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Moto G 5G Plus review: 5G and loads more for a bargain price

Since the launch of 5G in Australia we’ve seen premium and higher end phones launch with 5G support, but Motorola is bringing 5G support to a new market, launching the Moto G 5G for just $499.

Motorola is selling the Moto G 5G Plus through Vodafone and Telstra, where you can find payment plans, or outright through the Motorola online store.

Since their launch in 2013 the Moto G series phones have been Motorolas best selling line, bringing great value to consumers, and on paper the Moto G 5G Plus is no different. 

Powered by the same Snapdragon 765G processor with built-in X52 5G modem as found in higher priced phones like the LG Velvet, Google Pixel 4a (5G), Oppo Find X2 Lite and more, the difference here is that $499 price tag. 

It’s not just 5G that’s the selling point though, there’s also a big screen, a 48MP rear quad camera system plus an ultra-wide dual front camera and a large 5,000mAh battery.

Motorola has loaned EFTM a Moto G 5G Plus for review, and after a week using it, here’s my thoughts.

Hardware and Design 

The Moto G 5G Plus is similar in design to other Moto G phones we’ve seen recently in that it’s noticeably thicker than other phones, likely due to the massive 5,000mAh battery inside. I’m ok with the chunkier feel of the phone, it makes it easier to grip, and also it gives you a 5,000mAh battery!

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There’s a Google Assistant button on the left of the phone, with the volume rocker and power button on the right. Motorola has built the fingerprint sensor into the power button and it’s nice and accurate. The fingerprint sensor supports ‘Power Touch’, a way to quickly access app shortcuts from a floating window.

There’s a 3.5mm headphone jack on the base of the phone, with a centre-mounted USB-C port and speaker on the bottom of the phone. The audio from the speaker is fairly average, but that 3.5mm headphone jack lets you plug in a pair of headphones, or you can always pair your Bluetooth headset.

The plastic body is a bit of a fingerprint magnet, and comes in a ‘Surfing Blue’ colour which has an interesting sub-pattern you can see in the right light that adds a perception of texture.

There’s a square camera bump at the top left on the rear that juts out a little from the rear, just enough so that the phone rocks if you put it on a flat surface. 

Thankfully you can solve the fingerprint issue and the rocking by applying the TPU case included in the box. 

Thankfully you can solve the fingerprint issue and the rocking by applying the TPU case included in the box. 

The screen on the Moto G 5G Plus is massive, it’s a 6.7” Full HD+ CinemaVision display which means it’s 21:9 aspect ratio. The taller aspect ratio can be a little challenging for one-handed use, but it’s great having such a large display.

The LCD panel supports a 90Hz refresh rate which is nice to see in a phone in this price range, though it’s set to an Auto setting by default.  You can force 90Hz in settings – which is noticeably nicer than the 60Hz we normally get – though you will take a battery hit by forcing it.

The screen is bright and colourful, and it’s got HDR10 support as well which makes the colours a little more vivid for that content. 

The screen is fairly easy to read in full daylight though you may have to amp up the brightness manually as the auto-brightness detection wasn’t quite pushing it enough for my liking.

What you do notice on the screen is the dual camera notches in the top left. These house the 16MP Ultra-wide Angle and 8MP camera sensors. These can be a bit distracting while using the phone, but you do eventually get used to it. 

As we’ve seen with previous phones running the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 5G platform this year, the RAM is make or break, as is the software. Motorola included 6GB of RAM in the Moto G 5G Plus and the lighter touch of their essentially stock software experience makes for a very nice experience. 

Storage wise you get 128GB which is fairly roomy even for heavy users, but you also get the option to use microSD cards to expand – anywhere up to 1TB in size. That’s a lot of potential room, though at almost $400, a 1TB card isn’t the most economical choice to expand phone storage just yet.

The SD765G processor includes the X52 modem which, if you’re in an area with 5G can give you a pretty decent connection speed. If you’re not yet in an area covered by 5G, the Moto G 5G still offers full 4G connectivity in the meantime with the phone switching to 5G signals when available. 

