Moto G 5G Plus review: a budget-friendly 5G smartphone

Australia’s 5G rollout is well underway, and with thousands of Aussies now experiencing faster mobile speeds in serviced areas, it’s no surprise that 5G connectivity has come to the mid-range phone market. The latest manufacturer to offer 5G capability at an affordable price is Motorola, who recently unveiled the Moto G 5G Plus.

Coming in at just $499 upfront, the Moto G 5G Plus is a large-screen phone that promises ‘ultra-fast speeds and an ultra-wide view’. Motorola has talked up the device as the fast-performing phone with a powerhouse battery and a great camera line-up, including dual front-facing cameras to up your selfie game.

We took the Moto G 5G Plus for a test drive on both 4G and 5G networks to see if the Australia’s cheapest 5G phone lived up to the hype. Read on for our hands-on Moto G 5G Plus review.

Motorola Moto G 5G Plus: features & specs

Here’s a quick list of the key features and specifications of Motorola’s Moto G 5G Plus:

  • $499 AUD RRP
  • 6.7-inch Full HD+ display with 90Hz refresh rate
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 5G processor
  • 5,000 mAh battery with 20W TurboPower charging
  • Android 10 operating system
  • Quad rear camera system (48MP, 5MP, 8MP and 2MP cameras)
  • Dual 16MP and 8MP front cameras
  • 128GB storage (microSD card slot for up to 1TB expandable storage)
  • 6GB RAM
  • Fingerprint reader and face unlock security
  • Available in Surfing Blue colour

Moto G 5G Plus: pros

  • Excellent battery life and solid performance
  • One of the cheapest 5G phones on the Australian market
  • Big display well-suited to videos and gaming

Moto G 5G Plus: cons

  • Unreliable fingerprint scanner
  • Heavier and thicker than other mid-range devices
  • Cameras are decent, but not amazing

Design

Moto G 5G Plus in blue
Image: Motorola

The Moto 5 5G Plus offers a big, vibrant 6.7-inch display with edge-to-edge viewing. The device incorporates what Motorola calls ‘CinemaVision’, which offers a 21:9 aspect ratio ideal for watching movies and TV. It’s large phone, but if you prefer a big screen for games, videos or just everyday browsing, you should be happy with the Plus’ display.

Weighing in at a reported 207 grams, the Moto G 5G Plus also felt noticeably thicker and heavier in the hand during use when compared to similar mid-range devices. While it’s far from the beefiest phone on the market, you may notice a difference if you’re switching from a lighter or smaller handset.

As for other design features, the 5G Plus comes with a headphone jack, microSD card slot, and a Google Assistant button on the side. If you’re a fan of using digital assistants, you’ll probably benefit from easy access to the service, although the button placement does make accidental activations an occasional nuisance.

The Moto G 5G Plus is available in a deep cobalt blue, which appears to be one of the on-trend smartphone colours of 2020 when it comes to affordable devices. It’s an overall attractive-looking phone, and although it’s slightly chunkier than many competing devices, doesn’t feel overdone.

Performance

One of the big selling points of the Moto G 5G Plus is its 5G capabilities, meaning you can use the phone with Telstra, Optus or Vodafone’s new 5G networks on a 5G phone plan. The device is also compatible with 4G and 3G networks, but Motorola is touting the 5G Plus as an accessible starting point for buyers looking for a fast and lag-free 5G phone experience.

We tested out the Moto G 5G Plus on the Optus 5G network in Sydney, and recorded indoor speeds at the 650Mbps mark – proving you don’t need a $1,000+ smartphone to dip your toe into the ultra-fast world of 5G. While network speeds will vary depending on your provider, location, and coverage, the Moto G 5G Plus is an affordable option for customers living in 5G-ready areas who want to experience the next-generation network without dropping thousands on a new device.

Outside of data speeds, the 5G Plus offers a fairly fast, smooth, and consistent performance, although I did experience occasional issues with touchscreen response when using certain apps. Gaming and streaming were fast and easy, and features such as Moto Gametime work to offer quick access to tools such as Do Not Disturb, easy screenshotting and in-game customisation.

Motorola’s version of Android 10 is clean and easy to navigate, and users who enjoy gesture-controlled and one-touch shortcuts will likely appreciate ‘Moto Actions’ such as the twist-to-open camera and three-finger screenshot. Audio was also as expected for this price point, although you may need to be careful not to muffle the bottom-ported speaker when holding the device in-hand.

The biggest pet peeve was undoubtedly the unlocking process. With entering a PIN often inconvenient and tiresome on larger devices, I first opted for the 5G Plus’ fingerprint scanner as the first line of security. Motorola has positioned the scanner on the side power button, which presumably caters to users wanting quick one-handed unlocking without the need to reposition your phone to read a fingerprint.

However, such a narrow sensor made the normally quick process of unlocking via fingerprint to have perhaps a 50% success rate – whether this is due to the hardware itself or simply user error, it made it difficult to open the home screen without resorting to PIN use. Fortunately, the 5G Plus’ face reader is much more accurate, and generally provided quick and painless unlocking without the constant need to re-adjust your device or fall back on your PIN.

