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Motorola Moto E5 Plus review: A big budget beast

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
149
inc VAT

A bigger battery and a larger screen for not much more, the Moto E5 Plus is worth the extra cash over the Moto G6

Pros 
Exceptional battery life
Wallet-friendly price
Cracking camera
Cons 
Performance could be improved
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Motorola’s decision to unveil the Moto E5 Plus at exactly the same time as the new Moto G6 was an interesting one. On the one hand, there was the risk that Motorola’s E-branded phone would be overlooked in the hype surrounding the Moto G6 (which, as you might have spotted, has swiftly become our favourite budget phone). And on the other, well, there’s also the risk of undermining the Moto G6 with an even better value option.

READ NEXT: The best budget smartphones you can buy

Motorola Moto E5 Plus review: What you need to know

Motorola's aim with the E5 Plus is, of course, to do neither of these things. Instead, the E5 Plus offers an alternative to customers who might not have considered splashing out on a G6, without too much compromise in any department.

And that's kind of what the larger Moto ends up doing in a roundabout way – providing a tempting budget Moto with a larger screen and a bigger battery for less than the G6. In fact, the Moto E5 Plus has a 6in 18:9 1,440 x 720 display, a 12-megapixel f/2.0 rear camera and a massive 5,000mAh battery. Running the show is a Snapdragon 425 processor, clocked at 1.4GHz, with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage.

Motorola Moto E5 Plus review: Price and competition

Considering the E5 Plus’ rather generous suite of core specifications, I expect you’ll be equally impressed when you learn how much it costs. At a mere £149, you could order a crate of almost ten of these budget beauties for the price of just one 512GB iPhone Xs Max.

That represents astounding value for money, but the E5 Plus isn’t lacking in competition. Perhaps the most obvious contender is the Moto G6 – provided you’re willing to cough up an extra £50. It’s our current budget favourite, and was the phone that successfully put Motorola back on its winning streak.

There’s also the Honor 9 Lite, which like the E5 Plus is an outright bargain with an 18:9 display and costs £170. Motorola’s own bog-standard E5 might also get in the way, especially if your budget can’t quite stretch this far. That one’s priced at just £120.

Motorola Moto E5 review: Design

Considering the lower price, you might expect the E5 Plus to look and feel decidedly cheaper than its G6 counterpart, but that certainly isn’t the case. Its glossy plastic chassis looks rather nice, and feels solid in the hand. I particularly like the rear-mounted fingerprint reader with the Motorola logo printed on it – it’s in just the right position and falls under the tip of your index finger perfectly. The camera housing is nice and flush with the back as well.

Flip the phone over, and the 6in screen is protected by a layer of Corning Gorillas Glass, for added resilience against drops and scrapes. The 5,000mAh battery in the Moto E5 Plus doesn't even add too much extra weight (the phone tips the scales at 197g), although it is quite chunky at 9.35mm.

One major difference between the E5 Plus and the G6 is that the phone is charged via micro-USB instead of USB Type-C, which limits the speed at which the battery is replenished. The phone doesn’t charge as quickly as the Moto G6, G6 Plus or G6 Play; something that is exacerbated by the huge battery in the E5 Plus.

It's also worth pointing out that the E5 Plus doesn’t receive the p2i water repellent treatment either, though it’s so affordable that soaking one wouldn’t be a complete disaster.

Motorola Moto E5 Plus review: Display

As for the screen, the E5 Plus is 720 x 1,440 in resolution and employs an IPS panel. This is the first time Motorola has used an 18:9 all-display handset at such a low price, and it looks rather good.

The pixel density of 268 PPI is just about sharp enough to satisfy the most exacting eyes, and the contrast ratio is more than up to snuff, with eye-popping images. Peak brightness hits a sunlight-friendly 511cd/m2.

