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Motorola Moto G5 Plus review: Simply the best budget phone

Take a look at some of the snaps I got with the Moto G5 Plus in the gallery below.

Selfie beauty mode comparison: the right side has it turned on.

Patrick Holland/CNET

Low-light photography is always a challenge, which is one reason why Apple and Samsung have optical-image stabilization built into their flagship phones. The Moto G5 Plus doesn't. Overall image quality is still very good compared to other entry-level and midrange phones.

Video on the Moto G5 Plus is also good. Digital stabilization helps smooth out small shakes and you have the option to shoot either HD or 4K video -- both with nice results. The camera defaults to HD video.

The 5-megapixel selfie camera has a wide-angle lens with beauty mode that smooths your features and hides blemishes -- if you're into such things (this is typical on Android phones). The pics are nice and my skin never looked so young!

Times when it felt like a budget phone

The Moto G5 Plus does a good job overall, but there are places where the trade-off between price and features shows. I should add that none of these are a deal breaker for me, but you should be aware of the shortcomings:

  • The US version doesn't have NFC (but the UK version does)
  • The UK version only comes in with 32GB of storage and 3GB of RAM (instead of 64GB and 4GB RAM)
  • Music and audio over the G5 Plus' built-in speaker sounds thin and tinny
  • No optical-image stabilizer for the camera -- which would really help in low light
  • The display worked well indoors and in direct sunlight, but the Adaptive Brightness seemed to make the screen too bright inside so I found myself disabling the feature

Moto G5 Plus versus other phones

At the end of the day, I really enjoy the Moto G5 Plus. I honestly don't know of a phone that strikes a better balance between features and cost.

Other competitors to the G5 Plus are the Huawei Honor 6X ($253 at Amazon) and the Nokia 6 ($149 at Amazon), which may not be sold in Australia. On paper, the Honor 6X gives the G5 Plus a run for its money, but until we finish up our testing, we can only compare specs:

Comparison of the Moto G5 Plus, Moto G5, Moto G4 Plus, Huawei Honor 6X and Nokia 6

Motorola Moto G5 Plus Motorola Moto G5 Motorola Moto G4 Plus Huawei Honor 6X Nokia 6
Display size, resolution 5.2-inch; 1,920x1080 pixels 5-inch; 1,920x1080 pixels 5.5-inch; 1,920x1080 pixels 5.5-inch, 1,920x1080 pixels 5.5-inch; 1,920x1080 pixels
Pixel density 424ppi 440ppi 401ppi 403ppi 403ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 5.9x2.9x0.3 in 5.7x2.9x0.37 in 6x3x0.39 in 5.9x3x0.3 in 6.06x2.98x0.33 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) 150.2x74x7.7 mm 144.3x73x9.5 mm 153x76.6x9.8 mm 151x76x8.2 mm 154x75.8x8.4 mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 5.5 oz, 155g 5.1 oz, 145g 5.47 oz; 155g 5.7 oz, 162g 5.96 oz, 169g
Mobile software Android 7.0 Nougat Android 7.0 Nougat Android 6.0 Marshmallow Android 6.0 Marshmallow Android 7.1.1 Nougat
Camera 12-megapixel 13-megapixel 16-megapixel 12-megapixel + 2-megapixel 16-megapixel
Front-facing camera 5-megapixel 5-megapixel 5-megapixel 8-megapixel 8-megapixel
Video capture 4K 1080p 1080p 1080p 1080p
Processor 2GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 1.4GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 1.5GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 2.1GHz Huawei Kirin 655 octa-core 1.3GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 430
Storage 32GB, 64GB 16GB, 32GB 32GB 32GB 32GB, 64GB
RAM 2GB, 3GB, 4GB 2GB, 3GB 4GB 3GB, 4GB 3GB, 4GB
Expandable storage 128GB 128GB 128GB 128GB 256GB
Battery 3,000mAh (non-removable) 2,800mAh (removable) 3,000mAh (non-removable) 3,340 mAh (non-removable) 3,000mAh (non-removable)
Fingerprint sensor Below screen Below screen Below screen Back cover Yes, location TBA
Connector Micro-USB Micro-USB Micro-USB Micro-USB Micro-USB
Special features Splash-proof, NFC on UK model only Dual-SIM, splash-proof Water-resistant Dual-lens camera, dual-SIM NFC, dual speakers

First published April 19, 5 a.m. PT.

Update, 6:30 p.m.: Adds comment about Moto G5 Plus Wi-Fi band support.

Correction, 6:30 p.m.: The Moto G4 Plus battery is non-removable.

Update, May 8 at 10:24 a.m.: Adds comment about dual-SIM support.

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