If you’re lucky enough to live in one of the few 5G hotspots dotted around the UK, chances are you still won’t be able to afford the entry fee. Only a small handful of smartphones can access these faster mobile data speeds and they themselves tend to be flagship devices that cost the best part of £1,000.
Still, a few phones have tried to bring down the 5G network’s high barrier for entry since it was first switched on last May. Samsung’s Galaxy A90 5G managed to push the SIM-free cost down to a more considerate £669 earlier in the year but even this was far out of reach of most customers’ wallets.
Thankfully, the Moto G 5G is much cheaper than this. Pitched as the phone to finally bring 5G to the masses, the Moto G 5G Plus is less than half the price of the Galaxy A90 5G, so what’s the catch?
Moto G 5G Plus review: What you need to know
As it turns out, there isn’t one, at least on paper. The Moto G 5G uses the new Snapdragon 765 chipset, which is second only to the beefy Snapdragon 865 in raw power terms. As a side note, this processor is expected to make an appearance in the upcoming OnePlus Nord, which is rumoured to cost around £200 more.
The integrated 5G modem supports all Sub-6GHz frequencies, so you should be able to get connected to any 5G network in the UK without any hassle, provided you’ve got the coverage that is.
The 5G Plus is also the first budget Motorola phone to have a 90Hz, 21:9 screen with support for HDR 10 video. The more expensive Motorola Edge also has this, but it costs £550. The Moto 5G Plus also has a total of four cameras on the back: the 48MP camera is complemented by a wide-angle, macro and depth cameras, and there are two selfie cameras at your disposal.
Moto G 5G Plus review: Price, release date and competition
In the UK, the entry-level model, which comes with 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM, costs £299, and can be picked up at Argos, John Lewis, EE and O2. A 128GB variant with 6GB of RAM is also available, which is exclusive to Vodafone and costs £349.
For reference, this is only £80 more than the 4G Moto G8 Power and you can almost buy three of these for the price of just one Samsung Galaxy S20. We don’t have a firm release date at this stage, but Motorola says the Moto G 5G Plus should be in UK shops before the end of July, so the wait won’t be too long.
Moto G 5G Plus review: Design
Design-wise, the Moto G 5G Plus is a bit of a departure from the rest of Moto’s budget offering. The Moto G 5G Plus looks rather swish, in fact, with a neat iPhone 11-like square camera housing at the back, and an oblong fingerprint reader – which doubles as the power button – on the phone’s right edge.
Motorola has opted to include a 3.5mm headphone socket, which sits next to the solitary speaker grille on the bottom, alongside the USB-C charging port which supports 20W charging. The Moto G 5G Plus can be picked up in two colours: Surfing Blue (which is the model you see here) and Mystic Lilac.
It’s still made of plastic, however, with relatively thick bezels around all four sides of its gigantic screen and is only “water repellent” according to Motorola. Despite this, the G 5G Plus still feels like a considerable step up from the rest of Moto’s budget-friendly lineup.
Moto G 5G Plus review: Display
Not only is this the first 5G-equipped Moto G phone, but the Moto G 5G Plus is also the first with a silky-smooth 90Hz screen. It has support for HDR playback and an aspect ratio of 21:9, measures 6.7in across the diagonal, and has a resolution of 2,520 x 1,080. There’s no notch but a couple of small holes have been bored out of the top-left corner for the two selfie cameras (more on that later).
As usual with Moto phones, there are three display modes to choose from, and I found that the “Natural” screen setting was the most colour accurate in my tests. With a measured sRGB colour gamut coverage of 93%, a total volume of 94% and an average Delta E of 1.02, the Moto G 5G Plus’ screen barely places a foot wrong, with only slight inconsistencies in the red tones. For the price, you really can’t do better than this.
The phone’s contrast is a smidgen on the dull side, however, with a recorded contrast ratio of 1,265:1, although it more than makes up for this with a high peak brightness of 575cd/m2 with the auto-brightness setting engaged. On an even more positive note, HDR-supported content looks punchy and vibrant, although it does fail to match the iPhone 11 in that regard.
Moto G 5G Plus review: Performance and battery life
In order to access the 5G network, the Moto G 5G Plus uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 processor. This is the same chipset that powered Moto’s first 5G phone, the Motorola Edge, earlier in the year, which is quite surprising when you consider that the Moto G 5G Plus costs almost half the price.
As for the technical goodies, this 5G chipset includes an octa-core CPU that’s built using a 7nm fabrication process and clocked at 2.3GHz. It’s a tad slower than the Snapdragon 865 – the chip that powers flashy flagship phones – which has a clock speed of 2.84GHz, but it’s still miles faster than any budget phone has any right to be, and it proved to be a rapid performer in our tests.
Not only is this the fastest budget Moto by a considerable margin but the Moto G 5G Plus’ barnstorming performance beats the similarly priced Galaxy A51 in the Geekbench 5 CPU benchmark and the GFXBench gaming test. And it’s not too far off some mid-range handsets that cost almost double the price.
The phone is also expandable by up to 1TB via microSD and comes with a massive 5,000mAh battery, which lasted 22hrs 15mins in our video rundown test. That’s very good indeed.
Moto G 5G Plus review: Cameras
The Moto G 5G Plus has four cameras on the rear, including a 48MP camera (which captures 12MP images by default), a 118-degree 8MP wide-angle camera, a 5MP macro lens with a 2cm focus distance, and a 2MP depth-sensing unit. As I mentioned above, the Moto G 5G Plus also has two selfie cameras on the front: one is a 16MP snapper, and the other is an 8MP wide-angle camera.
In testing, the Moto G 5G Plus’ cameras picked up plenty of detail, with pleasingly neutral colours and an auto-exposure that’s nice and balanced. The Moto G 5G Plus’ images are still a touch over-processed, mind you, but not distractingly so. Rest assured, what you’re getting here is still of exceptional quality for the price and the portrait mode is especially good. The macro sensor – while probably only of interest as a novelty – does the job well, as you can see from the up close and personal shot of my lavender plant.
As usual, there’s also a handful of extra shooting modes to choose from, too. The Night vision setting boosts shadows and increases dynamic range and the new long exposure mode allows you to open the shutter for up to 90 seconds for fancy-looking motion blur effects and light trails. Auto smile capture also returns, as does shot optimisation, which helpfully suggests shooting modes or camera settings based on the scene. Lastly, video is shot at up to 4K resolution, with a 60fps mode if you bump the resolution down to Full HD.
Moto G 5G Plus review: Verdict
The Moto G 5G Plus is a splendid addition to the Moto G lineup, and a major cornerstone when it comes to 5G accessibility in the UK. If you’re one of the lucky few to live in an area with reliable 5G coverage and you’d like to benefit from these faster speeds while picking up the cheapest handset possible, then the Moto G 5G Plus is a no-brainer.
Even if you aren’t fussed about 5G, the Moto G 5G Plus is a phenomenal phone in all other respects. It’s stupendously fast for the price, has a large, colour-accurate screen, a big, long-lasting battery and a decent suite of cameras. All things considered, the Moto G 5G Plus is the best smartphone you can buy for £300.
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