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Moto G5 Plus: Here’s why this is such a great cheap option

by Brandon Russell | March 24, 2017March 24, 2017 4:00 am PST

The most successful series under the Moto brand has a new entrant (two, actually), and it’s easily the best one yet.

Announced at Mobile World Congress, the Moto G5 Plus features a lovely high-end design, clean software, and a large battery—all for just a couple hundred bucks. And, as we’ve seen in previous Moto devices, it has a few fun tricks up its sleeve.

At just $229, the G5 Plus offers a compelling reason to skip the LG G6 and Galaxy S8, saving you plenty of money for other things.

We spent a few days using the device and came away very impressed. If you don’t need the bells and whistles of a flagship device—and the hefty price that comes with it—the G5 Plus is a fantastic option.

The quality of mid-range devices has improved tremendously over the past few years, and Lenovo’s latest once again proves that elegant design and smart features aren’t exclusive to expensive phones.

Below are some of the Moto G5 Plus’s highlights.

Sleek design

The G series has always displayed great design, and the G5 Plus elevates that to an all-new level. If you’re familiar with last year’s Moto Z, the device bears a striking resemblance to that—just with a aluminum design rather than glass.

The metal backplate gives the handset a premium look, though it doesn’t quite feel as sturdy as its contemporaries. Compared to the OnePlus 3T, there’s a noticeable difference in quality. Still, the G5 Plus’s metal finish is elegant, making it look more expensive than it actually is. And the “fine gold” finish looks divine in person.

That being said, I found the power and volume buttons to be unsatisfying and squishy, while the screen’s bezels are rather large. (What do you expect from a device this cheap?) The device also sports minimum water resistance; Motorola says the device sports “water repellant nano-coating,” but won’t survive if it’s submerged.

It’s unlocked

The G series is designed for a global audience, so it’s no surprise the device can be used on any major network. It doesn’t get much more straight-forward than that. Simply purchase the device from Motorola, pop in your SIM, and you’ll be good to go.

For what it’s worth, I used it on AT&T here in Southern California.

Battery life is solid

The Moto G5 Plus comes equipped with a 3,000mAh battery, which is plenty of power for a long day of usage. Of course, your mileage will vary depending on what it is you’re the handset for.

For general tasks (email, messaging, taking pictures), the battery will hold up through the day and into the next morning. But several YouTube videos and rounds of Candy Crush later, you’ll be depleted pretty quick—which is something you’ll experience with a lot of phones.

Luckily, the G5 Plus supports TurboPower charging, which promises to provide users with six hours of battery after just fifteen minutes of charging. When you’re in a pinch, this feature is a lifesaver.

Even if there’s no wireless charging, the battery is a decent size and the addition of TurboPower charging (plus the Snapdragon 625 processor) means you’ll never run out of juice.

Moto features

As we’ve come to expect from Motorola, the G5 Plus features a few really cool software additions. The highlight is one button navigation, which turns the fingerprint reader into a gesture area. Essentially, the feature replaces Android’s onscreen home, back, and multi-tasking buttons.

The whole point is to provide users with more screen real estate. The feature doesn’t fundamentally change the experience, but it saves users from deciphering what a button represents and instead users simply swipe. For example, rather than hitting the back button, just swipe left on the fingerprint reader.

It’s unlikely gestures will replace onscreen buttons—at least, not anytime soon—but it’s nice to see Motorola (and Huawei) explore new ideas. It took a while to retrain myself to use the G5 Plus’s one button navigation feature, but I found myself liking it the more it was used.

One button navigation is off be fault in favor of onscreen buttons, so you can always ignore the feature completely if you don’t like it.

Other Moto experiences include Moto Display and Moto Actions, two features longtime Motorola fans should be very familiar with.

Clean software

Speaking of software, the G5 Plus packs a clean version of Android 7.0 Nougat. What we mean by that is Motorola made very minor changes to how the software looks and functions.

The most noticeable change is a Pixel-style app drawer. Rather than providing users with an app drawer icon, a simple swipe will bring it up. The change means you can put one more app shortcut in your dock, rather than having that space taken up by a system icon.

The notion of “stock” Android is a little different than it once was. But that’s essentially what users are getting with the G5 Plus. In addition to a handful of Google apps, there’s no bloatware to speak of. And because you can buy the device unlocked, you don’t have to worry about dozens of carrier-branded apps needlessly taking up device storage.

You also get access to Google Assistant, which is slowly rolling out to more Android devices. And it works just fine with one button navigation, too.

If you’re an Android newbie, the software found on Moto devices is the easiest to use next to a Nexus or Pixel device. The fact that Motorola makes few tweaks also means users should get timely software updates, which should be great when Android O hits later this year.

Expandable storage

The Moto G5 Plus comes with either 32GB or 64GB of storage, which is plenty for most people. But, in the event that’s not enough, the device supports microSD cards up to 128GB. If you like taking pictures and recording video (the G5 Plus’s 12-megapixel camera can record 4K video), the extra storage should come in handy.


There’s a lot to like about the G5 Plus, and one major thing to dislike. The device doesn’t sport NFC (at least in the U.S.), which means you can forget about using it with Android Pay. Flat-out not including it seems like a bad move on Lenovo’s part, but the company has its reasons.

So far as we can tell (over a few days span), the G5 Plus offers a lot at an affordable price. Sure, it’s not the most powerful device out there, but it’s a good entry point into the Android ecosystem.

The G5 Plus will be available to pre-order on March 24 and ship to customers in the U.S. beginning March 31 for $229 (2GB of RAM/32GB) and $299 (4GB of RAM/64GB). Buyers will be able to find the device at Amazon, Best Buy, B&H, Costco, Flash Wireless, Frys, Motorola.com, NewEgg, Republic Wireless, Target, Ting, and Walmart. Additionally, Amazon Prime subscribers will be able to purchase the device for $189 (2GB of RAM/32GB) and $239 (4GB of RAM/64GB).

  • Software: Android 7.0 Nougat
  • Processor: Snapdragon 625
  • Memory/Storage: 2GB of RAM with 32GB of storage; 4GB of RAM with 64GB of storage
  • Screen: 5.2-inch LCD Full HD
  • Battery: 3000mAh battery
  • Camera: 12-megapixel f/1.7 aperture
  • Misc: Fingerprint reader, expandable storage, Bluetooth 4.2

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Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...

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