Moto G5 vs Moto G4: Is there a new king of the budget phones?

Moto G5 vs Moto G4: Motorola had a hit on its hands once again with the Moto G4 and G4 Plus last year. Has it managed to keep its impressive run going in 2017? We take a close look.

For some time, the undisputed king of the budget phones has been, at least for us at TrustedReviews, the Moto G. For the past three year’s we’ve been handing out awards to the Moto G phones, and now, we’ve got the latest in the range: The Moto G5 and G5 Plus.

With new all-metal designs, the phones certainly look more premium than last year’s offerings, but there’s been some significant changes on the hardware side too. Have these new tweaks added to a stellar series, or will this be the year Motorola finally drops the ball in the mid-range market? Well, we’ve had some hands-on time with the new phones so we’re qualified to fill you in on that point. Here’s all you need to know.

In this article, I’ll answer the following questions:

  • How do the designs differ?
  • How do the Moto G5/G5 Plus and Moto G4/G4 Plus specs compare?
  • Which phone has better software?
  • Which phone is better value for money?
  • Should you buy the Moto G5 or the Moto G4?

Alternatively, scroll down to the bottom of this page for a summarised version of this article.

Related: MWC 2017 news and highlights

Moto G5 vs Moto G4 Design: What’s the difference?

Motorola has gone with an all-metal design for both of its new phones which makes a welcome change to the glass front, plastic back on last year’s G4 and G4 Plus. The G5 and G5 Plus both look similar, and are made from aluminium, which gives them a premium aspect somewhat lacking from their predecessors.

The G4 and G4 Plus look like respectable if slightly boring phones, and while the new versions aren’t the slickest devices you’re ever likely to hold, they certainly feel more premium.

Moto G5Moto G5 and G5 Plus

From the front, however, things look very similar to last year. The G5 and G5 Plus have a simple black bezel, silver trim on the speaker on the top, and the Moto logo adoring the upper bezel. That’s pretty much what you get with the G4 phones, but the difference this year is that both have a physical home button. Or shall we say a home ‘indent’. The bottom of the G5 and G5 Plus have a recessed pad which is used for fingerprint scanning – something only seen on the G4 Plus last year.

On the rear, the G5 Plus has a protruding circular camera enclosure, while the standard model’s camera is recessed into the body. You’ll also find a Micro USB charging connection, headphone jacks, and Micro SD card slots for expanding the memory. This year, however, you’ll need to use a SIM tool to access the SIM and Micro SD trays on the G5 Plus as the all-metal design means the removable backs of the G4 and G4 Plus are gone on the larger model. Interestingly, the back of the new G5 still comes off, allowing you to remove the battery.

But perhaps the biggest difference this year, design-wise, is the reduction of the two phones’ form factors. Last year, our only major qualm with the G4 and its Plus cousin was the enlarged 5.5-inch screen which made the phones rather uncomfortable to use. Now, the G5 has been shrunk to 5 inches, while the G5 Plus is now a 5.2-inch device. It made for a pretty unwieldy device that was firmly in phablet territory. The reduction in size has made for a much more reasonable handset size and a much more comfortable user experience. And while the G5 Plus is bigger than the standard model, its 5.2-inch size is still fairly easy to use.

Moto G4Moto G4

Moto G5 vs Moto G4 Specs: Which phone is the most powerful?

Last year, the G4 Plus offered a better camera and fingeprint sensor, but that was about it. This year, there are some significant differences between the two. You can choose between 2GB or 3GB of RAM on both devices, but the Plus model also comes with a 2GHz Snapdragon 625 processor instead of the 1.4GHz Snapdragon 430 chip powering the G5.

The G5’s underwhelming processor is a tad disappointing, especially considering last year’s G4 and G4 Plus came with a Snapdragon 617. It makes for a bit of a strange update. You’re getting a 625 chip on the G5 Plus which is a step up from last year, while the standard G5 is arguably a step down. You likely won’t notice the difference in either case, however. All these phones are fast enough to offer a smooth user experience.

