It’s hard to create a smartphone that turns out to be a solid performer but is budget friendly. For me, the first-generation Moto G, which came in 2013, delivered on both these fronts. The phone proved so successful it created a new segment altogether.
Even after four-generations, the G-series is still in the demand. The majority of Moto G-series users are might not be the most tech-savvy people, and by keeping things simple Motorola has championed the mid-end segment.
Now with the G5, Motorola is once again trying to chase the same set of people but with a more polished product. I have been living with the Moto G5 for a week, and here’s what I think about about the new Moto G in town.
Specifications: 5-inch Full HD display | Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 processor + 3GB RAM | 16GB storage (expandable) | 5MP front camera + 13MP rear camera | Dual-SIM | Android 7.0 | 2800 mAh battery
Price: Rs 11,999
Motorola turned a few heads this year by dropping plastic build from the new Moto G5 range. Like the Moto G5 Plus, the Moto G5 flaunts a metal design. They both look similar, and are made out of aluminum, giving them a premium feel which was surely missing from the previous-generation G-series smartphones.
A closer inspection will reveal the major differences between the two devices from the same family. From the front, they look exactly the same with thick bezels on top and bottom, and a Moto logo above the display. Both have a physical home button as well.
For starters, the Moto G5 Plus is slightly bigger with a 5.2-inch display over the 5-inch on the Moto G5. On the rear, however, you will find the big design change.
Flip it over and the Moto G5 has a removable back cover unlike the Moto G5 Plus, which features a unibody design. But that’s not a bad thing from a design perspective. In fact, I appreciate Motorola’s sincere efforts of creating a metal-bodied smartphone with a removable battery, and still make an attractive looking device. One thing I’d like to point out here is that the phone isn’t entirely made of metal, the top and bottom edges are plastic.
The power button and volume rocker are on the right side, and provide decent tactile feedback. The headphone jack is at the top, while a micro-USB 2.0 port can be found on the bottom. The use of micro-USB over the increasingly common USB-C didn’t go down well at all. There’s no water or dust-proofing, but it does have a splash-resistant design. The camera module on the rear is the same shape—round, like the Moto Z.
The Moto G5 feels surprisingly compact in the hand. A lot of people still need a compact phone, and I believe Motorola is just trying to prove the point with the G5. Motorola has attempted to reimagine a mid-end smartphone with a smaller, more premium design.
Moto G5’s 5-inch FHD (1080p) offers excellent brightness levels and the results are superb across the board. Due to its smaller size, though, the pixel density is respectable. Its 441ppi delivers images that look sharp and extremely colourful. Sure, Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 4 sports a bigger 5.5-inch FHD display compared to the G5’s 5-inch FHD display. But in daily use the G5’s 5-inch display is perfect for gaming and multimedia.
In terms of performance, Motorola isn’t pushing the envelope. Admittedly because the Moto G5 falls under the mid-tier segment. Its specification sheet isn’t quite as impressive as what its peers are sporting. However, specifications aren’t everything when it comes to performance and the Moto G5 is an example of this.
The phone is equipped with a Snapdragon 430 processor coupled with 3GB RAM. It’s just as quick and responsive as you’d expect. From web pages to browsing Google Maps to streaming music through Saavn, there are no glitches. No doubt, the phone handled games (Real Racing 3, for example) and apps easily. The device was overall responsive and snappy, throughout my testing and in no way felt like a compromised phone
Moto G5 ships with 16GB storage and microSD card support ( up to 256GB). A 32GB option would have been nice, and the fact that Nubia N1 ships with 64GB storage, I wonder why that option doesn’t exist.
The G5 runs Google’s Android 7.0 mobile operating system and yes, you’ll be getting a stock-like interface. Motorola hasn’t tweaked the user interface, and that’s a good thing. But yes, Motorola has made some enhancements. For example, there’s the Moto app which offers a number of small features that are actually useful. It lets you enable gesture control, so you can twist the phone twice to open the camera; pick up the device to stop it ringing and flip it to activate Do Not Disturb; swipe upwards to shrink the screen to a miniature OS. All these features can be controlled from within the app, or switched off.
There’s a new one-button navigation option as well, which when enabled, can turn the fingerprint sensor into a mini touchpad. So basically once you turn this mode on you can use gestures to make commands, instead of the traditional on-screen navigation buttons. Swipe left of the key to go back; swipe right to open recent apps screen; and tap and hold to lock the screen; press-and-hold to activate Google Now launcher. Initially I struggled a lot with Motorola’s one-button navigation control, but the best part is that you can always revert back to the familiar navigation on-screen buttons.
The fingerprint sensor is very fast and very accurate. Call quality was good, and reception and data speeds were excellent.
The G-series has never been great in the camera department. The Moto G4 Plus was an average performer, to say the least. The G5 camera isn’t a massive upgrade It has the standard 13-megapixel shooter with f/2.0 aperture and LED flash. Again, the setup you get here isn’t quite as compelling as the G5 Plus. The end result is not bad.
The back camera produces really quite good images, with accurate colour and a solid amount of detail. In the darkest of environments, though, the G5 fall flat in capturing images. Noise was clearly visible when capturing subjects in low light. The camera UI is simple and easy-to-use. The front-facing camera provides 5-megapixel shots and, with an aperture of f/2.2, selfies look sharp and well exposed.
What’s not good?
The G5 is backed by a 2800mAh removable battery, but the performance might leave quite a bit to be desired. Battery life was average in my week long testing. I used it as my primary device with WhatsApp, Facebook and Saavn apps installed, which means I got hundreds of push notifications, emails and messages.
On a normal working day – using the phone intensively during the day – the G5 would last between eight and nine hours. I had to charge the phone twice nearly every day. I still remember during one of the days the battery couldn’t last even seven hours, which is really disappointing.
There aren’t many faults in the Moto G5; still it is hard recommending this phone. Instead Moto G5 Plus seems a more better proposition, even though it is more expensive. Essentially you’re paying for a better processor, more storage, a better camera, and a larger screen. The G5 Plus is clearly a better phone over the G5. If you’re not interested in either of the phones, the Redmi Note 4 might be the better option.