Motorola Moto G7 Plus review: A top-quality budget smartphone

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  • Editors' rating
    8.6 Outstanding

Pros

  • Solid, stylish build
  • Long battery life and fast charging
  • Good camera features
  • Moto extras are well organised and easy to access

Cons

  • Only 64GB of internal storage
  • No IP rating for dust/water resistance
Motorola Moto G7 Plus: The ZDNet verdict Motorola Moto G7 Plus review: A top-quality budget smartphone

Motorola's Moto G smartphones have set the standard for the budget end of the market for years. Last year I found the Moto G6 Plus to be "a lot of handset for a competitive price". But the budget smartphone market is a tough place to be today: vendors like Xiaomi and Nuu are trying to establish themselves with high-quality, low-price phones, while Huawei's Honor brand continues to make inroads into this segment too.

Motorola offers a Moto G7 family of four, each member aimed at a different slice of the market: the 6.2-inch Moto G7 (£239 inc. VAT); the 6.2-inch Moto G7 Power (£179); the 5.7-inch Moto G7 Play (£149); and the top-of-the-range 6.2-inch Moto G7 Plus (£269), reviewed here. All of these the handsets go on sale in the UK on 1 March.

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The 6.2-inch Moto G7 Plus runs on a Snapdragon 636 chipset with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage (with MicroSD expansion available). It has a screen-to-body ratio of 81.4% and weighs 176g.

Image: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

Motorola always puts plenty of effort into handset design, and considering that the G7 Plus costs £269, its design quality is exemplary. My Deep Indigo review sample looks nearly black at a glance, and there will also be a Viva Red deep crimson version. The back, in particular, has a very nice curve down into the long edges, which helps make the phone easier for small hands to grip.

The back is glass, which makes it incredibly reflective and also very slippery. I had the usual problem with smooth, glass-backed handsets — a tendency to for them to slide off my chair when vibrating notifications were switched on. Motorola provides a silicon bumper that not only lends a little protection, but also mitigates that slip-sliding characteristic. The G7 Plus lacks a formal IP rating for dust and water resistance, but it does have a "water repellent design with P2i nano coating".

The circular housing for the camera lenses and flash protrudes significantly from the back of the phone — styling that, along with the curved back, is virtually unchanged from the Moto G6 Plus. The G6 Plus also had a Motorola logo sitting beneath the camera lenses. That's here again, but this time it's not just a logo — it sits in the centre of the fingerprint sensor.

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There are 16MP and 5MP cameras at the back, along with a fingerprint reader.

Image: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

There was a fingerprint sensor in the G6 Plus, in the awkward location beneath the screen. In the G7 Plus, more of the front of the phone is given over to the display, resulting in a screen-to-body ratio of 81.4 percent compared to 74.4 percent in the G6 Plus.

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Motorola provides a 3.5mm headset jack on the bottom of the handset, next to the USB-C port. The volume rocker and power switch are in the usual location, on the right edge, while the SIM caddy is on the top. This is a dual-SIM phone, and the second SIM slot can be used for a MicroSD card if required.

Even budget smartphones are now expected to have relatively large screens and, as with the rest of the G7 family except the Play model, Motorola uses a 6.2-inch display. The G7 Plus's LTPS LCD screen has a 19:9 aspect ratio and a resolution of 1,080 by 2,270 pixels, or 405 pixels per inch (ppi). The Moto G6 Plus has a 5.9-inch, 18:9, 1,080-by-2,160, 409ppi screen. The slight change in resolution and aspect ratio in the G7 Plus is due to the presence of a small 'tear-drop' notch around the front camera, maximising room for notification icons.

I found the screen fine to use for email, web browsing and video viewing. Sound quality through the stereo speakers, which output through the top and bottom, is good enough for general listening, and does not distort at top volume.

