Tech Test: Android phone affordable, gets job done

Motorola’s Moto G5 Plus has all the right features for good price

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Moto G5 Plus

 Pros: Inexpensive, large screen, storage expandability, build quality, unlocked for all carriers.

 Cons: None. Any better features would only increase the price.

 Bottom Line: If you are not in the market for a flagship phone, the Moto G5 Plus is a great choice for a low price.

If there’s one thing I admire about Android phones, it’s the variety of models available at all price points.

A few weeks ago, I crowned the Samsung Galaxy S8 the new king of Android phones — the best one yet. But what if your budget doesn’t allow for a $750 phone?

Lucky for us, there is a good selection of phones that cost a lot less, and the one I’ve been carrying for the last week, the Motorola Moto G5 Plus, is well worth your consideration.

The Moto G5 Plus ($230, www.amazon.com) is unlocked for all carriers. That’s a rarity among cheaper Android phones.

This means you can buy a G5 Plus and hop from carrier to carrier to find the best deal on a wireless plan and you won’t have to swap out handsets.

The metal materials used for the G5 Plus are also a nice step up from the plastic backside of last year’s G4.

Further, Motorola chose not to include a bunch of duplicate apps — what folks call bloatware — avoiding a common problem among phones from some bigger manufacturers. In fact, the only folder on the G5 Plus is a grouping of Google apps.

• SPECS:

The G5 Plus comes in two configurations — 32 gigabytes of storage and 2 gigabytes of RAM ($230), or 64 gigabytes of storage and 4 gigabytes of RAM ($300). The phones are otherwise identical.

Both have a MicroSD card slot to add more storage.

The G5 Plus runs Android 7.0 (Nougat) on a 2.0 gigahertz Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor.

The screen measures 5.2 inches with a resolution of 1,920-by-1,080 pixels for a very decent 424 pixels-per-inch screen density. The display is covered with Corning Gorilla Glass 3.

The main camera has a 12 megapixel sensor with an f/1.7 lens. It can capture 4K video. The front camera has a 5 megapixel sensor with a wide-angle lens for better group selfies.

Connectivity options include 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2 and 4G LTE.

There is no near field communication tech inside the phone, so there are no contactless payment options like Android Pay.

Sensors include a very fast and accurate fingerprint reader on the home button, an accelerometer, a gyroscope, GPS and more.

The phones come in lunar gray or fine gold. They are water-repellent but not water-resistant. It’s OK to spill on it; just don’t take it for a swim.

The battery — a non-removable 3,000 milliamp-hour lithium-ion — can easily make it an entire day and can be charged quickly. Just 15 minutes of charging will power the phone for six hours.

The G5 Plus is 5.9-2.9-0.3 inches and weighs just 5.5 ounces.

The charging and sync port is MicroUSB and there is a 3.5 millimeter headphone jack.

• IN ACTION:

So how is the G5 Plus in daily use?

Surprisingly robust.

I tested the 32 GB, 2 GB RAM version, and the phone was plenty fast for my day-to-day use.

The main camera isn’t the best, but it’s plenty good for most people and it’s fast to launch, focus and shoot. There isn’t optical image stabilization, and the camera shoots a lot better in good light, but there are trade-offs to be made for a lower handset price.

The fingerprint reader is easy to set up and as fast as any I’ve tried, even on flagship phones.

The only Motorola software pre-installed was actually helpful.

Moto Display shows notification and update previews on the lock screen, while Moto Actions use the phone’s sensors to allow for gestures such as twisting your wrist twice to quickly launch the phone’s camera or chopping down twice to turn on the flashlight.

The gestures work well and they’re handy.

The Moto G5 Plus is not your ordinary low-cost Android phone. There is a lot to like about it.

Android phone users have it good. I wish Apple would introduce some lower-cost iPhones. Currently the cheapest iPhone, the SE, costs $400, has a 4-inch screen and is using a 2-year-old processor.

The G5 Plus doesn’t have the best screen or the most storage, but it has a good screen and enough memory and a pretty decent camera. That’s good enough for a lot of people.