As you’d expect, the 5,000mAh battery is a monster, getting me through a day easily, and well into the second day before needing a charge. There’s a 20W TurboPower charger included in the box, it’s not exactly fast in terms of modern quick charging, but it will get you a bit more charge fairly quickly in a pinch.

Camera

There’s six cameras on the Moto G 5G Plus, with a quad-camera system on the rear and a dual-camera system on the front.

On the rear you get a 48MP main sensor with Quad pixel technology, 8MP ultra-wide sensor with 118° field-of-view, 5MP Macro Vision sensor and a 2MP depth sensor for portrait mode. 

The Quad-Pixel tech on the main sensor stacks the images down to a 12MP image, but the resulting image is fairly sharp with a decent amount of detail. The 8MP ultra-wide sensor doesn’t quite nab that detail with the lower resolution, though the ultra-wide is definitely a welcome addition. 

Night Mode does a pretty good job of absorbing surrounding light though as with other phones you’ll have to remain relatively steady for a few seconds to nab a clear shot.

I’m still undersold on the idea of a Macro camera, but the 5MP sensor offers some more detail than some of the 2MP modules I’ve seen in other phones. The 2MP depth sensor is for portrait mode, and lets you take a decent portrait photo, though I tend to prefer a bit more blur on the portrait shot.

The video on the Moto G 5G Plus includes the usual HD/FHD options as well as FHD/60fps and 4K. What the Moto G 5G Plus offers is the cinematic 21:9 video option in both FHD and 4K UHD resolution. The quality is decent enough for video, though 

On the front, the dual-camera system includes a 16MP main sensor with an 8MP Ultra-wide Angle sensor behind it. Though the dual-punch hole notches can be distracting, the additional sensor does let you take a wider shot for a group shot if you need it.

One UI feature I like about Motorola’s Camera setup is that you get a small glowing ring around the active selfie camera on the Moto G 5G Plus. This lets you know which lens (standard or ultra-wide) that’s being used so you can look into the lens for your selfie

Front portraits are pretty decent, though the beauty mode can be a little extreme if you decide to ramp it up.

Software

The Moto G 5G Plus comes with Android 10 on board with the 1st of May security update on board. There’s a software update available for you when you load up the phone for the first time which brings the security patch up to the 1st of September.

Motorola has advised that the Moto G 5G Plus will see only one feature update, presumably to Android 11. The phone will be kept up to date with security updates though, with Motorola promising security updates every 2 months.

Motorola’s ‘skin’ if that’s what you want to call it is extremely light. Motorola calls it ‘My UX’ and rather than try to re-design Android it simply adds in features like their gesture control, allowing you to twist to launch the camera, or chop to turn on the flashlight.

There’s no ‘bloatware’ included on the phone, with only the Motorola app for accessing some of their MyUX customisations, and an FM Radio app because Google still doesn’t build one into Android for some reason.

Overall, the Moto G 5G Plus is a stock Android experience. Motorola is promising security updates every 2 months, but only one feature update is a little disappointing for a phone some people may have for two-three years.

Should you buy it?

If 5G Connectivity matters and you’re on a budget, the Moto G 5G Plus is an absolute steal at $499. 

The phone includes a massive screen for viewing content, and a similarly huge battery to boot. It performs pretty well too with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 processor a proven workhorse. The software is also light and aids in smoothing out any potential performance issues.

The camera is decent in both bright light, and has a night mode which is yields some decent results. There are of course better cameras, but you’ll pay a higher price tag for that.

Overall the $499 price tag for the Moto G 5G Plus is the big selling point, and Motorola has made it hard to go past with this impressive list of features. It’s only a matter of time before the competition starts playing in this end of the pricing pool, but until then the Moto G 5G Plus is a bargain.

You can check the phone out now on the Motorola Australia website, or pick one up from today (November 10th) in Surfing Blue from both Telstraf and Vodafone.

Moto G 5G Plus review: 5G and loads more for a bargain price
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