As far as dimensions and weight are concerned, the Moto G6 Plus measured 75.5mm by 160mm by 8mm and weighed 167g, while the G7 Plus comes in at 75.3mm by 157mm by 8.3mm and 176g. Very similar, basically

The dual rear camera system comprises a 16MP main sensor with an f/1.7 lens and a 5MP depth sensor, while the front camera has a 12MP sensor. Motorola has at last brought optical image stabilisation to the Moto G range, and not before time. OIS makes a big difference with the point-and-shoot mode that many users adopt for smartphone photography.

Motorola has also included some AI features. Auto Smile Capture apparently waits until everyone in a shot is smiling before taking a photo. I've not had the chance to test this with a group of people, so it will be interesting to hear what G7 Plus owners make of it.
Spot Colour takes out every colour but one, creating some fun and interesting shots. Something else that might prove fun is Cut Out: shoot a face (or anything else) in a designated area of the screen and it's saved as a cut-out, which you can then place on top of any other background.

Google Lens is here too: shoot something and it will automatically capture text from a shot, identify plants, animals, tourist locations and so on, find places where you can buy an object and scan barcodes and QR codes. A button on the camera screen makes this feature really easy to use.

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The front camera has a built-in screen flash. When a photo is taken the whole screen does a white-out for a short period while a shot is given a brightness makeover. I've only had time for limited testing, but shots do turn out reasonably good using this method. You need to get used to a disconcerting wait for the screen to come back into play, though, and the full screen white-out — which is very bright — won't be acceptable in some situations.

The 3,000mAh battery in the G7 Plus is good for all-day battery life, according to Motorola. The Geekbench battery benchmark ran the battery down in 6 hours 22 minutes with the screen constantly on, and gave the battery a score of 3680. I managed all-day use with my standard mainstream usage pattern. Motorola claims that a 15-minute quick-charge with the provided power brick can deliver 12 hours of life. I'm not so sure about that, but short sessions of charging during a normal day did ensure the battery was always nicely topped up. As you might expect in a budget handset, there's no support for wireless charging.

Motorola uses Qualcomm's Snapdragon 636 chipset with 4GB of RAM to power the G7 Plus. This is a good choice for a handset at this price, and is the same chipset/RAM combo used by HTC for its U12 Life and Asus for last year's Zenfone 5. Geekbench 4 reported an average multi-core score of 4960 and 1330 on a single core. This is far from cutting-edge performance, as is only to be expected at this end of the smartphone market.

I noted at the top of this review that the second SIM slot can be sacrificed for additional MicroSD storage. This may well be necessary as there's just 64GB of internal storage, of which 14.67GB of this is used out of the box, leaving 49.33GB free. This might be enough for many users, but the lure of 128GB, which is increasingly becoming the norm higher up the price scale, might well pull some buyers away from the Moto G7 Plus.

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Motorola adds some useful extras such as Moto Actions and Moto Display to an otherwise uncluttered Android 9 offering.

Images: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

The G7 Plus runs on Android 9 (Pie), and Motorola steers clear of a fancy UI overlay or a barrage of add-on apps. Still, there are some extra features, accessible from a dedicated Motorola button on the home screen. These include Attentive Display, which keeps the screen on while you're looking at it, overriding the automatic screen dimming settings. You can also configure Moto Actions, which support a range of ways to access some key features, including the two-shake action to activate the torch (the last time I tried that, the handset flew out of my hands onto a stone floor). Moto Voice, Motorola's replacement for Google Assistant, is another addition.

Conclusions

Motorola appears to have done it again. For well under £300, the Moto G7 Plus is a well-featured phone with plenty of highlights, including good battery life and fast charging. The camera features seem very good too, and the 6.2-inch screen is a pleasure to use. Add in dual SIM support and good build quality, and it's clear Motorola has focused its development effort in the right areas.

However, competition is getting very intense at this end of the market, and Motorola may need to raise its game next time around. For now though, the Moto G7 Plus should definitely be in the reckoning if your smartphone budget is around £300.

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