Continue reading
If you look at the history of Android, there have been a couple of seminal points. Obviously, the first Motorola and HTC phones set out a marker for the market that Google meant business with its operating system. A couple of years later when Samsung’s Galaxy S line of smartphones came out alongside the first Nexus by Google, a few things became clear — Android was an alternative to the iPhone. Then in early 2013 something interesting happened. Motorola which was at the time owned by Google released this dinky little handset which was for less than $200 — it was the Moto G, the first generation of a line of smartphones that have pretty much represented the pinnacle of affordable Android smartphones. At Mobile World Congress last month, we got a short taste of what Motorola which is now under Lenovo, is up to. Clearly, no good, because the new Moto G5 Plus looked quite killer. Now, it is here in India. Like the first Moto G, India is the market which is a stepping stone for the device, and indeed this killer phone represents the pinnacle of affordable Android; something that should keep a lot of the competition from China up and about. Here’s why.

The Good

While the new Moto G Plus is largely a predictable update, one of the big things Motorola has doubled down on is design. The Moto G line of phones have always been these cute and cuddly things; the G5 Plus while retaining many of these loved elements has gone all in on metal. It also brings back water repellency which paid great dividends to me while I played Holi over the weekend with my friends and family. And thankfully one didn’t need to shield the phone from water in a polythene packet.

So, yes, it is built to last, but while doing do Motorola has kept things comfortable. The Moto G5 Plus borrows design elements from the first Moto G which had rounded corners and a significant curvature on the back; this enables the phone to be easily nestled in the palm. And yes, it is slim and light too at 7.7mm and 155 grams. It also helps that Motorola has decided to go with a 5.2-inch full HD screen which isn’t too big nor too small.

The genius of the Moto G goes beyond the design — in fact it resides in its performant and efficient nature. That stems from clean software and solid hardware. And no surprises here, but the new Moto G5 Plus is running the latest Android Nougat with literally no bloatware — save for a few Moto tricks which are handy. This clean and responsive software is married to solid hardware. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor which we have seen on super phones like the P2 from Lenovo and the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 are great examples. On the Moto G5 Plus you also get 4GB RAM ( on the review unit we tested)along with 32GB of storage and the end result is blistering performance.

Gaming, multitasking and general day to day use on this phone is a breeze. This is a phone for people who demand super performance on a budget.

Motorola has also iterated on the camera on the Moto G5 Plus. This time around it gets some formidable hardware — a 12-megapixel sensor with a shallow aperture of f/1.7 and dual pixel technology. Now, these specs sound very similar to what Samsung offered last year on the Galaxy S7. Sure, the performance is not on the same level but I can tell you one thing, you will be hard pressed to find a phone for its price that performs as well. This is a serious camera which can take some stunning photos when given decent lighting.

The selfie camera also gets an upgrade and the 5-megapixel front camera does delightfully well even in poor lighting so this camera would come in handy the next time you go pub hopping.

There are some other cool features like the front mounted fingerprint scanner that can be doubled to control Android navigation. The call quality is a solid improvement and that’s important because there’s a reason we all carry phones and not PDAs. It also has a microSD card slot which supports up to 256GB cards and then there are basics like support for the Motorola’s turbo charger, a decent sized 3,000mAh battery and 4G LTE. Basically, it is lovely!

The Bad

Well, it is not bad per se, but rather when this phone is compared to some of the more affordable phones in the market, it just doesn’t look as appetising as it is in real use. For instance, the Snapdragon chip is now found across the board; in fact, Lenovo’s Z2 phone runs the higher-end 820 chip and costs Rs 5,000 lesser.

At the time of testing the phone hadn’t been updated with the Google Assistant which is something I was looking forward to after enjoying it on the Pixel. This should happen soon enough though.

The low light performance of the camera also remains unreliable at times which is a bummer as many phones have started to nail that aspect of camera performance. In fact, this also translates to video performance which remains choppy; and overall doesn’t do justice to the superb hardware on tap more so than any phone it is competing with.

The Moto G5 Plus also oddly looks larger than it should, but that’s more due to the front mounted fingerprint scanner which has made the bezels vertically longer. Finally, the fact that a phone in 2017 is still coming out with a microUSB port instead of a USB Type C connector just doesn’t cut it.

Should you buy it?

Think about it, if you’ve seen a Pixel and yearned for its simplicity and level of performance in a package that’s way more affordable than it, then this is it. In fact, I’d wager, if Google had to make a more pocket friendly Pixel, then this is what it would end up on. That’s how good the new Moto G5 Plus is. It is the ultimate no-nonsense Android smartphone. It is meant for people who want something fast, efficient and well, attractive. Believe the hype, it is the pinnacle of affordable Android and my recommendation is to jump on Flipkart to buy this bad boy for Rs 16,999.