I’ve been spending a lot of time with the Moto G5 Plus, getting well acquainted with the device over the past week. Priced at a reasonable $230/$300 (or $180/$230 with Amazon ads), there’s no denying it offers some pretty enticing hardware for the money. Let’s be real, smartphones have quickly become glorified point-and-shoot cameras, and are simply a quick method to post and share photos online.
That being said, many consumers consider the camera one of — if not the most — important hardware feature when shopping around for a new smartphone. While it’s true that we’ve reached a point where most any self-respecting smartphone is capable of taking a decent photo under the right lighting conditions, some definitely do it better than others, especially in low lit restaurants, at night, or when partying it up in the club. Nobody wants to upload photos that look like they were taken with a potato.
With many of you now eying the Moto G5 Plus, I wanted to give you a better idea of its photo taking capabilities. With a Sony IMX260 12MP, 1.4 micron pixel camera sensor and f/1.7 lens — the same setup as the Galaxy S7 — what better way than to show you a gallery of photos taken with the device both in daylight and less ideal low light. How did it fare? See for yourself.
Night time / low light
I have to admit, I was mostly impressed with the camera output of the Moto G5 Plus. It’s worth noting that when snapping photos, the image preview being displayed in the app looks absolutely awful. This makes you think it’s the worst quality camera you’ve ever seen, but don’t be fooled. The actual camera output is far better and you’ll be surprised with how nice photos come out with decent lighting.
Photos came out sharp and detailed (which is a great starting point), even in low light. The G5 Plus always did a decent job of properly exposing the shot, while still preserving details in the shadows or darker areas of a photo (highlights were a bit blown out at times, but that’s not surprising considering HDR mode was disabled). Of course, low light proved extremely challenging for the camera, where a good amount of noise and some strange purple-ing crept into shots. Still, I applaud Moto for not going overboard with their noise filtering, even at the expense of having a little extra noise in the photo.
Like the iPhone, white balance on the G5 Plus is a little warmer than other devices. This can make for shots that look a little more inviting, but gives photos an almost yellow/green tinge to them. This is especially noticeable under incandescent lighting (see photos under street lights) where the white balance was extremely warm. Colors also weren’t all that saturated and lacked the pop you’ll find in other devices.
Focusing was another high point, providing quick and accurate focusing, even more so than other higher-end devices we’ve tested thanks in part to dual-pixel phase detection auto focus (like on the Galaxy S7). Like other Moto devices, shutter lag is almost non-existent, although in low light things take a turn for the worse where you’ll need to hold the phone extremely still or you run the risk of blurring the shot, something that happened a few times during my night time shooting.
Video was also nice and the option to shoot in 1080p/60fps or 4K/30fps is definitely appreciated. Audio while shooting video was pretty awful however, and it almost sounded like I was underwater while shooting (see video section above).
And that pretty much sums up the Moto G5 Plus camera — good, not great — but I supposed that’s to be expected from a $230/$300 smartphone. Tune in tomorrow when we’ll see how it compares against other affordable devices like the Honor 6X ($250) and ZTE Blade V8 Pro ($230). The results might surprise you. Cheers.