We review Motorola’s latest big-batteried offering!

Without any phone releases for the first half of 2018, rumors have spread that Motorola has silently pulled out of the Philippines. Thankfully that isn’t the case, as the Lenovo-owned company has officially announced several new phones for this year.

One of these phones is the moto E5 Plus: A big-batteried budget phone that sports a premium-looking design and a notch-free 18:9 display. From afar, you’d easily mistake the moto E5 Plus for the Moto X4 until you find out that it retails for a hair under Php 10k.

With more brands launching bang-for-the-buck phones priced at under Php10k, the moto E5 Plus is Motorola’s effort to remain relevant in the Philippines and to have a share of the lucrative sub-10k segment. Can the moto E5 Plus stand out from the crowd?

 

What is it?

The moto E5 Plus is Motorola’s latest budget offering. A successor to last year’s moto E4 Plus, the moto E5 Plus offers the same big battery goodness while sporting a more premium build. The mote E5 Plus gets upgraded internals—along with being Php 1k more expensive than the moto E4 Plus’ original SRP.

 

How is the build?

It actually feels premium for a budget phone. As we mentioned in our unboxing, the moto E5 Plus swaps the moto E4 Plus’ metal build for a glossy look that is reminiscent of the moto X4. Motorola did a good job with the glass-like back thanks to its reflective wave pattern that mimics the look and feel of glass.

While it is a smudge magnet, acrylic is more durable than glass when it comes to drops. However, acrylic is prone to scratches compared to glass. That being said, it is best to use the supplied TPU case if you want additional protection.

The phone itself is huge and heavy, but it was comfortable to use with its curved edges that feel close to phones equipped with glass backs.

The ports are found at the usual spots: SIM tray on the left side, volume and power buttons on the right side, MicroUSB port at the bottom, and a 3.5mm headphone jack on top.

For the display, the moto E5 Plus gets a bigger 6-inch display with an 18:9 aspect ratio. Color reproduction is good, and viewing angles are decent. However, the HD+ display is a downer since it gives the moto E5 Plus a lower Pixels per inch PPI count. On the positive side, going for an HD+ resolution helps in making the moto E5 Plus excel in battery efficiency.

Just like its predecessor, the moto E5 Plus’ loudspeaker is found at the earpiece, right in between the 8-megapixel front camera and LED flash. The unconventional location is a good spot as it does not get blocked off when using the moto E5 Plus in landscape mode.

 

Is the design unique enough?

The design may be dated, but it helps make the moto E5 Plus look unique amidst a sea of similar-looking phones. Its circular camera module is a looker (not to mention it looks like an emoji), and the fingerprint scanner with an embedded logo is a clever design cue.

 

If there was something we would complain about the moto E5 Plus’ design, it has to be its thick bottom chin where the Motorola branding is.While we appreciate Motorola’s decision to use an 18:9 display, we dislike the fact that they decided to leave a thick bottom chin on the moto E5 Plus. Aside from giving the phone an asymmetrical look, we find the thick bottom chin as an empty space that can be trimmed down further to make the phone easy to hold with one hand.

 

Is the phone fast?

Comparing to its predecessor, one of the moto E5 Plus’ major upgrades is with the processor. This time, Motorola outfitted their big-batteried offering with an octa-core Snapdragon 430 processor paired with 3GB RAM and 32GB internal storage. The switch to an octa-core processor makes the moto E5 Plus a better performer in handling tasks—from using multiple apps to gaming.

Speaking of gaming, the Snapdragon 430 is capable of handling a few graphics-intensive games. We managed to do 23FPS on Asphalt 9, 20FPS on PUBG Mobile at low graphics settings, and 26FPS on Marvel Future Fight based on stats obtained from Geekbench. We spend an average of 20 minutes per gaming session, and the moto E5 Plus did not get too warm.

Playing Future Fight on the Moto E5 Plus should not be a problem.

 

The moto E5 Plus can coast through PUBG Mobile, though expect frame drops in some scenes.

 

At the highest graphics settings, the moto E5 Plus managed to run the recently-launched Asphalt 9 with minimal frame drops.