Storage is a lot simpler this time around, though. Whereas last year’s G4 came with 16GB, and the G4 Plus offered 16, 32, 64GB options, this year the G5 offers 16GB while the G5 Plus offers 32GB of internal storage. All these phones have a Micro SD card slot, however, so the memory can be expanded.

Moto G5G5 Plus

Battery wise the G5 actually has a smaller cell than the G4, with a 2,800mAh battery instead of the 3,000mAh offering in the G4. That said, this year’s model doesn’t have to power that larger 5.5-inch screen, so battery performance shouldn’t be to adversely affected.

The Plus model retains the same 3,000mAh cell as its predecessor, however, so you should even get a bit more life out of the Plus considering the upgraded processor and smaller screen.

Either way, you’ll be able to charge the newer phones much more quickly than last year’s models. Motorola has provided fast charging tech on both the G5 and G5 Plus, though the latter actually comes with a superior ‘turbo charge’ feature that will give you six hours of battery in just 15 minutes according to the firm. The standard model ships with a 10w charger that will apparently deliver four hours in 15 minutes of charging. It’s a nice new addition, and gives the newer models another edge on their older counterparts.

No such luck with the screens, though. You’re getting a Full HD panel on all these phones. It’s no bad thing, though. Full HD is more than adequate for phones of this size. Of course, the smaller 5-inch screen sizes this year will make for a very slightly sharper picture, with a 441 pixel-per-inch density and 425 on the G5 and G5 Plus respectively. That’s in comparison to 401 pixels-per-inch on the G4 and G4 Plus. In reality, though, you’re not really going to notice the difference.

Moto G5Moto G5

Finally, the cameras. The G5 offers a 13-megapixel f/2.0 setup, while the Plus model comes with a 12-megapixel sensor with what Motorola is calling “Dual Autofocus Pixels”. That means it uses 10 times more pixels on the sensor to focus on subjects up to 60% faster than the Moto G4 Plus. It certainly seemed very speedy when we managed to get some hands-on time with the phone.

That upgraded camera on the G5 Plus is backed up by a large f/1.7 aperture and bigger pixels, which let in more light. It’ll also shoot video in 4K, while the G5 is limited to Full HD video.

These are significant upgrades over last year’s Plus model. The G4 also had a 13-megapixel setup with a f/2.0 aperture, so things haven’t really changed much this year. But when it comes to the Plus models, it seems Motorola has done quite a bit to offer a smoother experience. We’ll have more once we’ve fully tested the cameras on the new phones.

For a full spec comparison, check out the table below:

Moto G5 Moto G4
Screen 5 inches 5.5 inches
Display Resolution 1,080 x 1,920 1,080 x 1,920
Dimensions 144.3 x 73.0 x 9.5mm 153 x 76.6 x 9.8 mm
Chipset 1.4 GHz Snapdragon 430 1.5 GHz Snapdragon 617
RAM 2GB or 3GB 2GB
Storage 16GB Expandable 16 or 32GB Expandable
Rear Camera 13-megapixel f/2.0 13-megapixel, f/2.0
Front Camera 5-megapixel 5-megapixel
Battery Size 2,800mAh 3,000mAh
Charging 10W rapid charger provided N/A
Headphone Jack Yes Yes
Connectivity Wi-Fi, 4G/LTE, Micro USB Wi-Fi, 4G/LTE, Micro USB
Colours Lunar Gray or Fine Gold Black or White

Moto G5 Plus Moto G4 Plus
Screen 5.2 inches 5.5 inches
Display Resolution 1,080 x 1,920 1,080 x 1,920
Dimensions 150.2 x 74.0 x 7.7mm 153 x 76.6 x 9.8 mm
Chipset 2.0 GHz Snapdragon 625 1.5 GHz Snapdragon 617
RAM 2GB or 3GB 2,3, or 4GB
Storage 32GB Expandable 16,32, or 64GB Expandable
Rear Camera 12-megapixel f/1.7 13-megapixel, f/2.0
Front Camera 5-megapixel 5-megapixel
Battery Size 3,000mAh 3,000mAh
Charging Turbo Charge tech N/A
Headphone Jack Yes Yes
Connectivity Wi-Fi, 4G/LTE, Micro USB Wi-Fi, 4G/LTE, Micro USB
Colours Lunar Gray or Fine Gold Black or White

Related: Best Android Apps 2017

Moto G5 vs Moto G4: Which phone has better software?

