Motorola Moto G: Camera

By Max Parker



Our Score:


Moto G5 – Camera

The Moto G5 has a 13-megapixel camera on the back, with a single LED flash. Like the phone’s CPU, there’s not really much progress here compared with last year's Moto G4 but the results are still perfectly good considering the price.

Almost all the positives and criticisms levelled at the Moto G4 remain. Let’s recap.

Moto G5 13

This is a generally nice-to-use camera. The Moto camera app is one of the most distinctively customised parts of the phone, and these days it works very well.

It’s a fairly simple app that wants you to focus on picking a subject, fiddling with the exposure if needed, but then leave the rest to the phone. Right by the aim reticle there’s a little exposure control. It’s very handy if you’re shooting in conditions with a lot of light variance.

For example, shoot during a gig and the Moto’s exposure brain will tend to overexpose as everything but the stage will seem near-black (all phones do this). Flick down the exposure dial and you’ll get much better results, and the Moto G take on this works well.

G5 camera

In good lighting you can take great photos, and when taking non-HDR shots the Moto G5 camera feels fast. I noticed no white balance blunders and detail is reasonably good.

This isn’t a phone camera I’d use to take holiday photos to print out on canvas for the wall (which I’m assured some people do). But when I experience a lot of my photos a year down the line when Google or Facebook reminds me I took them, these photos are at least good enough for that kind of photographic memory jog.

This phone also has a powerful HDR mode that lets you shoot in very tricky variable lighting conditions without ending up with an image that’s 50 per cent near-black.

There’s a lot of progress that hasn’t been made here, though, and it’s really a wider indication of the next steps I want to see from budget phones in general. This phone's camera isn’t miles better than the Moto G3's, really.

First, HDR shooting is significantly lower than normal shooting. Use the Auto HDR mode and it kicks-in reliably when needed, but the shift in shooting lag is jarring.

I’d also like to see smarter gradual use of HDR, using it to the extent needed. High-end phones have done this for a while, but the Moto G5’s seems to be less intelligent.

Low-light photo quality is also uninspiring. Colour fidelity goes out of the window with indoors lighting and detail drops a lot in indoors and night shots. This is no surprise. With no optical image stabilisation and an entry-level sensor, there’s no way the Moto G5 could dramatically improve performance. Here are some samples to give you an idea of real-life image quality:

Moto G5 11A high-end phone camera would do a better job of rendering these branches, but it's otherwise a solid shot

Moto G5 5Here's another look at the fine detail possible. Not bad for a £150-odd phone

Moto G5 3Moto G5 9Without HDR this building would be almost black as the sun was peeking right behind its walls

Moto G5 7Night image quality isn't terrible but the shots end up quite dark The cut-out shows the kind of detail you can get after some post-processing. Not ugly, but soft

Moto G5Here's another HDR shot in action. Very strong light source to the right, but the blossoms in shadow are still very clear. Not bad.

There are some minor signs of the middling sensor quality even with daylight photos, with a slightly less clean, granular texture. You do need to get right down to pixel level to see this, though, so don’t worry about it too much.

I’d also like to see future versions of the Moto G use a wider lens aperture. The G5 has an f/2 lens. While I don’t think this alone would fix the low-light photo issues, it would let you take more dramatic close-ups.

The wider the lens aperture the blurrier a photo’s background will appear, using the same-size sensor. You can create slight blurry background effects here, but only slight ones.

Moto G5 flowerThe Moto G5 isn't that great at isolating close-up subjects like this flower

Just a few years ago, the Moto G5’s camera performance would have bowled us over in a budget phone. And it did, in the Moto G3. However, entry-level camera quality appears to have plateau’d. It’s a phone camera I’d be happy to use day-to-day, but those expecting real progress will be disappointed.

This is largely true of the front camera too. The Moto G5 has a 5-megapixel selfie camera, and it can’t render beard hairs convincingly in a reasonably well-lit room like the best £150-250 phones. It’s a bog-standard camera.


June 1, 2016, 2:23 am

Nope. Just another boring run-of-the-mill bandwagon phablet that will be soon forgotten.


June 16, 2016, 11:06 am

The G4 Plus comes with a fast charger in the box.


July 2, 2016, 6:45 pm

Honestly, I'd been waiting and waiting but was really put off by the 5.5 size, Tmobile had a great buy one get one free and I ended up switching to an iPhone SE (my first apple phone) which is 4.0 (from my 1st gen 4.5 inch Moto G) rather than go 4.5 to 5.5 and after the rebate it's still cheaper than what I'd end up paying for the G4.


July 7, 2016, 10:54 pm

My upcoming portable media player....


July 10, 2016, 3:14 pm

Had mine about a month now. Still have a 5s, but it rarely gets used now, simply because of the size of the moto. Once you get used to the large screen it's a chore to go back to 4".
The display is fantastic, the sound is fine, and the o/s is great. If only it had nfc.