Even under the scrutiny of our display colorimeter, it’s clear the screen doesn’t have any issues with colour accuracy on the phone’s default “standard” display profile. Some of the darker tones – deeper reds and dark blues – are perhaps a touch oversaturated for my tastes, but you won’t spot this day to day.

Motorola Moto E5 Plus review: Performance and battery life

The Moto E5 Plus’ internal specifications aren’t particularly mind-blowing, but they’re actually rather generous given the price. Inside, you’ll find Qualcomm’s quad-core Snapdragon 425 processor, clocked at 1.4GHz. This works with 2GB of RAM and a measly 16GB of storage, although this can be expanded with a further 256GB via microSD.

CPU performance is mostly as expected for a phone in this price bracket, and its gaming capabilities do the job, too, although you should expect frequent frame drops when running intensive titles such as Asphalt 9: Legends.

Sure, day-to-day use is more sluggish than with more expensive phones, especially when compared to my daily driver, the OnePlus 6, but you won’t be ripping your hair out in frustration. Yes, this phone is far from the speediest device we’ve tested but at this price, I think that’s excusable.

What’s most special, however, is the E5 Plus’ battery life. This is the main reason you’ll want this phone – either as a solid festival device or something reliable for long work trips – and, as it stands, there’s very little that’s capable of reaching these absurd levels.

Running our in-house continuous video playback test, which loops a video clip with the phone’s brightness set to 170cd/m2 and flight mode engaged, the 5,000mAh capacity battery reached a staggering 23hrs 2mins before the phone dropped to zero.

This score is so good that the E5 Plus comes in at third position in our phone battery life hierarchy. Only two phones are slightly better; the Huawei Mate 10 and the Lenovo P2, and the latter has been discontinued. Not bad for a phone that costs £150.

Motorola Moto E5 review: Camera

As for the quality of the images the Moto E5 Plus’ camera produces, that’s even more positive. Let’s talk about the camera's particulars first; there’s no Moto G6-like dual-camera arrangement with the E5 Plus, instead you’ll have to make do with a single 12-megapixel unit with an aperture of f/2.0. It also has none of the G6's clever landmark recognition or depth editing skills.

For the money, though, the quality of the photographs you can capture with the E5 Plus’ camera are nothing short of stunning. In low light, the Moto E5 Plus achieves the perfect balance of grain and noise suppression, with the camera capturing an excellent level of detail and accurate colours.

The quality continues outdoors, with our test shots of London’s bustling skyline bursting with crisp detail and well-balanced exposures. There are a few niggles, of course, but these are issues I’m more than happy to live with. The camera shutter delay is one; it might catch you off guard if you’re not prepared. The camera is also limited to 1080p video recording at 30fps. In other words, you still won’t achieve Galaxy Note 9-levels of camera accomplishments, but for this price, you really can’t go wrong.

Motorola Moto E5 review: Verdict

In the end, though, it matters little how quick the Moto E5 Plus is, how good or bad its camera is, or that it’s a little down on feature count. It all comes down to its massive 5,000mAh battery.

Because, when all’s said and done, that’s the specification phone aficionados will fixate on, with the E5 Plus offering stamina that outlasts almost every other phone by a significantly wide margin.

So, forget about the Moto G6 Play and the regular Moto E5. The Moto E5 Plus is where it’s at at the bottom of the Motorola range. In fact, if battery life is at the tippy top of your smartphone agenda, there’s simply no better choice on a budget.

Motorola Moto E5 Plus specifications

ProcessorQuad-core 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 425
RAM2GB
Screen size6in
Screen resolution1,440 x 720
Screen typeIPS
Front camera5-megapixel
Rear camera12-megapixel
FlashLED
GPSYes
CompassYes
Storage (free)16GB
Memory card slot (supplied)microSD
Wi-Fi802.11ac
Bluetooth4.2
NFCYes
Wireless data4G
Dimensions161 x 75 x 9 mm
Weight197g
Operating systemAndroid 8.0
Battery size5,000mAh

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