Both the new phones run on Google’s latest Android 7.0 Nougat software. That’s a welcome update as the new OS brings numerous upgrades and new features with it. There’s new support for multi-window multi-tasking, revised notifications, a new Doze function, and Vulkan support for more gaming power. Nougat retains all the best things about the Android OS while adding some really useful new features. For a full breakdown of features, check out our comprehensive Android 7.0 Nougat guide.

Many will also be glad to hear the stock Android experience – one of the main reasons to buy a Moto G – has returned this year. Motorola always refrains from tinkering too much with the Android OS, and it’s the same this time around. Getting an untouched version of Andoid is increasingly rare, so it’s great to see it return.

Moto g4

Of course, you’ll still get a near stock experience with last year’s models, it will just be on Android Marshmallow, rather than the newer Nougat. Which isn’t a massive issue. Marshmallow is a fine operating system that offers a load of useful features. That said, the G4 phones will be getting a Nougat update very soon. We’re confirming when this will take place.

The only real benefit of having the newer Moto G models is support for Google Assistant. Google’s digital assistant allows you to send messages, make calls, navigate, manage everyday tasks and more, just by holding the Home button. The company says it’s worked with Google to make sure the assistant works well on its phones, and it’s certainly a welcome addition.

Whether the G4 phones will get the assistant when they upgrade to Nougat is unclear at this moment, however.

Moto G5 vs Moto G4 Price: Which phone is better value for money?

Miles Norman, General Manager UK & Ireland & European Operators at Motorola, confirmed the Moto G5 will go on sale in March for £169, while the Plus model will also go on sale in March for £259.  You can currently pick up the Moto G4 for around £150, while the G4 Plus is available for around £190.

With only a £10 difference between the G4 and G5, we’d say the newer phone offers better value for money, with its new design and numerous new features. However, things aren’t so clear when it comes to the Plus models. The G5 Plus certainly packs in a load of new and useful features. It’s more powerful, has a better camera, and is generally a better phone than the G4 Plus. But if you don’t want to shell out £259, you can get a really great phone that’s not even a year old yet for £190 with the G4 Plus.

Should you get the Moto G5 or Moto G4?

If you’re weighing up your options, here’s our advice about which phone you should buy.

If you want the best possible hardware, go for the G5 Plus but be wary of the G5. The new Plus model offers some big hardware upgrades, but the G5 isn’t all that more powerful than the G4. It has a fingerprint scanner and the new design, but it’s got arguably a less capable processor than its predecessor.

If you’re looking to spend the least amount possible, the G4 is the way to go. It’s the cheapest of the four phones compared here, but will provide you with great performance and that all-important stock Android experience. It’ll only get cheaper in the coming months, too.

Consider the alternatives before purchasing either phone. There’s some great mid-range and affordable options out there, including the impressive OnePlus 3T. OnePlus gives you top-end hardware at affordable prices, and the 3T comes with powerful features for £399. It’s more expensive than the Motos, but you get top-end stuff.

Moto G5 vs Moto G4 Summary: What’s the difference?

Here’s a brief overview of the key differences between the Moto G5 and the Moto G5 Plus.

Design: Smaller, all metal, and generally more comfortable to use, the G5 and G5 Plus are great-looking phones. Gone is the glass and plastic design, replaced by an aluminium body that looks great for phones in this bracket.

Specs: The G5 Plus is the best of the bunch. It’s got an upgraded processor, better camera, and will generally beat out all the other Moto Gs when it comes to performance. The G5 however, isn’t that much of an upgrade over the G4 in terms of specs, so be wary.

Price: The G5 is £169 while the G5 Plus comes in at £259. You’ll be able to pick up the G4 for around £150, while the G4 Plus is currently going for around £190.

Value: Motorola has done well to keep its prices low at a time when every other company is raising them and blaming Brexit. For that fact alone, we have to say the new phones offer incredible value for money.

Related: Best Smartphones 2017

Watch: MWC 2017 – What to expect

Which phone would you rather have? Let us know in the comments.

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