For four years, the Moto G has been the easiest-to-recommend phone for friends with little cash to splash. Good news: the Moto G5 is still pretty much a budget champ.
It’s a great phone for the price.
The question isn’t so much whether you should buy a Moto G5: that’s an easy one. Sure. Whether it’s better than the Moto G4, though? That's a bit trickier.
Moto G5 Design: Fifth verse, different from the first
Ever since the early days of the Moto G, the series was perhaps a bit plain, but never had the embarrassing quirky bits of some other budget phones.
This time around, Lenovo has tried to amp up the design of the Moto G5 a bit.
The Moto G4 had metal at its sides with a plastic plate on its back, the Moto G5 inverts this. It’s really mostly plastic, but tricks you into thinking it’s mostly-metal by slipping a thin sheet of aluminium into the rear. You can pull the whole back off to see what’s really going on. It’s a plastic coat with a metal panel.
In one very superficial way, the Moto G5 sells the series out, by ‘faking it’. I’ve been using the gold version and the shiny edging around the screen wants to be metal, but isn’t. This phone is desperate to seem more expensive than the Moto G4, but some of its tactics are cheap. It’s like an old Samsung. But, to be fair, it’s a style Samsung used to use in its old flagships.
The look is bezel-heavy too, meaning the G5 is 3mm wider than the Galaxy S7 even though it has a slightly smaller screen.
Moto G5: Any side orders?
All you really need to take from all this Moto G5-bashing is that it doesn’t look quite like a RM1999 phone. And it isn’t an all-metal phone either, despite what the person in the phone shop might tell you.
There are some nice elements, though. The lines between the metal and plastic on the back, and the big black glass circle holding the camera, look more deliberate than most ‘fashion choices’ bunged into a Moto G to date.
The Moto G5’s finger scanner is also far prettier than the Moto G4 Plus’s. It’s not a clicky button, just a pad, and just takes the phone in and out of standby rather than acting as a Home button. That’s left for the on-screen soft keys.
Lenovo’s Moto G5 Plus uses the pad for navigation, but the G5 doesn’t.
There’s no NFC, but you get solid set of features for RM1999, and the Moto G5 is splash-proof too. You’d never guess given you see the prongs of the SIM and microSD slots when you take off the non-rubber-sealed back, but it’s nano-coated, which is a bit like putting an ultra-thin layer of cling-film over the thing.
Moto G5 display: Small screens are in
So far I’ve criticised the Moto G5 for being a bit tacky in parts and a bit bigger than you might hope, but it’s still way smaller than the Moto G4. It has a much smaller screen, after all.
The Moto G5’s is 5in across, whereas the Moto G4 has a 5.5in screen. They’re in completely different categories.
As ever in this series, display quality is great for the price. You get a 1080p screen, which delivers fantastic sharpness.
Colour and contrast aren’t quite at the level of the Samsung Galaxy A5, but when the Moto G5 is less than half the price, we’ll take it. Colours do look fairly natural, reasonably well-saturated, and there’s a toggle in the Settings menu that lets you flick between a normal and slightly more saturated look. The vivid mode looks fairly close to the display of a much more expensive phone.
The Moto G5 is a reminder that, in a world where no Android you’d see advertised on a bus seems to have a screen as small as this, a 5in display is enough for anything. Even console-style games or film-watching feel comfy.
There’s just one speaker on the Moto G5, by the earpiece on the front. Like the Moto G4’s it’s not a standard-setter for sound quality and does struggle with ambient noise — I had to put to closer to my ear to carry on listening to a podcast while making a brew. But the sound quality isn’t grating, or distorted at top volume. Once again: pretty much like the Moto G4.