Moto G5 Review: Nougat Makes This Average Performer Shine

Close on the heels of the rather popular Moto G5 Plus’ launch in India, which clocked record launch day sales on Flipkart, comes the Moto G5 (minus a Plus!).

Success in this cut-throat market isn’t a given, and the comparatively more affordable sibling will have to step out of the G5 Plus’ shadow if it is to command the same level of consumer interest. Does the G5 have us going ‘Ji Haan’? We find out.

Pros:

  • Stock Nougat experience, rare for its price segment
  • Moto software enhancements
  • Fast charging
  • Decent build quality
  • Dual SIM plus microSD support
  • Water repellant nano-coating

Cons:

  • Some odd design decisions
  • Average battery performance
  • Ho-hum camera performance

What’s Good?

Coming fresh off my review of the G5 Plus, it’s clear Moto has made some cuts to the G5, which you can read about in our Moto G5 Vs Moto G5 Plus tech spec comparo. The 5-inch IPS LCD display pushes out 1080x1920 pixels, and the crisp and colour-accurate screen is adequately bright to be used in broad daylight.

Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus together in one frame. (Photo: The Quint/@2shar)

The budget Snapdragon 430 processor and Adreno 505 graphics may not seem like much on paper, but near-stock Android Nougat keeps the phone humming nicely and you don't feel the hardware is under-powered in any discernible sense.

Thanks to the Amazon partnership, there’s an abundance of Amazon apps which you can’t uninstall – one for Prime Video, another for shopping and yet another Kindle app, plus a deals widget which shows you the latest offers – they even ask you for your Amazon ID during the setup process!

The 3GB of RAM doesn't feel crippled, but I would have much preferred a 32 GB base storage variant (instead of the current 16GB). You effectively get about 10 GB to work with, which runs out fast. Fortunately, there’s microSD card support to up to 128 GB, but it isn’t quite as elegantly done as the G5 Plus (see the What’s Bad section).

Amazon Prime Video comes default with the Moto G5. (Photo: The Quint/@2shar)

As with previous Motos including the G5 Plus, Moto’s made subtle little enhancements to the stock Nougat experience that make the experience of using the device a pleasure.

Whether it is the karate chop gesture (for the torch), the wrist twist (for the camera) or the one-button navigation using the fingerprint sensor we saw on the G5 Plus, the G5 benefits from the light-handed approach Moto takes to its software enhancement, a welcome departure from the heavy skin that most of their competitors favour.

Software optimisations on the Moto G5. (Photo: The Quint/@2shar)

Battery life is about par for the course, and 2,800 mAh battery manages to last for a day on light to medium use. There’s fast charging support if you use the included 10W microUSB charger, and you get about 50% battery life with a 30-minute splash and dash. Full charge takes about two hours.

What’s Bad?

Design is a mixed bag – I mean, the G5 series as a whole was inspired by the Moto Z family, and the G5 inherits the slick looks that caught our eye on the G5 Plus. That said, while it has a smaller screen than its bigger brother, it isn’t that much smaller, and other five-inch display phones offer a more compact in-hand feel.

The back panel is removable, and Moto has gone for a removable battery for the G5, but the fact that you need to pop the battery out to access the SIM slots is a little too much #throwback for me. Build quality is good, but the rear is a mix of metal and plastic, and so there’s none of that metal unibody goodness that consumers have already seen in this segment.

The rear panel is a mix of plastic and metal. (Photo: The Quint/@2shar)

Moto fixed the G5 Plus’ protruding camera bump on the rear with the G5 and there’s the liquid-repellent nano-coating which I think should be a table stake for all phones.

The camera on the G5 is a marked step down from its bigger brother, or more accurately, not as big a leap forward from the G4. Don't get me wrong, it’s not a bad camera per se, but with the improvement Moto showed us on the G5 Plus’ camera, forgive us for having higher expectations.

Moto G5 carries a 13-megapixel camera at the back. (Photo: The Quint/@2shar)

The 13-megapixel rear camera packs in phase detection autofocus and f/2.0 aperture lens, which means focusing was snappy and photos taken in good light offered accurate colours, but with inconsistent degree of detail.

In low light, the camera slows down and noise levels render images somewhat unusable. Work the camera in Professional mode and things get better, but for folks hoping to do it all in Auto mode, this is not the camera for you.

Why Buy It?

Which one would you go for? (Photo: The Quint/@2shar)

At Rs 11,999, the biggest thing going for the G5 is its near-stock Android experience, a rarity for its price segment. Shipping with an almost unaltered Nougat keeps the phone functional and usable, and will probably stand the test of time better than its peers.

That said, there’s a lot more hardware for the money at this price point, so if you’re not a stock Android fan, the competition has a lot to offer.

(Tushar Kanwar is a technology columnist and commentator and has been contributing for the past 15 years to India’s leading newspapers and magazines. He can be reached on Twitter: @2shar.)