In better news, the battery life was excellent, and while I didn’t go a full two days on a single charge (as Motorola claims the G 5G Plus can do), the device still had more than enough juice left at the end of each day. The Moto G 5G Plus powered on through hours of Netflix watching, Spotify streaming, Instagram scrolling and more, and could easily handle a solid hour of HD video without dropping more than 5% of its charge. The only real battery-draining activity occurred when activating the phone’s mobile hotspot for laptop use, but its fast charging capability means the 5G Plus won’t take long to recharge when you need a power top-up.

Cameras

Aiming to punch above its weight in the camera department, the Moto G 5G Plus offers a four-camera setup in the rear, giving users a great array of options for capturing shots in a variety of conditions. In addition to a 48-megapixel main camera, you’ll get a 5-megapixel Macro Vision lens, an 8-megapixel Ultra-Wide Angle camera, and a 2-megapixel Depth Camera.

The main drawback of multiple modes and lenses is figuring out which option is best for the scene you’re trying to capture. While picking between Panorama or a regular wide shot isn’t difficult, you may need to experiment with all the available software modes to find the best feature for the photo you’re taking.

Overall, there’s no major issues to report with the 5G Plus’ cameras. The camera package isn’t on par with what you’ll find in premium devices such as the iPhone 12 or Samsung Galaxy Note 20, but Motorola has delivered a good setup for a sub-$500 price point.

Backyard with hedges and storm clouds
12MP camera shot taken on the Moto G 5G Plus

While scenes can be little muted and lacking detail in lower light, daylight and well-lit photos are clear, crisp, and hold up well even when zooming in. If you’re attempting to snap scenes in darker spaces, you’ll probably want to switch to Night Vision to get the best result.

If you’re using Portrait Mode, the background-blurring Bokeh feature works well in highlighting your subject and adding a little extra pop to your pictures. There’s plenty of customisations and adjustments available, and everyday phone users should have no issues with snapping social media-quality shots.

A border collie dog sitting on grass
Portrait mode shot on Moto 5 5G Plus

The inclusion of a wide-angle camera in front is also a bonus for social types who don’t want to pull out the selfie stick when taking group shots. A switch to this lens increases the frame of your photo by around four times when compared to the 5G Plus’ standard front camera, so it’s very useful for party pics or for simply capturing more of the background in your selfies.

Portrait shot of small Pusheen figurines
Portrait mode shot taken on the Moto G 5G Plus

The G 5G Plus also offers a macro camera with a minimum two centimetre focus distance, ideal for getting those close-up shots of flowers, pets, babies, or anything where you want to capture fine details. However, colour contrast seems to be more stark when using this camera, meaning that while you’ll capture details that might otherwise be missed by the main rear camera, the hues could be somewhat off in comparison.

A close up of bright pink flowers
Macro shot taken on Moto G 5G Plus

Is the Moto G 5G Plus worth buying?

If you’re searching for a good-performing 5G phone with all-day battery life that won’t break the bank, the Motorola Moto G 5G Plus is hard to beat. At just under $500 outright (and available on plans from Telstra and Vodafone), the 5G Plus is a stand-out mid-range smartphone that’s perfect for both work and play, and a great option if you love to watch video on the go.

Keep in mind that 5G still isn’t available to everyone, so you may want to weigh up if you’d prefer a cheaper 4G device instead (or another phone at a similar price point with different features, such as a better camera line-up). You may also want to wait to see if competitors in the mid-range and affordable phone space – such as OPPO, Realme, or even Samsung’s Galaxy A series – come out with similarly-priced 5G devices in early 2021.

Once benefit Motorola does have over brands such as OPPO, Realme, and newcomer Vivo is name recognition, and a long history of producing popular and well-received devices. Customers who feel more secure using familiar brands, or who have used Motorola phones in the past, are likely to be happy with what the Moto G 5G Plus has to offer for such a relatively low price.

Consider the Moto G 5G Plus if: you want a big-screen 5G Android phone with all-day battery life that costs less than $500. But avoid the fingerprint sensor.

Moto G 5G Plus Plans

If you’re planning to buy the Moto G 5G Plus outright, you’ll need to pair it with a SIM-only mobile plan. We’ve compiled several good postpaid and prepaid plans below, but keep in mind that only Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and SpinTel currently offer 5G mobile access.

Here is a selection of postpaid plans from Canstar Blue’s database with a minimum of 10GB of data, listed in order of standard cost, lowest to highest, then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Try using our mobile phone plan comparison tool to see a wide range of plans from other providers. This table includes products with links to referral partners.

Here is a selection of prepaid plans from Canstar Blue’s database with a minimum of 10GB of data each month, listed in order of standard cost, lowest to highest, then by data allowance, largest to smallest. If you want to compare a larger range of offers from other providers, use our phone plan comparison tool. This table includes products with links to referral partners.

Handset Plans

The Moto G 5G Plus is available to pick up on plans from Telstra and Vodafone. You can buy on a 24-month or 12-month payment plan with Telstra, or over 12, 24 or 36 months with Vodafone, and each provider allows you to pair your phone with a range of SIM-only mobile plans. We’ve compared a selection of 24-month Moto G 5G Plus plans below.

The following table features a selection of 24-month Moto G 5G Plus plans from Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard cost, lowest to highest, then by data allowance, largest to smallest.

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