We've already seen Huawei and ZTE push premium features into lower-priced phones this year with the Honor 6X and Blade V8 Pro, respectively. No one would expect Motorola, which leads the way in that trend with its feature-rich, budget-friendly Moto G lineup, to let that challenge go unanswered.
Moto's answer comes in the form of the Moto G5 and G5 Plus, unveiled today (Feb. 26) at Mobile World Congress. The successors to Moto's popular G4 — we currently list the Moto G4 as one of our favorite budget smartphones — boast improved cameras, fingerprint sensors and the built-in Google Assistant, along with price tags that won't put a pinch on your wallet.
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The $229 Moto G5 Plus is due out this spring, and it's the higher-end of the new metal phones. It's highlighted by a 12-megapixel rear camera that boasts dual autofocus pixels. That's similar to the feature that helped make the Galaxy S7 the cream of the camera phone crop, and it figures to help the Moto G5 Plus sharp-looking photos even in low light.
To that end, a demo at the Moto G5 launch event featured a picture of a brightly colored parrot stashed away in a dim box, which really dulled the colors of its feathers. When shot by the G5 Plus's rear camera, though, it really brought out more of the blues in the parrot's plumage, despite the unfavorable lighting.
The Moto G5 Plus boasts a fingerprint sensor and a Full HD 5.2-inch display. The phone runs on a Snapdragon 625 processor — certainly not Qualcomm's top-of-the-line mobile CPU but a decent performer you'll also find in new releases like the BlackBerry KEYone. The phone also features 3GB of RAM and comes with 32GG of onboard storage.
A 3000 mAh battery powers the Moto G5 Plus, and Motorola says you can expect to last a full day on a charge. When it is time to juice up, you'll want to take advantage of the G5 Plus's turbo-charge feature in the new phone, which promises to give you 6 hours of battery life after 15 minutes of charging.
Another noteworthy additional to the Moto G lineup is Google Assistant, meaning that the Moto G joins the LG G6 among the first non-Pixel devices to ship with the voice-powered assistant installed. During my hands-on time with the phone, I quickly set up the Google Assistant on a G5 to respond to my dulcet tones. Soon, it was answering my questions about the weather forecast for Barcelona with just a simple "OK, Google" prompt.
Motorola didn't reveal U.S. pricing for the lower-end Moto G5, which will cost €199 in Europe. That 5-inch phone features a pokier Snapdragon 430 processor with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. It's also got a smaller battery than the G5 Plus at 2800 mAh. And while its 13-MP rear camera lacks the dual-pixel autofocus feature found in the G5 Plus, the Moto G's rear camera does phase detection autofocus to focus on objects more quickly.
Given that Motorola's U.S. announcement only covered the G5 Plus, it's unclear if the Moto G5 will join its higher-end sibling stateside. That'd be a shame if it doesn't, as a feature-rich sub-$200 phone is exactly the thing to satisfy budget-minded smartphone users.
Photo Credits: Philip Michaels/Tom's Guide