We knew this day had to come eventually. For four generations, the Moto G series of smartphones has been the gold standard for budget smartphones: absolutely fabulous for the money. But with the Moto G5, that’s no longer a title the little handset can hold onto.
The Moto G5 may look more stylish than last year, but its beauty is merely skin-deep. The king is dead. Here’s why.
Moto G5 review: Design
If there’s one area where the Moto G5 gets good, solid praise, it’s for the design. For the first time, Lenovo has jettisoned the day-glo colour plastic of previous Motos and joined the modern convention for high-end smartphones – which is to say, a partially metal case. It feels suitably weighty in the hand, if perhaps a little more slippery than you’d expect. It also probably makes it a magnet for house-key scarring over time, but at least it will look the part when you take it out of the box for the first time.
What’s also impressive is that this change hasn’t come at the cost of a removable battery. At a time when pretty much every manufacturer has said goodbye to letting consumers keep a spare or replace a tired old battery, that’s pretty impressive – and strangely something that isn’t matched by the Moto G5’s slightly larger sibling, the Moto G5 Plus.
Other than that, this is smartphone business as usual. There’s a fingerprint scanner on the front, a 3.5mm headphone jack and both front- and rear-facing cameras. The back is slightly curved, but not to the degree that it won’t stay still when placed on a desk. The bezel is reasonably chunky, but then this is a £175 phone (or $230 on Amazon UK), not a £550 one, so you shouldn’t expect miracles.
There are three more things worthy of note about the design. The first is that Lenovo has not made the jump to USB Type-C yet. There are reasons why that could be considered bad, but for me the practicality of being able to find a cable whenever I need one trumps them all. The second is that, although the Moto G5 supports fast charging, there’s no fast charger in the box, which is a pity. Finally, the Moto G5 is still giving NFC the cold shoulder. No Android Pay for you, Motoheads.
Moto G5 review: Screen
The first thing you’ll want to do on booting up the Moto G5 is change the default wallpaper. The weird coloured lines thing is ugly in itself, but the blurring it goes through when you swipe across screens almost made me lose my lunch.
But that’s down to taste rather than screen quality, so let’s get to brass tacks. The Moto G5 has gone on a bit of a diet since last year’s Moto G4, losing 0.5in from its screen size in the process. That makes the screen – which stays at a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution – a tiny bit sharper than its predecessor, giving it a pixel density of 441ppi rather than 401ppi. Unfortunately, in every other sense, it’s a step backwards.
Top brightness has dropped from 540cd/m2 to 471cd/m2, and the percentage of the sRGB gamut covered has also taken a hit, falling from 90% to 85.8%. To complete the hat trick, contrast is also lower.
To be clear, the difference isn’t huge on any of those metrics, but it’s still disappointing that we’re taking a step backwards from 2016. The least you’d expect is for the phone’s screen to tread water, rather than to actively get worse.
Moto G5 review: Performance
Unfortunately, it’s a similar story when you get to performance. On paper, the Moto G5 looks like it has comparable specifications to the previous model. It has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 instead of a Qualcomm 617, but both are octa-core chips. Last year’s model was a mix of 1.5GHz and 1.2GHz Cortex-A53s, while in this year’s version, all eight are 1.4GHz A53s. It still has 2GB of RAM, although there’s also a 3GB option available – in fact, this is the one we looked at for the benchmarks over the page.
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