 

How is the rest of the phone?

Like any globally-released Motorola phone, the moto E5 Plus comes with a stock build of Android Oreo. You get nice touches such as Moto display and Moto actions to improve the overall user experience. Being stock Android, the moto E5 Plus has only Outlook, Linkedin, and the Moto app installed out of the box, giving you more space for your photos, videos, music, and apps.

Our complaint, however, is that Motorola has no plans of upgrading the moto E5 Plus to Android Pie based on their latest blog update. We find that disappointing given that it comes with a stock Android build, and we hope Motorola changes their mind in the near future.

The rear-mounted fingerprint scanner is quick and snappy, and the front-facing speaker delivers decent sound quality even at high volume levels. As for its WiFi connectivity, the moto E5 Plus is limited to the 2.4Ghz band—you can’t utilize the faster 5Ghz band on the moto E5 Plus.

Are the cameras any good?

The deceiving camera module of the moto E5 Plus has only one 12-megapixel f/2.0 camera. In all honesty, the lone shooter is pretty decent one. Beside it is the module for phase detection and laser autofocus—both of which help the camera lock onto subjects quickly, regardless of shooting conditions.

Photos shot during daylight have proper exposure, good dynamic range, and decent colors, though you can push the dynamic range further by using HDR. Low-light shooting results in mixed results, as photos are soft when you pixel peep. Nonetheless, the decent low-light photos we shot with the moto E5 Plus is suitable for social media posting.

 

As for the camera UI, the moto E5 Plus as a more streamlined UI compared to the one used on the moto E4 Plus and moto G5s Plus.

 

How long does the battery last?

It definitely stays true to its big batteried reputation as we got around 17.5 hours (!) of battery life from PCMark’s battery test.

 

If you are not convinced with the PCMark results, picture this: as our daily driver,  the phone lasted two days before the battery dipped to below 20% . At the said mark, the moto E5 Plus was still usable for a few hours before running empty. Our usage includes prolonged gaming sessions and several calls, with Instagram browsing and YouTube binge-watching in between. If gaming and binge-watching is part of your daily routine, the moto E5 Plus can last you for more than a day.

The downside to having such a big battery is that it takes time to fully charge the moto E5. Since the phone only supports 10W charging, it takes around three hours to get it from 0 to 100%.

 

Is it worth buying?

While the moto E5 Plus excels in its unique design, massive battery, and big display, its current pricing pits it against similarly-priced phones with better specs. One of its biggest rivals is ASUS’ ZenFone Max Pro M1: with the same price, same stock Android build, and same 5000mAh battery, the ZenFone Max Pro M1 has a higher resolution display, a better processor, and a dual rear camera setup, and a better front camera. Not to mention, there are other similarly-priced phones that have a guarantee update to Android Pie. These include Xiaomi’s Mi A1 and Mi A2 Lite—both are priced a hair under Php10k and have better specs than the moto E5 Plus on paper.

As for software upgrades, Motorola has not been generous in upgrading its moto E series to the latest Android build. As of this writing, the Moto E4 series is stuck with Android Nougat and the moto E5 series is likely to be stuck with Android Oreo. This means the future of the moto E5 Plus is in limbo unless Motorola changes its mind. Should Motorola be persistent on not giving Android Pie to the Moto E5 series, the least they can do is to update it with Google’s monthly security patches, or make a few improvements on its stock Android UI.

If Motorola is serious in making the moto E5 Plus a formidable offering, they should stick to the moto E4 Plus’ pricing to give it better value-for-money.

 

Motorola moto E5 Plus specs

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 octa-core processor
  • 3GB RAM
  • 6-inch MaxVision IPS HD display, 720 x 1440 resolution
  • 32GB internal storage, expandable via microSD
  • 12-megapixel f/2.0 rear camera with 1.25 um pixels, PDAF, Laser autofocus, LED flash
  • 5-megapixel f/2.0 front camera with LED flash
  • Dual SIM
  • 3G, LTE
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS, Fingerprint reader
  • 5000mAh battery with 10W quick charging
  • Android 8.0 Oreo