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Motorola Moto G 5G Plus review: A great budget smartphone, with added 5G support

sandra-vogel.jpg
Written by Sandra Vogel on
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8.5

Motorola Moto G 5G Plus

Excellent
Like
  • Excellent large 90Hz screen
  • Long battery life
  • 5G support
  • Nice personalisation features
Don't Like
  • Short on internal storage
  • Lacklustre speaker
  • Plastic build
  • No IP rating for dust/water resistance

5G might be a long way from being widely accessible in the UK, and elsewhere, but there are plenty of 5G handsets available for early adopters and those interested in future-proofing. If you fall into either of these categories, you won't find anything more affordable than the £299.99 (inc. VAT) Moto G 5G Plus. It also has a huge 5,000mAh battery and a large 6.7-inch screen. So, is Motorola's first 5G handset the 5G phone for the masses?

In the US, the Moto G 5G Plus is sold as the Motorola One 5G; it costs $445 at AT&T (Verizon pricing TBA).

Motorola has an extensive portfolio of phones right now, and differentiating new models isn't always easy. But there's no problem with the Moto G 5G Plus, which has three standout features: a large battery giving very long life, a large screen giving lots of viewing area, and 5G support giving, for those who have coverage, access to the fastest mobile data speeds around. 

moto-g-5g-plus-main.jpg

The 6.7-inch Moto G 5G Plus runs on Qualcomm's 765 5G chipset with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage (£299.99) or 6GB and 128GB (£349.99). It has dual front cameras (16MP wide, 8MP ultra-wide) and four at the back (48MP wide, 8MP ultra-wide, 5MP macro, 2MP depth sensing).

Images: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

You're going to need big hands and big pockets to carry this phone around as it's something of a beast, measuring 74mm wide by 168mm deep by 9mm thick. The provided bumper makes it even larger, and adds a little to the 207g weight. But there are trade-offs -- notably, a large screen and room inside the chassis for a big battery.

Battery life is a constant bugbear for phone users, but the 5,000mAh battery in the Moto G 5G Plus performed very well. It managed an impressive 18 hours and 49 minutes under the PC Mark for Android Work 2.0 battery test, which is not far off Motorola's "2 full days without plugging in" claim. The only handset we've seen get near that recently was the realme x3 SuperZoom, with 17 hours 36 minutes from a 4,200mAh battery; Motorola's Moto G8 also performed well, getting 16 hours 40 minutes from a 4,000mAh battery. 

When I asked the handset to stream YouTube video continuously at full screen for three hours, it did so sacrificing just 14% of a full charge. Every day that I used the phone for general duties I was left with at least 25% in the tank. TurboCharge fast charging means you can give it a boost during the day easily enough, if required. 

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Colour settings for the 6.7-inch, 90Hz IPS display (left); Power Touch app shortcuts (right).

Images: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet  

The 6.7-inch screen has a resolution of 2520 by 1080 pixels (409ppi) -- a 21:9 aspect ratio that should please viewers of video and consumers of web pages. However, many users will find it difficult to reach around such a large screen one-handed. The IPS LCD panel is not as punchy as OLED would be, but Motorola caters for three different colour stylings -- natural, boosted and saturated -- that make a difference to how things look. HDR10 is supported and there's even a 90Hz refresh rate. This is something you'd expect to find in a more expensive phone, and while the uptick from standard 60Hz might not be immediately noticeable, I did find that scrolling and screen refreshes were pleasantly smooth.

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Dual punch-hole front cameras (16MP and 8MP).

Image: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet  

There are a couple of pinholes in the top left of the screen for a pair of camera lenses. These push the notification icons over a fair way to the right, and while some people find this camera arrangement annoying, I'm fine with it.

There are noticeable bezels framing the screen, particularly at the top and bottom. That results in a screen-to-body ratio of 84.5%, which is some way behind minimal-bezel handsets with ratios of 90% or more. Still, that's by no means a deal breaker and, for the money, the Moto G 5G Plus delivers a superb visual experience.

SEE: 5G smartphones: A cheat sheet (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

There's a 3.5mm headset jack and a single speaker grille, both on the bottom of the chassis. The speaker is average, delivering middling quality sound, to a fair volume. 

The build quality is middling, too. The chassis is plastic, and the handset doesn't have an IP rating for dust and water resistance. It doesn't feel like it will cope with being dropped as well as some handsets, but Motorola does provide a clear bumper to lend protection. The blue back has some visual texture and reflects light in moderately interesting ways, but like many other backplates, it's slippery and attracts fingerprints.

The fingerprint sensor, which sits in the power button on the right edge of the chassis, is fast and efficient. On the left edge there's a Google Assistant button. Press it and speak your request.

The Moto G 5G Plus runs on Qualcomm's mid-range Snapdragon 765 5G chipset, supported by 4GB of RAM. Benchmark performance is also mid-range, with Geekbench 5 scores of 597 (single core) and 1902 (multi core). By way of comparison, flagship-class handsets based on the top-end Snapdragon 865 platform score around 900 and 3200 respectively.

My review handset had 64GB of internal storage, of which 15GB was used by Android and Motorola's extras, leaving 49GB free. That's not a great deal, but the phone supports two SIMs and you can sacrifice the second SIM for a MicroSD card. And if you're prepared to break the £300 barrier, a 6GB/128GB model is available for £349.99.

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UI customisation: font, icon shape, colour, layout.

Images: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet  

As far as the Android experience is concerned, you get the usual Motorola extras including the ability to fire up the torch with a swift karate-chop gesture, and launch the camera with a quick twist of the wrist. If you find the 6.7-inch screen challenging, Power Touch lets you double tap the power button for shortcuts to six frequently used apps of your choice. There's also a rather neat personalisation feature that allows you to customise the look and feel of the interface to the nth degree, changing the font, icon shape, colour and layout.

The Moto G 5G Plus has two front- facing and four rear-facing cameras. That's quite a setup for a handset at this price. For selfies, you get a 16MP f/2.0 wide-angle and a 8MP f/2.2 ultra-wide angle camera. The rear quartet comprises 48MP f/1.7 wide-angle, 8MP f/2.2 ultra-wide angle, 5MP f/2.2 macro and 2MP depth-sensing cameras. Images taken with the main 48MP camera were good, with the now-popular quad pixel system ensuring that there's plenty of detail. The macro camera also performed well, but the ultra-wide angle camera lacks the quad pixel system, and its images were not as sharp. There's nothing spectacular on offer here, but for the price the Moto G 5G Plus delivers a decent photography experience.   

Conclusions 

Despite its plastic build, moderate complement of internal storage, average speaker and arguably excessive camera count, it's hard to be tough on the 64GB Moto G5 5G Plus. With great battery life, a large screen, some nice personalisation features and the future-proofing of 5G support, it's a budget handset that doesn't make too many compromises. In fact, it's probably the best £300 handset around right now.

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