as capable a product as the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4, and you’re better off spending a bit more for the Moto G5 Plus, and getting a much better rounded smartphone. The Moto G5 only makes sense in a handful of conditions; you don’t want to deal with the flash sale model of Xiaomi, you want Android Nougat and the near-stock Google UI, and you want two SIM cards and a microSD card at the same time.