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Want to upgrade to 5G without the price tag? The Moto G 5G Plus might be the phone for you.
One of the most affordable 5G phones, but rivals offer better cameras.
The Moto G 5G Plus is one of the cheapest 5G phones. At £229, it would be a good deal even if it did not have next-gen 5G mobile internet. But it does, making it something rather special.
You can get 4G phones that look and feel a bit fancier, have slightly better cameras and slightly punchier screens. But there’s actually nothing we actively dislike in the Moto G 5G Plus, considering its very reasonable price.
Not fussed about 5G? Be sure to consider phones like the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro and Realme 8 Pro, which have other distinct charms, particularly in their cameras. But if you’re after a budget 5G phone, the Moto G 5G Plus may well be your best option.
The Moto G 5G Plus is a budget 5G phone and was one of the first to open up 5G to those of us who don’t want a spend a fortune on a mobile.
Price: originally £299 (now available around £230)
The Moto G 5G Plus was one of the first truly affordable 5G phones. It is a pretty important step for the Moto series. 4G phones get trickier to recommend by the month, but we like to suggest models that will save you some money whenever we can. Thankfully, there are few off-putting parts here if a cheap 5G phone is what you want.
The Moto G 5G Plus is excellent value, up there with the best deals from the Moto G range. We’ve recommended Moto G phones to budget buyers since the series started in 2013. It’s one of the best routes to cheap 5G.
5G is the Moto G 5G Plus’s most important feature. It will make the phone age much better than most in this class, in at least one respect. 4G phones will work just fine for years, of course, but soon 5G will be the default in virtually all new phones.
A phone with 5G also needs a processor, a brain, that supports 5G. And the Moto G 5G Plus benefits from this because its processor is actually noticeably more powerful than those of many 4G phones at this price.
Top-end games like Fortnite run better than on most of the Moto G 5G Plus’s competitors. You’ll need to cut down the graphics a little for the smoothest play, but this is a very solid gaming phone for £230.
The Moto G 5G Plus only has one speaker, however. Some in the series have two for stereo sound. This speaker sits at the bottom. It provides enough oomph to let you listen to podcasts in the shower but does become a little brash at top volume.
And when we say “in the shower”, we don’t mean that literally. The Moto G 5G Plus has splash-proofing to keep it safe in the rain but doesn’t have the kind of full water resistance you see in some much more expensive Android phones.
Unlike most of those, the Moto G 5G Plus will let you plug in wired headphones. There’s a memory card slot in the SIM tray too. You may end up wanting to use one as the phone has 64GB storage, which is fairly easy to eat through these days if you like taking photos or playing games.
The phone has a 6.7-inch screen, which sounds massive. But it’s not quite as it seems because this is an unusual 21:9 aspect display, one much taller than the norm.
It’s a sharp Full HD display with solid colour and enough brightness to look reasonably punchy in direct sunlight. This is a 90Hz screen too, which increases how smooth scrolling looks.
Some phones in this class have OLED screens, which look more punchy and usually have better colour than the Moto G 5G Plus. If you want a traditional extra-large display, don’t miss our Redmi Note 10 Pro review. That’s not a 5G phone, but we prefer it in several ways.
Day-to-day performance is one. While the Moto G 5G Plus has a punchy processor, we did notice the occasional stutter in Android, and its fingerprint scanner on the side is not all that quick.
The Moto G 5G Plus has a 5000mAh battery. That capacity has become a sort of gold standard for Android phones and lets the phone last a long time between charges.
On several days — most, actually – it is left with around 40% charge by bedtime. And on one day of testing, we didn’t charge overnight, just to see how long it would hold on. The Moto G 5G Plus lasted into the late afternoon on the second. And we didn’t go easy on the phone to try to artificially draw out its longevity.
You don’t have to go light on the Moto G 5G Plus to make sure it lasts a full day. It does take a while to recharge, around two hours, even though it has ‘fast charging’.
The Moto G 5G Plus has loads of cameras. Too many, if you ask us.
There are four on the back, two on the front. And we’d rather get rid of a couple of them and have an upgrade to the main camera.
The Moto G 5G Plus’s primary 48-megapixel camera can shoot pleasant pictures. If you’re upgrading from an entry-level phone a few years old, you’ll be more than happy. However, side-by-side with the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro and Realme 8 Pro, we noticed the Moto has slightly worse contrast and tends to mush up detail more often in trickier scenes.
Night photos are decent by the standards of 2019/2020, but other recent phones in this class perform better.
You get an ultra-wide camera, but its images tend to look undersaturated and a little soft, particularly in the corners.
There is some good news. The Moto G 5G Plus has a 5-megapixel macro camera, one much better than the 2-megapixel cams common in mid-range phones. You may not take a masterpiece worthy of a photography award, but it’s fun to play around with, to take close-up pictures of nature.
The last camera is a depth sensor, used in a mode that blurs a background to make images look as if they were taken with a big DSLR camera. It’s the worst camera of the lot but does let you take blurry background shots of anything, not just people. You’re limited to background blur images of people in some phones without a dedicated depth camera.
There’s good news on the video front. The Moto G 5G Plus can shoot video at sharp 4K resolution and gets stabilisation at that setting too. This is where the phone smooths out motion, and it’s a must-have if you’ll use the camera while walking around.
The Moto G 5G Plus doesn’t have the best sub-£300 camera array out there. But it is solid in most respects.
You get two selfie cameras too, one with a wider view than the other. The standard one takes much better images, with plenty of fine facial detail, but the second might come in handy for group pics.
The Moto G 5G Plus’s reason to exist is to offer lots of tech, including 5G, for not much money. As a result, most elements of the design do not get to suck up too much of the budget.
All parts of the phone, bar the glass and camera screen coverings, are plastic. It doesn’t have the cool, hard feel you get with aluminium or glass bits. But these days, only a few phones near to this price have such higher-end parts.
The Moto G 5G Plus is also an exceptionally tall phone because of its 21:9 shape screen. There are good and bad sides to this. It means the phone is not too wide, considering it has a 6.7-inch screen, but it makes reaching anywhere near the top of the screen a stretch. This can get annoying in some apps, and we have to shuffle up a bit to drag down the notification bar.
It’s a bit of a strange shape. But width, not height, is what makes a phone feel too much to handle most of the time. The Moto G 5G Plus is only as wide as a 6.2-inch screen phone.
There’s also a Google Assistant button on the side. This brings up Google’s digital assistant, but we find it more an annoyance than a help, as it’s easy to press accidentally.
You have a lot of great options if you have £200-300 to spend. The Moto G 5G Plus is one of the best if you really want to try out 5G. However, if you’re just fine coasting by with 4G for the next year or two, we suggest considering some of the rivals from companies like Realme and Xiaomi. Their latest phones have better cameras and, in some cases, feel more expensive. We’re not at the point where 5G is a “free” feature. You have to pay extra for it, and Motorola has made the right slight cuts to fit it in.
Design and set-up: 3/5
Overall rating: 4/5