Moto G5 Plus will make you rethink buying an iPhone 7

Moto G5 Plus’ camera, durability and price promise to deliver a great experience at a budget price

Moto G5 Plus will make you rethink buying an iPhone 7
Credit: Motorola

Motorola’s designers are always poised to strike when component prices drop, creating an opportunity to deliver more smartphone for the same money. This time they struck with the Moto G5 Plus with a better camera and faster processor, improving on the G4 Plus. The G5 Plus’ camera and price are the top two reasons to choose it as an alternative to the iPhone 7—or almost any phone.

Moto G5 Plus' camera

The Moto G5 Plus predecessor, the Moto G4 Plus, scored an 84 with DxOMark, equivalent to the iPhone 6s that consumers are still buying for $550. The specifications of the G5 Plus’ camera sensor top the iPhone 7’s. The 12 megapixels sensor with 1.4μm-sized pixels exceeds the iPhone 7’s at 12 megapixels with 1.22μm pixels. A subtle difference, but pixel size in most situations matters more than the number of pixels because larger pixels capture more light, producing better photos.

More light means photos taken in low light with a faster shutter speed, eliminating the blurriness from the longer exposure time of a handheld shot with phones with camera sensors that have smaller pixel sizes. Image processing algorithms also improve the photo quality because the more light captured taking the shot is more raw material for algorithms like HDR to process into better photos.

At f1.7, the Moto G5 Plus’s aperture is slightly larger than the iPhone 7’s f1.8, which again, lets more light hit the sensor. DxOMark, which has become an industry benchmark because it reviews so many phones and cameras, has not yet reviewed the G5 Plus. But given the phone’s hardware and DxOMark's very positive review of the 4G Plus, I anticipate the G5 Plus will score well against phones that cost twice as much.

The G5 Plus camera software has an expert mode depicted below that allows for adjustments of ISO speed, white balance, etc. This allows difficult shots to be taken when automatic mode will not work, such as a photo of a subject with a bright light behind it and against a dark background.

motorola g5 plus camera software Steven Max Patterson

Durability

I have not tested the durability of the Moto G5 Plus, but I expect it to be as good as the Moto G4 Plus, which I did test. 

With the G4 Plus, I accidentally dropped it numerous times, including down a couple flights of stairs at the MIT Media Lab. Plus my daughter, notorious for her destruction of iPhones and numerous consumer devices, has had her G4 Plus for about 7 month and has not called me once to say she broke the phone.

While Motorola does not guarantee the phone is shatterproof like the Moto Z Droid Force, it is certainly durable. The G4 Plus was priced at $229 like the G5 Plus. I reasoned I could buy three Moto G4 Pluses for the price of an iPhone.

Moto G5 Plus' budget price

At the $229 price, the Moto G5 includes a Snapdragon 625 Octa-core 2.0 GHz Cortex-A53 CPU, a bright 5.2-inch 1080x1920 pixel (424ppi) screen, front mounted fingerprint sensor, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, and a 3000 mAh battery with fast charging, that will recharge the battery with 6 hours of power in 15 minutes. Apple has not yet integrated fast charging into its A10 processor like Qualcomm has into most of its processors. The 5G Plus also has a microSD card to add up to 256GB of storage.

Serious gamers who primarily use their smartphones for high-intensity, graphic action games might like the iPhone 7 better for games, but consumers who use Gmail, Facebook, WhatsApp, text messaging, Instagram, etc., will not notice a difference in performance.

One really nice feature in the Moto G5 Plus is it runs an almost-pure version of Android 7.0 Nougat, which avails the user to Google’s entire mobile ecosystem and frequent updates without a lot of smartphone bloat.

The Moto G5’s appearance has been upgraded with a metal back that comes in either Lunar Gray or Fine Gold. It retains the G4 Plus plastic edge that acts as a shock absorber when the phone is dropped. 

Building high-quality, inexpensive smartphones fits the business model of Motorola’s parent, Lenovo—a vertically integrated electronic manufacturer that services the worldwide consumer market. It is a very different model than Apple’s luxury consumer product model that requires high margins to cover its high marketing costs.

Compare the specifications for the Moto G5 Plus to the iPhone 7 on GSM Arena’s website and see if it is worth paying $400 more for the iPhone to make a fashion statement. Also, take a look at Motorola’s Global Mobile Value Index survey, which explains the company’s pricing and design strategy.

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