Moto G 5G Plus review: 5G is more affordable than ever

The Moto G 5G Plus brings 5G, good battery life and a great screen to the budget market

Moto G 5G Plus
(Image credit: Motorola)
T3 Verdict

Motorola wraps up 5G, impressive performance and a great screen in a smartphone that won't cost you much at all. While some corners have been cut to get the phone to this price, we think the Moto G 5G offers plenty of bang for buck in most key categories.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Big, bright, 90Hz screen

  • +

    5G on a budget

  • +

    Very appealing price

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    No optical camera zoom

  • -

    Rather staid design

  • -

    No waterproofing

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The Moto G 5G Plus makes it clear, if it wasn't clear already, that 5G has arrived on phones that cost a little less – it's no longer a feature exclusively for expensive flagships, and here it's combined with Motorola's usual expertise at the affordable end of the phone market.

Is it a successful blend of top-end connectivity and mid-range components? In this Moto G 5G Plus review we'll take you through all the key categories you'll want to know about – the phone's camera, battery life, day-to-day performance, design and build quality.

Motorola's naming strategy for its phones can get a little confusing, but all that you really need to know is that this is the first Moto G phone with 5G on board. It's a bridge between the Moto G8 and (we assume) the Moto G9, sort of. There's no 'standard' Moto G 5G.

There are already a pile of very affordable, good quality phones on the market – Motorola itself makes quite a few of them – but if you're after 5G and a big screen, as well as a better-than-average processor, then this is worth putting near the top of your shortlist.

Moto G 5G Plus review: design and screen

Motorola has a track record for making phones that are big and beautiful, if not quite as polished and refined as the very best handsets from Samsung and Apple, and the Moto G 5G Plus follows in this tradition: you get an expansive 6.7-inch, 1080 x 2520 pixel, 21:9 aspect ratio, HDR10-ready LCD display, with a 90Hz refresh rate – pleasing to see when a lot of affordable phones stick with 60Hz.

We can also report that the screen is a pleasure to use as well. Movies, webpages, photos and more are clear, bright and easy on the eye. Admittedly you do need to ramp up the brightness on the display to get the best out of it (especially outdoors), and you don't get quite the contrast ratio and deep blacks as you would on an OLED display, but this is nevertheless a very capable screen that we were impressed by.

Aside from the screen, Motorola has once again done a competent if unspectacular job on the design of the handset – which is an approach you'll be familiar with if you've used any other Moto phones. The phone is a little on the chunky and thick side, but not so much that it spoils the experience of using the phone, and aside from the rather stuck-on look of the quad-lens rear camera we're pretty pleased with the design of the Moto G 5G Plus.

The Moto G 5G Plus moves with the times with a USB-C port on the base, along with a headphone jack that we still like to see on handsets. There's a single loudspeaker and a fingerprint sensor mounted on the side of the phone in the power button, which we actually prefer to having one on the back or under the display. Blue is your one and only colour option.

Moto G 5G Plus review: camera and battery

Moto G 5G Plus

(Image credit: Future)

The Moto G 5G Plus comes with a quad-lens 48MP wide + 8MP ultrawide + 5MP macro + 2MP depth rear camera, and there are also two lenses on the front – the 16MP wide + 8MP ultrawide selfie cam should help you fit a lot more in the frame. As with other Motorola cameras around this price point, the results are good but not spectacular, which is fair enough considering how much the phone costs.

In pictures taken with the rear camera, colour balance and detail is good, though there is some fuzziness and blurring in places as the light starts to dim. Macro close-up shots can come out really well, as did portrait shots thanks to that depth sensor. Unless you're planning to run off some canvas prints then the quality of the Moto G 5G Plus won't disappoint, and the ultrawide angle lens is very handy – even if switching to it crashed the phone a couple of times, which was a bit worrying.

At this affordable price you wouldn't expect miracles in low light photography, but the Moto G 5G Plus does okay – you can at least see what's happening in most night shots, even if colours are muddy and details are imprecise. There's a night mode which in some cases improves shots and in some cases doesn't make much difference – it's worth trying, but you need to keep the camera still for a second or two longer.

While we weren't able to put the battery through a huge amount of testing, we can tell you that the large capacity 5,000 mAh battery inside the Moto G 5G Plus is going to have no trouble at all getting through a full day and then some, with normal usage. In our standard one-hour video streaming test, the battery level only dropped 10 percent from full, so you should be able to count on 10 hours of watching movies and shows between charges. 20W fast charging is supported too.

Moto G 5G Plus review: other specs and features

Moto G 5G Plus

(Image credit: Motorola)

The Snapdragon 765 CPU that Motorola has included here is a very respectable mid-tier processor, even if it doesn't quite hit the heights of the Snapdragon 865 or 865 Plus. Several phones at this price point are now going for the Snapdragon 765 or the 765G (with slightly more graphical power) and it's a sensible choice – it'll speed through almost any smartphone task, as the Moto G 5G Plus proves.

With that Qualcomm processor you can have 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage (like our review model had), or a slightly better 6GB and 128GB of storage – it's these specs more than the CPU that give away the Moto G 5G Plus' budget status, but we didn't notice any serious lagging or sluggishness in our time with the phone. If you like to keep a lot of music, movies and games saved to your handset, then you probably want to opt for the 128GB edition though.

Running the latest Geekbench tests on the Moto G 5G Plus came up with a single-core score of 594, a multi-core score of 1842, and an OpenCL score of 1093 – benchmarks aren't everything, but those suggest this is comparable to a top-end Galaxy S series phone from 2018, which isn't bad at all. Generally performance seems to be fine – during a blast through Asphalt 9, for example, we only experienced one or two minor stutters.

The Moto G 5G Plus runs a lightly skinned version of Android 10, and as usual, Motorola is very good at leaving Android alone – the bloatware and unnecessary embellishments are kept down to a minimum. Android being Android, you can always customise the operating system to suit your own tastes anyway, completely revamping it pixel by pixel if you feel that it's necessary.

Moto G 5G Plus review: price and verdict

Moto G 5G Plus

(Image credit: Motorola)

In a lot of ways, you already know what to expect from the Moto G 5G Plus in advance – Motorola has been pushing out good-quality budget phones for years now, and it has plenty of expertise when it comes to finding the right balance between power and performance. That's in evidence again with this handset.

You get a lot of phone for your £300 or so – you get 5G, you get a powerful processor that can trouble the flagships of 2020 in terms of speed, and you get a large screen that we were impressed by. The battery life is significantly better than average, and those boxes are the ones that you want ticking, then the Moto G 5G Plus is definitely worth considering alongside all the other handsets around this price.

Of course there are compromises along the way too. You don't get any waterproofing or wireless charging, the camera is good enough but not really any more than that (we really like the option of optical zoom on cameras, but it costs more), and the screen and build quality are some way short of what you would expect from a top-tier flagship from Samsung or Apple... which cost three times as much.

Overall we came away from our time with the Moto G 5G Plus impressed with what Motorola has done with this handset, especially with the quality of the screen and how little you have to pay to get hold of it. If you like the design of the handset and you want to futureproof yourself with 5G as cheaply as possible, give it a look.

David Nield

Dave has over 20 years' experience in the tech journalism industry, covering hardware and software across mobile, computing, smart home, home entertainment, wearables, gaming and the web – you can find his writing online, in print, and even in the occasional scientific paper, across major tech titles like T3, TechRadar, Gizmodo and Wired. Outside of work, he enjoys long walks in the countryside, skiing down mountains, watching football matches (as long as his team is winning) and keeping up with the latest movies.