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Motorola Moto G5 review: A rock-bottom bargain for your everyday essentials

With a good camera, metal design and a dirt cheap price, the Moto G5 is for you if you're phone shopping on a budget.

Andrew Lanxon headshot
Andrew Lanxon
Andrew Lanxon headshot

Andrew Lanxon

Lead Editor, CNET Advice, Europe; Lead Photographer, Europe

Andrew is CNET's go-to guy for product coverage and lead photographer for Europe. When not testing the latest phones, he can normally be found with his camera in hand, behind his drums or eating his stash of home-cooked food. Sometimes all at once.

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3 min read

There's a lot I like about the Moto G5, and it's not just the extremely low price.

motorola-moto-g5-2.jpg
7.5

Motorola Moto G5

The Good

The Moto G5 costs little, but packs a full-HD screen, good cameras and enough power for your everyday essentials.

The Bad

The dim screen can be difficult to read under bright lights and you'll need to be careful if you want to get a whole day out of the battery.

The Bottom Line

The Moto G5 is the phone to get if you want an everyday phone for as little possible, but if you want higher-end features like NFC then go for the G5 Plus.

The G5 will set you back only £170 in the UK. It won't be heading to the US and Australian prices are yet to be confirmed, but its UK price converts to roughly $220 and AU$ 289.

It's joined by its bigger brother, the G5 Plus. Unlike the G5, the Plus comes with a larger 5.2-inch display (compared with 5 inches), a slightly faster processor and NFC for Android Pay. The Plus costs £249 here in the UK -- and it will be heading to the US -- so it's a big step up, but it's worth considering if contactless payments are your thing. Read our full review of the G5 Plus here.

I see the G5's metal design more often on top-end phones with higher prices attached. It's comfortable to hold and I'm keen on the soft gold colour of my review model. There's a fingerprint scanner on the front below the screen. It works well and functions as a combined home and back button, once you've activated the functionality in the settings. You can read more about this button in our Moto G5 Plus review. There's no NFC, so for contactless Android Pay transactions you'll need to upgrade to the G5 Plus.

The 5-inch display has a full HD (1,920x1,080-pixel) resolution, making app icons and fine text appear sufficiently crisp and sharp. This isn't the 2,560x1,440 resolution of premium phones like the Galaxy S8, but it's fine for an affordable 5-inch phone. One problem, though: It's not very bright, which makes the screen sometimes difficult to see under bright light. The gap between the outer screen cover and the display itself is too large, giving the display a "sunken" effect which cheapens the look of the phone.

The 13-megapixel camera on the back takes decent snaps. Colours are vibrant, the exposure is well balanced and the resolution is high enough to cram in plenty of detail. In low-light, shots are again well exposed but the camera uses a slower shutter speed to capture enough light, which results in blurry photos if you don't keep your hands steady. The 5-megapixel front-facing camera does a good job of capturing selfies, and there's a beauty tool that smooths out your skin if you're worried people will figure out your age on Instagram.

Inside the phone is an octa-core processor. It's no match for the high-powered chips in the Galaxy S8 or LG G6, but it's capable enough for the everyday essentials. Facebook and Netflix work fine, and the chip handles photo editing in Snapseed well. Graphically demanding games like Riptide GP: Renegade played just about well enough, although the frame rate noticeably dropped in more intense moments. Casual rounds of Candy Crush on the bus are what this phone is most comfortable with.

The 2,800mAh battery should get you through your working day, but take care if you want it to last through your night out on the town. Keeping the screen brightness turned down will help eke out the last bit of juice, and turning GPS and Wi-Fi off will help too. Make sure you save your gaming and video streaming until you're within dashing distance of a plug socket. It lasted just over 13 hours on our battery test, which is a big step below the almost 17 hours achieved by the midrange OnePlus 3T.

Overall, the Moto G5 delivers a hell of a lot for very little money. It does almost everything you'd expect of a modern phone, and while it doesn't have the raw processing performance or camera skills of elite phones, it handles any of your everyday tasks with a smile and won't cripple your bank account either.

There's very little that comes close at this price. Sure, the OnePlus 3T is more refined and its battery lasts longer, but at £399 it's more than double the price of the G5. If you value a slightly bigger display for videos and you want to use Android Pay then you should definitely go for the G5 Plus.

Moto G5 specs comparison chart


Motorola Moto G5Motorola Moto G5 PlusOnePlus 3TSamsung Galaxy S8
Display size, resolution 5-inch; 1,920x1,080 pixels5.2-inch; 1,920x1,080 pixels5.5-inch; 1,920x1,080 pixels5.8-inch; 2960x1440 pixels
Pixel density 440ppi424ppi401ppi570ppi
Dimensions (Inches) 5.7x2.9x0.37 in5.9x2.9x0.3 in6.01x2.94x0.29 in5.86x2.68x0.315 in
Dimensions (Millimeters) 144.3x73x9.5 mm150.2x74x7.7 mm152.7x74.7x7.35 mm148.9x68.1x8 mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 5.1 oz, 145g5.5 oz, 155g5.57 oz; 158 g 5.5 oz; 155g
Mobile software Android 7.0 NougatAndroid 7.0 NougatAndroid 7.0 NougatAndroid 7.0 Nougat
Camera 13-megapixel12-megapixel16-megapixel12-megapixel
Front-facing camera 5-megapixel5-megapixel16-megapixel8-megapixel
Video capture 1080p1080p4K4K
Processor 1.4GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 4302GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 6252.35GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 821Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (2.35GHz+1.9GHz) or Octa-core Samsung Exynos 8895 (2.35GHz+1.7GHz)
Storage 16GB, 32GB (varies by region)32GB (UK & US), 64GB (US only)64GB, 128GB64GB
RAM 2GB or 3GB, based on region2GB on 32 GB (US model), 3GB on 32GB (UK model) or 4GB on 64GB (US model)6GB4GB
Expandable storage 128GB128GBNoneUp to 2TB
Battery 2,800mAh (removable)3,000mAh3,400mAh3,000mAh
Fingerprint sensor Below screenBelow screenHome buttonBack cover
Connector Micro-USBMicro-USBUSB-CUSB-C
Special features Dual-SIM, splash-proofDual-SIM, splash-proofNotifications toggle, dual-SIM, Dash ChargingWater-resistant (IP68); wireless charging; Gigabit LTE-ready
Price off-contract (USD) N/A$229 (32GB); $299 (64GB)$439 (64GB), $479 (128GB)AT&T: $750; Verizon: $720; T-Mobile: $750; Sprint: $750; U.S. Cellular: TBA
Price (GBP) £169 (16GB, 2GB RAM); £179 (16GB, 3GB RAM)£249 (32GB)£399 (64GB), £439 (128GB)£689
Price (AUD) Converts to AU$291 (16GB)Converts to AU$300 (32GB) and AU$390 (64GB)Converts to AU$590 (64GB), AU$652 (128GB) TBA
motorola-moto-g5-2.jpg
7.5

Motorola Moto G5

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 7Camera 7Battery 8
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