August 21, 2016, 10:50 am

Please don't buy MOTO G Any generation mobile because they are having inserted very low quality motherboard and after few days usage of your mobile, you start getting hanging phone more frequently and one day it will cost 80% of your mobile due to mother board issue and need to replacement completely which would be too much costlier better if you purchase new one. I am having bad experience with my moto g 3rd gen which need to throw in dust bean after one year merely usage with very careful.

caroline eadie

August 29, 2016, 3:22 pm

I have used every gen of Moto g now on g4 plus never had any problems my grandson has my 2nd and 3rd gen both working perfectly

OnyX OnyX

September 2, 2016, 3:18 pm

the above response is complete garbage

My daughter has had a moto g 1st gen for 2 years never had an issue with it and her phone is literally superglued to her hand 24/7

Son had a G2 for a year and only just replaced as he dropped it and it was run over by a car, asked him what phone he wanted and he wanted the G3 over the G4

For the cost of the phone the spec is amazing in the Moto G lineup and imo the G3 looks a feels better than the G4, but the G4 has the bigger screen so I guess it is what suits your taste

Personally I use an LG G3 and still haven't really felt the need to update to a newer phone as mine does everything I want with no issues whatsoever

imo when you buy tech, always look at reviews ( preferably independent) and what is under the hood/shell rather than looking at the badge on the back/front :)

Shubham Mittal

September 4, 2016, 8:12 am

Thank you Motorola for your exceedingly CUSTOMER UNFRIENDLY services. This was possibly the best and one of a kind service that I wouldn’t even wish for my enemy. Mobiles phones were made to make life easier, but I guess the Motorola Company had different plans for its customers by giving them the ultimate experience of hell because of their one unforgivable mistake: Buying a Motorola phone.
The trauma began for me when my phone’s screen broke in June 2016. I went to the Moto service station to get it repaired. Little did I know then that this is just the beginning. After the screen was repaired, there were problems in the jack, display, sensor, to name a few. This time when I went to complain at the service station, it took me around 7 to 8 trips to get my phone back from them. Even after that, there are still issues with the screen. I again gave my phone at the service centre for repairing on 12th August, 2016. 10 to 15 calls to the main service centre (1800-102-2344), and all I was told was that I would be given an update about the same. More than 20 days passed and there was NO ‘UPDATE’. On enquiring from the service centre where I had given my phone, I was told that they did not receive any notification from the main service centre.
Just to inform you, because of all this hassle, I had to miss my lectures, got delayed in submitting my assignment, which resulted in low marks. Not to forget all the time and energy I wasted on your EXCELLENT AND UNIQUE services. I believe that your company has found a very creative way to harass your customers and drive them away from making any future transactions with you.
Yours sincerely
Totally fed up customer
Shubham Mittal

Job No. ABH/MG/16/01239
Model: Moto G (3rd Generation)
IMEI1 No. 355490064569613
IMEI2 No. 355490064569621
Case handled by Shrinath
Customer Reference Number: 160812-016253


September 6, 2016, 9:25 am

I'm with OnyX and caroline below. My various Moto Gs have been great, and when I have upgraded to a newer generation and handed on the older model, that has kept going just fine.


September 6, 2016, 4:13 pm

Total rubbish, my first Moto G is still going after I gave it to a friend in Africa (and he works on a farm so it has a truly hard life). My second is a G4 and has never missed a step.


September 8, 2016, 12:25 pm

I've had my Moto G phone now since 2013 and it works better than most iPhones after a year.

Radhicka Chakraborty

September 30, 2016, 3:26 pm

I'm planning to buy Moto G4 Plus, but i'm a bit hesitant about the whole hybrid sim slot where you can either have 2 sims and no microSD or 1 sim and 1 microSD. Can anyone please tell me if this is one of those phones?

Abhijit Shaw

October 14, 2016, 10:14 am

My Name Is Abhijit , I have bought Moto G4plus on 5th july 2016 after 15 days it giving trouble from then till now i am just going to service center again again but there is no response. Very poor service . I suggest do not buy Any phone Moto & Lenovo...


October 17, 2016, 6:46 pm

"Thing is, you’ll need to provide your own supported charger to receive these times, as Lenovo doesn’t supply a suitable one in the box."

This must be a UK model thing; my USA version came with a Motorola turbo-charger (120v/60Hz) included.


October 24, 2016, 3:12 pm

Had the MOTO G for 12 months, no issues, nice phone. No dust bean for my phone :)

Spencer Churchill

October 29, 2016, 7:03 pm

great review but the focusing in on the phones got annoying

Darnell Getum Hicks

October 31, 2016, 8:24 pm

I literally just got mine today and i fuckin LOVE IT! One of the best investments i ever made. . . damn near like shoplifting, lol. But no really, if u want all the features of an iphone and the buck of a Galaxy, I can truly say I have the best of both and more. I could not believe they only wanted $200! :-). Pick it up to light it up, chop it to turn on ur flashlight, turn it over for dnt disturb. No tricks, I definitely choose "treat" this year.


November 5, 2016, 6:27 pm

Mine came with a charger !

Sameh Youssef

November 7, 2016, 12:14 pm

I have Moto G4 and my problem with it is that it takes 5 hours to fully charge, this is with the supplier charger. What is your experience with the charging?


November 24, 2016, 7:56 pm

Date: 23 Nov 2016. Déja-vu, all over again.

Murray Snudge

December 5, 2016, 7:37 pm

I'm looking forward to Moto G5

Harry du Preez

December 6, 2016, 1:09 am

Not compatible with Android auto, never mentioned in reviews. For me this has turned it in to an expensive piece of junk, Avoid

Darnell Getum Hicks

December 7, 2016, 9:51 pm

Lol! Spontaneous outbursts? Did u actually get away w/ that. Ppl would think i was crazy. Yea, my phone never charges fast enough for me, lol. I'm a fuckin tech head. I gotta get an OtterBox for it. I spoil my phones.


December 25, 2016, 7:37 am

buy a turbo charger

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